Being self-employed in academia

May 09 2014 Published by under grant writing, life in the lab, new job, postdoc, science

No, this post is not about crowdfunding your own research, rather it’s about the feeling that YOU are the only person responsible for your own success in academic science. And how that can make you feel lonely sometimes.

I just started my new job, and am working on a collaborative project which means that I’m employed at two different departments and affiliated with a third department. All those departments are full of lots of new people that I need to get to know. And even though my post-doc lab doesn’t really exist anymore after my PI left academia, I miss my old lab-family. I miss the jokes we shared and the conversations we had. I guess it just takes time to build that again. Perhaps this is why this article in the Guardian about feeling overwhelmed and isolated in academia resonated with me. It made me think about how in academia, perhaps more than when you work for a company, it really is all about you. It’s almost like you’re self-employed in a way. You need to get YOUR papers out, and write YOUR grants. Sure, there’s other people on those papers and your grants may pay for other people, but in the end YOU need to make that happen. And in my case, my contract here is only for one year and 3 months, which kinda puts a lot of pressure on me to get those things done RIGHT NOW. I’m fighting the “deer in the headlights”-feeling again…

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