Monday, July 30, 2012

Career advice for the Electrician's son

So one of the electricians at our fine institution knocks on my door looking for the Prof next door. I chat with him a bit, and he says, "Did I tell you about my son? He really wants to teach. He graduated and got a job at Prestigious Institution by a Lake, and he wants to give it up and go teach at a community college"
Me, trying to orient: "He has his Bachelors and got a job"?
He: "No, he has his Ph.D., got it from Large Local State U of Some Prestige. He's been working at Prestigious Institution by a Lake for about a year now."
Me: "He needs to finish his post-doc if he wants to get a good job with lots of options. That tenure thing, even at an institution like this one, is a big benefit"
 *by now Prof-next-door has arrived, with a student assistant*
He: "Oh, he's already published, He doesn't need to do any more. He just wants to quit and take a job teaching a few courses at at the local community college."
Me: "Please encourage him to get at least a nice publication from his post-doc before he decides to move on. He needs that to get a stable job like mine or *anything* more research oriented. I have the best of both worlds. I get to teach mostly and do research a little. The students I teach are really good, smart kids and I enjoy my job"
He: "My son is brilliant. He says he's just DONE with research. He tells me that if he quits doing research to teach he can never go back. His advisor from Local State U says that if my son quits he'll drive all the way to Lake and kick his butt."
*all laugh*
He continues: "He even got an article in that one journal that's British. Supposed to be a really good journal."
Me, Prof Next Door, and Student Assistant: "You mean Nature?"
*at this point I had blown off all his father's bragging as a Father's pride, and his son as another good but not excellent scientist facing a bleak job market*
He: "His name is Ricky Electric. You can look it up I suppose."
* I duck into my office. Sure enough. First author Nature paper. Holy Frijoles!*
Me: "Tell him that if he just quits his post doc without a publication, and doesn't set himself up for a tenure track position of some sort, ___I'M___ going to drive to Lake and kick his butt!"
*all laugh and disperse*

1 comment:

  1. I know a surprisingly large number of people who got Nature/Science pubs and subsequently left academia. I always wondered if there was something about the amount of work and stress involved in such a high-profile pub that burned them out..?