Thursday, February 4, 2010

Job uncertainty

I posted a graph a couple of days ago that showed President Obama's proposed budget in terms of funding for various science agencies. It's great news that so many of them are having their budgets increased. The CDC, however, looks to lose over a hundred million dollars of funding. We are part of the Department of Health and Human Services, which has a lot of other functions besides ones that are considered basic science.

It's impossible to predict anything from the graph, and it's only been proposed. It still has to be voted on by Congress. However, the new head of the CDC has proposed cutting funding for West Nile programs, so people where I work are scrambling to show what we do in terms of benefiting public health.

All this is to say that things are uncertain at the moment. And that has me thinking what I want to do when I grow up. I was so grateful to get this job, it's hard to overstate my sense of relief in landing it. At the time, I had run out of money from my divorce settlement, had asked my dad for money (something I hadn't done since I was in my 20's) and was using my credit cards more than I should. I had been ready to commute all the way to Denver or to Cheyenne, WY (an hour south and an hour north, respectively) for a job.

And this job has been a really good job. My boss is results-oriented, so he doesn't spend a lot of time breathing down anyone's neck. I get to work on my own projects at my own pace and I like that. I've gotten two good first-author publications out of it (a good thing in my line of work) and that's good too. I make enough money to support myself and save a bit. So if this job is eliminated, I will be bummed out not only because of the money, but because it's a good job.

But sometimes it takes a kick in the pants like that to jump start one to the next thing they are going to do. Although I've always admired and yearned to be a university professor, it's not in the cards for me while I'm raising a child. I don't want to move Mr W potentially far away from his dad, and I don't want the pressure of starting and maintaining "an externally funded independent research program", which is a requirement of those jobs.

What to do? Well, post-secondary teaching jobs include community colleges, junior colleges, and other institutions that don't have graduate programs. In those jobs, teaching is the main thing, and it's usually to reasonable motivated students that want to be there.

So, this is what I want. I want to get a full time teaching job teaching biology. I am reasonably qualified, if I may toot my own horn just a bit. I have a PhD, which looks good, I have taught before, and I have a degree in education (it was 20 years ago, but still). I keep hoping that my local community college will have an opening, but it doesn't look likely. They are, however, building a new building, which will increase their capacity to offer classes, and who knows. I might stick around doing the one class thing until they open the new building.

There is a job opening, though. It's in Casper, WY, (pop 50,000, making it the second largest city in WY!) which is about 3 hours north of here, right along Interstate 25. It's at Casper College, and it's doing what I want to do. I'll post more about this process, but I'm going to apply for it. I have a huge concern over how this would impact Mr W. He very much deserves to have two parents in the same town. I don't know how we would get around that, although his dad might be willing to move as well.

This post is long enough. More later. Thanks for reading this longie.


  1. I admire your candor, strength, intelligence, and willingness to share so openly, Linda. No other words of wisdom... here's a hug! That's all - and I understand the difficulties in contemplating a move, and career change.

    Take care. Suzanne

  2. As blended also, even though we are divorced, the ex in the same school district has a strong impact on the choices available to me. I can do anything as long as I can do it from my school district..and my kids are old enough that it is important to them, too. Sometimes I wonder if once the kids are out of school, I'll be driven to go somewhere else or do something else, or if this has all been me fooling myself that this is really where I belong. What to do? What to do? If the job here dries up, what am I prepared to do for a new one and what am I qualified for? I've pretty much always just been hired by people who know me and my 'skills'. Do you think you'll have and difficulty switching??

  3. Funny how we can be friends for over 25 years and I had forgotten that you had an education degree. It may well turn out to have been a very good choice! I've been seriously thinking of becoming a teacher in Jr High or high school or something like that. So much so that I met with the superintendant of my school district in November (they were encouraging). I'm thinking of a 5 year plan that has me as a teacher at the end of that time, mostly because it's a way to make the world a better place, step back from the corporate life, just in case the goat thing doesn't work out. It doesn't hurt to pursue it and get the certification even if it doesn't pan out in the long run.

  4. Suzanne - you rock, thanks.

    Karen Sue - I've wondered about the extent to which I would change what I was doing jobwise if the circumstances didn't dictate that I needed to. The last job I had, the company went out of business, and before that my x got a job offer in CO. I have a bit of an idea what to expect class-wise, but moving and starting a new job would be stressful (big picture! think of the big picture!)

    Jordan - Jr. high students would grind me down to a little nub, but I think you teaching is a great idea. Just the thought of having a couple of months off during the summer makes me swoon a bit...


Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.