Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Plan B

If you've been following the news at all lately, it seems clear that federal spending faces steep cuts.  I'm not here to go into where those cuts should or should not come from, but it looks like my particular agency is going to face some significant cuts.  I've talked with my supervisor briefly about it, and he just doesn't know anything yet. 

Lots of questions and uncertainty.  A coworker and friend has already gone on an interview in another state for a job.  I am ambivalent about what to me seems like it might be a little too proactive, since we don't know anything about our jobs yet.  However, if you had the means and chutzpah to pick up and move to a job that you wanted, was pretty secure, and paid well, would it make sense to do it?

Unless things got really bad, I'm not looking to pull up stakes and relocate anywhere if I lose my job.  But here's the thing.  I've been taking stock of my skills and it's going to be difficult to get another job like mine.  It's not like I don't have any skills, but I don't think they are all that marketable right now, and employers may not be willing to pay for the fact that I have a Ph.D., when most of what I do can be done by trained monkeys experienced BS or MS degree holders. I can write the scientific papers reasonable well, though, and yesterday I was able to give a new postdoc good advice on doing a project similar to mine, but on ticks. I know, I know, but ticks, mosquitoes and fleas is what we are all about where I work.

So I've been thinking about the Plan.  The Plan B, in case I lose my job and I don't get either of the teaching jobs I applied for, and don't want to languish on unemployment while I get less and less employable.  It calms me a lot to think about what I would do, as it's still just me, and the marrying rich thing hasn't panned out (yet!).

I'm still interested in education, with the overall big-picture goal of promoting scientific literacy as a way to make rational decisions in people's daily lives.  I'm not able to make it financially as a high school teacher, and the full college professor thing would consume my life and force me to relocate, and the community college thing is promising, but may or may not pan out either, and doesn't pay all that great.  What to do?  Learn how to help students learn better and teachers teach better.  There is a certificate program that is all online from the University of Colorado in Denver that is called "Designing e-Learning Environments".  It takes a year, and is 15 graduate credits (which I would have to of course pay for), after which I'd have the certificate and could try to get a job off of that.  The certificate also represents the first year of a two year MA program in "eLearning Design and Implementation", so there's some flexibility.

In my perfect world, I'd get renewed for another year at work, take a 25% pay cut, which would be tight, but I could still live off of, and take a year to get this certificate, which would give me a portfolio that I could show to prospective employers.  I could potentially work from home after that, which would rock, and I'd have good skills that were marketable to a variety of jobs.

This is all still inside my head and on this page, but doing so helps me feel like a Plan is in the works.


  1. Gotta give you a whole lot of credit for not being afraid (a lot of people are, you know) to look ahead and HAVE a Plan B. And it seems as if you're not running scared and thinking the absolute worst is coming. You're making sure (to the extent you can) that things turn out the best for you. You're just downright smart and sensible.

    Can we talk mice now? :o) Are you using the regular old traps or those (newer) gray, plastic ones? We've been using the gray ones for years and think they are far superior. Much harder for the meese to steal peanut butter without getting caught in the act. (Pun intended.)

  2. Linda, I'm impressed by how you are going about this, thinking about options, exploring the possibilities.

    I did not know you had expertise re ticks. Got a question for you.... or maybe a few. Why don't Preventic tick collars and Advantix keep ticks off a dog? I have a German shepherd, and it's proven impossible to stop the tick problem. And why isn't it easier in winter -- in upstate NY with snow and cold? I haven't found an engorged tick on him (or me) in a long, long time -- nearly a year. But I see the un-engorged ticks and nymphs occasionally. It puzzles me.

    Any thoughts?

  3. Linda, you simply continue to inspire me.

  4. Mama Pea - thanks as always. A better mouse trap? Who knew? Not me. I will get the other ones and get rid of this smart little rascal once and for all.

    kate - I am a mosquito person. Well, I'm a plant person who does mosquito work :-) , so I don't know much about ticks. The stuff the other postdoc and I talked about was easily transferable from mosquitoes to ticks, so it worked out. I do know that in some parts of the country, there are simply lots of ticks, and it could be a numbers game that the repellents work against some but not all. Yes, severe winters are supposed to knock back the population, but all pests have some means to overwinter. In the mosquitoes I study, just the mated females hibernate, for example.

    And Suzanne, you are so kind. Two words: Vegas, baby.


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