• November 1, 2014
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Author Topic: Left academe--deeply regret it  (Read 18040 times)
federale
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« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2012, 1:44:44 AM »

Much of self image is self-constructed. So I take this to mean we can envision who we really are regardless of the externalities. For instance, I considered myself a scientist/scholar, but my current title is Program Manager (bleh!). I still have to do all that "stuff", endure the drudgery and stress, etc., but that does not need to change my self image. It can be hard to do, but it seems a worthwhile challenge. Otherwise, you are the victim of circumstance.

I know it is very hard now, but I perhaps you can take the longer view (5-10 years) and see who you want to be as a professional, and see how you can navigate in that direction. Keep your eye on the prize, so to speak.
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aristotelian
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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2013, 4:48:37 PM »

So you have jealous and resentful colleagues who are resistant to change...sounds like many academic institutions! But just like academic institutions, there are bad non-profit organizations and good ones. Could you be happier in the non-profit if you found a good organization with good colleagues?
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federale
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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2013, 10:21:16 AM »

Updating this thread to add that the academic hires that were brought into our federal agency over the pool of competents within, have all resigned. None lasted more than two years. By all accounts, the good pay did not counterbalance the increase in administration and the joys of sequester,etc. Luckily, two of the hotshots I knew were able to go right back to their academic jobs, hopefully wiser for the experience. 
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dr_prephd
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« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2013, 10:43:27 AM »

By all accounts, the good pay did not counterbalance the increase in administration and the joys of sequester,etc.

This does not surprise me at all. Of the feds I know, morale is at an all-time low and people are actively looking for (and jumping ship to) new opportunities as quickly as possible.
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ammocrypta
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« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2013, 8:42:30 PM »

Updating this thread to add that the academic hires that were brought into our federal agency over the pool of competents within, have all resigned. None lasted more than two years. By all accounts, the good pay did not counterbalance the increase in administration and the joys of sequester,etc. Luckily, two of the hotshots I knew were able to go right back to their academic jobs, hopefully wiser for the experience. 

I lasted 1 yr. 11 months in my federal role after spending 17 years in academia at 2 different large state universities.  I recently managed to get back into academia and am so pleased and breathing a sigh of relief.  At my career stage it's not easy, but I landed a tenured, full prof. position making more than I ever have in the past (start next semester).  It can be done, but it is difficult!  We have to make a long move this month, but it's well worth it.  I was absolutely miserable, then the sequester hit....
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federale
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« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2013, 12:40:11 PM »

Updating this thread to add that the academic hires that were brought into our federal agency over the pool of competents within, have all resigned. None lasted more than two years. By all accounts, the good pay did not counterbalance the increase in administration and the joys of sequester,etc. Luckily, two of the hotshots I knew were able to go right back to their academic jobs, hopefully wiser for the experience. 

I lasted 1 yr. 11 months in my federal role after spending 17 years in academia at 2 different large state universities.  I recently managed to get back into academia and am so pleased and breathing a sigh of relief.  At my career stage it's not easy, but I landed a tenured, full prof. position making more than I ever have in the past (start next semester).  It can be done, but it is difficult!  We have to make a long move this month, but it's well worth it.  I was absolutely miserable, then the sequester hit....

I have been somewhat (not absolutely) miserable for years, but having no academic fallback, there seems to be no easy way out. I posted about upcoming opportunities in government jobs, due to retirements. That is still true in the big picture. What I did not expect was a bastchit crazy bunch of jokers now in the wheelhouse, who don't care a wit about serving the country or the people who work for them. So, the leadership has been abysmal, and when bureaucratic managers come under duress, they tend to micromanage instead of innovate. That has been perhaps the most excruciating observation of all, and it is hard not to just feel trapped, frustrated, and despirited. I am fairly confident this is a reality with government jobs, so I will repeat. Government managers are used to commanding and controlling a feifdom for which they do not have to generate base funds, nor carve out through innovations. So, their skill set is chiefly administrative reporting and performance management. Neither is good for morale or creativity. During times of economic expansion, the federal service can be a good, stable gig, but during downturns, the blind spots become more apparent.

So, perhaps with some exceptions (pure research grade positions), I don't recommend the federal service at the moment, but boy would I like to be proven wrong.
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ruralguy
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« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2013, 5:49:06 PM »

I wouldn't recommend the federal service at all, but that's only because federal dollars for the sciences outside of some engineering and medical fields are probably going to be decreasing over the next few years. Maybe a lot more than a few years.
That won't just mean less money for PIs in University labs, but less money for the big government labs, less money to operate the NSF, NASA, etc.  I also really don't seeing this change much with any change in political control of the country.
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untenured
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« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2013, 8:52:34 PM »

My apologies if you've covered this, but have you thought about whether your departure represented dissatisfaction with the institution rather than dissatisfaction with academia as a way of making a living?  Similarly, are you unhappy with your current job because you don't like this specific company or rather are dissatisfied with non-academic employment overall?  Thinking about these questions may help you decide whether your preferences were isolated or structural.

IMHO, people make sub-optimal choices in life.  That's okay.  If this means you have gained a fonder appreciation for academia and want to return, there's no shame in that.  If this means you need to refine your interests outside of academia, that's fine too.  You are learning from your choices, and that's good.
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Quote from: kedves link=topic=56697.msg1152543#msg1152543
You are among the Pure and Truthful, however small their Number.
My goodness, that was an exceptionally good analysis of the forum.
dr_prephd
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« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2013, 7:52:25 PM »

Government managers are used to commanding and controlling a feifdom for which they do not have to generate base funds, nor carve out through innovations. So, their skill set is chiefly administrative reporting and performance management. Neither is good for morale or creativity.

Oh, boy, has this been my experience. You have put this extremely well.
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federale
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« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2013, 9:39:42 PM »

Government managers are used to commanding and controlling a feifdom for which they do not have to generate base funds, nor carve out through innovations. So, their skill set is chiefly administrative reporting and performance management. Neither is good for morale or creativity.

Oh, boy, has this been my experience. You have put this extremely well.

Well, I'll dial it back a touch, and emphasize that I have worked with great colleagues and valuable and highly honorable work. So, given the larger market, I am thankful for the opportunities I have had. But the recognition that managerial leadership was so out of touch with how to sustain excellence (which starts with an engaged and somewhat enthusiastic work force), was a very unpleasant surprise for me. And unfortunately, I learned the lesson too late to do much about it. My goose appears pretty much cooked.

For those considering leaving academia, I would just caution to look well before you leap.
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fkm100
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« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2014, 12:19:33 PM »

If I may be so bold as to suggest it, build up a nice nest-egg whilst you are getting that generous pay-check. I don't know about other folks, but I have always felt more optimistic about a lousy job when I have known that I can walk out of it without facing instant financial ruin.
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gsawpenny
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« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2014, 1:25:40 PM »

Interesting stuff...I left a TT job to work for the federal government and I love my government job. Now, let me add that I am not a scientist but an historian, but once you realize that federal management is little different from any other management it gets easier. Also, an earlier post mentioned that there might be less money in federal science programs but more in university programs - don't bet on it. The feds are pushing to internalize much of their hard-science work with an eye on creating and sustaining a "brain trust." In short, I see a future where Uncle Sam will be looking for fewer Grant Managers and more specialists.
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liferox
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« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2014, 7:44:14 AM »

I say if you are unhappy you need to relocate with your family somewhere else back in academia. Your kids are young enough that they will have plenty of time to readjust. You need to be happy or at least semi-happy with your job, or your whole life will be miserable.  Go make those changes back into a better field and situation for yourself!
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