The Sassy Scientist – Classic Conference

The Sassy Scientist – Classic Conference

Maddie is in the final stretch of her PhD track. Whilst finalizing the last couple of figures and jotting down the last couple of paragraphs for her thesis, she checks the institutional web pages for job opportunities ferociously. Coming up blank, she mutters:

How important is a social network for obtaining a future job in academia?

Dear Maddie,

It is absolutely paramount. You don’t seriously think that every single research opportunity is shared openly to the public, do you? Ah … how bliss can the ignorant be? Pretty bloody bliss, apparently. No, all kidding aside, you cannot survive without a network if you want to stay in academia. I assume here that by ‘social network’ you mean you know a bunch of professionals you have schmoozed with, and whom know (of) you, instead of you following a boatload of potential employers through social media. Getting those potential employers to actually remember you did take some effort, didn’t it? And that list of things-you-had-to-do-for-your-future is endless;


  • Take mental notes on every single person you meet during a workshop or conference
  • Always be the first one to ask a question when a presentation is finished. If need be, even bring a prosthetic arm to garner additional reach
  • When in small groups with at least one ‘scientific adult’, laugh at jokes you don’t understand, are above your pay grade or indeed find funny
  • Join every single social event forwarded by the respective organization, even when this means another day away from home (and indeed your office)
  • Feign interest in every conversation you hold. Even if it’s with the barista
  • Give six presentations in a week (it sure is ‘a pain’ that all you co-authors were not able to make the meeting this year)
  • Go with on every group dinner, even if you need to pay the outrageous group price out of your own pocket, you have to wait three hours to get yesterdays main course, and it’s an additional hour from your accommodation
  • Walk around the poster session with a 200 heartbeat, sweating like a maniac, thinking of the best question you can ask
  • Walk around the poster session and actually interrogate people at every poster you walk by
  • Don’t eat lunch because every single ‘free’ half hour is pre-booked to host meetings with potential employers, although you said you wanted to ask them questions to ‘help you navigate the bowels of academia’
  • Walk around the poster session with one too many a beer after having skipped lunch …
  • Don’t forget to take your laptop and sit outside a presentation hall where you think some prospective employers are listening, work there for a while, and then ‘coincidentally’ bump into them
  • Go to the conference dinner. Stay for as long as possible. Make sure you are the last one to leave, even fending off some handy professor and rowdy co-workers, dance as much as you can, and make yourself known as a prospective ‘fun colleague’. Forget about your flight tomorrow morning
  • Host a session
  • Be your own, bubbly self
  • ………..
  • ………..
  • Sign up for a nonsense blog that nobody reads and nobody cares about


So, in the absence of an actual, physical meeting you should only focus on those things you can shove in people’s faces using the Big Blue Button during this year’s vEGU21. So, make your co-authors call in sick, prepare copy-paste questions to hammer down the breakout chats and complete the most elaborate list of comments in EGU history at the display section. Somebody’s bound to notice!

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written in the knowledge that omitting some points from this list (after some tough words from the editor-in-chief; let’s call it ‘mutual agreement’) may have been sound.

PS2: Have you already thought of a name for your Moon base?

Avatar photo
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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>