Sunday, June 26, 2016

Career Pivot

So I officially have tenure! I really should take a day to celebrate. Party planning for me is a chore though, so I'm not super eager to have an official bash. My department wants to celebrate, but it's the middle of summer and most folks are gone. So an admin scheduled a party without checking if I was available. Some random faculty/staff are available that day, about a third of the department most of which I'm not particularly close with. I actually have meetings all day on the other side of the city, so I have to cancel my own party now. I'm trying to explain tenure to my parents. Anyone out there know the word for tenure in other languages?

I see my career as a game. I've played it pretty well. I'm not in the best position, I'm not at an R1, but I'm definitely doing well. Mostly I play fairly defensively, not gambling too much and planning carefully. But I also have a tendency to get bored. So I recently made several moves and started to position myself for the next round. Lot's of things are in flux, hopefully I haven't missed something that will end up dropping my status in the game.

I'm focusing a lot of my time on my start-up company, and I have to say it is so much more fun than my academic job. I like the students in my lab, but everything else about academia is annoying at the moment. I'm trying to position myself to just run my lab at the university and work on my company. This is a tricky maneuver though.

I do feel more powerful and influential now that I have tenure. I'm not sure if this is real or just my imagination. My institution is very volatile--constant changes in administration, new initiatives, new strategic plans, etc. I have two big plays to make at work: do I start organizing and leading multi-PI/center level grants and do I move my lab. I feel like there are few faculty at my university that like to take charge or know how to do so efficiently. I'm working on a big proposal at the moment and I feel like usurping power from the lead PI. They are just screwing things up left and right, but they are more senior than me. Separately, I may or may not have to move my lab space. I'm actually pretty happy with my lab space, but one person told me my lab will be moved and another person asked about moving my lab space. Yet there is no timeline and no one at my university can even confirm that my lab will ever move, so I may be developing a strategy for no reason.


  1. Congrats on tenure! It felt anti-climactic to me too...

  2. Congrats on tenure!!!
    The constantly changing administration, opaque strategic plans, it all seems very familiar. It seems to be a feature of today's academia, not sure any other school would be better. To me, this opacity leads to feeling like I have control over nothing, which in turn leads me to withdraw from university-centric activities and refocus on my own group. I find that I keep doing ever better work post tenure than before it.