When is it time to move on to new pastures?

This question comes up regularly with final year undergrads and newly minted PhD students and postdoc’s towards the end of the contract.

You’ve enjoyed your time at the uni that you were trained at. You have friends, maybe even a partner. And many (although I’ve no idea how many) would like to stay on or move only a few miles away.

This is actually one of the most important questions in a young person’s life, and here is my tuppunce that was learned the hard way.

Unless there is a very compelling reason to stay (you have place on MSc/PhD/lectureship nearby) or family committment reason, I hate to say it, but you gotta move on.

Ask you’re self what is important in your life? What do you value?

If staying put you value more than anything else, then stay put. Realise, however, you are seriously narrowing your future choices.

Sometimes you will just happen to be in the right place at the right time. You are one of the lucky ones.

Everyone else, don’t get parochial. There is a whole world out there for you to choose from

 

For those looking at their first lectureship. Yes, it would be very nice if you could just stay where you did your PhD. But it is unlikely to happen. Most universities don’t tell you this, but it is an unwritten rule, that they won’t shortlist new PhDs for their first lecturing post. It might seem unfair but this is how new blood and new perspectives get into departments, otherwise they would just stagnate.

This means if you are willing to move, you bring along some valuable intellectual capital with you. You know how another university’s system works and if the place you’re going to has any sense they’ll pump you for info to see whether there are any policies they can nick…sorry, “integrate” or “reimage”.

A bit later in life, perhaps you are thinking of promotion. Consider moving universities. Just as I said above, they are always looking for new blood which they balance out with those staff who seem to have settled permanently. Having done various admin jobs you’ll be a fountain of new knowledge and can really make a mark in your new home.

While your career is developing so is family obligations. Partners and kids need to be considered. But remember your old folks that put you through uni. When they start getting older you need to ask yourself what are you going to do, especially if you are on the other side of the country or even abroad. Some very eminent scientists have put their careers on hold to go care for a parent, or taken on caring duties while staying a full time member of staff. If you have a good relationship with your parents there does come a crunch time where you have to make your mind up what you’re going to do. Just don’t leave it until it is too late.

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