Academia... taking time off between PhD & post-doc... part-time options, etc. - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 4 Old 10-11-2013, 07:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
batsister's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 130
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I had my first child (now 4 years old) in the middle of completing my PhD (in a science field). I finished a little over a year ago, and have been fortunate to continue as a part-time post-doc in the lab where I did my PhD. My son was with babysitters about 18-20 hours a week as I was finishing up, and we have the same arrangement now (regarding my working hours/time away from him). My husband's job is pretty demanding and often not very flexible in terms of going in late/leaving early.

 

My time in my current lab is ending at the end of 2013, and I need to figure out what I am doing next. The next logical step is probably to a get another post-doc in a different lab. The catch (a good catch :-) is that we are expecting our second baby in January (just after I finish my current post-doc). My thought had been that I would be between jobs/home with the kids until fall or 2014 or, preferably, until the baby is a year old (January 2015).

 

Because I recognize that I have more time now than I will after she is born, I am trying to see if I can line something up now to start in a year or so. Even when the baby is a year old, I do not relish the thought of needing to put her in full-time childcare. I have never had to do this with my son, much less when he was an infant. I would love something like another part-time post-doc and am also considering other options like teaching part-time at a community college until she is older. Honestly, it would be great if I could just stay at home until she starts school, then dive back in, but I can't imagine that's very plausible. (Please note: I am NOT criticizing those whose kids are in full-time childcare. Just stating my personal preference.)


I guess my questions, for those who are or have been in similar situations, are:

1) How long do you think someone can reasonably be out of this kind of work and still pick up where she left off (assuming one is still publishing papers from previous work, but not actively employed?) 1 year? 2? 4? Less than that?

2) Do you have any suggestions for "keeping your foot in the door" while spending time with one's young children (free-lance scientific writing/editing? part-time teaching? etc.?) Or once these routes are taken, is it difficult to apply for and get a faculty job at some point (more difficult than for the average person-- I know it is difficult period!)?

3) Any other useful tips/suggestions?

 

Thanks in advance.

batsister is offline  
#2 of 4 Old 10-13-2013, 06:19 PM
 
JollyGG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,652
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)

What about going for a faculty position in a less selective position? I'm thinking private colleges or other higher ed positions that don't have as big a focus on research, but still want a PhD teaching. Trying to find a position as a staff scientist or senior research associate managing a lab also occurred to me. Right now funding is really tough for research. So I honestly don't think a year off is going to hurt you too horribly as there are many who might be out of work simply because they can't find anything in their research focus. 


Mom to DS 4/24/03 and DD 4/17/06
JollyGG is online now  
#3 of 4 Old 10-14-2013, 08:08 PM
 
kaybee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Up North
Posts: 493
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I don't have the magic answer, just a been-three, done-that as a science academic.  We moved for my dh's job after I finished my Ph.D.,  I didn't have work lined up, and I had a 2-yr-old.  I ended up working part-time helping to get a graduate program up and running in a related field (footwork, planning out and teaching program classes, etc.).  It was 20 hrs/week, and except for the teaching part, which was one day a week, I could work from home.  I also applied for grants to fund me part-time, keep my foot in the research door, and get to know people in the area.  I had a desk at a local university and the ability to submit grants through there.  It really helped to stay in touch with people. 

 

I started a faculty job about 18 months later (with 2 kids).  Even with Ph.D. papers coming out during that time, I had a gap in my research record because I didn't have anything starting up during that time-period. 

 

I think a year is doable, especially if you have still papers coming out.  And it will work a lot better if you have something lined up to start in a year, so that the motivation is there to get back into the academic world.  Part-time teaching is one way to stay connected, or trying to work on a project/in a lab/etc. part-time.  I think it would be really hard after 3 or more years to really get back into academia, and teaching at a community college during that time does not make it easier to get a TT job (since you don't have time to do research).  I guess ultimately it depends on what you want to do with your career (research, teaching & at what level, or use your skills outside academia). 

 

And I will say that really good daycare is a gift, and it does make going back to work much, much easier.  We loved our daycare provider - my kids still ask to go back to her house on days when school is closed.  So it's not the end of the world should you need to go that route, too.

kaybee is offline  
#4 of 4 Old 10-20-2013, 07:18 AM
 
mambera's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,308
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by batsister View Post
 

I had my first child (now 4 years old) in the middle of completing my PhD (in a science field). I finished a little over a year ago, and have been fortunate to continue as a part-time post-doc in the lab where I did my PhD. My son was with babysitters about 18-20 hours a week as I was finishing up, and we have the same arrangement now (regarding my working hours/time away from him). My husband's job is pretty demanding and often not very flexible in terms of going in late/leaving early.

 

My time in my current lab is ending at the end of 2013, and I need to figure out what I am doing next. The next logical step is probably to a get another post-doc in a different lab. The catch (a good catch :-) is that we are expecting our second baby in January (just after I finish my current post-doc). My thought had been that I would be between jobs/home with the kids until fall or 2014 or, preferably, until the baby is a year old (January 2015).

 

Because I recognize that I have more time now than I will after she is born, I am trying to see if I can line something up now to start in a year or so. Even when the baby is a year old, I do not relish the thought of needing to put her in full-time childcare. I have never had to do this with my son, much less when he was an infant. I would love something like another part-time post-doc and am also considering other options like teaching part-time at a community college until she is older. Honestly, it would be great if I could just stay at home until she starts school, then dive back in, but I can't imagine that's very plausible. (Please note: I am NOT criticizing those whose kids are in full-time childcare. Just stating my personal preference.)


I guess my questions, for those who are or have been in similar situations, are:

1) How long do you think someone can reasonably be out of this kind of work and still pick up where she left off (assuming one is still publishing papers from previous work, but not actively employed?) 1 year? 2? 4? Less than that?

2) Do you have any suggestions for "keeping your foot in the door" while spending time with one's young children (free-lance scientific writing/editing? part-time teaching? etc.?) Or once these routes are taken, is it difficult to apply for and get a faculty job at some point (more difficult than for the average person-- I know it is difficult period!)?

3) Any other useful tips/suggestions?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

I think the main thing that is important in terms of getting a TT position is publication record and ability to attract research funding.

If you are interested in staying in academia, I would try to figure out exactly what is expected in your field (i.e. number/quality of papers and if some type of early-career grant would be typically expected to be in place) to land a TT position, think about how many years from now you would want to be applying, and work backward from there.  Ask your PI, or recent graduates from your lab who have gotten TT positions.

 

If you would be looking to apply several years down the road (presumably from a FT postdoc position at that point) and your CV was in line with expectations for productivity, I doubt anyone would care about a yearlong gap in your CV that was a while ago.  More than that, well, it seems like it could raise some flags but more importantly I'm having a hard time imagining how anyone could maintain the type of productivity required for an academic job track with multiple years totally out of research.  I don't think it's the time off per se that would sink you but rather the productivity hit resulting from the time off.

 

This would also depend a lot on how much 'face time' is required in your field.  Personally I left bench science because I felt the in-lab hours required were totally out of line with my ability to care for a family.  I'm now in a clinical/translational field where the time demands are far more flexible and a lot more can be done from home.  I would assess what the work requirements are going to look like down the line for you in your area, because based on what you've said here it doesn't sound like you'll be happy working 60+ hour weeks (like a lot of academic scientists I know) when your children are older either.


Me, DH, DD1 (5/2009) and DD2 (10/2011).
I'm not crunchy. I'm evidence-based.

Vaccines save lives.

mambera is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off