Friday, September 21, 2012

Cliche for a reason

  It’s ‘Post-doc appreciation’ week! Well, it’s the end of the week, but at least it was ‘hug a post-doc and perhaps give them a raise (please)’ week. I’m only a newly-minted post-doc, but I already realize how in-betweenish we are.
Non-science folks don’t know what we are, and my current institution doesn’t have an official job title. We’re not around for long, and while we’re here we’re already looking towards the next thing, trying to find the perfect, long-term job.
  So a series of posts about location caught my attention/resonated with me this week. The Professor is In wrote about two opposing opinion articles in the Chronicles of High Learning about the importance of location in job searches (here and here). I realize that this isn’t unique to the sciences, or academia, but I do think that jobs in academia are so closely tailored and rare that often getting any job requires disregarding geographic factors. I’m currently limited geographically, which influenced my choice to do a part-time post-doc and adjunct teaching. Choices for a ‘permanent’ position are a little more geographically flexible, but my personal feelings limit acceptable jobs to a few states near friends and family. David Perlmutter argues that undesirable locations (i.e., North Dakota) get a bad rap, but that taking positions in these locations shouldn't be a bad thing – you may actually get more done with nothing to do at night. My opinions about location lie more along the lines of Alexandra Lord in that location can make or break your happiness regardless of your job’s rewards. She mentions spousal considerations, something that also impacts my decisions. Commuter marriages work for other folks, but not for me, and I want us both to be happy about our job choices, recreation possibilities, food choices, and safety. Perlmutter makes the point that that location priorities may change through time, which is true. Although I liked my graduate school location, I decided early on it wasn’t a place I wanted to live long-term. As I got to know the city, and compared it to where I live now, I realized how much I’d like to return. But I knew my graduate career would be relatively short, and that any move would be temporary, so location wasn't a deal breaker. Hopefully the next move will be more permanent, and I’ve realized that I don’t want to compromise on the place I’ll live. We'll see how that holds up as my searches continue!

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