Monday, September 24, 2012


I remember back in February, when I was pregnant with Heiko, I received all sorts of advice from all sorts of people. One woman I met at a conference told me that "after six months I was ready to go back." At the time I didn't know what to make of her comment, I had no idea how I'd feel after the baby was born.

I'm now in a better position to evaluate. I definitely feel less under the influence of those surprisingly powerful postpartum hormones, although I'd probably be feeling even more human if I were just getting a little more sleep. So while I can't say that I'm "ready to go back," but I'm certainly starting to feel a strong desire to figure out what it is that I'm going to be going back to. That is, jobsjobsjobsjobsjobs.

As I've written before, there are so many unknowns on this front. Do I pursue an academic career, and make things extremely difficult in the short term, and likely in the long term, for my family? A few postdoc opportunities are floating across my radar... in places like France, Germany and Austria. That would sure be fun, but it would actually mean that we'd need to start saving up money now so that we could afford it. Right: saving money so that I can have a job.  Of course there would be tradeoffs for this lower-income state, like the fact that we'd be living in uhh... France, Germany, or Austria. And later on down the line these jobs would theoretically make me employable for actual money. But it is unclear that this is the best option.

So what are the other possibilities? We are still trying to figure out what my status will be once P's greencard comes through.  But even if I can get a job in this country, what will I do?

A few things I'm presently considering:
1.  Freelance editorial work of a mathy nature. Sadly I know very little about what this would entail, and whether or not it is actually realistic.
2.  Computer programmer job. I actually think I'd like this, but my programming skillez aren't quite up to snuff yet. So, this means a little retraining.
3.  Getting a masters degree in statistics, and then doing statistical consulting. Everyone needs statistics, like it or not. But would I like it?!
4.  Freelance web development work. See number 2.
6. I may be able to teach part time at one of the nearby universities, but the pay for this is so bad, that it may only just cover the cost of the required childcare.
5.  Mompreneur. Ha. I just wanted to say that word. I'm not going to be a mompreneur, nor a pro-blogger, nor a career yoga instructor.
So, it is September. Job application season is upon us (and so is school application season, if that option really is under consideration). Time to bust out some sharpened pencils and a new notebook, dust off the old CV,  and do some serious thinking. I also have a paper or two to edit and resubmit. I guess I really do need to start cleaning these cobwebs out of my mommy brain.


  1. Ha! Good thing you didn't put 'professional counter' on your list, because it looks like you need some practice (I don't have a phd in math but I think 5 comes before 6).

    Ouch. I hope that doesn't cut too deep. I just can't resist a good I-don't-have-a-phd-in-math joke when I see it (as Liam can confirm).

    1. ooooo.... awesome. That DOES cut deep. I guess this is a testament to my editorial skills, too. Shiiiiiiit.

  2. Did you ever take probability? If you liked it, you may like statistics. After I first learned probability, I started becoming very skeptical of all the news articles I read with statistics in them. That's what motivated me to go back to school to see if I would like statistics as a career.

    A big difference for me between statistics and pure math is that dealing with real data is very messy. There are huge data quality issues you have to deal with that are annoying and time consuming to fix just to get to the point where you can appropriately apply statistical techniques. Also, computer programming is an important part of statistics too. Efficient programming isn't as straightforward as math logic (which is why a lot of my code is written inefficiently and I run into memory/time issues).

    If you're seriously considering a master's in statistics, we should talk about it sometime. There's a lot more to statistics than I originally thought before I went back to school.

    1. Thanks so much for this thoughtful comment, Mike.

      A big motivator for me on the statistics front is simply that it is so applicable, and required by so many people. I like the idea of working with different people on different projects that require stats. Plus it seems like it could be a career where freelance/consulting work is possible, which seems appealing at the moment.

      On the other hand, your point about data being messy is troubling. I don't like messes. That is why I have always gravitated back to pure math, even though that has its own frustrations.

      I'll definitely get in touch to chat more, should this look like a real option for me.