6 month update

So I’m 6 months into this new role and here are just a few observations:

  1.  I noticed this in industry, but at what point do those in authority become assholes.  I want to make a whole post about this, but to give you a taste: the level of asshole-ery is different.  The higher-up buttholes from my experience in industry are just pure assholes.  They belittle you directly, they ignore you, and they know how to game, though their knowledge speaks for itself.  But the good ones realize they need the right supporting cast.  The ones in academia I’ve experienced feel they don’t need anyone, everyone is expendable, and they’re too high up in their tower to address anyone below.  They belittle with no mercy because there aren’t really ramifications.  I’ve seen the ones in industry at least get in trouble when they overstep.  The ones in academia have yet to be punished.  Luckily, they’ve left me alone for the most part.
  2. My spouse and I live a fairly frugal life so we didn’t think the pay cut would matter, but this MASSIVE pay cut is felt.  Not necessarily in our day-to-day lives.  But we’re not saving as much as we used to.  And if we want to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to Italy, I have the freedom to now, but I’m concerned about using the cash.
  3. Students aren’t as bad as some of the (jaded) faculty members here made them out to be.  My students are fantastic and when you walk down the hallway you can always hear either fun or passionate scientific discussions coming from only my lab.  I also notice that I’m the only PI that spends a decent amount of time in the lab.  Not bugging the students, but because I get office-fever and feel I’m about to start writing “no science and no lab makes phindustry a dull researcher” over and over on my whiteboard.
  4. Teaching is exhausting.  I easily spend a few hours preparing for every lecture.  I’m hoping that next year this will take up less time.  Jeez, it’s freaking rewarding though!
  5. This financial management is tough.  In industry my budget was enormous.  Like comedically huge.  So we could just spend however we liked.  I have to be frugal here.  Though I actually kind of enjoy it because I get to try more MacGuyvering of my research equipment.  A skill I feel like I lost with every passing day with the large research budget.
  6. I had a past post about this: I miss my old colleagues.  They were my age and we had great conversations.  Doesn’t happen as much now.  Though there’s this weird phenomenon I’m feeling now where being around them makes me feel so young.  Screw moisturizing, just hang out with college kids (that could be creepy in the wrong context)!  It’s a cool feeling.
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3 thoughts on “6 month update

  1. My spouse and I live a fairly frugal life so we didn’t think the pay cut would matter, but this MASSIVE pay cut is felt.

    I sometimes feel that I am overpaid, I make twice what my husband with an MS and a fairly light workload does. And certainly everyone always harps on professors for being lazy layabouts who are paid too much. But then I remember that people do make much, much more in industry. My PhD students who go into industry easily make (sans bonus) straight out of a PhD only slightly less than what I make now, after 11 years of being a professor. Yet nobody begrudges the high earners in industry, and I always feel guilty for some reason. How effed up is that?

    True about feeling young. It’s much nicer working non-stop with young people than the same (aging, just like you) people for years on end. Students are adorable. And I agree that they are always better than the colleagues would have you believe; I have had a number of really talented people. One needs to know how to pick ’em and how to get the best work out of everyone.

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  2. Agree with the lectures part. I’m now halfway through the first course I designed myself. There are so many balls in the air and such a (self-imposed) pressure for this to go well that I’m just spent at the end of a teaching day. But seeing good handins come in and students having fun is a wonderful feeling.

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  3. I think the overpaid industry researchers aren’t really ridiculed in the public because they’re not “paid by the public”, and they also aren’t as publicly visible. In my old company there was a good deal of complaining about science and engineering related costs by shareholders. It resulted in lower base pay, but opening up the top-end of the salary spectrum immensely because of bonuses. Even if this was implemented in academics people would still whine, while having no idea how much we’re busting our asses.

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