Archive for: April, 2011

Start me up

Apr 26 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

This is Part One of what will surely be, at the very least, two parts on navigating and negotiating TT job offers.

I'd imagine that right this very moment, some of you are in the midst of negotiating your startup packages. If so, congratulations on your offers! I hope you're feeling awesome. When I found out that the places I'd interviewed at wanted to make me offers, I indeed felt very awesome, but I also felt supremely stressed out, because both asked ME to give them a starting point. The ball was in my court, and I was terrified--if I may mix my metaphors--of being sacked.

Part of what stressed me out so much is that I didn't know how much anything cost. Literally, anything--I've always been in a lab whose lab manager handles all vendor interactions, and whenever I needed something, I just asked.  Now, all of a sudden I needed to know how much everything cost, and I was paralyzed by the realization that I hadn't even a ballpark guess for most items. Did a package of 50 ml conicals cost $5? $50? $500? Got me! They always just appeared on the shelves, you see!

Panicked, I immediately booked an afternoon with our lab manager. Together we walked through the lab, entering everything we saw into a spreadsheet, after which he helped me estimate costs for the list. I then calculated how much money I'd need to throw at him in order to get him to come to New University with me, and added that to my startup as well.*

As a cross reference, I was lucky to have several very excellent new prof internet friends (you know who you are!) willing to send me their startup lists. This was immensely helpful in catching things I'd missed or hadn't thought of, like chairs, travel money, a tool box, software licenses, and lab coats. You guys rock.

One thing that I found particularly useful was to organize my startup list by technique. I thought about technique A, then wrote down everything I needed for that, then moved on to technique B, etc. There were of course other headings like "General lab supplies (e.g. gloves, graduated cylinders, etc)" and "General equipment (vortex genies, fridge/freezer etc)," as well as "Personnel" and "Animal Costs."

I also reached out to some of the faculty I'd met during my interviews to get details on animal per diems and charges for core facilities. This turned out to be a great source of insider info in general--people love giving advice, and at this stage in my career, I am a veritable advice SPONGE. Bring it. Bring the advice.

Look, the bottom line is this: the more you know about what you want/need, the better you'll be able to argue for actually getting these things. Depending on the institution, you may be able to just throw around large numbers and end up getting what you want, but it certainly can only help you to have thought through your startup as thoroughly as possible.

This seems like a good place to leave off for now--next time: convincing people to give you all the things on your startup list, a.k.a. negotiating.

*I wish.

16 responses so far

Here in my car

Apr 21 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I only ever had a car of my own for the five years I spent in grad school, and for the most part, I hated it. Cars to me were nothing but a giant pain--sitting in traffic, circling grad school town's labyrinth of one-way streets looking for parking, digging myself out after the snow plow came paying for gas, insurance, oil changes, speeding tickets (ahem)...the day I sold my car was one of the happiest of my life.

That said, I can't deny that I derived a great deal of pleasure from driving around and flipping through the radio stations, loudly singing along with whatever random bits of pop goodness I happened to stumble upon (I have a special talent for remembering the lyrics to pretty much every song ever). At home and in my iPod, my music collection was eclectic but refined; but in my car, alone, I could revel in 80s nostalgia, in cheesy classic rock, and in current, inexplicably catchy bubblegum pop with no risk of incriminating evidence.

This week I made a last minute decision to make an appearance at my parents' Passover seder, and getting there involved renting a car just outside the city. It was the first time in ages that I've driven any substantial distance on my own, and I won't lie, I rocked out like it was 2004. Below is but a small sampling of the quality tunes the radio gods hurled at me to make my trip a little awesomer.

Push it - Salt 'n Pepa
Summer of 69 - Bryan Adams
Don't fear the reaper - Blue Oyster Cult
What goes around.../...comes around - Justin Timberlake
Life is a highway - Tom Cochrane
Thriller - Michael Jackson
Groove me - King Floyd
If you leave - OMD
Here I go again - Whitesnake
Best of my love - The Emotions
I don't want to miss a thing - Aerosmith
Groove is in the heart - Dee-Lite
Don't stop believing - Journey
Young Americans - David Bowie
What a fool believes - The Doobie Brothers
I'm so excited - The Pointer Sisters
Ain't too proud to beg - The Temptations
All of the lights - Kanye West
Hit me with your best shot - Pat Benetar
Howlin for you - The Black Keys
Girls just want to have fun - Cyndi Lauper
Moment 4 life - Nicki Minaj
Tonight tonight - Smashing Pumpkins
DJ's got us falling in love again - Usher
I can't fight this feeling - REO Speedwagon
Don't bring me down - ELO
Big empty - STP

Oh and PS, when I was home I made the most excellent discovery that my mom, also a scientist, has started using pipette tip box tops to organize her kitchen drawers. Isn't that amazing?


11 responses so far

Equal Pay Day Epic FAIL

Apr 12 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Today is Equal Pay Day, marking the date to which a woman who started work on Jan 1 2010 would have to work in order to earn the same amount of money as a man who also started work on Jan 1 2010 but stopped working on Dec 31 2010. That's over 3 extra months, and I am not into that!

It's been known for pretty much ever that women make significantly less than men in comparable jobs, and it's also generally accepted that at least part of the discrepancy is because women simply don't negotiate as often as men do.

I like to think that I am one to stand up for myself, and with respect to my recent acceptance of a faculty position, let me just say that I negotiated THE SHIT out of my startup package (full post on this another day). I pushed hard for equipment, space, personnel, teaching reductions, and my chair accordingly pushed hard on the Dean on my behalf. In the end, I got what I think is a great startup and I absolutely can't wait to get going.

The one thing that I did not negotiate at all, though, was my salary, and I am totally kicking myself over it. Now, the salary is more than what the first institution was offering and the summer salary setup was favorable, but still, I should have at least tried. And you know why I didn't? I FELT BAD. I felt like the chair was already bending over backwards to try to get me everything I wanted and it was turning into this unprecedentedly large startup for the department, and that it would seem greedy or petty or something for me to ask for more money for myself. Seriously, WTF is wrong with me? I'm the new poster child for Women Don't Ask.

It being early spring and all, my guess is that there's a lot of negotiating going on for those of you fielding faculty offers. At least, there had better be! Ladies, do not follow my lead on this one; learn from my mistake. Look that chair in the eye and ask for an upgrade--they will not rescind their offer, the worst they can say is that it's not doable. Let's get those 3 months back, shall we?

18 responses so far

Best birthday card ever?

Apr 01 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


13 responses so far