Name: Ethan Perlstein
Job: Independent researcher and CEO of PerlsteinLab
Source: Ethan Perlstein [original post from February 2013]
Facing a 1 in 300 chance (or worse) in an applicant pool of near equals, the odds were ever in my disfavor.
I could place my fantasy on life support as a second postdoc or claw my way into a tenure-track position through an adjunct appointment, but in my case these moves would be a step back. I just spent the last five years managing a $1M budget and a two-person lab while also teaching, and published two papers on novel insights into how antidepressants actually work. At age 33, with plans to start a family, and a desire for – gasp! – life/work balance, entering the equivalent of a professional holding pattern offers little appeal or dignity.
So how the hell did I not foresee this outcome? Like so many of my contemporaries, I’ve been a contestant in the Tenure Games since I was a teenage summer research intern, plenty of time to see the writing on the wall. Most PhDs don’t become professors. But I was in denial. At each transition in my academic career I watched people drop off, and the refrain in my head was “I’ll be different.”
For a time that was true until one day it wasn’t.