On Looking Before the Leap.

December 15, 2010 at 9:26 am | Posted in Career angst, Infertility, IVF #4: I'm STILL doing this? | 7 Comments

So my epiphany, while I am excited about the IDEA…

Clearly there’s more thinking to be done, for sure. And planning, and talking to some of my old accounting professors, and meeting with my friends who HAVE their PhDs, and talking with my other uncle (who does have one) about the time commitment and politics of being a professor and teaching and research responsibility.

There’s a LOT of information to gather before I can make any sort of DECISION, that’s certain.

Not to mention that I need to triple and quadruple check whether or not, postdoc, I’d be happy with the career and lifestyle and being a mom of potentially two kids.*

Or whether or not we can afford for me to step out of the working world and take on a much more reduced salary (i.e. in the form of fellowships) than what I make now.

This is something, J and I figured, that is on the horizon. Maybe 5 years, maybe less. But certainly not anything I can move on today. J needs to figure out HIS job options before we can commit to something like this.

But Bea’s right. Even if I decide that a PhD isn’t in my future, it’s clear now, to me, that I need to be in an environment where I am consistently learning, where there’s encouragement to do something new, where I’m looking ahead towards big picture business decisions, instead of cost centers and booking entries net or gross and getting to a 2 day close and reviewing reconciliations and the history of what happened during the month.

Being a Controller, which truthfully is the logical next step from where I am now… is not something that interests me.

I’ve spent the past year thinking that I need to grow up, to resign myself to working a job where I have no real passion. Because it was full time, and paid well, and we have bills and college to save for and I do get some flexibility when O’s sick, even if it’s grudgingly given.

And that’s not neccessarily true. I think I can find something to do, career-wise, which incorporates the degrees I’ve already invested in AND my love of learning.

I think, anyway.

But there’s a whole lot more research to be done.

*Oh, and in case you were wondering? Today’s CD 1. I owe my clinic a call, but it looks like we’re getting started on IVF #4.


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  1. Just the knowledge that you KNOW that you want to “Do Something” is exciting.
    It’s admirable and enviable. Plus no matter where you go from here, it’s a step for you to want this change.

    And CD 1…wow…there is a lot going on..I’ll say a very quick but potent prayer that all your dreams come true. *HUGS*

  2. I think recognizing that you need to be in an environment where you can continue to learn is fantastic. Does it have to come from your job, however, or is there room in your life for courses/degrees in other things? Just something to think about.

    If you want any assvice about life as a professor or as a PhD student (i.e. would like the rose-coloured glasses blasted off), I’m your gal. I’m a PhD student (admittedly in a different field than you would be) and my husband is a tenure-track (who just got tenure) prof.

    And right now my reality is I can’t stomach the thought of trying to get a tenure-track position after I graduate. Because the idea of having to work as hard as he has for the last few years, while we have little kids, blows my mind. I can’t see the point in us having children if we’re both going to be wedded to our careers the way the modern tenured academic has to be.

    There are a lot of pros to the academic life- I recognize that. But I’m pretty jaded about it right now, especially from the work/life balance angle (’cause there doesn’t seem to be one). And oh wow are our students NOT like us. It is a real shock sometimes.

    So, I do not want to rain on your parade. It is so nice to hear your voice be so ‘up’ and excited about something. But if/when you want the devil’s advocate side of things, I’d be happy to share our experiences.

    You know I wish with my whole heart that this cycle is it for you.

  3. T- no, part of figuring out what I want to do means looking at it from all angles. Means I need to consider everything. Maybe being an adjunct and not committing to a PhD IS ideal if I want to teach, you know? All the comments an perspectives from the people who have done it- especially the women, since I think societally it’s more accepted for men to devote themselves to career like this- is tremendous for me.

    Because ultimately whatever I choose to do needs to be sustainable, would hate to trade one evil for another.

    This just means I DON’T need to accept my ‘career lot’ as it stands. Means I need to find something which gives me flexibility AND keeps me learning. And maybe that is something other than a PhD. I just need to discover it, that’s all.


    • Oh yes, I definitely don’t think you should just say to yourself, “This is my career and I’m stuck in it for better or for worse”. I like to think there is always room to reinvent ourselves.

      You may have a lot more flexibility and options with teaching than we do (Q. and I are both ancient historians). My guess would be there is probably a greater need for people who can teach business-type stuff. But I don’t know enough about the American system.

      One thing to consider is that adjuncts are usually incredibly badly paid. So, for example, at my uni, the average wage for an associate prof is probably close to $100,000. And that is for a teaching load of 2.5 courses a year. Granted, teaching is only meant to be a third of the job, as there is research and service as well, but the contract faculty who teach 2.5 courses will be paid $37,500. And our uni is considered one of the more generous ones for contract/adjuncts! There is also usually little to no security from year to year. So it is a tough tough career to be in if you are the primary income earner, or you need to pay off a mortgage, etc.

      Women and academia is a really really messy business, and it just becomes even more so when you add children to the mix. I think if we had never got pregnant my path would have been really clear. Now it is muddled, and I’ve got no idea how it will turn out. Luckily Q. is supportive and we’ll figure it out as we go. And because he is already tenured, I have the luxury to be able to figure things out (even as that derails some of my career options, as I obviously won’t take a tenure-track position that isn’t within commuting distance of where he is).

      I may well end up doing bits and pieces of contract teaching at the various universities near us. And this may be no bad thing- it would give us flexibility for our family, it would keep me on the same schedule as Q. so we can go to conferences together, etc., and my income is less essential because his job is so secure. It’s something you have to come to as a team- we didn’t decide to champion Q’s career over mine because he’s the guy- it’s just the natural result of the fact that he will have been a full-time prof for 10 years by the time I finish my PhD. You don’t catch up to that. But at the same time, we knew if I went back that I might never get a “proper” job because I would be tied to such a limited geographical area. And in a way I was delayed in starting the PhD because I moved to a sunburnt country to be with Q., and lived in a city that didn’t have that possibility for me. So while on the surface it will look like I am the one making the career sacrifices, in reality every decision we have made has been a joint one.

      If you can teach in the university environment without getting the PhD, I would think seriously about doing that for a year or so (or even do one course at night while working at your current job) just to see what the system is like before making the jump. The PhD takes a LONG time. And while I don’t regret the decision I’ve made to start one, I am very aware that it may well cost me in the long run.

      The last thing to consider is that teaching (either at uni or at high school) is remarkably UN-family friendly. It is a great career for kids when you are NOT teaching. But when you are teaching, it is problematic, because things really do fall apart when you are not there. So it is hard to leave early to pick up a child, or stay home on short notice because someone is sick. I always find it funny that people call it a family-friendly career. I guess they are thinking about the summer vacation (for high school and elementary teachers) and how you wouldn’t then need daycare. But the day-to-day grind is very demanding and not very flexible.

      Anyway, enough from me.

  4. Ah yes, now that we are Responsible Adults we need to look carefully before we leap. But I think it’s fantastic that you’re starting to think about the next step for you, career-wise. And giving yourself time to consider all the options so you make the right move.

  5. Ooh! I was right? Whee!

    Seriously, though, you are further along the right track. (I also agree that it might even end up being something outside your career path that lights your fire and lets you turn up to the old office with a smile despite the work, who knows?) But you know better what you are looking for now.

    Let’s hope IVF#4 also goes along the right track.


  6. An awakening is so exciting. It is hard to work out details, though. This is where I’ve gotten stuck, esp. when thinking of pursuing an advanced degree.

    Wishing you much luck with this cycle!

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