Monday, April 30, 2007

Research or teaching? Here or there?

What do you want to be when you grow up? Good question. I, for one, don't really know. I've been a graduate student for so long, I'm not sure I can do anything else. I'm very good at being a student....

After I got my undergraduate degree I worked in the middle of nowhere for a couple of years. It was fun while it lasted, but lack of conversation with anyone above middle school level, tends to dumb you down after a while, and I was craving discussions at a slightly higher intellectual level.

Then I moved to the States to start my graduate studies, and it was definitely heaven after my previous stint. Lots and lots of really smart people to talk to. Now I've been doing that for a long time. I changed programs somewhere along the line, and I'm quite happy where I am, my adviser is absolutely the best. But what will I do when I graduate?

There was a time when I thought I would always want to be on the cutting edge of science. I envisioned myself doing research for the rest of my life. Now I'm not so sure anymore. I love doing research, but research doesn't seem to love me back. I seem to be missing the necessary ingredient of luck, and probably some other stuff as well.

There might be an option to stay in my current lab if my adviser finds funding for a post-doc. It seems he would be happy to have me if he does find the funding. After that I could at least in theory keep myself funded if I write my own grants.

Research does tend to take you away from your family an awful lot though, and since I've managed to accumulate 3 kids since I got my BS, my priorities have shifted. I'd prefer to spend my weekends hanging out with my hubby and kids instead of shedding sweat, blood and tears in the lab. I think I might prefer to teach when I'm done. I realize that the pay would be significantly less, but money isn't everything. getting hired in a predominantly teaching position might be a bit of a problem too, since my program is mainly focused on research, and the teaching requirements are limited to a single credit of "teaching assistant," which translates in preparation for the labs of the course. That's not good enough in terms of accumulating teaching credentials. I try to teach guest lectures whenever possible, but that's not impressive either.

And then there is the question of location. Where will we end up? For legal reasons it might be easier to stick around here. However, job opportunities are fairly limited, especially for teaching. Immigration issues might cause problems and force us to look elsewhere. Canada is an option, but it's too cold for me. My beloved husband says that British Columbia is a great place to live and the weather isn't that bad. According to my mother-in-law and brother-in-law (who live in Canada) job opportunities in the Vancouver area would be limited too, and they would highly recommend Toronto.

I guess I have another year or so, and then I'm scheduled to finally graduate. We'll see what happens.

1 comment:

knobody said...

evidence suggests that teaching takes one away from one's wife and children an awful lot as well.

as for location, i think you should stay where you are. not that i am biased or anything :).