You’re not helping, dear.

Work sucks right now. Dr. Boss had a grant application kicked back. He’ll try again when the next cycle starts in June, but this was his first attempt in over a year. (Writing grants brings in money. Getting grant brings in more grants. It’s strange.) Our department is dissolving. Two senior faculty members are leaving for greener pastures and the private non-profit we’re partnered with is dividing up the left over funds for their own projects. (Can they do this? I have no clue. The money is for organ transplant research, but the PNP specializes in diabetes. Should be some interesting accounting.)

My co-worker got a great job offer back home in Australia and he’s taken it. Considering the situation we’re in, this is the best thing for him. I was hoping that since the Aussie is leaving in May, we could finish up my mouse surgery training. (That’s why I took the job.) No dice. The plan is to hire the senior tech of one of the departing senior faculty members and train her to replace Aussie. I’m getting shuttled off to admin. Not where I want to be.

Being thoroughly bummed, I called Mouse_Spouse.

“I’m sorry to hear that, honey. Maybe you can find a job closer to home?”

“I’d lose vacation and sick leave that would go toward maternity time. You have to work for someone at least a year to qualify for the federal time.”

“You can stay there, can’t you?”

“Yeah. I’m just not happy about it and not sure if Dr. Boss will hang on.”

“Let’s hope he stays.”

In hindsight, I guess I should have come out and said, “My career is going down the toilet and I’m depressed down to my socks. A little pity here, please?”

Pretty much. Even the most sensitive people (not just men) sometimes need to have what you need spelled out for them, especially when it comes to work-related stuff. It’s hard to communicate the nuances of a workplace when you’re not living it. That really sucks about the grant. I don’t have any experience working in the academic or research setting, but one of my best friends works at LSU, and man… her life is driven by funding. “Are we getting this grant? Are we getting that funding? Is my position funded through the year?” It’s nerve-wracking just hearing about it, I can’t imagine living it. And then the added pressure of not wanting to leave and start a new job while pregnant. :: pat, pat ::

Thanks. :slight_smile: Thursday I see the doc and try out another SSRI. Hopefully, it’ll work and the world will look a little better in a couple of weeks.

Right now, I’ve got a stack of forms to fill out because of our move: Radiation safety, biohazardous material registration/pick-up requests, personal qualification forms, etc. Its seems pointless, since I have no idea if we’ll still be here in a couple of months. :mad:

Ah well. I better stop whining and get back to work.

So I take it you’ve decided not to try getting a job in another lab, or outside the university? I remember that you had a few interviews. Have you really explored all your options? Are you sure there’s not something you could do, other than getting stuck in admin?

I find it hard to believe that someone with your initiative and competence in a specialized field couldn’t get a better opportunity than paper-pushing. How long would you have before you could finish your bachelor’s and go on to bigger and better things? If you decide to stick around as a secretary, could you finish your degree before you have the baby?

I have sent my resume to many different labs and biotech companies. I had three interviews last year. Two were with others labs. The first one decided not to hire me and the PI of the second said the money for my salary was “a waste.” (Then why did you invite me for an interview? That was demoralizing as hell.) The third interview was with Kelly Scientific - a research/biotech temp agency. I haven’t heard anything from them since and I’m not sure if contacting them would be a good idea.

My biggest fear is maternity leave. You have to work for someone for at least a year to qualify for the time off, and you need to have the vacation/sick hours if you want to be paid during that time. (This is how I understand the federal law, I could be wrong.) Also, to be frank, who would hire a pregnant woman? (Yes, its illegal to discriminate, but let’s be real here.)

I’m letting my boss and lab mates know that I would rather stay in research, but our situation is dire. We don’t have an administrator, the U isn’t going to give us any money, and I’m the person with most experience in this area.

Right now, Mouse_Spouse and I are trying to pay down bills and save up money. Spouse keeps suggesting that I go to school full-time next year and finish my degree. I keep changing the subject. Impending parenthood has shaken me and I need to get my head around that before I’m up for academics again. (Also, I’m burnt out and discussed with the U and academia, maybe this will pass when the lab crisis is over.)

Sorry, I missed this bit while I was ranting.

Right now, funding is so tight, its cheaper to get undergraduate workers, graduate students or research fellows than pay for research techs. (The U takes 53% of every grant. A big bite out of your budget.)

I’m about 15 or 16 credit hours away from the degree. Right now, I’m pesismistic about working after the kid is born. Daycare would cost as much as my current salary and rumor has it that biotech companies don’t want anyone with academic experience because they bring in “bad habits.” (I hope this is a lie.)

15 or 16 quarter hours or semester hours? At my university, you could earn 15 credit hours in a single quarter. Considering the enormous payoff earning a bachelor’s can give you, investing the time and effort–even if you feel very burned out–could well be worth it.

I don’t know you at all in person, and I don’t know any more about your situation than you’ve posted here on the SDMB. It seems to me, though, that you might want to give Mouse_Spouse’s suggestion some serious thought, even if it scares you. After you’ve had the baby and taken some time off, you may find that you’re more than ready to get a job. And, as you’ve told all of us many times, having that little piece of sheepskin will translate into many more opportunities, and a lot more money, than anything you could save up right now, with or without paid maternity leave.

As far as I know, biotech companies don’t have hang-ups when it comes to hiring techs who used to work for academic labs. And most people who’ve just graduated with bachelor’s degrees worked for academic labs, if they have any experience in the biological sciences at all. If biotech companies really refused to hire people at the BS level with experience in academic labs, they’d have a pretty lousy hiring pool to choose from!

I get the feeling that you’re anxious about your general situation right now, what with the lab dissolving, everyone having to find new jobs, and the baby coming. Burnout from school isn’t helping. But it seems a pity to not finish your degree while the circumstances are best for it. You’re so close to finishing, and you’ve worked so hard to get through it–why give up now? Especially when the payoff-to-present-sacrifice ratio is so high.

I’m really excited for you, being so close to being done with your degree. Why not concentrate on that for now? That achievement is within your sights, and almost entirely within your control. You can’t control your lab’s coming apart, and you can’t somehow stall on the development of your pinky-mouse-to-be. Maybe it would make sense to focus on what you could control, and what you can achieve, especially since the rewards for you are most probably well worth it.

Hey, if I’ve learned anything as a grad student, it’s that academic labs are ruthless, ruthless places in some ways. As I’m sure you’ve already seen, people squabble over crumbs, and one person’s gain is always someone else’s loss.

I really wouldn’t take the PI’s comment personally. It seems to me that the PI was kind of blunt and tactless, but he or she probably didn’t mean to call you, personally, “a waste.” Rather, he or she had second thoughts about spending money on a good lab manager and mouse specialist. That PI might have had super-eager grad students, who were willing to work themselves to the bone to avoid having to teach. The PI may have been penny-wise and pound-foolish, thinking that he or she could squeeze a few extra bucks from the budget by not hiring a mouse tech, even if the lack of someone in that position caused huge headaches for everyone. Or the PI may not have realized your true value to the lab.

In any case, it’s the PI’s loss–not yours.

I think you just need a priority re-adjustment - right now, your priority is working until your baby is born, and getting proper maternity leave. After that, your priority will be learning to be a mother. After your maternity leave is over, you and your husband can sit down and figure the next steps then. You don’t need to solve everything right now. One step at a time.

I got nothing useful, but I have lots of sympathy :frowning:

Hang in there.


Thank you Scribble, you’re very kind.

Being pregnant has changed things a lot. My career is a big part of my indentity. (When things were very insane, I was very much a workaholic. My personal life is falling apart, but I’m good at my job, damn it!) Becoming a mother wasn’t something I thought much about until now and its very, very scary. (Will everything be OK? Will I repeat my parent’s mistakes? Can I work, go to school and be a parent? etc., etc.)

The Mouseling is due in September, so taking classes is out of the picture for this year. Mouse_Spouse can work from home and is willing to do that so I can go to class. You’re right, I’m frightened. I’m 30, I feel like I’ve past my mental prime. College is very much a young person’s game and I’ve never been young.

Gotta kindly disagree with you on one part, Mousie dearest - college isn’t just for the young. Don’t ever let yourself fall into that trap. In both undergrad and grad school I was fortunate enough to have classmates who were older than I, and I feel that they contributed a lot to the education of us babies. Hearing the point of view of someone 15 years older can be illuminating - hearing the viewpoint of someone 35 years older can rock your world. You may have to work harder (may, hell- handling a child, a job and school isn’t easy) but not only are you just as capable of benefiting from education as someone younger than you are, your experience may be of benefit to the younger ones.

You are very much in my thoughts (you’ve always been one of the Dopers I’d love to meet in person) and I know you are going through a lot right now - physically and mentally. If there is anything I can do, or if you just need to vent, e-mail is in my profile. And as you know, the Dope is a great place to vent!

What?! Hell no, lady. Hell, no.

I’ve met plenty of people in their thirties in college classes. And some in their forties, fifties, and sixties. And many of them did well. In fact, most of them did well. And they often had their stuff together more, and were sometimes quicker on the pick-up, then some of the 18-year-olds.

I would guess that you feel like you’re not as sharp as you were because you’ve got a lot of stress going on right now. I certainly get stupid when I feel scattered and anxious. And being burned out will rob you of a lot of the satisfaction you’d otherwise feel from taking a challenging class. Even the most interesting and stimulating material will feel like a complete slog when your energy is low.

And, when you’re being challenged, it’s pretty easy to feel dumb. Especially when it seems like everyone around you finds things to be easier than you do. (I feel like that’s a big part of the story of my life right now.) But there’s no guarantee that someone who thinks school assignments or other tasks are easy is actually more competent at them than you are. I’ve seen plenty of students who think that intro readings on, say, the role of sex in microevolution are easy. Sometimes, the reason they don’t find the topic difficult is because they’re not sharp enough to note the complexities or non-intuitive implications of the subject.

I don’t get the impression that you’ve got that problem.

I’m going to disagree with the last two guys for your sake, Mouse. In some ways, college IS a young person’s game. You’re married, you will soon have a baby, you have worked for years, you have bills and a mortgage (probably), you have commitments and responsibilities way beyond what teenagers fresh out of high school have. Going back to college will indeed be a different experience for you than it is for them - in some ways it will be much harder for you, and in some ways it will probably be easier (you will probably take the classes and homework and studying more seriously and do it more rigourously, because you’re used to doing things you don’t want to but know you have to do). There is absolutely no reason that you shouldn’t finish your degree, but you do need to make the decision based on the reality of your life.

I’ve thought about going back to university and completing my bachelor’s degree, but I am not in a place where I want to dedicate that much time, money, and effort to it. I like having my evenings and weekends free of classes and studying.

One of my uncles had 5 college degrees last time I spoke with him. He got his law degree (in Spain it’s not grad school), ended up working in journalism, went to journalism school part time, and decided he just liked that being a part-time student thing. Since his wife was happy to get one of her five men out of her hair for a few hours every day, it worked well. Their house was an incredible mess but as my aunt says “any bugs would have been eaten by one of the children” - AFAWK, that house never had any infestations bigger than four boys and their not-so-grown father :wink:

I’ve never been young either and I got through college just fine. I did skip the parts about waking up in stranger’s beds not remembering how I got there and the ones about hangovers. But you know, I don’t think Proud_Mouse_Daddy would like it if you tried those, specially with Mousie on the way!

ETA to clarify: not saying that you have to finish your degree now. Just that life is good enough at pulling one down without doing it to yourself.

It took a long time for me to recognize when Razorette actually wanted advice or conversation, and when she just wanted to whine about how shitty life was where she worked or with her family or just in general. I don’t know how we worked out the code, but I now know when she says, “I need a ‘Poor baby!’” she just wants to complain and hear me say, with all possible sincerity, “Oh, you poor baby!” You need to explain to MouseSpouse (yes, women sometimes need to explain this stuff to their soul mates, who are, after all, only men) that sometimes you just want sympathy; a broad shoulder to cry on, loving arms to reassure you, a soft, rumbling voice telling you over and over that you are the finest person alive and the bastards don’t deserve you and you will triumph one day, absolutely, and that he loves you so much and admires your strength and your ability to put up with all that crap, but you are such a good person and even the source of his strength, and together “we” will find a way to make a better life and find you a better position where you will be as appreciated at work as you are at home. How about a glass of wine?

There, now doesn’t that feel better?

That is a great post, Sunrazor. I agree whole-heartedly; if you don’t make sure your spouse knows what you need, you really don’t have anyone else to blame when you don’t get it.

Thanks, Sunrazor. You’re very insiteful.

Mouse_Spouse and I have been talking but there is still a lot of ground to cover. Basically, he sees things as very straight forward: we have the kid, I go back to work (or school)12 weeks later, and we move on. I’m much more worried about details: Will I still have a job? Can we afford daycare? Can we live on one salary? etc. etc. As much as I love my husband, we are from very different back grounds and at times like this it shows.

An update on work: There is a group of junior faculty that is trying to save the department. Since I have been feeling very disenfranchised, I talked with a member of this group who I’m comfortable with. We discussed what has been happening and how I feel. If the department is reorganized, I can have a position that’s is more research and less admin. That made me feel better. Sadly, today my boss asked how my job search was going. I told him that I stopped looking when I discovered the pregnancy. “That’s not a good idea. We have so many balls in the air, nothing is guaranteed.” I bit my tongue. (My best friend was a mother at 17. As much as I hate the idea of job hunting while pregnant, she had it much worse. Finding - and keeping - a job has been very hard for her. The whole work/family balance is intimidating as hell.)

Ah well, right now I’m in a “I hate everybody” sort of mood. Hopefully, I’ll find a antidepressant that will work and a positive outlook will be easier to find. For now, I better keep my mouth shut before I alienate everyone.