Saturday, November 20, 2010

What's next?

So I'm really trying to defend and graduate this semester, hence the lack of blog posts. And now, here it is, 3:30 am on Saturday morning, and I can't sleep. Why not? My brain won't stop. What's going through my running brain? What will I say if my committee asks me "What's next?" (I know, that should really be what I'm worrying about when I'm still analyzing data and my thesis is due in 1.5 weeks). But in any case, here's what I've come up with.

I'm seriously considering two completely different routes. I like research, so I'm definitely considering continuing in research. I've also very much enjoyed any teaching I've been able to do. However, I think I would rather choose one or the other. I think trying to teach and do high-level research, i.e. being a research professor at a research university, would not be right for me.

So, for research, I'm interested in national labs and industry positions. (I could name several national labs that do interesting research, including 2-3 in the area where I live. I could name several (2,3,4?) biotech companies I've been researching. I could even forward my resume to a contact I have in the area where I live, and then I could say I'd done that.)

For teaching, I'm interested in undergraduate-level teaching positions where I could focus on teaching, and potentially do some undergrad-friendly research. However, I have very little teaching experience, and these types of positions are few and far between and hard to get. My plan is to continue looking for these types of positions while also applying for national lab and industry research positions. I'm considering anything from a teaching postdoc (or any postdoc where I could spend a good amount of time teaching), to any kind of undergrad-level teaching position (tenure-track, visiting or temporary faculty). Lectureships are also a possibility.

Not that I have to tell my committee this, but in thinking about my plans, I realized two things: 1) with my seemingly undecided teaching vs. research interests, most people have advised me to do a typical postdoc, and 2) a typical post doc is not what I want or need. My problem is not that I need more time to decide which path to take or more research experience to make me a good job candidate, but that I either need experience teaching to determine if I like it and get on the path toward a good teaching position, or if I'm not going to be getting teaching experience, I need to plunge into the type of research position I might have long term to see if I can be happy there. Not to mention that if I'm not getting teaching experience, I should at least get a research position that pays well. A typical low-paid post doc would get me no closer to a potential teaching position, and it would be a low-paid means of getting more research experience.

So, what's next? My goals are an undergrad-level teaching position or a national lab/industry (i.e. well-paid) research position.

Hopefully now I can sleep.

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