Wednesday, January 4, 2012


A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I got an offer for a post doc that is almost, but not quite in the correct location. I've had a lot of time to think about issue, and it looks very likely that I'm going to accept it.

I realized several things about how I view my 2 body problem, and about the work life balance that I'll put out here in case it is useful for other people who are also thinking about similar situations. Advice/quibbles from those older and wiser is, as always, welcome.

This offer, lets say at University F, is about 4 hours door to door from my partner's position at University E. It is a post doc with a very active group, with lots of potential for collaboration with people in related areas.

After some phone and e-mailing over the holiday week, there's really only one university (G) at all near University E that could possibly be interested in me, and can let me know in a timely manner. They have a post doc and a TT position available. If they offered me a position, we would probably live in a place where my partner has an hour long commute, and I would have a 1.5 hour long commute. I think, at the end of the day, this is not obviously better than a once a week 4 hour commute. It is certainly more expensive, since we would have to maintain 2 households, but the commuting parent would be a lot more present for the child during our 3 days in town than if we both had long commutes. The fact that a post doc at University G is not as exciting in terms of the groups I'd be working with than my current offer at F, tilts the balance away from a postdoc at University G. A tenure track position is probably worth the commute.

The other job that ranks highest in interest and probability of getting a fly out is a TT position in the US, at University H. They will not be looking at packets until after I have to decide on my current offer, so the plan is, if I get a flyout, I explain my position vis a vis having already accepted a post doc, and explaing that I would like to defer a year if they extend me an offer. If I get an offer, I talk about my family problem, and see if I can get my partner an interview.

I've talked about University D as a place that is very interesting to me, and that is interested in me. But it is a much longer commute from University E than my current offer. They've made noises about hoping to have money for a TT position in a few years, so I think I just keep in touch with them for the next few years, which shouldn't be hard, since I see many faculty there at conferences regularly. The opening at University D may be filled by the time there is a position for me there, but at this point, there's very little to justify taking a post doc further away from University E. 


  1. The fact of preferring a 4 hour commute to two 1-1.5 hours commutes is interesting. I still unsure of where I stand on this.

    Of course, in your case you have other factors, and I think you have a good plan with this.

    Good luck!!!

  2. I think for me the preference is driven primarily by the fact that I am happiest when I can put in several _very_ long days in a row followed by a more relaxed day, which I could do if my partner has Epsilon, and I travel do see them. It's a work hard play hard model.

    Unless I can get better at working on a train, I'd just spend too much time frustrated at the number of hours I'm forced to neither be working nor spending with my family. But it's very much a personal/how on works choice.