My thoughts on (yet another) rejection

This morning I found out that I didn’t make it to the interview round of the homecountry fellowship I applied for. This was the second time I applied for this fellowship and the tenth time I applied for anything. This fellowship would make sure I could stay for another 3 years and have some time to apply for other things to try to establish my own group. You can only apply twice and this was my second try. For your reading pleasure I have organized these thoughts in two categories.

1. Pessimistic thoughts

Crap, now I only have 1 year and 3 months of postdoc time left if I don’t get another grant or fellowship. And with zero out of ten so far, why on earth would number 11 be more successful. Why would I even bother trying. If I didn’t get this one, why would I be more successful with a more senior fellowship? And why am I trying to get my poor little baby who is having quite some trouble sleeping at daycare used to this place if I’m going to then do something that a couple of reviewers and a committee think I suck at? Why have I spend the past four years as a post-doc instead of invest in trying to find another job? Because so far it seems the only skill I got from this is that I am remotely capable of dealing with a whole bunch of rejections. Is that useful anywhere?

2. Optimistic thoughts

Okay so I didn’t get this grant, but a lot of the review comments were actually pretty positive. It sucks that this one guy (yes I know who you are if you ask me to only cite papers from your own group) was very negative and said my CV was poor, but other than that they liked my ideas. The new lab that I will work in is headed by this professor who is really good at writing grants and might be able to help me improve. Also, I appear to be the only one who can do what I do in this group so they might want to try to keep me beyond the 1 year and 3 months that I have signed for now. And that would give me some time to try for the next things. Because I just found out that getting an ERC starting grant or the homecountry equivalent gets you a tenure track position at this university. Maybe if I get around this corner I can see the top of the mountain?

For the past two years I have told myself that if I got to ten unfunded grants I would stop and find a job outside of academia. But I think I’m going to try again. Because I tend to be optimistic most days.



Filed under academia, decisions, disgruntled postdoc, finding a job, funding, grant writing, leaving academia, life in the lab, postdoc, review, science, women in science, worrying

7 responses to “My thoughts on (yet another) rejection

  1. I haven’t hit ten yet, but I’m getting there (I think I’m at 4 right now). Handling rejection is hard. It does seem, though, that persistence is 80% of the battle in this game.

  2. Strangely, I have been able to get a scholar grant (salary) for a VERY interesting (at least for me !) research program. BUT, in 5 years, I haven’t been able to secure a major operating grant to pursue that research program …

    I am afraid that we need to stay optimistic these days notwithstanding multiple rejections…sigh…not.easy.

  3. I always see/hear/read that persistence in this business is key. Keep on keeping on. New PI sounds like a great resource.

  4. I sympathise so much. Although now I am on funding committees I can give you the tip that the big thing they look at is the cost. Basically, if you are junior they ain’t gonna fund you for piles of cash. They save that for the big names. So, to increase your chances, be modest but realistic (don’t undercost). If you can divide a grant in two and ask for less money, then give that a go. Once you’ve got the first one it’ll increase the chance of getting the next. My first grant was for about £15k over one year. And justify every expense at great length. They are looking for reasons not to fund you and they’ll go for pretty trivial things.Funding bodies tend to also be big on track record as that way they know that you’ll finish on time and on budget. Junior staff are a risk.
    And, unfortunately, when all else fails, stick a big name on it. It shouldn’t matter, but all the funding bods see is “track record” meaning they’ll bring the grant in on time and on budget

  5. Pingback: Grant writing for love and/or for money | InBabyAttachMode

  6. Pingback: How I found my industry job | InBabyAttachMode

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