3

I accepted a postdoc position after a short interview by Skype and I haven't had the chance to get to know the people and the city. Anyway, my PI helped me to get my visa (EU - researcher) issued and, currently, I'm already working on the project with some good preliminary results. BUT I hate the city, I'm sure it can never be a home. Also, and I'm having some serious problems with another postdoc, which I need to work with because our projects are connected (he's sexist; gave me a wrong protocol to follow and I have lost time and samples; he doesn't leave me alone to work, slows my progress and is always criticizing my project and my experimental approach in not a good way). I know it will cost me my health if I stay the agreed time (1 year, at least) and I have already landed some other postdoc interviews to work on better places (better places, with nicer people) and I believe I have good chances to get the job. But, with the visa issued and being my current PI a really good researcher and person, I'm afraid it will look pretty bad on my CV and I don't know how to explain it if someone on the interview asks about it.

  • I don't have a contract, I never signed anything for the fellowship, it's a normal procedure to have just a spoken agreement; Also I haven't received the payment yet because I still don't have a bank account because of the bureaucracy.

Since I really wish to stay in academia for quite some time what I should do? Tell that I cannot stay till the end of the agreement? Tell about the other possibilities? I'm lost here, the truth is that I never taught it could happend.

  • RUN, dont stop. you are in UK no? – SSimon Jun 16 '18 at 16:40
  • 1
    Not in UK hahahah... I had problems with the dates on my visa and the date I entered the country, it led to other problems with bureaucracy that culminated on me working for free. – molecular91 Jun 16 '18 at 16:59
  • If it is just three months, do you really need to mention that in your CV? I'd just skip it. A three-month gap in a CV is fine in my opinion. – Pioneer83 Jun 18 '18 at 2:15
  • 1
    "it's a normal procedure to have just a spoken agreement" No, that's not normal. Europe is a civilized place where we actually have written work contracts in academia. In Germany, e.g., the situation you describe (working without payment) would actually be illegal. I don't think you will (can) get payed without a written contract. Leave as soon as possible. If someone asks why you left, tell them you were not payed and couldn't afford working for free. There is no better reason for leaving than that. – Roland Jun 18 '18 at 6:22
  • 1
    Can you tell us which country is it? – Dmitry Savostyanov Jun 18 '18 at 8:05
2
  1. If you believe you can handle the bureaucracy quickly, so as to get paid, do that. Depending on the local culture (Europe is not very homogenous), this might involve calling people and going past the official channels, or just doing everything you are required to do and waiting.

  2. After having secured the payment, or immediately if you think it would take too much time to get the payment, talk to your supervisor about the situation. Your goal is to exit the situation so that your current PI understands and accepts it, so that they will be available for recommending you later. If this turns out to be too difficult, then your goal is to exit with as little damage to your reputation as possible.

If you judge your PI to be a reasonable person, just tell them that you are having difficulties with another postdoc, and try to give a fair and reasonable explanation. Also tell that you do not feel at home in the city. If they are a good person, they will understand, you can try to find the best possible solution in an unfortunate situation. The group dynamics in their research group are their problem and they can do something about it. The nature of the city cannot be helped.

  1. If you have not tried talking to the other postdoc, you might also try that, if you have the courage. Something like "Thank you for helping, but I can do this by myself; could you, for example, do [other part of the project] so we would get results faster?". Or simply telling them that their behaviour is bothering you; check, for example, "nonviolent communication" with your favourite search engine, or maybe parenting books, for relevant advice. Tell factually what happens and how it makes you feel, and ask for concrete actions or how the other person thinks the interaction could be improved. Do not blame. Stick to facts, as much as possible. Do not attribute intention, attitude or sexism to the other party, as this will not help your cause, even if it is true.
  • 1- being payed is the best option. But I thought that starting the fellowship would just get me more involved on the project and with the country and therefore a friendly goodbyewould be just a dream. – molecular91 Jun 16 '18 at 16:49
  • 2- I don't know how to address this with the PI, because as far as she knows everything is good, results are coming and I'm well integrated in the lab. Also, I tried talking with the other postdoc very carefully but also straight forward. I thought it went very well until that his next step was the protocol thing. After that I just started avoiding him. – molecular91 Jun 16 '18 at 16:52
  • 3- my biggest concern right now is how to tell my PI that I won't stay and if I should mention the other opportunities. In any case, I don't think it will help to say that the city is not what I was expecting and that the work is making me miserable. – molecular91 Jun 16 '18 at 16:54
  • @molecular91 if I am your postdoc, I would understand! this are normal resons. nothing to worry about – SSimon Jun 17 '18 at 3:59
  • @molecular91 If you judge your PI to be a reasonable person, just tell them that you are having difficulties with another postdoc, and try to give a fair and reasonable explanation. Also tell that you do not feel at home in the city. If they are a good person, they will understand, you can try to find the best possible solution in an unfortunate situation. The group dynamics in their research group are their problem and they can do something about it. The nature of the city cannot be helped. – Tommi Brander Jun 17 '18 at 11:35
2

I am sorry to hear about your situation, this sounds like a serious issue. Despite that, I think you should consider trying to fix the situation in your current post and complete it before moving on to another place.

Leaving the post prematurely may backfire you the following ways:

  • Professional issues. Academia is really a small place, with dense competition for limited resources. When a postdoc leaves funded post prematurely, a PI often do not have time to re-advertise for another post, which leaves them with a stash of money they can't spend and a pack of work they can't complete. Even if this is not the case in your current situation, a 3-month job on a CV will be definitely perceived like a possible issue in your future job searches.

  • Visa issues. Entering a country for a purpose of work and then not taking on the contract will probably raise some eyebrows in the immigration department. It also may be a violation of the visa conditions, depending on the country you are in (IANAL). Violation of visa rules of one EU country may result in delays/refusals of work visas in other EU countries.

If you decide to complete your current post, please read @Tommi Brander's excellent suggestions. You may also need a mentor and a council to support you in your current situation.

Good luck.

  • Well, the thing about the fellowship is that there is no contract... so it will be hard to determine if it is a visa problem. But I already talked to the immigration office and it appears I just have to state why i'm leaving or just wait it to be automatic canceled after some months. – molecular91 Jun 18 '18 at 4:07
  • All fellowship programs I know of always sign a contract (or two). Normally a fellow has exactly the same work conditions as any other employee. – Dmitry Savostyanov Jun 18 '18 at 8:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.