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Postdoc woes - hate my postdoc!

(7 Posts)
SayrraT Tue 27-Sep-16 07:38:03

I'm sure someone else has felt like this but what did you do?

I'm currently 1.5 years into my first postdoc and I really don't enjoy it sad

I feel totally out of my depth and genuinely don't think I am clever enough for what the job entails. The project is also very ambitious and because of this several things have gone wrong!

The first part of the study overran by about 4 months and for all of this time I couldn't do any proper work. I don't want to be too identifying but due to the nature of the study I ended up basically working as an unskilled worker. I worked single day (including weekends) from January to Easter before I broke. When I complained I was given help in the form of a technician which was fab and really helped for the rest of the study.

Now I am in the process of going through all of the samples/data which were collected. It's a disaster, all of the negative controls are positive, we don't have enough controls anyway (have brought this up several times).

The other person on the project (postdoc at another institute) is very well suited to her position and is getting on really well. Though she also thinks the project is doomed! At meetings it always looks like I've done nothing while she had bags of results.

Anyway, I think I just wanted a moan and to know what others did in this situation. I'm going to stick it out but now I'm questioning whether I should do another postdoc after this or do something what (but what?!).

I loved my PhD and this project is the same subject but different (PhD more epidemiology and postdoc immunology) so thought I'd be able to learn lots (I am) but I just hate it.

I've probably rambled and not made much sense but I'll come back after work and see if anyone has replied.

bigkidsdidit Tue 27-Sep-16 11:57:33

Unfortunately there are badly designed and controlled projects. It might not be you!

If you've brought up the lack of controls with your boss, what did they say?

MedSchoolRat Tue 27-Sep-16 22:07:04

yeah, I agree, it's not you, it's bad senior management, and it doesn't surprise me it happened on a very well-funded project. sad angry Where the F is your PI in this picture? I'm guessing PI is someone who is too senior to be hungry for good results, or has a scatter brained nature (Nice but Scatty & off chasing the next grant).

How much longer do you have to run on this contract?

SayrraT Wed 28-Sep-16 07:08:42

The PI is an extremely nice person but I absolutely do not want to work for them again. They are more your second type med.

bigkids originally when we questioned it (me and the other PD) they (they being the 5 senior scientists who wrote the grant) said it was fine but agreed to remove one time point so we could have an extra control for each of the remaining time points.

Now that the controls are not negative (probably just the nature of the particular thing we are studying - sorry trying to be vague, can you tell?!) PI says what did you expect, of course it would be impossible to keep the controls negative.

What did I expect?! I didn't write the bloody grant saying this work was possible!

I'm just really frustrated with it all and could go on and on!

Only got until June 2018 left, I've been looking for another job on and off but would only leave if the ideal opportunity came up.

bigkidsdidit Wed 28-Sep-16 18:40:47

I can guess what sort of situation. Unfortunately, this is not your fault but it will impact you in terms of less prestigious pubs. I agree with you that leaving might be better. It's a shame though.

Try to see it as literally just a job. Go in, do 8 hours, no emotional investment

MedSchoolRat Wed 28-Sep-16 20:22:09

You need to strategise what you can get out of this situation.

You don't want to work for the PI again... but you can keep things amiable to ensure a good reference.

How bad (quality) are your data - can you get 1 or more 1st author publications out of this mess? (scatter-brained PI can be corresponding A)

Have you acquired any new skills, or is there a chance to get any?

Have you learnt anything that would inspire you to run a similar but better set of experiments/models/analysis?

Is there any support for you to get a fellowship as your next step; my scatter brained PI was encouraging us all to consider them today.

SayrraT Wed 28-Sep-16 22:42:36

Thanks both.

med the good points of this bad project are the fact that the other work we are doing is good (other post-doc leading) but we will get several co-authored papers and we are in talks with patent people about patents on the new technology/technique we have developed.

We've also got a review coming out early next year (joint first authors).

I have gained lots of new skills...just about everything I've done on this project is something I've not done before! That was why I applied, I had the knowledge of the subject from my PhD plus very specific skills required for the study but all the lab based tests etc were brand new to me.

I looked at individual fellowships today just to see what was needed. I've not got much experience in grant applications though I did get a large, well I think it's large! (~£40k) grant for a very different project which I love.

I am glad that I at least know what I don't want to do, I think I'm a big picture person. I enjoy epidemiology type things much more than immunology.

Sorry if any of this doesn't make sense but I'm trying to be vague!

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