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Current status: In Texas, applying for jobs and writing manuscripts. Departure date looks to be pushed back to the end of January. Subsequent destination: Lincoln, Nebraska, for 6 months, for more manuscript-writing and an experiment. Destination after that, unknown. I was involved in an NSF proposal which might have extended my time in Lincoln, but learned today that it did not get funded (PHOOEY). So, that's that.

Several postdoc positions have popped up this year that have sounded quite enticing, but timing's tricky and I can't seem to get useful feedback from some key players on whether I should apply for them or not. Part of the question is, can I stand to spend another __ years living somewhere on a temporary basis? Can I stand to keep gutting it out in a tight academic job market? An extremely helpful phone conversation with my brother indicated to me that I'm still on the young end of the spectrum in terms of applying for faculty positions within my subdiscipline, but the ratio of my "years since PhD" to number of publications is at least within a reasonable range for my field, and I know my publications are of good quality.

The lead time involved in applying for faculty jobs might astound non-academics - the timeframe is around a full year between applying and starting a job. In the meantime, I find it a bit hard to wrap my head around the short turnaround time for non-academic jobs.

One of the difficult aspects of this stage of things is that there are many people in my life who would like to be reassured that, on some level or another, things will be all right. Figuring out how to respond to that is, in itself, emotionally draining.


( 13 remarks — Remark )
Dec. 10th, 2014 10:57 pm (UTC)
This sounds so soul-breaking.
Dec. 11th, 2014 04:08 pm (UTC)
Yes and no. I can bring myself back to two main thoughts that keep the soul breakage in check: (1) think about how lucky we are to live without worrying about where our next meal will come from. (2) I keep asking myself - am I bitter about any of what has gotten me this far? And the answer is, no. Whatever I pursue next, I will pursue whole-heartedly, and if the academic track doesn't work out, there are other directions to take.

It can be tricky to manage motivation, though, when applying for faculty jobs and postdoc positions. I have to be comfortable with only applying for things that I'm excited about.
Dec. 11th, 2014 04:03 pm (UTC)
Just curious- what is the recommended pubs/years past PhD ratio?

Also, yes. Soul-breaking. It is good that you have many things you love that will be constant in your life regardless of this uncontrollable variable.
Dec. 11th, 2014 04:05 pm (UTC)
It can vary, but a person should have between 15-20 pubs by the 7-year mark, from what I've heard, and at least a couple should be high-profile. My general goal at this point is going to be 3-4 pubs/year.
Dec. 11th, 2014 04:13 pm (UTC)
Hah! Total, or just post PhD? I thought I was doing good at 2/year. How discouraging!
Dec. 11th, 2014 04:15 pm (UTC)
Total, but keep in mind that that number is VERY subdiscipline-specific! You're probably doing well for your field - my impression is that it's a smaller pool than the one I'm in. Some of the jobs I've applied for have over 300 applicants, so a person has to be a major rockstar.
Dec. 11th, 2014 04:25 pm (UTC)
I got no idea about any numbers in my field- I mean, as you know, since I left my field of origin I have basically become a crazy person who does what I want, and so far have been lucky enough to find cranky old dudes to tolerate my strange behavior. I do not have high hopes that I will find a university that will tolerate my wild and crazy research, even though it is cutting edge and awesome. I suspect I have become too radical, but at least I have had fun, and my stuff is out there.
Dec. 11th, 2014 08:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's important and useful to remember our successes at this point! Plus, I think many of the people who wind up in academic positions follow something other than a "straight-and-narrow" trajectory.

I hope there are places that will find your radical-ness refreshing and useful!
Dec. 11th, 2014 09:22 pm (UTC)
I guess I'll find out! And you are completely right that we should spend some time focusing on our successes.

Some days there are a lot of things that get me down, lately. It helps me to remember that I probably have a whole lot of life still coming up, that there's no way to know what's going to happen, and that basically all my successes are the results of tremendous amounts of failure ;-)
Dec. 12th, 2014 04:16 am (UTC)
It's pretty clear to me that you're in one of those very hard periods of life, so it's not too surprising that there are a lot of things that can get you down these days. Your reminders are good reminders for all of us.

I take DM as an example for celebrating successes - I only wish I knew how to emulate her wonderful attitude towards the wild and crazy thing known as the academic experience. :-)
Dec. 11th, 2014 07:21 pm (UTC)
sorry to hear about the funding not coming through! i have to imagine that many people drop out of the rat race at the point you are at now, so there may be slackened competition if you can get through this hurdle! and if you end up leaving academia, at least you can choose where to live.
Dec. 11th, 2014 08:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, a lot of people drop out at this stage, or at the "newly minted PhD stage," but the ratio of applicants-to-jobs is still discouragingly high. On the other hand, that means that those who get hired are pretty high-caliber, which should do good things for the state of higher-ed, in theory. Overall, I've got to keep my head down and keep trying at this for now!
( 13 remarks — Remark )

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