I think I’m over the bitterness now. Mostly.At the end of May, my fellowship funding runs out. I entered this lab on a three-year postdoctoral training grant supplement funded by the NIH to promote re-entry into biomedical research careers. After a few years off the bench--time spent in scientific writing/editing and in caring for the bean children--I was eager-beaver as a naïve undergrad to do science again.
Three years flies by fast.Three years is not (usually) enough time to build a real body of published research achievement. Not these days.
A lot can change in three years. A lot can change in 6 months.For the first two years, I was thrilled to be back in the lab. My project was cooking. Walking in every day was an adventure. I loved my co-workers.
I still love my co-workers. I hate my project.I expect to write up a small manuscript before I finally leave. . . but my project has gone downhill in ways that don’t bear going into right now. And once my fellowship runs out, there is no place for me in this lab. I always knew my PI would not be able to offer me a permanent staff position; he has too many permanent employees as is that he has committed to. I did think he’d be able to support me for at least another year on his current R01 grant. . . but I was mistaken. So I’m out the door a year sooner than I thought.
And I’m done. I’m not doing science anymore.I’m not putting up with the extreme career instability, the pressure and crazy hours and pay that would be considered insulting in the business world. I’m not walking out of the house on a bright Saturday morning, saying goodbye to my little fresh-faced bean-girls to spend a full day in a dark basement doing confocal microscopy or sitting at a computer laboriously quantitating image slides.
I’m not looking for another research job which would probably also be cut in a few years time.It’s time to be realistic. I’m more than a decade past my Ph.D. receipt. The academic research game is for the young: it’s an “up or out” career structure. I didn’t make it in the allotted time. I’m old and expensive. I’m out.
So the question is. . . now what? What do I do in a small Midwestern city with limited career options?I’m going to be looking to get back into freelance scientific writing and editing. . . and into writing some fiction as well.
I’m looking to spend weekends with my family again. Cooking decent meals for dinner. Cleaning the house.Not being too tired to talk to my children or spend time with the husband.
Other than that. . . well, I hope to figure it out.