Archive for: November, 2015

A day in my life

Recently, The New PI asked what people outside academia do in a random work day. That random day is today, Monday November 9th.

As you know, I left academia a bit over a year ago and I now work as an R&D scientist in a company. To keep it kind of vague because of trying to stay somewhat pseudonymous here, I'll only disclose that my company makes stuff for patients and that we do preclinical and clinical studies to see if that stuff does something for the patients.

6:00 am: husband wakes me up after a night in which Little Brother was up a couple times and husband took him to the living room around 5ish but let me sleep for a bit longer. I make breakfast while husband showers and then all four of us have breakfast together. Then I shower while husband makes lunch for himself, BlueEyes and me (Little Brother gets lunch at daycare) and around 7:15 am Little Brother and I leave the house to cycle to daycare and work (husband brings BlueEyes to school which only starts at 8:30).

8:00 am: I arrive at work after dropping Little Brother off at daycare. I search for a spot in our open office, chat with colleagues and read my emails. I had already opened my email Sunday evening to see how much I could expect but now take the time to properly read them and respond. Then coffee with colleagues.

9:00 am: We are working on a big grant (yup, EU likes to fund public-private partnerships, so lots of grant writing still even outside academia) and I'm trying to decide what I can do before we have a meeting about this grant that I am chairing. I also need to prep for this meeting.

9:15 am: Unexpected fire drill. We all leave the building and go to the meeting spot outside. I chat with a colleague I had never met about what kind of work she does, which is interesting. Then I chat with our preclinical manager about an experiment I'm planning with a CRO and what I need to do for that. So not entirely wasted this fire drill time.

10:00 am: Meeting about the grant. Writing the grant precipitated some decisions about what direction to go, which still needs to be aligned with the marketing and regulatory people. This kind of stuff really distracts from the actual writing, which also needs to happen. Also, we have not yet heard from everyone in the consortium yet, even though we plan to have a first draft ready by the end of the week. Yikes, stressful.

11:00 am: Coffee with my manager who couldn't attend the meeting about the grant to update them. Again more about the larger decisions and why we had not made those earlier than about the grant.

11:30 am: Back at my desk staring at the grant. Typed a little section, tried to call one of the consortium members but left a message on their voicemail.

12:00: lunch with colleagues, chatting about a conference someone had just been and what they had seen there. Joking about how close the field is to a cure (not..).

12:30: back at my desk, more emails (about the experiment with the CRO) and prepping for a group of MSc students that are coming to visit the company later in the day.

1:00 pm: some more grant writing. Okay and some procrastination on twitter. And some panic about whether or not the experiment with the CRO is going to happen. The money needs to come from this year's budget so if I can't make it happen before the end of the year it won't happen at all.

2:00 pm: give a talk to the students together with another colleague about what our company does, how we got these jobs and what kind of work we do now. It's a really nice and interactive group of students who ask a ton of question. Then we give them a tour around our (new and pretty amazing looking) building.

4:00 pm: the students have just left and I briefly chat with a colleague. Then I look at the grant and try to figure out what I can still do while tired from the students visiting. I write a short boring section that still needed to be done.

4:45 pm: I check the weather forecast (rain for the next hour) and leave to pick Little Brother up from daycare. I am lucky today that husband worked from home and picked up BlueEyes, because normally I cycle first to the daycare (that is close to work) and then to the after school care (that is close to home) and then home. Husband has also already cooked so we eat together at 6:00 pm.

6:45 pm: we start the whole bath, toothbrush, read a story routine that lasts until 7:30 pm (which is a good day :-)..).

7:30 pm: answer a couple emails, write this blog post and then it's time to watch Walking Dead with husband (only in season 2, so no spoilers please!).



3 responses so far

"Wow, you can take criticism with a poker face!"

In the category "things I did not realize I had learned in academia": to take criticism or difficult questions and maintain a straight face, thank the giver of the criticism for their comments and suggestions and process it later. Hence the comment I received earlier today, which I will take as a compliment.

2 responses so far

The yearly cycle

In academia, the year is clearly dictated by what needs to happen for students: teaching, exams, grading. Although for most grad students and postdocs the most noticeable thing is how busy it is in the lab (depending on whether you're in Europe, where in vacations it's peacefully quiet in the lab while in the US there might be summer students joining the lab.

Before joining a company, I hadn't realized how different the yearly cycle is here. This was my first whole year here and this is what I learned: Here, in the beginning of the year people set objectives/targets/goals/whatever you call them for themselves (in agreement with their manager of course). And the targets of a whole team make up the target of the team leader, the targets of all the team leaders make up the targets of the boss of all the teams and that way everyone is connected to each other. The targets need to be met by the end of the year and if you do more (either the defined 'stretches' or additional stuff that comes up during the year) you get a higher bonus.

In reality, all sorts of ad hoc tasks and things that have not been defined as targets come up during the year. Obviously progress is monitored during the whole year, but I discovered this year that I find it hard to say no to things that seem fun to do or useful for me or the company (or both - best case scenario), like new experiments, new collaborations, guest lectures and what not. However those things distract from finishing your actual targets, which in reality means that the next couple weeks will be filled with finishing things before the end of the year in order to meet all the expectations. So if you're wondering why things are quiet around here, it's because I need to type all the things before Christmas!

What is the busiest time of the year for you?

2 responses so far