Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Conference :-) and conference :-(

There were many great conversations and connections that came out of attending ESA earlier this month, but the highlight was an hour long chat with a prominent ecologist. I've been a fan of his work for a while and I jumped at the opportunity to meet with him. After a highly energetic conversation full of ideas, he said, "Let's keep in touch--especially if [organization] doesn't have the good sense to keep you employed." It's by no means a job offer (and I'm not at all optimistic that it would even be possible to work with him), but it was an encouraging affirmation of my skills and interests. I need to remember this when I'm feeling down.

The bad news that I just got from my boss this morning is that I can't go to a conference we were supposed to attend this fall. We had two presentations accepted about my project and we had to withdrawal them since we don't have the funds to attend. What a drag. It also makes us look bad. It's a miracle I got to go to ESA.

At this point I feel like we're being set up for failure. I don't know if I need to positioning myself to show how great I could be on other projects (to keep a job at all) or if I need to show how determined I am to make my project succeed so that they throw us some actual resources since this project has someone seriously invested in it. Either way, I need to be looking for other jobs. I've been sprucing up my profiles in all the various places they exist but haven't really looked actively. I recently saw an interesting one that is with someone whose work I love. I read the ad twice myself before my colleague sent it to me saying it sounded just like me. The problem is that it's far, far away from here and we're not interested in moving.

Job searching sucks.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

No resolution yet

I've spent a lot of mental and emotional energy on assessing the situation at my job recently. That vaguely important meeting I was supposed to attend got rescheduled for the end of the month. My colleague was told it was because "we haven't gotten together as a group in a while" but I'm not convinced.

Things that have happened since then:

  • Learned from someone who reports to one of our biggest internal supporters that said supporter doesn't have much (any?) political capital within the organization and might be doing my project more harm than good. 
  • That same person said that people in her group are already assuming my project is not worth spending time on because they know we're out of funding.
  • My VP didn't brief another VP properly on my project so my stomach turned somersaults while I tried to figure out how to work my (clearly 100% relevant to what he's discussing) project into a conversation with an outside group without making the other VP look uninformed. Does this mean my project is getting the axe? Or is my VP just not thinking about it? Or does he not see the connections because he never comes to the meetings? Seems bad no matter how you slice it.
  • My project was omitted from a draft presentation in which most other things in the department were included. Was it just an oversight? Or was it because someone said it shouldn't be mentioned in that presentation?
  • My VP isn't coming to our monthly project meeting... again. He's only attended one meeting so far this year. I think he might be out of town, but he doesn't seem invested enough to even ask me to reschedule for a time that he can attend. Is he just trying to avoid me until the end of the month when some major changes are announced?
  • I had a long talk with my boss about all of my concerns about the internal politics affecting my project and how in the world we're going to navigate these treacherous waters. I don't think she has any more information than I do, and I know she's concerned for her job too. If not now, then probably next year. 
I just feel so incredibly insecure about the future of my job, which makes it hard to make long-term plans. Part of me is afraid to make any kind of promises beyond the most immediate to any collaborators because I don't want to look like a fool if they pull the plug, but the catch is I know that seeming unstable is a sure way to lose collaborators! I have a great vision for my project and I'm 100% willing to fight for it because I believe in it, but I am unsure of the best way to go about doing that. We need more money, but I can't write my own grants. I don't know how much I should be working through the chain of command and how much I should be working around it. I don't know who I should be making my case to. 

So, I'm just trying to plug along on the things that I can do with my own time and a little of someone else's until I'm told otherwise. I still love what I get to do in my job but I am finding the climate increasingly toxic. I hope that the end of the month brings some clarity.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Anxiety about vague important meeting

I've gone quickly from cautiously optimistic to extremely anxious. After 5 pm on Friday, my boss's boss sent out a calendar invitation for a meeting for our group. I didn't think it was a big deal until I got a direct email asking me to be there in person at a time that I am supposed to be out of the office. It's going to be really inconvenient, so I asked to call in, and he said no, I need to be there in person. I asked my boss if I should be worried. She said she didn't know, but she sounded worried. I tried to find the person who called the meeting, but he was gone, so I didn't have a chance to ask him in person if I should be concerned about my job.

After talking to a couple of other colleagues, here's what we know. They're giving us our official job descriptions next week (which we haven't had for many months now). The person who lays people off will be on vacation next two weeks, so they can't fire me/us (we think). My other colleague who won't be around during that time hasn't received any special instructions. 

Here are my guesses of things that we'll find out at this meeting.
  • Probably one or more of my colleague's positions will be eliminated.
  • I might lose my half of my employee and she'll be put 100% on her other (clearly more important to the organization) project.
  • I might be partially or fully reassigned to a different project (I have no idea what that would be).
Maybe I'll get called into a private meeting before that one and I'll lose my job. Or maybe this won't directly affect me at all. Honestly, I have no idea, and the uncertainty feels really crappy.

Next week I'm going to ESA. Now I don't know if I need to be promoting my project or promoting myself. I really don't want a different job, but if they radically change mine internally then I'll probably start looking. Ugh.