As some of you may know, I’ve been on the TT job search for a little while now. I began my first round of searching a year and a half ago, in the midst of a crappy economy, few available positions, and a plethora of postdocs fending for their future. The market has improved this year, but things are still pretty tight, and I have yet to hear from any of the places to which I’ve applied. With Hubby’s job going so well, a new baby, and a desire on both our parts to start our life (read: buy a house and settle down), I’ve started thinking about alternatives. I’m not giving up on “Plan A” yet; I just want to know what my options are, and decide which of those options would be acceptable for a long-term career.
My more regular readers may also recall that my mentor is close to retirement. I’ve imagined this providing me a large research void within to maneuver as a new TT prof, as well as an impressive collection of strains with which to start my lab. Another possibility has been presented by a couple of faculty in the department – stay on here as an assistant professor and (eventually) take over my mentor’s program when he retires. As convenient as this may sound on the surface, there are several possible downsides to consider:
1. Will I [ever] be considered a colleague, staying in the place where I’ve been a postdoc?
2. Will I actually be offered a tenure-track position, or remain an at-will employee that can be fired at the first sign of financial weakness?
3. Will I receive the same types of start-up funds available to other junior faculty hired during an external search?
4. Will I be dinged by study sections for not moving on when applying for grants?
Of course, the first three questions are largely dependent on this department, which is unfortunately experiencing quite a bit of flux right now. As a result, it’s hard to predict what kind of support, if any, would be provided. If this option was available, I would need evidence of support included in my contract. Alternatively, the insistence on keeping me on as a second-class citizen would be a good indicator for how this scenario would play out long term.
The fourth question, regarding how I’ll be viewed by future study sections, is even more ambiguous. I’ve trained in good labs, developed a solid research program from scratch, and have a record of productivity and funding potential (training grant recipient and a decent K grant score). But will all this be overshadowed by the fact that I couldn’t secure a TT position on my own? I’m pretty sure it will have some effect, but how much? Is it even worth considering this possibility? Or should I scratch the idea and just hope for an offer somewhere else?