DM left a comment on a post I made about some recent potentially good grant news. I was thanking you all for cheerleading… for me and DM said:
Cheerleading or not, YOU are the one that kept the hammer down doubledoc. Great job, way to keep those grants going out and way to keep your science in play. YOU were the one who got yourself into position for someone to notice your great ideas when the situation finally was such that they could do something about it.
Yeah, DM, I know you are right in certain respects. News like this doesn’t usually just fall from the sky- or maybe it does but you can’t benefit if you are not standing in the right place prepared to catch the long shot when it comes your way. So maybe it’s worth going back and doing a little self-evaluation (and I’m a freaking tough critic!!) and seeing what I did right and what I could have improved upon in the whole junior-faculty-project-setting-up-grant-getting process.
Did Right – in no particular order:
- 1. I wanted this job, I took this job, and I made the decision to give it 150% whenever possible and whenever necessary.
- 2. I took some calculated risks in projects, based on my knowledge of the field and the literature in my area and in more disparate areas- with full understanding of the consequences if they didn’t work out, but without fear.
- 3. I actively sought out like-minded colleagues and collaborators. I wasn’t shy about chatting with people at meetings and sending out cold-call emails to people whose work I thought might overlap or complement mine in a great way.
- 4. I developed a support system in the field I’m in, and also in other ‘tribes’ to which I belong.
- 5. I tried not to make enemies.
- 6. I sought out colleagues that would HONESTLY tell me my weaknesses, and I listened to what they said and didn’t take it personally. And when I did (take it personally), I got over it in a hurry.
- 7. I didn’t let up or give up – even though there were some very low moments. (that’s where you all come in!)
- 8. I put as many grants as was possible for me and that I had strong preliminary data for, in the pipeline.
Areas where I could have improved (hindsight being what it is and all)…
- 1. Coulda pushed a bit more and put out papers sooner.
- 2. Coulda sent that R01 one or two cycles sooner.
- 3. Coulda sent that R01 one or two cycles sooner.
- 4. Coulda sent that R01 one or two cycles sooner.
All you junior faculty pay attention to those last three things. They can make you or break you.
If things work out grant-wise as I hope they will- I’m going to shift my attention a bit to:
- 1. Speed up data collection.
- 2. Better oversee my students and other staff.- that should help with #1, as well as improving their training!
- 3. EXPAND the lab. Very likely with post-docs and techs (and a veterinarian or two?) that don’t need a lot of very basic training up front.
- 4. Take care of a backlog of manuscripts that are ready to go out, and plan experiments for the next manuscripts.
It feels like I am entering a whole new phase where I’ll have to learn distribute my time a little differently than I have been- since the grant writing is going to lighten up. I’m nervous about this- but excited at the same time!