Friday, March 4, 2011

Only moderately so

It is (finally) no secret that I am searching job postings. The depressing result of massive google and networking effort is that I have contacted every person I can think of, applied for nearly every single job I am remotely qualified for / interested in in the state of Connecticut in academic AND industrial settings, i.e., a total of 6, and nothing has come through. I did get some news, though. I heard from one position, where I found out I was one of 180 applicants. I also heard back from a second position, where I found out I was fourth on a list of three candidates.

On the one hand, such news (fourth! at the same institution of-the-180s!) ought to be encouraging. On the other hand, it just makes me laugh, because Hah-I-Just-Missed-It has been the theme of these past few months.

I spent the month before Christmas preparing my materials for a faculty position at an academic institution where I had a very, very good chance of getting an interview. After delayed-meetings after delayed-meetings, the search group got together two days ago, my painstakingly crafted materials at the top of their stack. Huzzah! And that's when their superiors announced the hiring freeze.

On Wednesday night, as I recovered from this unexpected news, I told Greg about the last academic job I could think of that might interest us. It was in a geographic location that I wasn't too psyched about, but I knew someone there, and I knew they wanted me to come out for an interview. The next day, I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in a few months. Yeah... can you guess where this is going? She just signed the papers accepting her tenure track faculty position at said institution.

There are other such stories, but I'll stop there. Point is, the jobs are few and far between, and having a PhD has not helped the situation. Whether I look at Universities or at Big Pharma, the only slots anybody seems to be hiring are for bench scientists. I love science, but being a bench scientist simply is not a career option for me at the moment. Phew, 13 years of academia, it's time to get going already. If only there were somewhere to go.

Not only are there massive research cuts across the country, I am limited geographically, and, well, I missed the effing hiring season. I was on maternity leave, searching my closet for a single pair (any pair!!!) of pants that fit, soaking through nursing bras, and contemplating what appears to have been a massive hormonal reorganization of the "care for others" and "care for self" portions of my brain. Academic job search was at the bottom of my to do list, and now that it is has surfaced in all of its hideous glory, I seem to be exactly two months too late. Of course I can't help but wonder how things might have proceeded differently had the timing of this pregnancy been anywhere near what I hoped it would be. (Not that I have a chip on my shoulder or anything like that...). Ah, well, dismally underpaid and uncertain life goes on.

So my search goes on, too. And as I reach into the depths of desperate googling, I often find myself giggling from a particularly persistent case of gallows humor. I thought you might be amused, as I was (uhm, exceedingly), by the concluding paragraph of a description for a job that I may very well be applying for later today:

"...may occasionally be required to lift standard laboratory equipment/supplies; may be exposed to some risk of injury from such elements as toxic vapors, and toxic radioactive materials and/or disease bearing substances; may be exposed to moderately disagreeable conditions."

Teehee. This seems to the plight of the science PhD: if not moderately, then highly so.

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