I have one cat in a cardboard box and another sat on my P45; it is really happening! As alluded to in Part I, I am relocating out of London back home to the Midlands to start a new job as a lecturer.
So who says you can’t go home? Well; academia actually. As my postdoc years come to an end, I want to talk about the pressure to conform to the nomadic postdoc lifestyle.
My mother will disagree but I’ve actually got away quite lightly, many leave their home countries altogether. The very fact I’m celebrating moving not exactly back to my home town but home to the ‘Midlands’ as a region is telling that I’m lucky to have gotten close enough to now live in what I truly consider my home county – even if does still mean quite a commute.
Moving around helps to build a network of contacts and independent ideas which becomes a big selling point for faculty positions, something I’ll touch on next time. Without this turning into a ‘plight of the postdoc’ post, academic mobility has long been seen as a requirement for early career researchers but what of the cost? My ambitions never waned, but for me ‘nomadic postdocing’ was only sustainable for a limited period of time; particularly with a family in tow – the call of home became too strong and London too expensive and too crowded!
We set a deadline by which to move and restricted job searches to the Midlands. Whilst our move has coincided with an influx in infrastructure and business to the region many viewed it as risky. I have a brewing post on the south east dominance of life science in the UK and maybe one day I’ll write it, but for now the new universities and science minister, Jo Johnson, has somewhat hit the nail on the head with his ‘one nation science’ strategy:
“We do have to ensure we recognise that other parts of the country have proven research excellence in their universities and ensure we fund excellence wherever it is found…”
Now. From Johnson to Bon Jovi:
My advice to early career researchers is yes! be a nomad if you can, it could be the making of you, but make it count and recognise when it’s time to move on. You don’t have to move across oceans and mountains, I believe moving within a city or region can be equally as beneficial, but if like me you find yourself yearning for home remember, it’s alright! you can in fact go home and be all the more better off with your accrued contacts and experience.