The avoidance of negativity

It has been a criminally long time since I posted. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say in that time, and I’ve certainly had the time on my hands to have made a post. However, there’s a very good reason I didn’t.

Having spent 2012-13 in France working at the Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans (an outstanding experience I would heartily recommend if you get the chance), I found myself heading back to the UK with a couple of job opportunities lined up. The first month or so was hectic beyond belief as I dealt with paperwork, but then everything went quiet. Sadly, the job I had hoped for got pulled out from under my feet at the last minute due to a budget shuffle, and I then entered the black hole of frustration that is “being a postdoc looking for a job”.

And what I can state in no uncertain terms is that there’s a dearth of jobs in my field with a large number of applicants. I can’t count the number of times in the last months when I’ve found myself doubting my abilities, my skills, and my prospects. And that is why I haven’t posted; a kind of strict approach to not filling this blog with negativity, and not voicing the opinions of the devil on my shoulder. It’s not quite imposter syndrome, but it’s definitely a low-level frustration that I have done my best to just ride the wave of.

I’ve been told by industry recruiters that they would rather employ a freshly completed PhD rather than someone who has a brace of postdocs under their belt and is therefore ‘indoctrinated into academia’. And the lack of suitable positions within academia over the last months has lead to me competing against candidates who were altogether more qualified and suited for the particular niches in the institutions I was trying to squeeze myself into.

I’ve been filling my time with a number of activities – getting married being the main one, and having organised and equipped the whole thing almost completely ourselves I was certainly able to make the most of my ‘free time’. I’ve also been working as a freelance tutor for a number of local schools and organisations – really rewarding work, helping great kids improve their science. It’s work I enjoy, but it’s not what I’m trained for and dreaming of. It is at least paying the rent.

This post isn’t to say that I’ve found a job – nothing yet, although I have several very exciting irons in fires. It’s more to get this out of the way so I can concentrate again on creating  good content for this site and moving on.

It’s also to just provide a voice for the others I know who are in the same boat out there; of the postdocs I have worked with in recent years, everyone has had a tough time making the break either into more permanent roles or breaking out of academia altogether – they’re not the only ones (although we all seem terrified of telling anyone that we’re having a hard time, like it’s a failure on our part in this hugely over-saturated market).

So, to be clear; I’m still alive, I’m still on the job hunt, I’m still open minded about where that will take me, and I promise it won’t be 2015 before my next post.

EDIT – Job hunt complete. If you’re still looking, keep at it. I completely sympathise with how crap the whole process is.

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About Pete Rowley

Earth Science researcher. Enjoys a good rant, beer, and watching films with Angelina in them. Dislikes reality TV, crowds, and unreasonable people.
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