Friday, March 26, 2010

Searching high, searching low

The other thing that has been keeping me - and us - busy is the job search.

I am in the 2nd year of a post doctoral fellowship. This means that I am now on the market for tenure-track faculty positions. Which, to be honest, scares the living you-know-what out of me. Seriously. Me? On faculty? With responsibilities and expectations and all that sort of thing? Yikes!

I can't quite figure out sometimes how I got here - how I got from the nerdy freshman in college who (despite studying lots and lots and lots) didn't ace the mid-20s practitioner who finally found her the 30 year old who loves academia so much she doesn't want to now, when I stand on the edge of a whole new part of my professional life.

It's a little scary, to be honest.

I have spent the last month+ selling myself to four different schools in four different cities, in an effort to find the best match - for me and for them. It's been more enjoyable but also a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be.

Option 1 is my current home - the place where I earned my degree (albeit long-distance); the place where I am completing my fellowship. It's a comfortable and nurturing place. I don't doubt that I would do well here...and that we would have the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed (small town setting; university town; Midwestern; etc.). But - in the middle of all this good stuff - the thought comes creeping in that this might not be the *best* place for me to launch my career. Nurturing needs to be balanced with opportunities...and I'm not sure that the opportunities here are the best for me.

Option 2 is closest to most of our friends. It's a school in the Northeast, but it has a very different philosophy and make up than the other schools I am considering. I would be in the minority there - most people focus on things other than straight-up research (which is what I do). That, and the fact that the students were almost universally referred to as "challenging", make this option fall down a few spots on the list.

Option 3 is a vibrant urban school with lots of energy and possibilities. It's also my alma mater for my undergrad degree. Which means there is a lot of emotion and other "stuff" tied into this one, as well. I loved my interview day here - it was busy, but challenging, and I could see how I would fit. On the downside? Very very urban. Our way of life would likely change significantly. And I don't know how I would do back on the East coast, in a *city*. I know, wimpy. Also - while the school has some nurturing qualities (we want you to succeed!) it is also cutthroat and competitive. I could not be a shrinking violet here - I'd have to grab on and, well, lead the way. As cheesy as that sounds.

Option 4 is kind of a weird blend of options 1 and 3. It's in an urban area in a mostly rural state. It is in the Midwest. But it's not a typical big university - it's a small university, in an urban setting. The options there are intriguing...but again, I'm not sure the fit is right. This one is more similar to option 2 in terms of how I would *fit* there. And that is becoming increasingly important to me as I sort through these options.

So, what am I going to do? Oh, right! I'm married! I have to consider my husband's needs, concerns, and wishes, too. And the dog's. ;) I have no idea right now which option will come out on top. None. I want my husband to have options wherever we end up, as well, and that is one big drawback to option 1. But he loved option 2, which isn't the best choice for me. *sigh* So there will be lots of conversation and back and forth and thinking.

And, of course, I only have an offer from option 1 at this point! I might be putting the cart before the horse, as there are no guarantees that I will be offered positions at the other schools.

So, ponder ponder.

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