Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Only Death And Taxes

Here's the thing about academia- well, life: even if you follow the ideal path, there are no guarantees. You can be on track to be CEO, and (heaven forbid) you could get sick. Or you could get married, or divorced, or go bankrupt, or win the lottery. And so on, with varying degrees of probability.

You can get a PhD at a fancy-schmancy R1, go do the ideal postdoc, publish with the Evil Empire, and still not get a faculty job. You can get a job offer at Dream U, and then have it withdrawn by the provost after you have received a written offer due to budget troubles under Aaaahnold.* You can have a job at FancyPants U, and your department can become weebly in its very existence.** You can have a baby and decide you'd rather bake cookies and go to swim lessons all day.

You never know what's going to happen.

Dr. S spent a year in a temporary postdoc, because I still had work to do on my PhD. "You should move to the Frozen North without your wife!" his colleagues said. "You'll ruin your chances of a fellowship!" his advisor scolded.

We had a kid, and we both worked part-time so the kid could stay home with us longer. "You'll lose out and ruin your chances of publication if you work part-time!" his new advisor said. "You'll never get a fellowship now!" his colleagues predicted.

He just got a fellowship.

There are no guarantees. If we had followed the perfect path, and then not gotten the golden ring, the sacrifices would not have been worth it to us. We did as we damn well pleased, because we are living our lives for now, and we still got what we wanted: a happy marriage, good jobs, and a healthy child. Oh, and a fellowship.

So there. TAKE THAT, WORLD!!!

* True story.

** Also true! And JP has all my sympathies.


  1. Wonderful news! It's great to hear when things work out

  2. Yays! (Let us know where you will be heading--especially if it's nearer-by!)

    And I endorse the message of this post 100%. Plenty of people are eager to tell you to make sacrifices for no certain gain: they are generally WRONG.

  3. hoorah! Congrats :)

  4. I like happy endings.

  5. Yay on fellowships! Things always turn out for the best, even in times of short-term discomfort. Good for you on listening to yourself and following that drum. If I had followed everyone else's advice, I would probably be a childless lonely old bag with a lot of publications. Whoopdedoo.

  6. That's great! I don't really know how these things work. Is it in the same city you're in now or will you have to move?

  7. Congrats! It's great to hear success stories from people who do things 'the wrong way'.

  8. Still staying around here for a bit, but hopefully with a higher chance of the spousal unit getting a faculty job later...

  9. That's great news!
    Though your *True story is rather scary/depressing.
    Also, I totally agree with you. Unfortunately there are no guarantees on starting a family either, but we're trying.


Comments are moderated, so it may take a day or two to show up. Anonymous comments will be deleted.