Surviving the game

If you’ve arrived here via Twitter or a previous edition of this blog, you might have noticed that my journey so far has been a bit bumpy. I know that a career in science, and in particular, a postdoc position, is never exactly easy. There are always hurdles and sometimes walls. I also will acknowledge that some people have good postdoc experiences. However, this one has been… suboptimal, for reasons that I might detail at some point in time.

The thing I’ve realized over the past several months is that science careers are very much like poker. For a while, I stayed at the table. I folded on some hands, called others, but I stayed in the game, even though I was bleeding chips. At some point, I started thinking it might be time to leave the table, but I just wasn’t quite ready “give up”. In other words, I was this guy:

I reached a point where I felt like I was beginning to arrest the outflow, and maybe I was even beginning to win a few rounds. It seemed like progress.

Then it all fell apart again. This time, though, I knew it was time to walk away. I realized that this wasn’t about giving up but about cutting my losses, that it was time I started looking out for my best interests and that staying was not part of it. It was mildly terrifying to effectively give my notice without having something lined up, but for myriad reasons, it was necessary to maintain my sanity.

It turns out the timing was impeccable. Just a couple of weeks after I started looking for a new job, an open postdoc position in my current city was posted on a science jobs site. The focus and approaches of the project aligned beautifully with what I was looking for. There was some peripheral overlap with my graduate work, but there was substantial divergence as well. The long and short of it, the PI liked what he saw, as did I, and I will be joining the lab in a few weeks. I have a seat at another table in another town, so to speak.

I have learned a great deal from the experience, which I will share in future posts. In the meantime, Kenny Rogers and the Muppets can sum up what might be the most important part:

This entry was posted in advisor/trainee interactions, attitudes, politics in science, postdoc life, science suckitude, things they don't tell you in grad school and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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