Waiting (for an Academic Position)

Waiting (for an academic position) Bond Chapel university of Chicago

Waiting (for an Academic Position)

by Steve Huerd

Within the pages of Scripture, we find many saints who had to wait upon God to fulfill their life calling.
The Wonder of Waiting.  Abraham had to wait for a son, Joseph had to wait to see how his dreams would be fulfilled, Moses required forty years of preparation, Caleb finally conquered Hebron after waiting forty years for an entire unbelieving generation to die in the wilderness, and the list goes on and on.  Waiting is one of God’s primary tools he uses to shape us into the kind of men and women he desires us to be.  God often gives us dreams, aspirations, and desires of what he wants to do through us to bless others.  It is during these years of waiting where God builds Christ’s character in us (Rom. 8:29) through sifting and pruning us (John 15:1-5) that we might truly know him and become even more fruitful.

The world and many who wish us well continually tell us, “You must do this and that” to get to where you want to go.  You need to complete your education, be published, attend the right types of academic communities, intentionally build strategic relationships, and so forth in order to make yourself the best candidate you can be possibly be.  Granted, there must be a balance between the waiting and preparing oneself, and these two need not be separate entities (though often it seems that even with the best of human preparation, there remain long seasons of just waiting upon God)  

Tony Stolzfus, who serves as a professional pastor’s ministry coach claims:
In God’s economy, the power of your ministry is a function of the depth of your processing. In other words, the more deeply Jesus’ character gets worked into you, the more you have to give. The more years God has to sift you and refine you and prune you for greater growth, the more potential you have for world-changing impact.”
The Divine Perspective About Our Academic Careers.  The biblical examples mentioned above along with particular verses seem to affirm these truths.  For example, the Psalmist declares, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1-2)  David also claims “And in thy book, they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  Paul states that, “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:10).  These and other verses surely affirm that God has prepared a specific place for us to accomplish the good works he has prepared for us.  God sovereignly works on both ends, both for those seeking academic positions and for those seeking to fulfill them, to accomplish his agenda with the person of his choosing.
Often we fret and worry, becoming impatient with God and demanding for him to grant us the position we feel we deserve.  Yet even in waiting, there is danger as Stoltzfus states, “It is so easy to end up resisting the very thing that will take us where we want to go! We are protesting and squirming and trying to get out from under the knife, while God in his mercy is saying, ‘If I let you go now, you will never become what you are capable of becoming.’ If we truly demand release, God will honor our request and let us go forward into a shallow shadow of our call, but He is in no hurry to release us from the wilderness.”
Pondering upon these thoughts causes me to rethink my perspective and relax knowing that a loving God is working behind the scenes in ways I can’t see.  It causes me to read again Andrew Murray’s classic book entitled “Waiting Upon God,” while journaling my thoughts and prayers.I find that I have to continually remind myself of this perspective time and time again when I become anxious and insecure.  When I do trust in him, I can take one day at a time, experiencing the peace he promises in Phil. 4:6-7.  I want to yield myself fully to the Master Surgeon, giving him full access to all areas of my life letting him take the time he needs to shape me into the professor that I believe he is calling me to be.

Biology PHD: Where Will It Take You?

The great danger of seeking advanced degrees is not planning for one’s academic career options far enough in advance, prior to graduation.
Of the 16,000 Biology Ph.D. students entering programs each year, over 1/3 will not complete.  The average Biology Ph.D. requires 7 years to complete.
Of those who do graduate, 7/10 will enter a post-doc program. Sadly, over 30% of all graduates will be forced to do two or more post-doc programs, all because of the lack of academic positions available.

Study by Jessica Polka
Study by Jessica Polka

There are positions available, but the market is tight and requires savvy approaches to help graduates gain a strategic position search advantage. Earning a degree and assuming one will beat the odds just isn’t realistic.
The best advice?
Invest in your education and career at the same time.  Don’t wait until you complete your program.
Original Article by Jessica Polka on ASCB.org
1 – Science Careers Annual Postdoc Survey (2012)
2 – doi:10.1038/472276a
3 – Sauermann & Roach 2012 PLOS ONE; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036307
Unless otherwise noted, NIH Biomedical Workforce Working Group (2012).

The Ire of Doctoral Students at Mizzou

The Missouri University state college system intersects at Columbia, Missouri– which is better known as Mizzou, home to the popular Mizzou Tigers and a host of associated college traditions.
But despite the tranquil campus and rolling lawns, Vimal Patel reports a growing unrest among its graduate students, including doctoral students, over their treatment and remuneration, among other issues.

A handful of students launched a type of movement through the agency of a graduate rights forum, resulting in two weeks of protests and administrative activism.  The graduate students report the temporary loss of their university health-insurance subsidies, the lack of student housing for grad students, and incredibly modest stipends paid out for fellowships to grad assistants: a mere $12,000 annually.
These challenges echo similar situations faced by doctoral students everywhere.  Because of the staggering lack of academic positions available compared to the volume of graduates, newly-minted doctors often take refuge in graduate fellowships such as those at Mizzou.  The situation isn’t likely to change soon, as university funding issues, student debt, and challenges in higher education and the Department of Education indicate there is no end in sight.
As such, the best advice for doctoral students and graduates is to invest more heavily in themselves and the professional aspects of their career preparation.  Doing so will provide better odds in identifying and landing the relatively small number of academic positions that do exist.  What is happening at Mizzou is a microcosm of the broader crisis, and students are realizing it is up to them to become activists for their own plight.  Included in these actions should be proactively preparing for their careers– and not only challenging budget-strapped administrations with little wiggle room.  The solution is certainly both-and… not “either-or.”
If you’re a graduate student or one on a grad fellowship, take control by investing in yourself… not only raging at the machine.
Original Full Article by Vimal Patal
Image courtesy of Missouri Times