Things That Will Change.
Aside from Everything, that is. So, yes, I’ll be changing cities and changing jobs. But many other things are changing too. I have probably permanently removed myself from tenure-track professorial consideration, supposing that was ever something I truly wanted, of which I’m not sure. I certainly had no interest in it upon graduation with my PhD. And I certainly didn’t see it as my path when I entered grad school. In fact, it popped up on my horizon only recently, after I was transferred to a research position about three years ago, and expected, suddenly, to be a PI when I’d never written a grant, and had only three papers to my name. But I liked the challenge of research, in a way that I did not as a graduate student. My interactions with grad students and post-docs and professors on twitter led me to want to try to compete on their field.
I wrote about 7 more grants after my first one was funded. Only one was triaged, but none were funded either, and my scores ranged from about the 30th to the 70th percentile. I have two currently in review (well, one as PI and one as CI), and I don’t expect either of them to be funded either. I have still not had my papers from my funded grant accepted, though I’m presenting a poster at a good conference later this month.
But my position at PECMC is a hard-money position performing Quality Improvement using simulation techniques. I will be allowed to publish, but I will almost certainly not be submitting grants. At least, not for a good long time. A few years of QI work will be needed, at minimum, before anyone is going to be interested in me branching out on my own. And I’m scared of writing grants, because as soon as you do, people expect you to get funding, and then they expect you to keep covering that portion of your salary and then you’re back on soft money.
But, as I said, when I planned my career as a student, professorship wasn’t the plan. It became my alternative career. But now, I’m back on track to do what I set out to do: improve quality and efficiency in medical systems. With the added bonus of continuing to disseminate results through publication. Which means that if I do go on to seek a professorship later, as an established researching engineer, I’ll have a track record of publication to demonstrate continuing productivity. Presumably. I know that publication is more important to me than to them. But I will be a powerful advocate for what it can add to my new department.
Other things, silly things, are going to change. I won’t have a car. The task of acquiring groceries without a car seems.. insurmountable. But there’s a grocery store across the street from my new building. And an awesome market – a lot like the Pike Place Market in Seattle – less than a mile away. Walk there, take the bus home. There’s a bus that goes directly from the market to my doorstep. I’ll walk to work too, and there’s also public transport that goes door-to-door home-to-work for those days when the weather is too awful to walk.
And I’ll need to change how I dress for work. Now, I’m in khakis and a button up shirt or a polo. I’ll need to be in business dress most of the time. I think that slacks, oxford, and tie is acceptable. But I’m not 100% certain. I like dressing up, so that’s not a problem. But it’s a change. I’ll probably have to make sure my hair is cut monthly. I’ll have to shave more often. I’m going to have to use an Atul Gawande trick and put up a laminated check list so that I can do all the things on a schedule.
And I’ll have to spend more hours in the office, and take shorter lunches and bring my lunch more. In fact, I’ll probably have to bring my lunch almost every day. I haven’t brown-bagged since highschool. But I’ve also recently calculated what I spend on lunch, and it’s ungodly. I can cut it by two-thirds, easily, by bringing my lunch to work. And that brings me to the other big change: financial responsibility.
Right now, I’ve been in a really nice situation with respect to benefits and salary and rent. I make pretty good money, and have been saving aggressively to make up for the fact that I got crucified in the 2008 crash. My current job matches 5% in my retirement account. My new job will match only 2%, and not until I’ve been there for a whole year. They have some sort of pension system, but I don’t understand it. The documentation I’ve been given is not clear in the slightest. But it’s a standard package for all employees, and was not subject to negotiation.
I’ll be making more money at PECMC than I am here, but I’m also going to be paying a lot higher for housing (like, astonishingly higher), and for other basic living expenses. In terms of my disposable income, it will actually drop some. Though my electric and water bill will be lower. And I’m renting out my house, so there’ll be some income from that. And there may be expenses, I’m just discovering, with grocery delivery. Large items like paper towels, toilet paper, and heavy items like milk and canned goods might be best to have delivered. As usual, twitter, in the form of @modernscientist and @doc_becca, has proven very informative and helpful. Apparently, something called PeaPod can help.
So many things will change. Many will stay the same. I’m me, after all. I will still be me there. But I am looking forward to being me in a new place.