When Your Employer Wants to Break Off the Relationship
Mar21

When Your Employer Wants to Break Off the Relationship

Last week, Christine posted a very heartfelt assessment of her struggle to continue on with graduate research although she has lost the fuzzy feelings she once had for it. She convincingly described her relationship with her graduate research project as being similar to one with a person, and how she felt she may be falling out of love with research. Well, what if you’re on the receiving end? It occurred to me that what I and my (now former) colleagues have experienced is more akin to having someone, or rather, something, fall out of love with you. The situation was handled very professionally, and some of us have ended up in better roles (i.e., relationships) as a result. Yes, it’s business, not personal, but you can’t completely avoid the feeling that you’ve been dumped. Not the most positive emotional state to be in when you begin your job search. You need to let go of that, and quick. Don’t cry into your beer. (That’ll just dilute your beer. You’re a scientist, remember? Hello!) If it requires some sort of ritual ceremony to purge yourself of these negative feelings – do it. It is here that I, much as Christine did, feel compelled to point out that this analogy in no way reflects my own relationship status. To illustrate, I will now go into game show contestant mode: “Hi Alex, I’d like to say hi to my beautiful wife of twenty-three years, and my two awesome children, my terrific son and my outstanding daughter, not to mention our three phenomenal cats. Hi everyone, I love you!!” There, I made nice. Okay, I don’t know how valuable my advice might be currently, since I am still "in transition" and have yet to “land” in my next position, but I’m confident that it will all pay off in the end. So, here are things, drawn from various resources and my own thoughts, which keep me sane. Okay, sane-ish. Don’t bad-mouth your ex. You need to take the high road – yes, you can “just be friends.” It’s your choice, though – but just see what happens if you trash talk your past employer in a job interview with another company. Yeah, that will help. They’ll see your baggage the minute you walk in the door. You might as well walk in naked and speaking in tongues. The end result will be the same. No job…and possibly some jail time. Don’t be a stalker. Seriously, what do you have to gain by looking at job postings at your former employer? Yes, they will begin hiring again, for different disciplines and/or in other locations...

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Falling Out of Love With Research
Mar14

Falling Out of Love With Research

I had a thought this morning. (Well actually I had lots of thoughts this morning, but one that I feel especially compelled to blog about). Being in grad school is a lot like being in a relationship. When you first get to grad school, you join a lab, get a new project, and then there's what I call the puppy love phase. Everything is so promising and bright. There are fuzzy feelings all over the place. You just feel so in love, so optimistic for what the future holds. Nothing could go wrong. That was me three years ago. They (my fellow grad students) called me the "naïve optimist", no joke. Time passes. You realize that the technique you are developing which appeared so promising at first is actually chock-full of problems. You have to work to solve those problems. It takes a lot of time. Numerous failed attempts to fix things are spotted with few successes. You try everything you can think of to figure out a solution. Now hear me out. Does this or does this not sound like the period in a relationship when you're starting to fall out of love? I have to interject at this point and just say that I am happily married to an amazing guy and that my description of how my relationship with my project is going through a rocky period in no way mirrors my relationship with my husband. I'm just saying that it's like a relationship. Now that that's all cleared up... So you're starting to fall out of love with your project. You get mad at it some days and don't want to talk to it. But then you realize that while you can try to just keep ignoring the problems, they're not going to go away on their own. Sometimes the problems fester and get worse with time. But if you want the relationship, I mean the project, to work, you need to keep on trucking. You need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Because if you don't, your project is on the line, and the chances you'll ever finish and escape with those three coveted letters after your last time-- they get slimmer. Your choices are: suck it up and keep trying, or walk away from everything you already invested so many years of your life working on. Gosh, I feel like I could turn this into a daytime soap opera. I'll call it: Days of our graduate school lives. Here's the thing though. I still love being in grad school. I love learning, I love being part of an intellectual...

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Pushing on
Dec31

Pushing on

Or: Reject no more! That's right, kids. I managed to snag myself a writing internship at last. I'll be starting at Reuters Health next week. Don't have much of an idea how I managed to do it, but I did write the world's most obnoxious cover letter for that application. That might have gotten the editor's attention. It was a combination of that plus persistence, I imagine. Regardless, yay me! But this is mixed news. I'll be pretty busy with this internship (and I'm also still writing my thesis, ag), so I won't be blogging here any more. That's the sad part. I want to thank everyone for reading for the past six months. It's been mostly fun, occasionally hard, and always educational. The blog roundtable from a few weeks ago was definitely the high point, although my interview with Conservation Scientist Greg Dale Smith was a blast, as was meeting Jorge Cham. Smashing a vuvuzela ranks up there, too. I also want to send my gratitude to my fellow roundtable bloggers: Matthew Hartings, Paul Bracher, and super-duper most especially Chemjobber. He started out as a resource, and turned into a friend. I'll miss chatting about job stuff with you, CJ. And sorry if this is starting to sound like an academy award speech, but I also want to thank everyone at CEN for their advice and support, especially Bethany Halford, Jyllian Kemsley, Carmen Drahl, Amanda Yarnell, and Rachel Pepling. Especially especially Amanda and especially especially especially Rachel. How will I cope in the future, in a post-Rachel world? I really don't know. So. While all this is sad for me, it might be good for you--a new Electron Pusher is needed. CEN wants to keep this blog going! Send an email to r_pepling AT acs DOT org if you're interested. We'll also need a few guest posts too, if you want to test the waters before plunging in, polar bear-like. Or if you just want to write one post. Whatever. Okay, I'll be moseying along now. You can still find me at my sad neglected blog (maybe), but definitely on twitter. See ya...

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Without a net
Sep30

Without a net

The time has come, the blogger said To talk of several sundries Of posts and time and thesis-es Of things that are not fun-dries And if, perchance, I'll find a job And when I will be done, please* The time comes in every grad student's life when they must stand up, buckle down, and actually (sigh) graduate. This time has finally come for me. Yes, I've been "writing my thesis" for a little while now, but that's been kind of a part-time thing while I ran around and finished up experiments and loose ends and such. But now? No more experiments to do, no more loose ends to weave in, and no more putting it off. I'm finishing this semester (dangit), so it's time to just get the thesis done. So this is what I am doing, with all the all I've got. Everything else will be pushed to the side for the time being. In the past, the general MO for a graduating student has been to line up a job or post-doc, defend, then scamper along on one's merry way to the pre-arranged next source of income. But personally, I've never been much of a traditionalist. I have no job lined up. There is no internship set up for me to go to.** So I don’t really know what’s going to happen with me come January or so. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I’ve decided not to think about that just now. All the panic that's banging around the insides of my skull right now is thesis panic, not ohcraphowamIgoingtofeedmyself panic. Again, push to the side, push to the side. In light of this impending thesismageddon, I'm probably not going to be around much for the next two months or so (I don't have an exact defense date yet, but expect I will be setting one soon). I'll likely bop in here or there with a quick link, or maybe a stray profile or two. In the meantime, I highly recommend you read Chemjobber for employment news, The Haystack and In The Pipeline for pharma-related job news, and Garfield minus Garfield for a sense of the absurd. Words of encouragement, advice, or deep questioning of my intelligence are welcome in the comments. TTFN. . *We know what this comes from, yes? Yes. Sorry for that last near rhyme. There aren't a lot of things that rhyme with 'sundries'. **I have a couple more applications out, but no emails that say, "Please Leigh, come intern for us please please" quite...

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Money, it’s a gas
Sep16

Money, it’s a gas

Grab that cash with both hands And make a stash So sayeth both Pink Floyd and Chemjobber. The latter put a couple of interesting posts up this week about money tips for grad students and contributing to an IRA. Worth a read. I'm visiting a collaborator's lab to make some measurements this week (read: working 16 hour days and getting very little sleep), but will be back next week with a profile of Jake Yeston, Senior Editor at Science. Have a great...

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Learning from rejection
Aug17

Learning from rejection

I am a first-class reject. Really. I’ve been turned down by some genuinely excellent people. A few weeks ago, I got a rejection letter about a job I had applied for a bit back. It was very nice and polite. And I really appreciated it because they let me know they had hired someone else. Many companies don’t do that. So even though I didn’t get the job, I was left feeling kind of warm and fuzzy. I didn't actually interview for the job, so I didn't respond to say thank you (like you should if you get an interview). But if you do interview and get turned down, should that be the end of the post-rejection conversation? Not if you want to turn it into a positive experience, said Liane Gould, Manager for ACS Career Services. “You can ask the interviewer about how you could have done better,” she said. Specifically, they might give you feedback about your skill set, and how you might become more attractive to a potential employer. This isn’t going to help too much with that current application, but who knows? Another job might open up soon. Or a similar company might be looking for a similar employee. The point is, you can learn a lot from getting denied. And let's face it: all of us will be rejects at one time or another. (I am speaking only of the job market, not your personal life.) In the current market, it's likely that your "no" pile can easily trip into the double digits, depending on how many jobs you apply for. I know this from personal experience. In my first post, I alluded to my Summer of No, in which I got rejected from every writing internship I applied for. I won’t lie--it was painful. There was a particularly cruel week when I got two rejections a day, three days in a row. That left me feeling...well, you can probably imagine. I was pretty low. But somewhere in those self-pitying days, my attitude began to turn. Getting another writing internship is pretty important to my future career, yes, but I was still healthy, still happily married, and (for the time being) still able to put food on the table and make my mortgage payments. Besides, am I not a chemistry grad student? I've tackled some pretty major setbacks during my time in the lab. And even though it's sometimes taken me a long time (read: years) to solve some seriously tough problems, I've always won. I've always gotten stuff to work. So this getting turned down repeatedly stuff? This I could handle, and maybe...

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