Welp, I’m pretty sure I just told my potential postdoc team to take a hike.

Backstory: I’ve been working on getting this particular postdoc off the ground since March 2016. It grew out of one of my thesis chapters and is really relevant to the field and the adjacent industry. Expertise-wise, I’m basically the only person in the country who could run this project, and my honest assessment is that it’s a necessary project that effectively addresses a woefully under-researched but urgent problem.

Meanwhile, because of the strangulation of science funding, the most readily available grants now are ones that are essentially spinout company VC-style funding for ‘innovation.’ That means you have to team up with one or more industrial partners who pony up half the cash or other in-kind contributions, and THAT means you have to convince the wonks at the top who never work with actual science that your project is worthwhile and will either make money or save enough money to be worthwhile. Now, whenever I meet with company personnel who are mid-level and knowledgeable, they seem interested in my project and cognizant of its necessity. However, when they kick it up the ladder, they seem to lose things in translation, and rather than bring me in to explain, they seem to just email me disparate questions and then continue to badly translate... rinse, lather, repeat, start a new cycle of application and paperwork, etc.

This process has dragged on and on and on since, as I say, last March. Everyone else on the team working on it is a senior lecturer or company director, and thus on payroll, except for me. I’ve been doing the most work and herding all of these cats, for free. Since I get by doing freelance right now, every time I have to work on the project launch is an investment.

So today I got yet another email raising yet another minor detail that they could have alerted me to in, like, November. And the other members of the launch team were like ‘okay! we can re-tool the budget and start afresh with the application!’ and I replied with, ‘Truthtfully, if they aren’t going to bite at this point and have waited until now to pass along this detail (let’s be honest: they’ve had a year), I’ve run out of time and effort that I’m able to put into trying to make something work without being on a payroll for it. I will be moving on.’

Worth noting that this postdoc would have only been funded for 2.5 years anyway.

In summary: fuck the gig economy.