Monday, November 3, 2008

The joy and despair of proposals

I went through my files today to see how many of our group's research proposals during 2002-2008 have received funding. 10 proposals (both small and large) have been funded, 23 have failed. By looking at those statistics I feel a bit desperate. And just like most of my colleagues, a certain fatigue overcomes me when I think about the next round of funding applications we need to write, and the long weeks it takes. I already have a premonition about the next round of disappointing news we have to hear.

Two years ago I felt so desperate and nervous that I decided to quit science. All the funding proposals by our group had been rejected for quite a while. A close friend of mine, an artist, was having similar feelings and difficulties in financing her artwork. We had the perfect solution to our problem: we would both become stewardesses! Finnair was launching a new stewardess training course (just three months) right at that time, so we both applied. I pictured myself on long intercontinental flights and strolling around foreign cities. It seemed like a great idea!

For some reason, a girl with a PhD in forestry did not qualify for even the first interviews. I hadn't realized that getting a job, whether scientific or not, would be so difficult with the type of education I had. I had been brainwashed to believe that studying forestry would be a good, all-around education. My artist friend was invited for the Finnair interviews, but did not qualify for the job either. So, there we were once again, trying to figure out what to do in the future.

Two weeks later things changed. I received the news that I had been granted a three-year postdoc fellowship. It was pure euphory for several days! I was reliving the moments I had had four years earlier when I received a full scholarship to work on my PhD.

Why am I writing about this today? Two days ago I had The News again. I have received my first big project as PI, for three years.

And yes, I was too excited to sleep the night after hearing the news. The joy phase is on again!

1 comment:

Lauri said...

Congratulations! For me the point in studying forestry was that when I'd have trouble in getting a job, I could always pick up my father's chain saw and become a lumberjack. And in this day and age, it is not bad for any researcher to have a plan B.