Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Do I want a job at really big U?

So a little update. Things are going well, really well. I just had a fairly high impact publication and just submitted three papers to awesome journal, really cool journal, and meh its a journal. I have tons of funding and am going up for early tenure. (Yeah its okay to hate on me, I use to hate on people like this too, but read back some pasts last year and you'll see it hasn't always been this way). Suddenly, there are a number of people asking if I am interested in moving, planning to move, or unhappy at midwestern R1U. Even my husband is talking about whether or not I should "step-up".

To be clear, I am not looking for a job. I do not have any offers, former or informal, and have not even had hints of a job. I *love* midwestern R1U. It has nearly everything I need for my career to be successful. I have smart and eager collaborators, supportive colleagues (in every sense of that word), talented students, and an incredibly supportive chair. I really haven't considered leaving to this point, but, a small but persistent but, it is true that I would have more opportunities at really big U.

The students there are more likely to be on fellowship (= free) to me. They are also probably smarter, although this does not translate directly into laboratory success. I would probably have more space and easier access to funding. Downsides, I would still be near the bottom of the totem pole so teaching and service duties may not be what I would like. I also know that really big U's tend to be super-competitive and if I went there as anything less than a full professor, there could be difficulties with promotion and tenure. Often they will hire people as an Associate professor without tenure and make you apply again in a year or two after arrival. All in all, I probably wouldn't want to go to a Really Big U until I am a full professor. However, if that is a goal, not now but ever, I will need to do certain things to make that a career possibility. So, this is something that I am thinking about. What do I really want from this job?


At 10:59 PM , Blogger LabMom said...

Congrats on the success (and the happiness!)

I don't have much advice other than, if you are really happy where you are, why give it up for something you aren't even sure you want?

If you are doing something you love, and feel successful at midwestern R1U, why would you want to leave. A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush. :)

Congrats again! It sounds like things are going great!

At 10:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling the tale of a happy TT woman. Reading the other blogs about how bad someone's life sucks is so depressing.

Congrats to you, and thanks for being a positive role model.

At 2:01 PM , Blogger Schlupp said...

What Anonymous said!

At 6:19 PM , Blogger GMP said...

I am in a similar situation -- my Big Midwestern R1 is really cool and also brrrrrr cold! :)

I can understand the appeal of going to a really famous school, and it's something I think about often. But my collaborators are great and my family really likes it here so I likely won't move soon, although I have been approached...

The oportunities at really famous private universities are really great -- access to star students with fellowships, much more intramural money, prestige that does open a lot of doors (even at funding agencies). So I totally understand the desire to give it a try -- there are good reasons for that. Plus, for me, I would like to try out for the really big leagues, with the nastiest of competitors. See what I'm made of! :)

Congrats that you are doing so great! Best of luck.

At 1:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, you do not want a job at a really big U! I have seen your dept and your colleagues and above all your wonderful supportive chair. Your dept thinks the world of you. It is SOOOO important to have all of that.

Lets say you move to a bigger school (like mine). Although you might have decent students (btw there is no guarantee you will get the best students in a big U, you could get the leftovers) you could also have jerks for colleagues and horrible administration (chair etc.) The headaches caused by unethical competitive jerks and uncaring chairs will suck up all your creativity and pretty much make you HATE your job. Then what is the point of having good students!

You are in a good place so enjoy your life and your job. Don't think of moving unless you are a superstar and a new bigU will simply put you on a pedestal and workship you!

At 5:27 PM , Anonymous oli said...

First, congratulations! I can't really offer a word of advice because I'm starting my PhD "career" tomorrow, so I am far from knowing what it must feel to be in your situation.

Second, the reason I really want to comment on this post is to say thank you for creating such interesting/uplifting/nourishing blog. I'm looking forward to reading this blog.

At 12:02 PM , Blogger karaoke beat said...

that's good
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