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Job Seeking and Fear.

25 April 2012

Readers of my old blog will know that I am often worried about my employment status. While I have a secure job for now, because I have funding, my current funding runs out in October (or shortly thereafter). My position is a term appointment which ends March 28th, 2013. Less than a year away. If I don’t have new funding by then, there’s a very good chance that my position will not be renewed. I like my job. I like my hometown. I like my colleagues. I like my boss. But I clearly need to be doing things, active things, to address my employment situation.

I have a colleague at a rather intimidating east coast university, with whom I’ve done some projects, one of which is ongoing. He arranged for me to have an Adjuct Assistant Professor position there, which I’ve held for a year and a bit now. That’s my academic appointment. It’s strictly research, I don’t teach (though I’ve mentored a tiny bit). But it pays well, and it’s a nice feather. The university has a famous name and a good reputation.

So I spoke to my friend about possibly making my position a little less adjunct, and a little less remote. Would they be interested in having me as full-time faculty? It turns out, there’s at least some interest. The chair of my friend’s department and the school of public health are talking about some kind of joint appointment that would allow me to move there, and become real-life faculty.

This makes me afraid. I’ve been here for 20 years now, nearly. More than half my life. It’s a big frightening thing to contemplate uprooting and moving to a very different place, with very different surroundings. Of course, it’s all just contemplation. There’s a better than 50/50 shot they’ll look at my CV, see the big gap in it (“BOOZE GOES HERE”), and say, “thanks but no thanks”.  I haven’t ever been stellarly productive. My main selling point is that what I do is kind of sexy at the moment, and there aren’t a lot of specialists. There are dabblers, but few true experts. And while I’m an expert, I have a short bibliography and shorter funding history.

So I feel very impostery. And insecure. And overwhelmed. And lazy. And flattered. And confused. And hopeful. And afraid.

Fear is part and parcel of being a grown up I think. For me anyway. I step forward each day. Look at what I can do. And usually do something that advances my agenda. Even if it’s small. Even if it’s frightening. Because stagnancy is worse.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. bronironi permalink
    25 April 2012 13:07

    There was JUST an article about this kind of self-doubt in the Chronicle. Job instability is such a stressor.

    I have a different kind of fear than you – I’ve never settled down anywhere. So the idea that I’d have to pick a place and STAY there for several decades terrifies me, because I don’t know how to do it. The good thing, I remind myself, is if I need to I could always quit and move away. And hopefully once you find a permanent gig you look more enticing to others.

  2. NatC permalink
    25 April 2012 13:32

    “So I feel very impostery. And insecure. And overwhelmed. And lazy. And flattered. And confused. And hopeful. And afraid.”

    This summarizes how I felt throughout the job search process.

    Strength & Courage.

  3. 25 April 2012 17:36

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that “booze goes here” gap. If your area of expertise is newish and you are the bona-fide expert then that seems to speak for itself (as long as they are wanting to go in that direction). If I had the choice between someone safe with a ho hum reputation who could keep my organization treading water, or a rock star (virtuoso, to you) in this newish area and could jettison me to a new level of improved productivity, I certainly wouldn’t go with “safe”. For all they know, you were in the Peace Corp or working on a kibbutz and to humble to admit . I think “we” get caught up in cookie cutter mentality of the way things should have been.
    Just my thoughts!

    • 25 April 2012 21:43

      Well, the gap will be obvious on my CV. If I were in the Peace Corps, I’d have listed it. But I take your point, and appreciate it!

  4. 25 April 2012 18:50

    Your post is pretty timely as I’ve just conquered this myself by applying for a position for which I am qualified, but whose tasks are a bit out of my comfort zone. I want to stretch and grow, and if I stay where I am currently, I will stagnate.
    (You probably know a little more from Twitter but I must be cautious at present as my employment situation clarifies.)

    • 25 April 2012 21:43

      After visiting Wellington, I’d sell three of my toes for a position at Victoria.

  5. 25 April 2012 18:51

    P.S. What I meant to say was: DO IT. It’s normal to be afraid to leave your comfortable surroundings, and to feel like an impostor. Do it anyway. Live and grow. Become a new you (or the same you in a different, perhaps better place).

  6. furtheron permalink
    26 April 2012 09:54

    When I found myself out of work, second half of 2010 at first I was, I should do something completely different… I didn’t, fear gripped me in terms of not being able to see something that could provide a stable income, and the fear of me having to “everything” was too much. So I started to apply for jobs, I really struggled that I wasn’t getting anywhere – it really did my self-belief no good at all. I’m glad it isn’t just me, I don’t have much belief in myself at my work at all. Near 2 years on I find myself in a good reasonably secure position but still with all the doubt and fears of before. Given I’d been in the same company for 20 years including 6 sober I thought a lot of it was all about that place… it isn’t… my head goes wherever I go

  7. 27 April 2012 11:06

    Definitely do it if you get the opportunity!

  8. 27 April 2012 21:23

    Life is so complicated. You will make a decision, or they will make a decision… either way, it will be probably OK.

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