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Boss giving me notice - not sure what to do - do another post-doc or get out of science? (May/05/2010 )

I'm not really sure if anyone can give me any advice (but all welcome!) and this might just be a bit of a vent.

I did my PhD in Australia and then went to the UK with my partner and worked there for 3 years. My first job in the UK didnt go so well (and it was my dream job, well-known boss, great connections, set me up for my career etc). I was effectively made another post-docs RA, I didn't get along with any people in the lab, I didn't like my boss and I didn't have my own project or scope for getting my own project anytime soon and I was miserable. So I cut my losses and left after my 1-year contract was up. My partner still had his job for another 2 years, so I stayed with him and got another post-doc position. Not my field, but great boss, nice people and I had my own project and was pretty satisfied.

Partner gets a fellowship to come back to Australia so we return home. I get another post-doc job in a start-up lab, new PI, lots of new staff, well-defined project that is partly finished (with possibility for good publication) and other projects in the pipeline. Sounds great. However, I'm not really happy. One of the other post-docs I REALLY dont like, she puts me down at every opportunity and I see her as devious and only out for herself. Which is fine, but everyone else LOVES her and as a result whenever we are in the group (lab meeting or social outing) I just clam up and don't talk because I don't want her to put me down. This makes people think I'm not friendly and willing to participate. I also secretly feel like she wants my job and my projects and is trying to force me out (paranoid maybe).

Anyway, long story short, my boss thinks I'm not happy. I stonewall for a while trying to work out the best way to handle it. In the end, I try to be honest-ish. I tell him that in general I don't find people in the department very welcoming and friendly and that there has been a lot of hassles in setting up the new lab which I have dealt with (true). He says that he doesn't think this field is for me and that I should start looking for another position. Bottom line - contract not being renewed.

I am really really not sure what to do. If I could have gotten my contract renewed I could have had a baby as we have quite good maternity packages, but that is now not an option and the clock is ticking, loudly.
I am pretty despondent about getting another post-doc job as it will be my fourth and I just don't know if I can be bothered to be in science any more. But I really don't know what I would do otherwise.
Worst of all, I feel like I have let this girl win by being unable to hide my emotions and she will get what she wants. That makes me very very mad at myself.

Anyway, thanks for reading if you have made it this far and any comments or advice welcome.

-than4-

Sorry to hear problems. You should have vented here first before making any moves or communications.

Perhaps bioforum should add a legal and law subforums?

-sgt4boston-

Sorry to hear about your problem.

But as you describe the problem it looked to your boss as if you were not happy at your position and with your co-workers? I would have reacted as you did, I would have told the truth as well. It depends on how bad the situation is, but often it just needs the boss to speak clear with all people involved in the problem, usually a lot of the trouble is based on misunderstandings. Your boss choose the easy way and just decided to "solve" the problem by not renewing your contract. But you do not have to feel bad or as if you have "lost" against the other girl. If your boss keeps this way of dealing with problems among workers there will be a constant change in people.

If I were you I would get a letter of recommendation about how you set up the lab etc. as it will make it easier to find a new position,.

Have you ever thought of changing into industry, teaching etc.? Maybe you should use this to sort out your priorities (children, what would you like to do) and maybe try something completely new? There are so many great jobs outside of science (and inside as well) for sure one of them is just waiting for you to fill it :D

-gebirgsziege-