The Sassy Scientist – Welcome to Hotel California

The Sassy Scientist – Welcome to Hotel California

Congratulations Glenn! You survived your socially distanced PhD defence and after three months in your mum’s spare room you are raring to go, chomping at the bit, and approaching the start line for the next stage of your academic career. Having spent the last eight years in education, it’s time to start a new job!

What should I do on my first day at work in a new place?

Dear Glenn,

Whether you’re a more mature student who already understands the grown-up world of work; you supported yourself through your PhD with gainful employment; you were lucky enough to do a PhD in a country that considers post-graduates to be adult employees; or this is the very first time you will be officially working for a living, congratulations on your new job!

The first day in a new job is always daunting. Covid19 has of course turned all employment upside down, but I offer a schedule of what to expect in the old-style, just in case life gets back to normal. Here goes!

08:55 Go up and down the elevator three times because office numbers never match floors. It’s a matter of pride and proves the building has history and soul. Eventually establish that geosciences can only be reached via the hidden elevator located in the bike shed.
09:05 Find the coffee machine. Check your anti-perspirant is still working after all those stairs and wrong turns.
09:15 Phone HR to see if they made you a contract already.
09:25 Phone HR back because they spelled your name wrong.
09:35 Try to find your professor’s office. Establish that they never arrive before 10:30. Drink more coffee and search apartments in your new city.
09:45 Try not to cry when you realise that any apartment bigger than 10m3 costs three times your salary.
10:00 Visit coffee machine again. Chat with your new colleagues. Take some comfort that you were looking on the wrong real estate website. Wangle invite to lunch.
10:30 Meet your new boss. Establish that there isn’t a desk yet, but there might be one free over here if we just move these 10 years of journal articles and a rather old pair of tennis shoes. Chairs cost extra though.
12:30 Lunch! If you moved abroad, this is where you find your language skills don’t quite extend to the peculiar delicacies in the university canteen. Just eat it, you’ll learn to appreciate it!
13:30 Post-lunch coffee. Come with a pre-prepared convincing excuse for why you can’t possibly do the department seminar next week.
15:00 If no invite to the pub is forthcoming, make some excuse about buying a metro card/SIM card/opening a bank account/picking up the key to your AirBnB/you left the stove on. No one expects a 9-5 on your first day.
18:00 Collapse onto the sofa in exhaustion after a busy first day!

After this life should settle down into a normal routine of coffee, lunch, pub and nagging doubts about the direction of your research, much like doing a PhD. Good luck!

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written by an isolated scientist dreaming of bizarre university canteen food. I never thought I would miss triple carbs or meals consisting solely of cauliflower.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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