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Continuing the Job Search.

3 July 2012

After the fiasco at East Coasty University, I was briefly upset about my job prospects. Funding is really hard to get, I’m on soft money, and I’ve had another non-fundable score in my most recent submission. I honestly think my days here are numbered severely. I still have a major grant in the stream. If it is funded (and I’m not too hopeful), it will secure my position for four years. I also have the possibility which is slowly increasing in likelihood at Local Research University. There’s a contract they’re trying to land that will cover my salary (at 25% FTE). They’ve agreed on principle, blah blah blah. It’s probably going to be months still before anyone offers me a position. The department head keeps reiterating how much he wants me there. And I really want to be there. But I can’t operate as if it’s a done-deal.

Thus the job talks out on the East Coast. The first one went really well, but it’s a strange and slightly dysfunctional organization (much like my current post, and much like most of the departments in academia I’ve ever seen or heard of.). I don’t know if they are going to pursue me. They’re traditionally a problem solving organization, and I made it clear I want to be able to continue to do my own research. I don’t mind solving other people’s problems. I’m an engineer. It’s what we do. But I also want to advance my own research agenda.

Which brings me to my most recent potential situation. I received an email from a headhunter in Singapore. There’s an open position for a systems researcher in a medical school there. It’s a prestigious research position, tenure track, with hard money backing. They want someone who does exactly what I do (Though they prefer a physician who does what I do; there aren’t many of them.). It’s a small group, and I have lots of questions.

I’ve been warned that sometimes new departments try to get really prestigious really fast and basically slave drive professors. I’m not interested in that job. I’m not someone who is determined to get professional glory no matter what. I like being recognized for doing good work. But I am never going to put in 80 hours a week and ignore my personal needs for down time and recuperation.

I’m also really not sold on the idea of living in Singapore. It is, apparently, a gorgeous place to live. Truly magnificent. Every amenity, zero crime. It’s a nation-city, almost exactly halfway round the world, and has a huge number of foreign workers. It’s a polyglot metropolis, much like New York, but cleaner, safer,  and with better air conditioning. I like living where I am. I am not crazy about the idea of moving at all, much less so far away. But the job is a dream job with respect to the type of work, the funding lines, and the opportunity to do real and lasting good with my engineering skills.

So, I’ve had two conversations with the headhunter, in which I described what I would bring to the department and what I would need from them to work. We talked about living in Singapore and the various aspects of city life there. We talked a little bit about salary. I’m not too worried about that aspect of it. If they were budgeting for a physician, then I am unconcerned that they’d be able to pay me enough to make that part of it worth my while. It’s far more about location than anything else. If this job were in the USA or Canada, I’d be packing right now. Hell, I’d take a pay cut.

So I don’t know if I want it, at any price. There are other opportunities coming. And the most valuable opportunity to me is the grant I have awaiting a score. If it hits, I’m in good shape for a very long time and will be directing my own research program right where I am. I could then cut a little bit of time at my current position, add a little bit of time at LRU, and be very happy. That’s what I want. But this job in Singapore looks at first blush like the perfect position.

So, I’m going to pursue it for now. Supposedly the department head is getting my CV today. Who knows, maybe he’ll just laugh his head off about it, and fire the headhunter for letting me get this far. But I think it’s more likely that they’ll want to interview me over the phone formally. In the event that they want to fly me out for an interview, I’ll probably go. But frankly, one of my big reservations is social and dating. I’m curious as to the opportunity to meet people who share my basic experience and cultural framework. I wonder how many single women live and work in Singapore? I know some cities have highly skewed gender makeups.

OK. I’m scared about my professional life. Opportunities in the world I’ve chosen to work in are hard to come by. This is a potentially good one. I’m going to take it day by day and see where it goes. And yes, I checked. There’s AA in Singapore.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. LawnBoy permalink
    3 July 2012 11:13

    When I told LawnWife about your possibility in Singapore, she said something along the lines of “Oh my God, he should do it! Singapore is awesome!”

    Of course, that’s based on a 2-week trip in 2007, so it’s not a fully-considered analysis of what it would really be like to live there. However, I think I have the same ill-formed response.

    BTW, I have a couple of friends who have been expats in Singapore. Both were wives who went to follow their husbands’ jobs, so the social environment was different. However, they both might have insight. Do you want me to try to connect you with them?

    • 3 July 2012 13:02

      That’d be great.

      • LawnBoy permalink
        4 July 2012 07:58

        I sent them a request. I’ll let you know if they give me permission to give you their email addresses.

  2. 6 July 2012 10:19

    It is an opening you can’t ignore looking into certainly. From joining this kind of environment from the side (if you get my drift) I see the level of uncertainty for many people in similar positions, so I think you have to progress any opportunity. I’m advising my son the same he has one year left on his undergraduate masters then wants to land a phD with a view to potentially going into the researcher career route.

    Never been to Singapore but I guy I worked with went there for a couple of years on a job with my old company, he loved it there and said it was a brilliant environment, he only came home due to the pull of aging parents.

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