Big Changes for SS4BC?

I’ve been very hesitant to talk about a lot of the things that are going on in my career life recently on this blog because I’m not quite sure how many of my co-workers have access to this blog. However, I feel remiss to not talk about what I’m going through to the blogging community.

Many of you have known for quite some time that I’ve been unhappy with my job. The last few weeks have reached a point of absolutely miserableness. The very idea of having to stay in a state I don’t like, in a town I don’t enjoy, around people I can’t stand, doing a job that on its good days is bearable – well, this doesn’t seem like the best course of action for me.

I know that life is short. I’ve spent 2.5 years at this job and have learned a lot. My boss expects me to stay here another year. However, I just can’t see me doing this and not going clinically insane. Now that the teaching duties of the spring are over with I feel like there isn’t anything even worth doing here anymore.

I’ve noticed that I’ve become absolutely depressed here and have resorted to some one of my tried and tested ways of making myself feel better: Clothes shopping. Last weekend I dropped $300 on work attire –  i.e. work for a job that I don’t have yet.

So here are my current options:

1) Stay put

Stay here at this job for the next year. If I can buck up my spirits, I may be able to make it. July 31st, 2011 is my official end date.

2) Job in Kansas

I have an interview in two weeks for a job in Kansas. It is at a school like the one that I want to be at in San Diego. However, it isn’t in San Diego, it is in Kansas. And while I have nothing fundamentally against Kansas – it isn’t San Diego. My friends are in San Diego, my family is in San Diego.

I’m also extremely worried that the salary in Kansas won’t be competitive to what I want. Looking at a website online the mean salary for new faculty at this school (in 2007) was $39,000 for a 9-month salary. I’m making more than this now (and the cost of living factor is HIGHER in Kansas than it is here). I am not going to move to Kansas to take a pay decrease. Yes, it is a 9-month salary so I could theoretically earn money in the 3 months off for summer – which would bring me up to $52,000 in a year, but I won’t know until after my interview how likely it is to get summer work. I’ve decided that I won’t accept an offer here of less than $42,000 (with $45,000 being my asking price). At $45,000, if I worked in the summer, I’d make $60,000 – which is my ideal salary per year.

I’ll know more about this after the interview.

3) Move back to San Diego

Yah, I don’t have a large enough savings account to really swing this. But I have a friend who already said she would put me up while I tried to find something. I am going to apply for a few jobs in the area now and can potentially plan to just move in August (moving in August would be the only way I could ensure I could get out of my current lease at my apartment). I may or may not be able to get a full time job when I arrived, but I would be able to get some adjunct positions and do some tutoring. Starting in the fall I would apply for academic jobs, including the position in San Diego that I want.

This idea is financially very risky. And exceptionally scary. Moving to a city with no job and no promise of one. But I’m pretty sure I could make $2,000/month in ancillary income (enough to survive) without issue with the skills I possess. And the whole idea that I can’t just pick up and leave because I don’t have an adequate savings account makes me regret not savings first to my savings account and then paying down my debt.

Right now I feel like I’m at the mercy of my circumstances rather than being able to hold out for exactly the job that I want. A large savings account affords you more than just security – it really does afford you the ability of choice in your life. I have never believed in this so strongly as I do right now.

4) Other options.

Believe it or not other things have been going through my head as well. I could take some visiting assistant professor positions. There are a lot across the country that are available. They’re typically 1 year deals. Which is annoying because you move somewhere and then have to move again in a year, but it gets me out of where I am. I’ve also seriously been considering going to law school or at least studying to be a patent agent. With the Ph.D. in chemistry and my type of post-doctoral work – adding a J.D. in Intellectual Property would boost my salary earning power double. With the patent agent, I would just need to pass an exam – no law school required. There is a class being offered online by the American Chemical Society on patents and patent law. I’m thinking about taking it. However it costs $1,000. However, a class that costs $1,000 is less than going to law school for a year and discovering that I hate it. Now just so you guys don’t think I’m really smokin’ crack here, I have been contemplating going to law school since before I went to graduate school. And even when I was in graduate school I thought about going to law school when I finished. The idea of taking more classes turned me off of it while I was in graduate school, but now I think I’m emotionally mature enough to handle more school and to do it with flying colors. Also, I can make some pretty decent money in the school year doing some adjunct teaching while I go to school – to I would only need to take student loans to cover tuition.

Honestly, I’m a little frightened by how seriously I’m considering the law school option – and may even pursue this in the evenings if I DID get a job in San Diego (there is an evening program that takes 4 years to complete at one of the law schools in San Diego). A starting salary of $100k is nothing to sneeze at… especially if I found that I really enjoyed the work.

Conclusion of all this

I really need/want out. And apparently I’m at the point where I’m willing to take drastic measures to do so. This is all very frightening and consumes just about all my waking thoughts.

Whew… it feels good to get this out in the open…

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14 Responses to Big Changes for SS4BC?

  1. Check out the book 48 Days to the Work You Love. I found it to be very helpful and inspirational.

    Good Luck!

  2. Katie says:

    Wow that’s a lot of choices. I would say Option 3 and 4 together seems to be a good choice. Can you move to Dan Diego and then start working on the exam? And this way you would have something to say when people ask what you have been upto.

    Good luck with everything. I hope you are able to do something about your situation

  3. Jessca says:

    Hang in there…I think calculated risks to promote your happiness are good. Even if it’s not what everyone else thinks you should do.

  4. Sunflowers says:

    I did law school in the evening program. I worked full-time for 2 years, part-time for the last two years. I enjoyed very little of it. I feel like it’s aged me 10 years, I’ve gained weight, I’ve gotten angrier, more argumentative, and I’m saddled with more debt than I could have imagined. But you’re at a different place in your life than I was (basically I went straight from undergrad to law school), so you may have a very different experience. And in 4-5 years, the legal market (hopefully) won’t be as depressed.

    But whether you go to law school or not, it sounds like you’d really like to move to San Diego. IMO – do it! 🙂

    If you do decide to go to law school, message me… I have a ton of books that can help.

  5. Okturn delMoniq says:

    Whoa. Tons of options, which is awesome. I had no idea (or at least no memory of one) that you were interested in law school. That would be so awesome.

    I completely hear you on the pathetic savings account limiting your flexibility. I am in a very similar boat out here.

    Of course, San Diego would be fabulous. But realistically, I say wait until the Kansas interview is over before doing anything too drastic.

    Now, I need to come up with a list of options.

  6. eemusings says:

    Completely agree that a savings account affords you choice – never thought of it quite that way.

    The law course also sounds pretty promising and definitely worth looking at seriously.

  7. Especially if you are willing to do patent law, law school could significantly raise your earning potential, if you can get into the right law schools. However, there are serious drawbacks as well.

    In your situation, with an end goal of living in San Diego after graduation, I would go to law school if I got into Stanford, Harvard, or Yale. I might go if I got into Chicago, Columbia, NYU, Michigan, or UCLA. Lesser schools like UVA and Texas will give you considerably less chance of making it into the top tier San Diego legal market, which is extremely competitive. Admissions for Fall 2010 have been closed since last fall; you would be applying for, at best, Summer 2011 admission anyway.

    Law School is astonishingly expensive and there are almost no graduate fellowships to help defer the cost. Also, many, many people are unhappy in the legal profession; you earn top tier salaries by giving up basically your entire life to your firm. I advise you to do a great deal of research before going the law school route.

  8. I know how you feel. I hate my job too. But I’m currently sticking to it while trying to find another job and look for other opportunities to learn… Including registering myself for a Masters that I do not want. Good luck. Hope something turns up for you.

  9. Fig says:

    You seem to have a lot of choices. I would encourage you to choose one that doesn’t make you miserable. You are right that life is to short. Don’t spend it unhappy. Good luck!

  10. MJ says:

    Hope you don’t mind the two cents of someone who was link hopping across the blogverse.

    I’m also a PhD in chemistry and have worked in patent law for over two years now. Many law firms will actually hire on science PhD’s even without a background in law for their technical experience. The work you do varies, but it’s a great way to figure out if law is for you. I am about 95% sure I do not want to go the JD route, but I will take the patent bar to become an agent.

    Lots of the bigger law firms have been hammered recently, but many of the small to medium sized firms, especially those that deal in patent law, are still going strong.

    Just something to think about since you are thinking about job hunting.

    If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer what I can via email.

    • This is a very good idea – if you like the firm and fit in well, you can go for your JD and be assured of jobs over the summer and after graduation. Plus, if you hate it, you won’t be out 150K + in student loans to find that out.

  11. Ann says:

    I don’t have any good input that the others haven’t already commented on, but I’m rooting for you to come back to SD simply because I live here and I know the sort of draw this city has on a person when you’ve been away (I lived 10 years in another city during and after college).

  12. Red says:

    You sound like me when I got it into my head that I could leave my last job. After that initial seed was planted, it was all I could think about!

  13. Pingback: It’s Worse Than I Thought «

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