Thursday, November 19, 2009

What next?

So I've finished my Ph.D. and I'm back from Australia, and for the time being, back in the lab wrapping up some loose ends. And now I've got to figure out what to do next. I've done some thinking and have come up with a long term goal- I'd like to stay in the microbiology field, but move away from academia and into public health, global health in particular. And right now I have to potential job offers at different ends of the spectrum.

1. Microbiology research in Australia. While on vacation, I met with a scientist who studies bacterial pneumonia in children, and we've been corresponding about the possibility of me coming there for 6 months to a year to do what would essentially be a mini post-doc. On the plus side, it's an interesting project and aligns very well with my scientific background and career goals. And one objective would be to get a paper out of the work, which would be a big-time CV booster. Most of you know that my graduate school experience was ...unplesasant. But, I've heard from a lot of other scientists that starting a new project in a new lab really rejuvenated their enthusiasm for scientific reasearch, and in general, doing a post-doc keeps a lot of doors open. On the minus side, I'm waiting to hear back about visa and funding issues, and so far, I do not have an official offer.

2. Teacher training in Uganda. I applied to a position to do laboratory training in Africa through Peace Corps Response, and although that spot was already filled, they offered me another position- working in science education at a teachers' college in Uganda. On the plus side, living in Uganda would definitely be exciting and interesting, and having work experience in Africa would be helpful in appling for future jobs in international health. I had some concerns that it would be a little bit too much like Peace Corps Part 2, but I talked to the placement agent and it does seem to be a much more professional assignment. A couple of the goals of the project are to incorporate HIV education into the science curriculum and to increase the enrollment of girls in Ugandan schools, so philosophically, it seems like very meaningful work. On the minus side, it's an education position and I'm a scientist, not an educator. I worry that it might be deviating too far off the track of where I'd like to eventually end up. If it were a health or laboratory job, I'd jump at the chance, but it isn't. Also, it would be difficult to keep up with my scientific contacts and apply for jobs while I was there, because of poor internet service. But hey, I could probably finagle a trip to the world cup!

So here's the dilemna: the Uganda people have officially offered me the job and need an answer very soon (within a week or so), becuase the departure date is in early January and the processing (visa and medical clearance and whatnot) takes about a month. So after six years of not having to make any sort of life decisions, I need to make a big one in the next few days. Both are good options and neither one is permanent (6-12 months, most likely). I think the Australia job is a better match for me, but it's not yet a guarantee.

So yes, oh readers of DCoE, I'm asking for your advice. What should I do? (other than pressure Australia a little bit for an official offer)

15 comments:

Kris said...

Well, you know what I'm going to say: COME TO OZ! There's still a whole lot of the country to explore. Plus you do have a support system of people you know here (though whether that's a plus or a minus is debatable). :)

Johanne said...

Australia seems to be the more convenient option. But in any case, I'd ask you if you're a Christian. If you are, I'd tell you to pray to God about your situation.

The Kmac said...

Well, the key is whether or not you get the OZ offer. If you do, I'd go there. But, if they're not set in stone and Uganda is the only option on the table, then do that.

Or, do both! ;) Uganda first and then Oz.

Tom said...

"I'm a scientist not a teacher" seems to be the deciding statement. Decline the Uganda offer, ask Oz for a formal offer, and then take it. Science!

-t

Eri said...

I don't think you should think of these 2 as the only options. They may be the only options right now, aka today, but you've been in a program for 6 years. You owe yourself and deserve more time than a week to think you are out of options-psycho (take it from all of your buddies who have been or are unemployed). Give it time, and only take a job in a place like Uganda if it is your dream job...which this is not. (insert pointing finger and angry face). We can discuss further next week!

KcM said...

I'd say trust your gut. If Australia sounds like a better match, then go that way. It's not like these are the last two jobs in the world for you, just the first of many opportunities. So hold out for the one you want, and, if you don't get it, see what else comes down the hopper.

That's my 2 cents, anyway.

Ryan said...

Agree: no need to jump at the first two possibilities that float along.

Underoo Elf said...

To echo some other people's sentiments, it seems like your mind is somewhat made up on the Uganda option already. The Australia option sounds intriguing, but since that hasn't come together yet, you can explore other options in the meantime. I'm a big fan of going with your gut on things - on the big life decisions, you usually have a strong feeling either way.

Mike said...

Are these the only options your are going to wait for?

Sounds like while Uganda may be a great experience it is not what you are really for. Keep looking at the Australia option and continue looking.

Beth said...

Can you talk to the people in Australia and let them know your situation...that you need to make a decision ASAP because you have a pending offer? This might get them to move a little faster on their end.

Meghan said...

I also have to agree with many of the other posters - Australia seems to be a great opportunity and more in line with your long term plans. Think of it this way - if you still aren't psyched about research after starting a short project in a cool place, than you know a future in research isn't for you. At the end of the day, like other people have said, go with your gut.

Tina said...

take your time. life isn't a race. you may feel like you need to play catch-up but if you jump at an opportunity that isn't right, well, you know the end of this sentence.

the best advice someone has ever given to me is: choose your opportunity. don't let the opportunity choose you.

eileen said...

hey, thanks for the advice, everyone! I let australia know that I have a pending job offer in the hopes that it will speed up getting a more definitive yes or no from them. I think i'm just antsy to get something settled but i shouldn't rush into anything. on the other hand, both are good/interesting options, relatively short-term, and i am really ready to move on to something new...

Your voice of reason (Jen) said...

Are you kidding me??? Australia. Be serious. I veto Uganda.

Anonymous said...

Uganda is one of about 10 nations on the planet that I think you would be very, very foolish to go to. It is not a safe country, even in the capital, and not for the run-of-the-mill poverty-fueled crime reasons. You should watch the info on this site: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/home.php Bear in mind that the site is aimed at high school kids, so they are whitewashing a lot of the violence.

The Australian opportunity sounds awesome, and there a lot more opportunities to come, just keep applying.