Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12 days of Christmas: Day 12 - God fortsättning

God Fortsättning! ('Happy Continuum') After the 'God jul' (the Merry Christmas in Swedish that has no reference to 'christ' but rather Yule) comes the 'God Fortsättning'.

It's one of those quirky things we Swedes do, between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve we say God Fortsättning. Then after New Years Day we alternate between the Happy New Year ('Gott Nytt År') to the person when we see someone for the first time after Midnight at New Years, and God Fortsättning. The God Fortsättning stops after Twelfth Night but you can sort of say it until "20th day Knut" ("20th day Yule"), the 13th day of January when we remove all the decorations from the tree (eat the sugar), dance around it and then toss the tree out through the window!

(I'm telling you, there's a lot going on in that snowy winter land darkness.)

Since today is "before New Years Eve" I will wish 'God Fortsättning' for another few minutes and then bring it back on the weekend.

I will concoct a new post wrapping up the old year and mentioning a little about the new one soon!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

12 Days of Christmas - Day 11: night and nature

There is something special about the night. I love the night. (Apart from those nights when I'm scared of the dark at home and want to not open the doors or think that there is a murderer hiding in the closet.) I also love the nature. Being out in the nature and just being. The combo can be absolutely amazing. I will never forget that one November when I was out in the woods during an LARP and it was snow everywhere. Complete darkness and then the full moon rose. It was AMAZING. The moon light made it an eerie day, pale blue moon light reflecting off the snow. I have never seen such a wonderful night. I ended up sitting in the snow in my wool mantle just taking it all in. Beautiful.

Anyway, there are few key moments where I can say I usually feel totally relaxed, exhilarated and most often very happy. Those moments have a lot of similar things, and then a few different ones. Like mentioned before usually at night, if not a night, in nature. And many times without any type of electronics.

One, during the day skating on a lake back home in the middle of winter. Quiet, sun shining, blue sky and snow around. The skates making a nice crisp sound when they cut the ice and you glide smoothly forward. You are part of nature, you exist and flow.... no clumsy walk, just steady rhythm.

Second, on a roller coaster at dark. Going quickly up and down. Feeling the slight panicky feeling when you go up since you know that for every centimeter going up you will go down. Fast. And you will not know exactly how it will end. And then seeing the surroundings where the light shines on it. Best is if the roller coaster is in a town and when you are at the top of the course you see the various lights over the city.... to feel the wind if your hair and face. Open your mouth to take a huge gulp of life and just relax. There is nothing you can do, apart from enjoying the ride. I absolutely loved it earlier this year when I went on a very intense roller coaster - first up was "back parallel to the ground" which was pretty steep.... lovely drop afterwards.

Third, walking in the rain during a really heavy storm. Feeling the rain on your face, hearing the thunder release the noise and lightning come down. Getting soaked and knowing that there is nothing you can do - nothing you need to do but enjoy the wetness and the nature claiming you as theirs. Accept the weather and push forward. Turn your head upwards, lick the drops and laugh at the sky.

Fourth, driving in the night. Fast. With blasting music. Alone on the road. Just driving and being there and then. No future, no past, just there. The music you chose filling up the car and your ears. (I may or may not surprise a few of my friends when they realise that I really drive fast when I'm alone in the car.) This may or may not be part of those many moments that I cherish so much. That carry so many romantic moments - both with someone and alone. It was such a moment the first times I drove in my car at night, music blasting, and feeling truly free. Like I could go anywhere. Do anything. No one knew where I was. Time before cell phones.

Fifth, dancing at one of the clubs when I was younger. Those clubs where the music kind of fills up every part of you. You feel the base in your body and you move with the beat. I had a few moments where this happened outside of a club scene. The party where at night I found myself on the roof of a high building, the music spreading out from the room below and making it so very aerial.

All these things are something that I used to do on a regular basis back in home country. Before moving here, before "growing up" and getting a "real job". Nowadays a lot of these feelings come from running long times (obviously not lately but earlier this year) with music in my ears or through forests. Or biking through the forests and off road. Or renting a car and driving to another city to make an errand..... it was not at night since the latter time driving late a night may or may not have ended with a pricey ticket... But I do have times when I long for those old times, being with my old friends in those areas and doing the same things yet again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Days of Christmas: Day 10 - Cold

(If you think this post is late - you're absolutely right. I didn't post it before midnight and new day rolled over.)

Some things are more obvious that other, when holidays roll around and you want to get "all the stuff done before you take off". And you work a little more a few days and try to clean that inbox under 100 emails with "to do" on them. Then weekend comes around and count down to real vacation. You wake up that Saturday morning, open your little eyes a little reluctant and SNEEEZE.

It' like clockwork. Those two "pre-vacation" days where you needed to shop the last gifts, clean the home, do laundry, everything else that you have to do.... yep, hindered by sneezing, red-squared eyes and later the cough and the dripping nose.

I'm not a happy camper right now.

Will restart tomorrow and finish strong on the posting. Promise.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

12 Days of Christmas: Day 9 - Guilt

Tagging onto the last post about gratitude - the other side of the coin, guilt.

It's a common theme in certain movies and jokes "the jewish mother guilt" - I tend to revamp it to "the Swedish guilt" (not specific to mothers; fathers and siblings are pretty astute to dish it out as well. It's all about "don't think you're special and oh don't worry about me" but it really is.

Then there is the work guilt, you know the whole "oh, so you're leaving for home now - I guess I can do these last few things" guilt. And the "we are so understaffed but we have promised to do this and it would be wasting material and ...." so someone volunteers to do it anyways.

In holiday times there is a greater guilt - we who have vs those who don't - since there is all about the gift giving. Who decorated the house the best. Who has done the most holiday food making. Who is the worst child to their parents. Not to mention the whole "everyone else has X and you couldn't give that to me".

Personally, I have tried really hard this year to feel non-guilty but as I alluded to in a few of these Christmas posts - it's not the best of times around holidays. There is a lot of guilt coming my way from certain directions. (hint hint, nudge nudge) There are the added bonus of the "what have you done this year and what is in store for next year" as a guilt trip extravaganza. Just today, talking to my family, I ended up in that dangerous loop where I apologize for something that I know they want but I haven't given them (yet). Most times I know how to ignore the prompting (crickets) but today I fell head first into the trap. Yep. Thanks for the guilt bashing. I know, "everyone else has X and Y and PQ", and my measly "let's be happy and have gratitude for what we have" kinda fell short of say.... several miles. Ah well, it's just the way it is, right? I'm sure it would've been better if I would've been across the sea, close proximity and all the elves would've given us everything we ever wanted and more. Oh wait. Maybe not.

Anyway, I wanted to wish you all readers out there a happy guiltless holiday! After all, today is Winter Solstice (might be tomorrow) and Festivus. Happy Festivus! Find a pole, put it in the living room, drink some glögg, cherish what you have and enjoy all the silliness around. There are going to be plenty opportunity for the guilt tomorrow or later on.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

12 days of Christmas - Day 8: Gratitude

I haven't felt the holiday spirit really well this year so far in the month of December. It's been a little better last couple of days with some Holiday parties at work and sending the gifts to Europe (too late for delivery by 24th but as I said to my coworkers "If 14 days later was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for my peeps" - lots of Christian people at work).

My throat is itching and I've been sneezing so that's not feeling festive either. Most of all I'm still feeling my leg/butt/piriformis and all those combined have left me in a little lurch feeling. However, I decided the other day to whip myself into shape and realize exactly how good I have it. Show some gratitude darn it. Holiday season and all!

I'm grateful for not being sick (something serious that is - my piriformis will hear this I hope and disappear for real since I am getting very tired of not sleeping at night, nor sitting/getting up at work).
I'm grateful for having a very good job, where I'm both appreciated and feel I make a difference.
I'm grateful for my parents, family and friends being healthy as well.

And most of all, I'm grateful that there isn't anything I need* so therefore I can spend my money for Christmas gifts on Heifer.com, DoctorsWithoutBorders (MSF.org) and "Individuell Människohjälp" (gladjeshopen.se). My family and friends will be giving people ducks, chickens, micro loans to women in various parts of the world and letting women & children go to school and get an education. They just don't know if just yet - but when they open the cards they'll find out :)

If it sounds sappy - perhaps. I just don't like giving people all these gifts that people don't want or need but you need to give something. I have sorted out photos from last year and those are put together in photo books and calendars, which is something that I like. And you should give gifts that you would like, right?!

The card doesn't really fit with the idea of the post but I promised myself to keep with the theme - opening the Christmas calendar each day - so here it is.

*I probably should get a new car somewhere since it's very old and cranky. However, I'm still on the "it's working so why buy new".... one of these days though....

Friday, December 19, 2014

12 days of Christmas - Day 7: Follow through

This will be a short one. It's Friday before Christmas and little me is hungry and tired from working too much this week.

One week with a lot of enthusiastic meetings and talky-talky happy times!
One week with a lot of meetings with various people from various constellations being all enthusiastic.
One week of me trying to have a smiley face and being all enthusiastic while hiding the devil's horns in the forehead and the stick in my hand.

Today it didn't really work. The horns were out. Or at least the smile was off the face, the girly "I'm sad and don't know why you hurt me" face came on (for certain people I work with I have found that this is the best way of getting the point across. So sure me.). I ended up in a meeting where afterwards I got corned by one of the faculty, who hasn't done what they promised and should do to keep external people happy. They asked about the long face, why I wasn't on the enthusiastic bandwagon (my word, not theirs) and that "my opinion and thoughts are important and they need me to be emotionally involved".

I smiled and said that it has been a little stressful and disappointing since I've been on a dozen or so emails where people are asking why X hasn't been done and why I haven't helped with it. I have. It's just that I can't fix it - they can though. They proceeded to look at me and ask "why do you care about those emails?" I just smiled and kept quiet since it would've opened a can of worms if I did mention the fact that: if you talk big talk in the beginning of a project, you make people enthusiastic about it, they get happy and start working on things and the project start taking off.... - then the enthusiasm is moving on to "new-shiny-project" and "former-new-project" is not as interesting anymore and then the project is not getting priority and therefore only finished if you threaten or.

Yes. That is my issue. I like to follow through and finish. Especially projects. And I know how to deal with all of this on a regular basis but when I get caught on emails that are circulated with people and I feel cornered - I'm not great with playing ball.

So, tonight it's wine and a movie to get over this. Then, next year I will be better at this and not "care about the feelings of faculty" and therefore act on the "active button" earlier on from the external people and then get stuff moved on.

Oh the joy I can see coming :) Leaving with another one of these wonderful posters with pointers. Happy Times!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

12 days of Christmas - Day 6: Delegating

One of the things with my job is that I'm in the position to delegate tasks to people. Well, technically I can delegate to people to get all of the project done. Practically, they sort of have to admit that they want to own the task and do it since I don't have authority over them per se I have no threat or carrot - only "if you do this we can move the project along". 

There are however, some exceptions. When I'm involved with something that concerns my boss, I can always as a last resort end up having him cc:ed to the "I'm asking for this based on Dr X's request" (half-a-stick-approach). I don't particularly like it that way, but it's part of the work culture for certain departments... so, at times I've ended up that route.

The other exception is "the things I do on my own" - aka my job and the extra projects I'm in charge of for real (building data bases, streamlining processes among other things). For these things I'm expected to delegate and not do every little detail myself. I'm suppose to make it happen. Not necessarily make them myself. And when they are done, hand them over to someone else to use and update. This has turned out, as I knew it would, to be a little harder than I would initially want it to be. As usual it's the trap of "stress and time issue". It takes longer to explain and instruct someone how to do a fairly complex task the first time so then you might as well just do it yourself, right? Eh no. Key word? "First time" - after that it's usually quicker and then all of a sudden you don't have to do that task at all.

However, every so often you end up with the conundrum of "if I do it my way it ends up 100% correct* and great", if I ask someone else to do it, "it might not end up 100% like that and then it's not good" - therefore I won't ask anyone else to do it. This is probably the worst solution and the most devious thought process .... Not only do you have an inflated sense of your own perfectionism (that this other person doesn't have), you also presume that if it isn't exactly like you envisioned it, it's not perfect. As we all know, there are many ways to make an omelet and most things that I find myself caught up in - well, they are just ok to have someone do their own way. It will get done. It will be as good, or almost as good (in my mind) as I would've done it. It will be "enough good quality". 

Most of all, it's going to be good enough AND I get time to do those other things that only I can do. That's probably the absolute most important part of the whole equation.

My boss is actively trying to have me "get this" by showing me how much they delegate to me. Without specific detailed instructions a lot of times. Often a conversation or an email with "can you take care of this?" and then it's up to me to make it happen in the best way possible (as I see fit and that would be a good solution for them and the lab). Quite frankly, I'm impressed that they can delegate as much as they do, but as they said "I hire good people who I trust, so why wouldn't I delegate with happiness?" and then they continue with "I have to prioritize my time and efforts and what I'm imperative for - writing grants, mentoring my post-docs (lots of other things) - that's what I need to be doing. These things I delegate are things that I could do, but I would end up doing them instead of these other things since there are only that many hours in a day". Did I mention that I have a lot of learning to do?

Ending this post, as all of the Christmas post, with a little reminder about perfection ....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

12 days of Christmas: Day 5 - feelings

This will be a short interlude since I've sort of decide not to write too much about feelings and emotions  that are too personal. But I'm having a hard time at the moment since it's holidays time and I'm far far away from my family and old friends and - to be completely honest - feeling a little lost in the space and time continuum. The work related stress of "finish all the stuff before the new year" is surely a part of this, so I'm not too worried but it makes me a little grumpy that I'm not feeling the happy relaxing holiday feeling I expected to fall into.

Of course, I have a few friends here who are willing to tell me "how it is" and "the real stuff" and for some of them I'm quite happy to listen, some of them I think are part of what's called "10 odd friendships" with some things telling you that maybe you should let it go? Maybe part of the New Years resolution that is coming up in two weeks?

Anyhow, my post today was to say that I'm feeling a little bit ambivalent the last couple of months telling the truth of what I "feel" and what I "think". Finding the happy middle ground on "What to share. With whom. And how much." [Especially that last part. Oh gosh. So. Hard. Either nothing or too much... hello ketchup effect] This is also part of having a new job - well, it's not that new anymore but for an introvert fairly private person the sharing of feelings and emotions are really not that easy all the time with people that you don't really know that well.

It became real obvious to me the other week, that I have a problem with this, when I was asked to write a note to someone for Holiday times. There is this tradition in the place I work in that you get to fill in a sheet of paper when you start, on how you would like to be appreciated etc. On that sheet is an option "a personal note to my family from my supervisor/peer/X". Yeah.... I got the question if I could write such a note to add to the holiday present.

In theory I love the idea and said yes of course.

In practice - oh dear. I took some scribble paper and started to draft a note. One of my coworkers saw my several drafts and the scribbles. They looked at me and stated "oh you're so cute. you don't have to over-think it. but I guess you really want to write something that means something". I was just in panic mode since I had already written one card that I had to scrap, I smiled towards them and said "I'm pretty pathetic. I clearly need to practice this more. I just don't want to write something that can get misinterpreted".

Of course I was exaggerating. I can write really good notes "as you're suppose to write them". Either full of platitudes and 'stuff you should say'. And if I have more time to think and know the person, I can really rock something out (or so I think anyway). However, I didn't want to do write platitudes for this specific card. And most of what I thought of saying came out sounding a little..... pretentious? 'Too much pathos' as my old rhetoric teacher would say.

I ended up writing something half and half, hoping that the person understands how much this means to me without hopefully making a bad joke or too unreadable handwriting.... They haven't said anything yet since they mentioned that they saved opening the present until Christmas day. Oh joy. (You know how many times I can contemplate what I really wrote, forget what I wrote, misinterpret what I wrote? Probably not. But I will say that I retort a lot to "they probably won't read my note that carefully and then toss it like normal people do".)

The root of the issue is probably - as strange as it may sound - that I don't really like people to know my feelings and emotions. Maybe my upbringing had too much something from any of the stoic books: "If you know the emotions of man, you can manipulate[hurt] them"? Or there might be another reason to why I am so ambivalent of showing that part of me to others, especially in writing and to people that isn't close friends or family.

I wrote that this would be a short interlude... Ah well, why not end on this note with a cute picture of a penguin and some "wisdom" until next time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

12 days of Christmas - Day 4: Personality types

I mentioned earlier that teamwork, and working with people more efficient, is a big thing. Then there is that thing where people need to know "what kind of person" everyone is in the group. The team can comprise of different type of people. And everyone benefits from remembering that different people like different approaches.

They (HR or other team builders) will usually do some kind of personality test, if they are rich they'll do a Myers-Briggs (it's expensive) or some other type of "you are in this circle". I'm not a fan of these if you use them to box you in. However, I do find them interesting and quite useful to remember that "people are not like you". The initial instinct might be to think that "I work like this so everyone works like this". That's usually not the case. (and it's not because I'm weird, it's just that people aren't like eachother necessarily. Like the idea of "common sense". There is none.)

For example, we did this personality test grouping in one of my teams and one of the faculty looked at their test results and smiled. Then they asked "is this really different for others?" and we gave them our selection. They read the descriptions and caveats of certain types and then looked up pretty shocked and said "really? You are overly critical of yourself and second guess decisions taken too quickly". Then read another one and voiced "you don't like to be praised in public? Doesn't everyone?" Yeah. I know. It sounds like I'm making it up. I'm not. It's not just the small things but bigger things. And some people have never thought about it. Ever.

For me it was a great opportunity to explain (and understand) where the issues are with my (according to certain people) large volume of questions (critical for problem solving). It's seen as negative, dampening the mood, not being supportive of the team work etc... I must admit that it has been easier in the larger meetings when I remember to go "great idea XX. What do you see as a time frame" rather than simply stating that they are overly optimistic about the time and scope of the project. Or to make a big thing about "I'm all in favor of this. I'm having one thing that I am stuck on though, maybe we can talk about it later - or email about it?" Ah well, it's a learning curve. No one ever said I'm great at enthusiasm for people's project - cheerleading isn't my greatest talent. Although, give me a competition and you will see me cheer. Or a marathon. Or that last 10% of a project and people need to get on the ball and finish. Yes. We all have our own crazies.

My absolute life saver though was to pinpoint how the key people in the projects appreciates their email in order for me to get responses and avoid misunderstandings. One of them is super simple, once you know it. Just keep it in bullet points and do highlights where they need to read and answer. Never more than three things, preferably one to be honest, in one email. No need to feel worried about feelings, complicating things or anything like that. Oh no, straight on, direct communication is what's up. Another one is liking the "hi friend, You did great today. I'm wondering if you can help me with one tinsy bit" kind of email. Complete opposite of the first one in other words. Always some sort of explanation on why you would want it and why they are the best to help with etc... Another one likes the one-two sentence about something else than work to start off since that gives them a warm fuzzy feeling that we are more than co-workers (or something, I don't know why but if I relate somehow to hockey or football we're moving fast on the reply button).

Again, I repeat what I said on another day of these Christmas countdowns - I don't think too many people adapt to my style as much as I adapt to theirs. It's not (can't be) an ego thing for me, I've had to leave it at the door. It works a lot of days. When deadlines are looming though, and things are not being emailed back to me with haste well.... those days is when I end up at their doorstep with a coffee cup in my hand, smile on my face and a "I'm so sorry to bother however I really need that answer from you now". Funny enough (?) it has seemed to work so far. *knock wood* (Oh and maybe vent with the other project managers when no one hears since there can be some frustrating times.)

And one more thing, most people like to feel appreciated. I know, shocker right? It's funny though, how many people get happy and easier to work with when you send them an email back "Thank you for your help. Really appreciate it", or a "Thank you card" or give them coffee store gift card or if you have time to give them a coffee one day to just share the time? If you're like me and have to get a bunch of various people working together but you don't have any power over them per se, I have found that these are some alternatives to grease the way of efficiency. That and finding what's in it for them. After all, I don't have the power to fire or hire or promote them. Just trying to do my own job here *wink wink*.

Monday, December 15, 2014

12 days of Christmas - Day 3: Tempo

One of the biggest differences between Academia and Pharma (if I am so bold to call my phase I/II place "pharma") is the speed, the tempo that everything is expected to take. I'm getting that reminder now again, but the opposite way, when I'm back in the world of academia.

You see, the main importance in pharma is "Keep to what you've written and decided". All the details of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are to be followed to the letter. Not one little deviation, unless of course you want to write and file a "variance". These wonderful things are collected at specific times and usually tallied up and .....yeah... not a positive thing since it shows you didn't plan and adhere to the plan that was in place. Anyhow, I digress. So, things are planned and details are written down and followed. Then comes the actual work and getting the results. If Academia has the saying "if it isn't published it hasn't been done", my take on Pharma would be "if you didn't plan it and have an SOP and details recorded, the results are useless". No "let's try on the fly and see what we get".

I think you see where I'm getting here now? That I've gone back to the world where people decide in the morning to contact me and say "we need this thing, do they have it for us? We are scheduled to run the machine by noon". My initial feeling is, since I've been a post-doc myself, "of course, we'll fix it". However, there isn't really an incentive to stop doing that kind of non-planned experiments if there isn't a stick somewhere, is there? So, the first couple of months I've been working a lot on "expectations" and "time management" with the teams I coordinate. Using my pharma background, together with my post-doc experience (which gives credibility that I actually like 'real academic' research and am not only working to be a blocker and kill joy), I've gotten quite a few people to like the idea of SOPs (to a certain detail level) and planning. Especially when they notice that people involved in the teams are more happy,content and want to collaborate to get nice results.

But, I can hear you say, isn't a protocol the same as an SOP. Well, yes and no. It depends on the level of detail of the protocol which is why I like the SOP word since this implies that there is a lot of detail and the one who reads it should be able to perform the experiment.

My biggest sell point would be that the experiments that are performed with this new plan and detail give good data and that these data can be put together much faster into a paper than having to redo and re-analyze it all. And added bonus that people aren't getting upset with each other and have tension between the teams.

So, it's about "being slow in the beginning where some people would like to start running right off the bat, even if it would mean that they have to rerun and retrack the way". The key is to introduce this idea without stopping the creative momentum a lot of academic researchers and at the same time keep the recording so a pharma manager would be happy. Never say no during brainstorming. Keep detailed questions out of the way in the initial phase (they are construed as being "negative"). Always say "great idea/suggestion, would you like a or b" even if you suspect that they haven't thought about it. And ask to be cc:ed on a lot of emails so you can follow up with the Action Items in order to make the projects happen since if it's out of sight it's out of mind. Of course, it would be wonderful if I had twice the amount of time than the people and project I manage ;)

Added bonus if you are interested in reading about my take on the Pharma Alphabet Soup at lablit.com.

12 days of Christmas - Day 2: being a happy team member

One of the more challenging part of my new job is the constant team work and working with all these different people in different constellations. I knew that coming in, that was one of my caveats with the whole work. It was a little scary, I won't lie, but I looked over my various career options and all were involving people and dealing with them.

I've spent many days and years smiling at people saying "I chose working with microbes since I'm not great working with people". I loved the alone bench work where I got to plan my own work, carry it out, analyze it and make it all on my schedule. The microbes don't talk back. You can treat them fairly roughly and they still give you what you want. With people, not so much (unless you are on the top of the food chain - more on that another time).

However, last couple of months I had to remind myself not to say"I'm not great working with people" anymore. No need to get people on the wrong side when you are trying to manage them (or just make them all happy). I've also found that it's not true. Either I had some skills, or I've improved my people skills a lot lately. (I think it is a little of both.)

One of the best way of thinking at working with people and adapt to their style (since to be honest, it's mostly about me adapting into their style and working from there, not everyone is as interested in "working with everyone") is to accept that this will help "doing the work the most efficiently". Give up a little ego, get more done faster. Or so I tell myself :)

I'll end this day as yesterday - with one of those posters that I won't put up at work but we project managers talk about since that's a good way to vent some frustrations every so often.

Until tomorrow!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

12 days of Christmas - Day 1 "Leaving old job"

I think 12 days of Christmas is more likely to happen and be more fun than 12 months of blogging, since this year hasn't been my most productive year to say the least. So, here it goes.

(Addition after the fact. I found that I had covered some of this in my first two posts of the year: Transition Part 1 and Part 2. ah well, goes well with the looping of the year, doesn't it?)

Day 1 - Leaving old job
I thought that I had written about leaving my "industry" job last year but it seems like I haven't. It was my first permanent job and I was quite happy getting it after my post-doc. It was one of those "half entry level jobs" that didn't really have a career ladder when I started. I promptly told my then-boss that the likelihood of me staying more than 3-4 years was very slim since I didn't get the PhD and the post-doc to stay in a job forever without getting promoted and moving "upwards". Some might call it cocky? I thought it was good to talk about expectations early on in the job.

My main reason for getting that job, and for them to hire me, was that I needed to learn the GMP world of regulations. They needed a microbiologist & virus specialist to implement and train some new virus things, as well as some more generic microbiology things. It seemed like a match made in heaven. And so it was, for a few years.

After a slight reorganisation, new people in charge, some people were moved and some people were promoted - I got slightly new job responsibilities. Lots more responsibilities and even "signing off on important things". The one thing that didn't change though? My salary or job title.

I'm not really all that job savvy all the time. I've been told many times "dress for the job you want", "do the job to get promoted into the job" etc so at first I didn't really raise too many complaints about this new order. I was quite happy getting the increased responsibility since it meant "they liked my work ethic and trusted me" (hello ego check). We had a conversation with the big boss about getting me a promotion since there was an obvious gap in the department I was in and I would fit perfectly in that newly made position, which also covered the new responsibilities. All said and done, promises were made and "you will get that promotion soon".

Time went on. I got more responsibilities and yet, no change in title nor salary. After being led on for quite some time I decided that I could start playing a little more hard ball. As in when I was asked to sign off on certain things* when my boss was away I punted it upwards and stated "it's above my pay grade". Big boss agreed and signed off themselves. so... point made?! The chip finally dropped when the second budget got passed without making the promotion room (for me) happen. There were some other smaller things happening (men getting promoted and getting hired above me in other departments) and I realized that I would have to find a job and then negotiate based on that.

Said and done. One day I saw an ad for a project manager job in a non profit/academia. It sounded pretty nice, it was also paid more than I were getting. I applied, went for interviews and got my ducks in a row. The interview was very fun, I felt relaxed and connected with the people who met me and talked about the job. I was a little concerned about a few things, asked and got some pretty decent responses. Then the salary negotiations began. I didn't really excel in those - mainly because I wanted out of my old job. I had come to the realization during the application process that I was ready to move and ready to do something else. If you want out of your job, you don't play hard ball as much as needed** (more on this for another day since it's a good reminder for the future evaluations and incentives to stay).

I got offered the job. I asked my big boss for a chat. Told them that I had been offered a new job, higher up than my current one, and that I was ready to move on. They offered me an equivalent job right on the spot, complete with increased salary and position ladder move. I didn't want to play the "trust game" since nothing would've been legally binding and I had technically been "promised" a promotion the last x amount of months... so I kindly explained that I had been very excited about this new opportunity and wanted to take the leap over to Project Manager rather than staying in the lab. Big boss was understanding and still when I see them we chat. I gave them over a month's notice to finish off my projects and writing those final reports - that may have helped with the good ending?!

Moved over to start the next chapter of my career - project manager/coordinator outside of the bench but still working in science and even getting publications!.

despair.com - demotivators

*important thing for me was that these things would be stuff that eventually go into people in phase I trials. yeah... hello.... And really, I don't think they did it in a fair way to make the lowly paid person sign off on something that important.

**got reminded the other day since the yearly increase wasn't really to my liking. I had to mention that if this is the maximum incentive to do a great job - I'm less likely to stay several years in the same position. And I've already gotten some extra responsibilities and sign off duties. See a pattern? I do.

Monday, December 08, 2014

failing but trying

I haven't written in a long time. I wanted to do it. Really. Then I overthunk (yeah, probably not a word) it but still wanted to write something.

Psycgirl wrote a great post post about love. And youth. Or rather "being growing in general". And when you end up it "the wrong person in the wrong line".

I've been wanting to write a post the last couple of months, but  I've been a coward since I did decide not to write about work (a), love (b) or friendship (c) Why? Because "it's complicated"... but yeah, I would've loved to voice a few of the things that currently make it nuts. Asin, I am trying to make it "normal" but part of me think "if you were european you'd know this is so not normal"...

And then the next thing - which would be what psycgirl and I mentioned on twitter - or it could've been me only' - is that sometimes you need to leave people to their own devices.

It's 12 days of Christmas and I would really like to keep a blog post per day..... but I don't know if I have something to actually post (without being bitter/sarcastic/sad). Let's se if I can make it.

Let me know what you think! And I will write more personal stuff and a thought or two about what I've encountered after leaving industry world and I can talk about the detail world.

Although, I wanted to let you know - without you I wouldn't never done this to start this and it's helped a lot. thank you. a lot. happy holidays.