ann's timeline

Ann

Ann, Canadian in her mid-thirties, completed her PhD in 2009 in another country before returning to Canada with her partner for a 3-year post-doc position – though her partner, also a researcher, had difficulty finding full-time employment. Ann originally undertook a PhD in order to increase her knowledge and advance in the field, and joined this study in 2010 during her second year of post-doc work. As a post-doc, Ann worked in a large lab and initially considered a career in academia before deciding to pursue work in clinical trials and patents. She and her partner welcomed their first child near the end of her post-doc.

What struck us about Ann’s story was:

Issues with partner being able to find work and birth of child.

Lack of supervision and opportunities to collaborate.

Gradual disinterest in academia.

 

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 4

Post-PhD

Year 5

 

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Partner, also academic, was not employed for first 18 months of her post-doc, but eventually took temporary part-time position in the same lab; lack of full-time job caused financial concerns.

Spent time trouble-shooting experiment, and received little help/encouragement from supervisor.

Uncertain whether she wanted to work in academia, and explored work in patents or industry.

...

Attended seminar where speaker mentioned research that Ann was involved in, which made her realize that her work had impact.

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Grant application rejected and was unsure what to do next.

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Had trouble finding the time to read and write.

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Did majority of work alone due to lack of interaction and meetings in the lab, and was frustrated due to isolation and failed experiments.

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Post-PhD

 

Year 3

 

Completed Iron Man triathlon, which was “lots of work, but an amazing experience”.

Worked with a volunteer and a student in the lab on work that had not been finished the previous year.

Continued to consider academic positions, but also interested in research positions in other contexts.

Partner continued to work part-time in lab, while looking for work in the industry.

Grant application rejected again, but was ranked higher than last year.

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Paper from PhD work published.

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Worked with another post-doc to learn how to use new computer tool.

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Started looking for new positions due to tension with supervisor, and dissatisfaction with the lab.

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Seriously considering returning to partner’s home country, where post-docs are paid more and partner can work.

Frustrated that she has not been able to present at conferences, which “leaves a big hole” in her CV; supervisor concerned someone might “steal” data.

...

 

Post-PhD

 

Year 4

 

Continued to do physical activity in leisure time.

Lab technician on leave so spent time ordering and trouble-shooting for equipment.

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Expecting first child.

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Partner no longer employed due to end of contract, and was looking for new job.

Continued to have trouble getting support from supervisor; “ maybe he is not that interested in me because my project is not going that well”.

Considered teaching as career.

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Worked with an undergraduate student, which made her realize she enjoyed teaching.

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Finally “allowed” to attend conference but felt it was “too late” to be helpful in establishing collaborations.

Planned to end post-doc after maternity leave, and use leave to look for jobs.

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Joined a journal club organized by another post-doc.

Considered work outside of the academy, possibly doing patent work.

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Applied for two jobs in partner’s home country doing patent work.

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Post-PhD

Year 5

On maternity leave, but no intention to return to post-doc position: “Mom, job hunter and occasionally working in the lab to finish off my paper”.

Worked in lab every other week  to finish paper.

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Very positive about parenting: “If I had known it would be so much fun, I think I would have done it sooner”.

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Partner still job hunting.

Turned down offer to work as research associate (5 year contract), as salary was low and “it’s time to make that career-type move and this isn’t that”.

Sometimes feels “bipolar” about choice to leave academia “cause like this is what [she had] been training for and preparing for”.

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Offered and accepted a Technology Analyst position at a university-linked research commercialization company in a city where she and her partner had previously lived.

New position “could turn into a long term job” but limited opportunity for advancement.

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1 yr later: “I know that I made the right decision to try something new.”.

 

What struck us

Partner’s job issues, birth of child.

Lack of supervision and opportunities to collaborate.

Gradual disinterest in academia.

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Researcher Identity Development (2017). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License