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)