September 1, 2009 2 Comments
One of the more terrifying aspects of my current position is that I know it is temporary.
On one hand, this is fantastic because if it is a bad position for me, I know I won’t be stuck in it forever. On the other hand, I know from Day 1 that the whole point of this job is to prepare me for the next. And as such, each day I should be considering how I’m supposed to prepare for the future.
I’ve lucked out a bit in getting the current fellowship that I’m on. From July 1st 2009, I have two years to get a job. However, in academia, jobs only get announced once a year. So currently, the job announcements are out for the 2010-2011 academic year. The other post-doc in the lab who started 6 months before me is currently applying for this round. Actually it is pretty nice to see what he’s going through first.
However, while the application goes on a year before the position is open, you start PREPARING for that position starts at least the year before. For those of you bad at math or logic: That would be NOW for me.
Essentially in the next year, I need to publish or have accepted for publication two research articles. I also need to figure out in EXACT terms exactly what I want to do for my own independent research project. Not just loose sketches on a page like I have now. I also need to find letters of support and collaboration from others in my field. This will probably be one of the more difficult things for me, given I still don’t know what I want to DO. I also need to write up a teaching statement. I also need to put together a budget of how much I think it will take for me to “start-up” a lab from nothing. Oh yeah… AND I need to figure out exactly what type of position I’d like to have. I used to think it was at a small liberal arts college. However, after having to mentor two undergraduates for the last year, I’m beginning to realize that I’m MUCH better at thinking up ideas and expecting the student to figure out the details then helping the student with the step by step process. Thus, I’m realizing that Ph.D. students would be a much better fit for my mentoring mentality. However, I would totally need to hire a lab manager to help me with the day-to-day student mentoring (Okturn, you’re top of my list!). But alas, to get a job at some place like this, I need some kick-ass ideas. My current ideas are great at a liberal arts college, but suck balls for a major research institution.
So something needs to give… I guess I just need to think up better ideas. I just don’t know how to start!