Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's freezing all around us

My interview for that academic administration job has now officially been cancelled. Just as I was starting to get excited about meeting and interviewing with all the important decision makers, the Institution went into "freeze mode". By that I mean a hiring freeze was put in place across the board. Apparently you can't even hire in a postdoc that you have funding for on a grant. There's no set plan for when this freeze will be lifted but it seems to have been put into place with a wide swipe of the hand. The position I was applying for they really do need someone but maybe now they will look closer within the Institute and promote up. It could open up again in the future but I think I can't count on that anymore.
I'm now in a situation I've never been in before - doing a job I don't enjoy but currently without other options. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful to have a job in this economy. And it's not particularly difficult for me to do this job either. But it doesn't give purpose to my day and that's what always drove me in my academic position. I'm not prepared to give up on my future dreams just yet but I do understand that I'm no spring chicken and the longer I'm in my current position, the less marketable I will be for the types of jobs I would want to do for the second half of my career.
It's an interesting place for me to be. I knew I was gambling when I left my academic job two years ago but it never crossed my mind that I wouldn't be doing something fulfilling. I had great hopes for my move to this company. Although I can look for other positions at other companies, I have a certain amount of "clout" at my current company and I'm not sure it would be smart to move somewhere where I have to build that all over again. Some days I feel confident something good is coming down the pike for me; other days I'd like to turn back the clock and go back to academics.
Thankfully though this week will be a short working week. The family is heading home to New England midweek to celebrate the parental unit's 50th wedding anniversary. It's actually their 51st but they postponed the party last year because I was in the middle of the tough chemo and couldn't travel. I'm looking forward to the party and seeing my parents but not looking forward to schlepping SciYing and SciYang half way across the country.
Honestly I'm turning into such a curmudgeon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Twists and Turns of Life

Life has been throwing curves - certainly hasn't been boring. It just proves that you never really know what's around the next corner.

Curve 1:

Plus: I'm going to Hawaii. As the top performing person in my 2008 biotech position (you know the one they laid me off from), I get rewarded with a trip to Hawaii for 6 days. It's part company meeting part time for relaxation and fun for those top performers in a variety of job positions. As I transitioned into a new position but stayed with the same company, I am still eligible to attend.

Minus: We couldn't get coverage for the kids so SciDad can't go. :(
But my best friend who has helped me through some tough times is going to go with me.

Curve 2:

Plus: I received a call from the executive search firm regarding the academic administration position that I had interviewed for several weeks ago. They want to set up a time for a full interview so I'm still in the running.

Minus: Same day, Institution imposed a hiring freeze!!

What next?!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I've seen the lab from both sides now

Tonight I'm sitting in a hotel room near the campus of Big U where tomorrow the service engineer, who has worked this territory for years, will give me the grand tour and introduce me to some of the labs that currently use our technology. It's an interesting position to be in because for years, I was the PI that these people would come into the lab to see. And I was pretty consistently short with them - annoyed sometimes by their presence. Just people trying to sell me stuff I always mumbled.
Being on the other side now, I can tell you a couple of things:
1) It's hard work, physical work. And you spend a lot of time trying to track down PIs or lab managers.
2) More often these days your life science company account personnel are not "green behind the ears". I personally worked with another PhD. and knew of another from a different company. All came to their current jobs for different reasons -some family, some financial, some for other reasons.
3) It's not just about the sale. They really don't want to sell you something you don't need. That doesn't make sense because this creates a disgruntled customer which tends to take more time, which is time away from those good opportunities in other laboratories.
In some ways, the last two years have been a lesson in humility. So next time one of "us" walks into your lab or office, just keep an open mind.