4 Mar 2020

The scorpion and the winds of change

Submitted by Kari Stone, Lewis University

The cyclical nature of academia means that the time of change is upon us. This is the season where some may be looking for a position, some may find a new position, and some may even lose a position. I was in the storm of the job search last year. My story is a little unusual. While I loved the job I had at the time, a serious self-assessment of my disposition and reflecting on my professional development lead me to be open to other opportunities. I was not actively looking for a new position, but I knew that I needed a change in my professional trajectory. I was even considering making the change to an industrial position.

ACS meetings are great places to find new opportunities! For me, it was an ACS meeting in Boston and I had just spent the whole day working on the ACS inorganic exam. I met up with a colleague from a nearby institution who had just arrived for the conference. Conversation ensued. I learned that there might be an opportunity to change institutions without even having to move, as in a possible tenure-track line opening up. A very long story short, I applied, I interviewed (by phone and on-campus), and was made an offer without a change in rank from my former institution. I was over the moon, so to speak.

Fast forward and almost a year has past and I think about if I made the right decision. There are always doubts when you are in the midst of making a really big transition. I can say with confidence that I absolutely did make the right decision! While I realize no institution is perfect, there is such a thing as a good fit with an institution. What I didn’t realize at my former institution is that I never quite fit in. In retrospect, here were some clues that it was time for me to go: 1) I never “moved in” to my office, 2) I didn’t feel comfortable speaking up, and 3) I was headed toward perpetual gen chemdom. If you are having these feelings of doubt and disillusionment, maybe it is time for you to move on too.