23 January 2011

What's next?

Just when I'd decided to wait out applying for any new jobs for a while, something's come up.

For the most part, I've been had the mindset that I would naturally follow the grad student-postdoc-assist prof track and settle into being a PI somewhere. Since I already live in NYC with kids, I was hoping that it would be here. I love this place, and have had a hard time imagining leaving... But I always knew that at some point, I would likely have to make some decisions about the Big Apple.

After being totally frustrated with the process of applying for jobs (see here), this past Fall, I took one or two looks at the list I made of positions I planned to apply for, and quietly set it underneath a stack of papers to be read, which were under notes from seminars and my lab notebook. I just didn't have it in me. In addition, I am lucky enough to have my own funding, which is good for another (almost) 2 years. So instead of sending out applications, I decided that I should really focus on getting out a couple publications.

In my mind, I imagined a scenario where I submitted my K99 at the end of 2011, and it came through just as my current funding ended in fall of 2012... or even a little earlier. Then I would be applying for academic jobs in the Fall 2012 with that in my pocket. It wouldn't necessarily guarantee that a job would open up in NYC, but at least it would give me a big boost when applying for jobs. But then, of course, the most obvious wrinkle in the plan is the possibility of not winning the K99....

Either way, I'd still be a postdoc going into debt living in NYC for far too long.

So when a friend emailed my a job listing for a position that described me fairly well in Industry (HUGE industry), I said "what the hell" and sent a CV. In my experience, Industry does not call back unless someone on the inside hands your CV to the person in charge of hiring; I didn't expect any response. But then the strange things started happening. They emailed back. The next day. And wanted a phone interview 2 days later. The phone interview went well, & I could tell they were planning to ask me in for a visit. Which they did - within a week.

The day of interviews started off with a 30 min Powerpoint presentation, where I tried to summarize 10 years of research on various projects into an interesting cohesive story. Then I met with several people, all of whom were super nice and seemed to be trying to persuade me more than I was trying to persuade them. And I liked them. I liked what they were doing. And I told them so...

And on the train back to the City, I got a call on my mobile that the consensus was positive, and HR would call me very soon. And now, after a few more phone calls, I'm waiting to see what the "offer" will look like... and have just told our 9-yr old about the possibility of leaving the City (more on that later).

I'm a little dumb-founded by it all. The speed, the new directions, the possibility of getting out of debt and making a radical change in life. My current PI is nice enough about it, but I don't think she likes the idea of me leaving academia. Neither does my former thesis adviser. It's like I'm turning my back on them. I can go on and on about this point, but I won't right now. If I end up taking the job, then I'll write all about my feelings on why and how it came to this... for now, I'm just going to say, I hope they make me an offer I can't refuse, because academia is getting on my nerves a little right now.