Friday, January 31, 2014

Tell me your triumph-over-career-adversity stories

Recently I became friends on Facebook with another woman I know from science. She did fieldwork in Nyota too, but before I was there. She's a postdoc a few years ahead of me in her career with several publications and she had a child since I last saw her. While catching up over Facebook, she said, "we have a very nice life here, low cost of living etc. Good luck on the job search, I never went, so my career is over. My husband has a good job here, so I guess that is it." She did interview for a tenure-track position, but she was pregnant at the time and said it didn't go well.

I am all for supporting women in their career decisions, but it is discouraging when those decisions are more like resignations.

As I sit here trying to write emails to people I want to network with while my daughter cries because she isn't going down easy for this nap, my husband is away for 2 weeks because we really need his income, and I just got another rejection letter, I need to hear some good things. I really, really, really need to hear some success stories instead of more news about how hard it is for women in science.

Please, tell me stories about people who have been unemployed after graduation and then found a satisfying job (academic or not). Tell me about someone who bounced back after a major health setback. Tell me about a new parent who took some time off at a transition point in their career and went on to do great things. Please tell me about the person who graduated without a job and didn't end up as a perpetual adjunct. Tell me how you made it work.

I need to hear encouraging stories, and I doubt I'm the only one. Please share!

Saturday, January 25, 2014


After considering joining Twitter for many months, I finally signed up. AspiringEcologist was too long of a username, so I'm anEcologist instead. Besides, I have a P-H-effing-D, so I think I can call myself An Ecologist instead of just an aspiring one now.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Titles and Affiliations (untitled and unaffiliated!)

Right now, I am title-less and institution-less. I'm unemployed, but hoping to bag a research postdoc. I have several questions that I would love for you, dear readers, to weigh in on.

EDIT (1/26/14): I want to clarify that these questions (revised) all pertain to courtesy appointments, not actual paid postdocs. I know how to search for and apply for actual jobs and postdocs, which is my first choice! But in the meantime...

1. How important is it for me to have an institutional affiliation, even if it's just an unpaid title? Will being institution-less hurt my job prospects? Will it make me look like some kind of academic leper?

2. Where should I try to affiliate? I'm sure I could get a courtesy title at my graduate institution, but we no longer live there. Would it be better to be at an institution here? 

3. What types of titles do people in this position (i.e. unemployed/volunteer postdoc) usually have? Of the possibilities, which are better?

Finally, if anyone has been in this position, I'd love to hear encouraging stories of how you made it work and landed somewhere with a paycheck.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Inside candidates

A good friend of mine from grad school was recently interviewed for a fabulous job. It was in a place she wanted to be doing what she wanted to do. However, when she got there for the interview, they told her that she wasn't meeting the head honcho because he couldn't be on the search committee due to a conflict of interest. His wife was also a candidate for the position. So, my friend went through the rest of the day-long interview feeling a bit bummed, but it also took some of the pressure off. Her odds of getting the position were low, so she might as well swing for the fences and really tell them her vision.

They offered her the job. I am so excited for her! I love having such awesome friends! I can't wait to see what she does in this position.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking forward to 2014

I think 2014 will be the year of transition. We just moved, and we'll move again in a couple of months. Hopefully I'll find a job before long. Jon will probably be transitioning into a new career, too. And Adele is continually learning and doing new things.

With so much unknown about my future employment, it feels a little difficult to set goals related to my career, but I do have some.

Get a job. This is a carryover from last year! A fellowship counts too. Something that will pay me on a regular basis, preferably research-related. I have research ambitions that I'm not ready to give up on, and I feel like I would be if I took a job that removed my from research completely.

Submit two manuscripts for publication. I think I can submit one before the end of January. Beyond that, I'm not sure which one I'd go for next. I've got to get my head back in research!

I'd like to go to a conference, too, but that will depend very much on my job and our financial situation. The rates go up now that I'm no longer a student, and if I can't get any financial assistance then it might not be possible. We'll see.

Complete the exercise program I started at Thanksgiving and then continue to do the exercises (or similar) at least 5x/week. It is gentle and doesn't take very much time. It's a matter of making the small amount of time to do it.

Get to the point where I can run and dance again without pain. This means that I need to continue to heal from birth by being mindful of how I move, and doing the exercises I mentioned above.

Go to 2 dance workshops and go dancing at least 10 times. I am hoping that this will be a way for me to make new friends, too.

Complete 4 photo books of Adele. There are two that I wanted to do before Christmas, but that didn't happen!

Give birthday gifts & cards on time! This year we were pretty bad about being on time with birthday gifts for nieces and nephews.

Go to Quaker meeting at least 12 times this year. This will also be a good way to meet new people. I went sporadically in Big City but it never fit well into my routine with all of my traveling and other weekend events. I would like to make space for it in my life again.

Schedule time for blogging each week. This is one that I didn't meet last year, but I think I should give it another shot this year. In the process, I should also think about whether or not to move to a new setting. I'm no longer an aspiring ecologist, I am an ecologist! Should this blog grow with me? Or have I outgrown it?

Refer to this list when setting weekly goals. I did a great job of setting weekly goals in 2013, and I'd like to continue. However, I did not refer to this list! I can do that, and it won't even be hard.

Add to and revise this list as necessary. I didn't make any changes last year, but this year could warrant some when I get a job.

This list of goals is scattered, but these are all things I'd like to make more room for in my life this year. Cheers to a new year in a new city!

I hope all of my readers find a way to make the world a better place in 2014!