What's in your back pocket?

Apr 20 2015 Published by under Careers, Life

In academic circles it's common to hear junior folks on the TT to be advised to have a back up plan in their back pocket. You know, just in case. Not that they'll need it of course. But it's good to have one. Right?

What about the tenured/not-so-junior?


21 responses so far

  • CrankyProf says:

    Get involved and network in an academia-associated area, like volunteering for a lot of grant review and chatting up PO/SRA types about their jobs, or getting highly involved in editing/publishing in your field, or, if possible, the industrial side of your research (pharmaceuticals if you're a med researcher, for example.)

    If things go bad, you've got a bit of a headstart.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Oh God. I hate you now.

  • Ola says:

    As a relative oldie (late 40s, tenured) the thought of finding a back-up career to carry me through to retirement, is very scary indeed. My back pocket plan, to be implemented in the event of being fired, is to get out of academia altogether. If I get fired, it will likely be due to intolerances between me and "the system", which won't be resolved by simply moving to a different institution. We have various financial measures implemented as a family, that makes us fairly bulletproof (e.g., living mortgage free in a small city house, biking to work). The acquisition of non-biosci skills over the years should (?) enable us to get part time low paying jobs and survive, albeit not richly.

  • B. Kiddo says:

    Like Ola, I've got the financial back-pocket plan. That's important.

    I also have scientific back-pocket plans (who doesn't?) - that grant idea that I'm always looking for ways to get additional preliminary data for

    I've even tried positioning myself (slightly) to be able to take on some admin. The incompetency above is a large motivator there as well.

  • Namesaste_Ish says:

    Wait....what? Science isn't a stable career? Has someone blogged about that? WTF???

  • boehninglab says:

    I've seen several go the admin route, and I naturally gravitate towards those roles.

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    I'm going to adopt a two syllable stage name and start rapping.

    Or I might consider applying to the consulting industry...

  • clueless noob says:

    People at my center keep telling me that I'd be a great administrator. I spend my downtime thinking of ways to take that as a compliment.

  • DJMH says:

    Taking FLAKKA and trying to have carnal relations with a tree.

  • This *was* my backup plan. First my boy band folded...now this.

  • Morgan Price says:

    Now that I've been a researcher in the same lab for >10 years it is a little difficult to imagine doing anything else. Still, I occasionally think about what subfield I'd try to switch to if funding for my current subfield (and the PIs I work with) imploded.

  • chemstructbio says:

    it's funny how many complain about increased administration (in particular in relation to IDCs) ... yet many aspire to be an administrator if they lose funding (assuming that is the back pocket scenario).

  • dr24hours says:

    My backup plan involves a lot of scorched earth.

  • […] morning on twitter I was reading this post by @Odysseyblog. They mention that many junior TT faculty are advised to have a back up plan. This […]

  • ilovepigenetics says:

    The AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship is a great way to transition into a government position, or just to better understand how the process works from the funding side. There are lots of different types of positions, including overseas (with USAID), DOD, DOJ, Congressional appointment, etc. It's great if you are a grad student or post-doc, as the salaries start at over $75K! If you are transitioning from a more senior level (as I did), the highest salary right now is just under $100K for the first year, it will be more fiscally challenging. One of the biggest benefits vs. applying for a government job directly is the 2 week orientation that includes tons of networking opportunities and a glimpse into how this city runs. They also sponsor a year-long professional development series that will meet some of the requirements for Senior Executive Service in the government.

    Here's a link: http://www.aaas.org/program/science-technology-policy-fellowships

  • lurker says:

    I will be begging one of you to let me start a molecular gastronomy blog on Scientopia, and then promote my food truck business,maybe call it "Good Phude".