koji berry

koji berry

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

To move on?

I visited my PhD supervisor today to talk about his postdoc offer. I haven't make up my mind yet, so I wanted to see how I would feel there. I did not feel really good there - walking through the lab gave me a kind of dark feeling. I have seen my former colleagues who are still struggling to finish their thesis - my competitors in the job market. I also met the professor who was one of the main examiners for my thesis defense. We have dinner together, my PhD supervisor, the examiner, and me. The examiner said that he was not surprised to see me there, and he will be surprised if I stayed as a project engineer (thank God, so it is not only my illusion that it was not for me).

Despite the good things that I learned - if I took the postdoc there then I could teach a class, supervise a PhD researcher, and maybe take a teaching qualification - I feel like coming back is a backward move. Please remember that this is my feeling, so not a well-reasoned thought. I had a great time there, but going back seems like a desperate move. I also feel that the postdoc will be too similar with my PhD.

Feeling should not determine the decision, but it is still a part of the reason of decision making. I read somewhere that people take better decisions if they based it on their feeling, as our feeling contains many information that we save unconsciously.

My feeling is however biased, troubled, murky. Actually I want to scream: why on earth can't I have an interesting company research job? (imagine all capital).

By the way, are you doing a PhD? Start looking for a job one year before you defend, so you have enough time to reject jobs you don't like. Plan one evening a week to work on your next job.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Less stupid mistakes, please!

I just realized I made a stupid mistake. A professor emailed me to arrange a Skype interview for a postdoc position, and in answering him I misspelled his name. Very, very stupid. He has not answered my email, hopefully due to the number of appointment he needs to arrange. Hopefully he is forgiving.

But I was really nervous yesterday and wanted to beat myself. Sometimes I just lost my focus and making these small yet annoying mistakes. However, I remember that that is not very good for my self-esteem, so I cleaned the house instead. Today I decided to look in the internet if there is a way to reduce such stupid mistakes.

And I found this article. Basically, Mulainthan and Shafir suggested that we sometimes forget that we are doing activities that need huge "bandwidth" that we don't have enough space in our brain to remember that we need to bring the keys before leaving the house. Realizing this can help us to prepare and prevent doing the same stupid mistakes in the future.

Here are the mistake-reducing steps they suggested:
1. Realize it's not you.
2. Understand when you are "drunk" (i.e. have used all your bandwidth)
3. Plan your mistakes in advance.
4. Identify your repeaters - yes, we tend to repeat the same mistakes!
5. Revamp your calendar - or throw it out.

Interested? Just read the whole explanation in the original article.

Update 22/1/14: I received a letter saying that I am rejected. I refused to blame myself.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I took a difficult decision, should I repeat it?

It has been a while. What happened? Lrrr was ill for a week in December, then I caught a cold, and I was busy writing some job applications, then the holiday season came.

Lrrr gave me a beautiful paint set from Winsor&Newton for my birthday.

I also made an important decision to halt an application process as a process engineer for an engineering company (I mean not a production company). An agency asked if I would try the position. I did the interview. After the interview I sent message to my parents, pray in a church, and called the agency to mention the decision. There. Done.

Now I am sitting with the same thought: my PhD advisor offered me a postdoc position in his lab. Although I would like to do research (also as postdoc), thinking about doing research with the same professor who knows me from deep inside, whom I know from deep inside, is rather disturbing. I know him too well, and our hierarchy has been carved by years of working together, that it will be difficult for me not to see him as the almighty boss.

But a job in research is a job in research (is it?)

Ok, I need to meditate further about this. Now I want to share some drawings. I have been inspired by Heleen Cornet who made beautiful watercolor paintings of the rain forest of Saba Island. She spent several weeks in a tent in the forest to make the paintings. I admire her capability to capture the colorful shades of the forest. You can see the banana tree and heliconia that I made based on internet pictures.

Maybe I need to go outside and bring my paint set with me.