The layoff

I’ve heard stories of it happening. I know it can happen. It has happened to plenty of people. But to me? It couldn’t happen.

But it did. I was laid off. With one month of notice. In some industries that is plenty of notice. In academia, in science, it is no time at all.

I had already been on a path to discovering a new career and I was already unhappy with where I was. I tried to take it as a blessing in disguise. At least it was a push to find something else, maybe even something better.

But a month. A month is no time to find a job. My PI told me his health made him do it. He would be cutting down his hours in the new year so he wouldn’t be able to focus on my project. It is not worth worrying about how much this is true versus an excuse. Certainly my project was not his favorite anymore. It took too long. It was too slow. But I am the only one out of 7 postdocs to get a pink slip. Also there were complications. I told him I don’t want to be a PI. I was working less than full time. Then there is the other thing. Someone said it and now I can’t get it out of my head. I was paid on the postdoc payscale. Most others were paid less. Anyway, it is not worth worrying about why I was laid off … is it?

Regardless, I tried to stay positive. I tried to use this as a kick in the butt to find something better. At least a step in the right direction. I applied to more jobs than I ever have. I pursued more options, branching out beyond my comfort zone. I considered alternatives like freelance scientific editing and tutoring.

In the end, at the point when I was really starting to think I’d be unemployed, I was offered a six-month postdoc position in a collaborator’s lab. It is not my dream job and it is not permanent, but it is a good right-now solution. It is better than losing money on daycare while doing freelance editing (I can’t be sure but I don’t think I would break even with daycare costs). No other application came to anything and my emotional energy has been eaten up with all of the applying, looking, and one enormous surge of effort – a phone interview that got me nowhere and left me feeling worthless.

I know job hunting is painful for everyone. I know that I am not worthless. I know something will work out. Regardless of where I end up, I believe that being laid off was for the best. Looking back, my situation was even more toxic than I could see close up. It beat me down in ways I couldn’t see how to get out from under. My new department is much friendlier. My new boss is much more human. I am going to take this month to collect myself, to regroup.

Then I will get back to figuring out what’s next.

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5 Responses to The layoff

  1. Liv says:

    That’s so awful. Glad you are being positive about this as an opportunity to really find a good fit for your next career move. Good luck!! I am sure with persistence something good will come of this


  2. Curiouser&Curiouser says:

    You are a brilliant person and scientist and I have no doubt that you will land on your feet, hopefully finding something that brings you lots of joy.


  3. bymarion says:

    So sorry to read about the way you’ve been treated. It takes courage and strength to write so honestly about your experience: thank you so much for doing so, I’m convinced that it will be of great help for many readers. Wishing you all the best for the next steps of your career.


  4. peírama says:

    Thank you all for your supportive comments! It really helps.


  5. The position you’ve been put in is world-rocking. It’s one thing to face these stark changes and blunted options when you are only looking after yourself or your partner, and quite another when you have a dependent. It is inspiring that you’ve been able to come around to facing this situation with a positive outlook, and that you can take this six month interim position in a friendlier space to breathe a bit as you find the best next steps. Rooting for you from the blogosphere.


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