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SF
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi there fellow cx-ers,

i know, i know, an online forum is not the place to look for career advice, but i value the opinions of like-minded cyclists and i'm doing lots of soul searching / research / etc., in addition to asking y'all for your opinions. i'm sure that there are some of you here who are older and wiser than i, and may be able to shed some of your wisdom upon my situation.

so here it is:

i am currently in the fortunate position of having a few job offers, all of which are attractive to me for different reasons. one option that i am considering is a tenure track teaching position at a medium-sized university in the northeast. this position would be excellent in many ways (ie. i enjoy teaching, academic stimulation, time to ride/train, summers off, high quality of life, nice area, great benefits, winter break, etc.). however, as with most teaching positions, the salary is, well, humble.

on the flip side, another option is at fairly sizeable ad agency in new york city. i have worked at ad agencies in nyc before and i know from experience that they are high pressure, high stress jobs with long hours, weekends, etc. however, along with all the high pressure comes a high salary -- more than double what i'd make as a professor. aside from money, there is also the very real benefit of logging some time and gaining experience at place like this in a major city.

what i am wrestling with here is not money per se, but career trajectory -vs- quality of life. personally, i dont really like being stressed out 70+ hours a week and asked to come in on the weekends, especially when i have rides / races / other commitments planned. cycling, friends, family, etc. are very important to me, as is my health. when i have worked these high pressure jobs in the past, my health has gone to $hit and my overall lifestyle has gotten pretty one-dimensional. that is...everything else ends up taking a back seat to work. the nice thing however, is that i could pay off my student loans, etc, etc.

so do i go for the better quality of life option and teach (whilst being able to ride/race/train, and do other stuff)? or do i build my resume and my bank account (whilst enduring the rat race and a pretty high stress lifestyle)? i'm not sure if it matters here but i am fairly young (31), and at an early stage in my career.

any thoughts, insight, similar experiences, analogies, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

thanks in advance...
 

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I feel like you kind of answered your own question in your original post. You had many good things to say about the teaching position, whereas the only positive you mentioned for the ad agency was the salary.

While obiviously the ad-agency pays more, teaching at a university is not exactly minimum wage and should still allow you to pay off debts etc if you manage your money well. It seems like you only live your life once and you might as well enjoy the years that you are given. 70 hr weeks, no time to ride and a bunch of stress doesn't sound enjoyable to me.

Caveat emptor:

I've never really had much more than "enough" money to get by and sometimes less. For example finding the money for one cx bike let alone two is hard (this is partly because I am finishing up school at the moment). This can be stressful too, but in the end I feel better living my life according to my principles and doing the things I enjoy as often as possible. Right now I feel as though I'm close to starting down a path that will allow me to be a bit more financially secure while still being true to myself. I'm really excited about this, but I certainly never expect to be rich, just happy with any luck. I just figured you should know who you were getting advice from. Oh, and I'm 27 so I'm not older and probably no wiser.

Hope this helps, David
 

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I am a little younger than both of you, but I agree that you answered your own question. A tenured Job at any university is a great deal, and while the pay may not be amazing, as the poster above said it should be enough. I have realized that life is not all about making money. Going into college I had this idea that I was going to be an engineer and make 300,000 oer year and all that...but then I realized I wanted to have a life, and not have to work every day of the week...A job, and any amount of money is not worth risking your health or your sanity...
 

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Sounds like you're looking for reasons not to take the teaching job. Can't help you out with that. Academia rocks.

In the summers, if you have some new toys to pay for, you could probably pick up some consulting work on the side. All depends on the training schedule, though.
:)

Good luck.
 

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depends on what you find important

if money is #1 take the NYC job
if lifestyle, quality of life, and how fast you can race are more important take the teaching gig.

If you a serious about bike racing and having a nice Q.o.L. take the teaching gig.
 

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don't take a job at all. here's how i afforded my jake the snake:

1.look for the place people throw their receipts outside a department store.
2. find a receipt with something big and valuable on it.
3. go into said store and select the item on the receipt.
4. 'return' it for a refund.

works every time! free money!
 

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Look at the whole picture on the academic job, note that you only mentioned "teach" while the "research and service" are the other two pillars of the job. Depending on the institution, these can be fairly high pressure for you, because you have the potential for losing your job after 5-7 years and having to either start over at assistant at age 37 or so, or go into a different line of work, nither of which would kill you, but just bear in mind the teaching part of the job at many universites is only part of the whole picture. For a research 1 level university, you have to publish quite a bit and hopefully bring in some grant money, which is all quite a bit of work, especially if you are new at it. Teaching can be a distraction in those sorts of jobs.

That said, living in New York City would be the deal breaker for me, especailly given the costs.

Higher ed is a good life, but there are a lot of good jobs that you can do with your Ph.D. these days.
 

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There's humble and there's HUMBLE

Academic salaries can vary quite a bit, depending on one's field and one's university. Reading your post, I'd guess that you want to teach and that, given this opportunity, you probably ought to take it. You sound entirely unenthusiastic about the NYC job--stress can be a mf, the salary is high only as long as you remain employed, and a high salary in NY can be seriously qualified by the cost of living. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you might be more comfortable financially in a place like Amherst, making 50k, than in NYC, making two or three times that much. Also, there tend to be quite a few perks that come with academic positions--very liberal retirement schemes (or TIAA-CREF matching), free or heavily subsidized athletic facilities and entertainment, etc. OTHOH, a liberal arts college salary in a place like Boston or NY may not go as far as you'd like.

There are a few things I'd give some serious thought before I jumped. First, what's the tenure record at the relevant department or school? You don't know about tenure until you know, but you might manage an educated guess as to the odds, which can vary quite a bit. Failing to get tenure, even when it's nothing to do with you, can put one in quite a bind. Getting tenure may impose its own costs, but heck, it's about as close to a promise of lifetime employment as one can find out there--nothing to be sneezed at. Second, what sort of expectations do they have (and are you cool with them)? Third, what happens to salaries as one gains in seniority and rank? There may be some public information about this and the bumps might make a huge difference (or not enough) as you age. Finally, do you like the department and the university? Depending on one's field, and especially on one's productivity, there may be many options down the road to trade up. However, in many fields, and for many folks, that tenure track job ends up being a career. If that's the case, could you be happy?

Oh yeah--supposing you care, what's the social life look like? Good sized universities tend to have their own population centers, if they're not in large cities, but small schools in small towns are sometimes isolating for junior single faculty.

I've done academic work (teaching in major research institutions) and non-academic work. I think that the academic life can be great if the person and the package is right. For others, it's a mixed bag. Given your description of the alternative, it seems to me you might be happier teaching, despite the cut in pay. Of course, it's your life.

Best of luck.
 

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SF
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks

thanks for the thoughtful replies. some good points indeed. i am still a bit up in the air about it all and i am actually considering declining all the offers, as stupid as that might sound. it might just not be the right timing and perhaps if i sweat it out a little bit longer the perfect opportunity will become available. i am aware that research and service are major parts of a tenure track responsibility, and to be honest i am happy about it because my research interests outside of teaching are very important to me. one of the things that concerns me about teaching is that my "professional" career will suffer. i live in nyc now and while i think it pretty much sucks, it is most definitely the center of the universe for my field. but again...i'm not sure (in fact i'm positive) that the money doesn;t make the stress worth it. today i was "notified" that i'll be needed to work this weekend (this happens, on average 2-3 times / month). that means i wont be racing (already planned), not to mention doing anything else like sleeping, hanging out with my wife,...or much else besides working. i just cant hang with this kind of lifestyle. hmm. maybe i answered my own question again. :mad2:
 

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if you take a teaching job nothing says you can't agument your income by doing a little moonlighting. You'll find many professors also keep somewhat involved in the professional world. At the least it helps build good contacts in case you tire of teaching.
 
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