Thanks for this, pm133. Yes, you are right, I'm sure I would be happier if I stopped leaning on others for validation. At the moment, I think I'm finding it particularly difficult as my job applications ask about prizes, publications, etc and that makes me really focus on these sorts of things and feel like I'm constantly playing catch-up.
I think I have been underestimated by people in the past due to my appearance and how I talk (not your typical academic) and even though I feel like I've proved myself, I still carry that sense of inferiority forward. I think that's why I get so emotional about these applications, because, in my mind, it's like the final way of proving myself to anyone who might have doubted me. This comes from past experiences before my PhD too...anyway, thank you for the advice and sorry for using you as a therapist! It's just nice to chat to people who get it.
I am in my final year now so I dont yet have the experience. However, just reading about the experiences of others (and obviously witnessing this myself) I have decided to leave academia.
Academia is much more unfair environment. They would retain many more great people, if they would appreciate people's hard work and talent. I am done with it.
So please dont feel like a failure if you do go elsewhere. It might be the best thing you have ever done....
Yes, bewildered, I would tend to agree with you about the competitiveness of academia. I've found it to be the case in other fields too but I'm at least passionate about academia so, for now, it's worth it.
I should clarify my earlier comments about academic friends. To be honest, I have a couple of good academic acquaintances but they live far away and there's only so many times I can send them an email filled with complaining! Also, I at least have my PhD already so I'm reluctant to moan about not having a job when most people I know are still stressed about finishing their degree.
Otherwise, there are lots of my peers about but I find it very difficult to open up to these people for a variety of reasons. Some of them are very competitive and only see you as a 'rival'. I don't have time for people like that. Some are nice but not necessarily interested in making more friends. Unless one of us makes a big effort, meetings are usually quite limited to a quick chat here and there or the occasional coffee. I have a baby too so I can't spend lots of time socialising.
I don't want it to sound like I'm making excuses. This situation is mainly why I'm came online. It's been really helpful just being to express myself here without judgment and also to get some great advice. I will try again though to get in touch with people locally and be more open-minded.
Nesrine, don't worry about using us as therapists. That's what the forum is for.
I am worried about your post at the top of the page for two reasons.
Firstly you are talking about getting emotional filling in application forms and secondly you are talking about wanting to prove yourself to those who doubt you.
Firstly, you don't need to be proving yourself to anyone. Nobody who doubted you is going to care one jot about whether you succeed or not and these people don't and shouldn't matter to you anyway.
Secondly, we are not defined by our jobs. Please be careful about putting an academic job on a pedestal. An academic job is an almost exclusively administrative job. If you want to teach, do research or become an administrator, there are millions of jobs out there which are considerably easier to get access to and with better pay and conditions.
I spoke to my old supervisor a while back and asked him why so many people were putting themselves through up to 10 years of hell trying to snag a glorified admin job. His response was that most postdocs simply don't realise that the job is almost completely administrative. They think they'll get to do great research and teach the next generation when in reality they'll hire students and postdocs to do the research and if they are lucky they'll get 3 hours teaching in the classroom each week for 24 weeks of the year.
I sympathise with you here, as I pretty found myself in the same situation after my second post-doc. The first post-doc had gone okay at my PhD University, however, the second post-doc had gone badly with some interesting work colleagues and micro-managing Professor I was glad to see the back of.
So there was me without a reference from the second post-doc except a neutral letter from Human Resources saying I had worked for the University.
In the years since my PhD, the oversupply fo PhDs to available post-docs has continued as before. If you add in many post-docs take on PhD candidates from the same research group that in many instances are still writing up their PhDs, then those looking for second or third post-docs from outside and trying to build up a research and academic profile have their work cut out.
You therefore should have a plan B and accept perhaps you need to take a job outside academia at least for the medium term until you do find something suitable. There are also real world possibilities you might look at where either your research skills or other transferable skills you might have gained might be an asset to an employer.
So even if you do have to look to the real world for a while, at least it may give you extra skills you can sell back to academia should a position become available.
Depebding upon how you sell yourself, these different courses of action can become an asset to you in that search for an ideal post.
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