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At my wits end - aka being blatantly exploited


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#1 Dr. G-nome

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 08:59 AM

OK, I am really at my wits end here....

I'm an English molecular biology post-doc trying to get some work in The Netherlands, my background is medical microbiology, but cardiovascular research is very much the vogue here and I have been getting very interested and building up experience in this field...

The economy is really bad here for scientists at the moment, despite applying for more than a job a week I have only had three interviews in two years, one I was turned down for nerves, the other two jobs they required someone with a specific expertise I did not possess.

Being fairly proactive and not one to sit on my botty, I have been volunteering in the hope that it will lead to a job but quite frankly my goodwill keeps being exploited, they keep taking advantage of me and I am not getting much in return (except a good reference and some experience, and being kept out of mischief).

For nearly a year I volunteered as a post-doc at a lab 4 hours from home - they did pay my travel expenses, but it was a long haul! Various promises were made of a paid post, but the excuse that the grants were not in yet was always cited. The idea being that my project (a prelim investigation) would be funded from slush money from three other grants. In the end I had to call it a day as it was costing me (I was also pregnant and the journey was getting a bit much). Despite much praise from my immediate boss about my standard of work, I left with not even so much as a thank you !

Next I was advised by a retired prof. (friend of family) to volunteer in the University closer to my home. Aforementioned University has an external job stop (they can hire but with difficulty). I began to help out in a department where I had previously applied for a job as a molecular biologist with bioinformatics post-doc (and been turned down on account of being too nervous!).

The volunteer job was not post-doc level but I was happy to assist (I hate being on my botty doing nothing) for a few months before baby is born. I expressed my interest in eventually gaining a paid post and stated that they could see how I work (ie without nerves of a job interview situation) and that I am committed to science at whatever level .

As an aside - it was interesting to see that the person they did hire for the job I had gone for actually had no previous experience in molecular biology and bio-informatics (I have about 7 years experience - 4 pre-doc/3 post-doc in UK) and was indeed being trained up by them. That kind of struck me as a bit odd, but I guess I do not know the full story and maybe she had something else I didn't!

Right when I am forced to leave (maternity leave rules!) a job comes up, so I go and see my boss and ask whether I can apply. Now I do not expect to be given the job on a plate, that would be blatantly unfair. But seeing as I have just bust a gut for no pay for three months and they have had a chance to assess my work (albeit at a lesser level than post-doc) and my immediate "boss" is full of praise for my work, I would expect that the least they could let me do was apply as an internal candidate (job was internal until last week), but it seems I have to go up against everyone else again, and probably won't get the job (which will commence early next year - so I can spend time with baby and get back into the jobmarket).

I love science, but I am really disheartened and considering jacking it all in, That aside, my poor old husband is paying for everything at the moment - I am not allowed to claim benefits, we will have a small baby to look after from next month - I could really do with a job! I have looked elsewhere in desperation but I haven't got the experience for a lot of things (I looked at being a clinical research associate or something in reg. affairs). In addition having a PhD apparently renders you incapable of getting a job as anything else (I've applied to be a cleaner/support desk help/bar staff)

Due to family commitments (husband is in training - a paid job at the local hospital) I am kind of committed to The Netherlands (I could work in Belgium). It's a shame because I am pretty sure I could get a decent post-doc back in the UK and my CVis now beginning to suffer/people are suspicious of why I have not worked "properly" for so long.

Anyone got any advice of how to get out of this ridiculous situation...

Dr. G-nome

#2 vetticus3

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 01:40 PM

My sister had a similar problem. The issue was not her work, but the fact she was pregnant at the time. After she had the baby (girl, Sascha) , she found a job and everything was fine for about 2 years. The company was bought by a bigger company, who decided to cut a few of the staff. Right at that time, she fell pregnant again, but didn't tell the new boss until well after the interviews and a guarantee she still had her position in the company (they said she had excellent work standards). She thought that if they had known she was up for maternity leave in a few months, she wouldn't keep her job. Of course, that wouldn't be the reason they'd use. Anway, the point is, give yourself a bit of time, it's not you... it's them. Things will eventually work out. It just takes a bit of time.

Edited by vetticus3, 29 September 2004 - 01:42 PM.


#3 bgardunia

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Posted 13 October 2004 - 10:25 AM

Have you tried the seed companies in the Netherlands? Die Reuiter and Key gene hire a lot of molecular people for QTL and mapping. THere are a number of other plant breeding groups in the netherlands that hire molecular geneticists and classical geneticists.




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