Blog of Joos Buijs

About personal things, process mining and the rest in life.

Archive for January 2018

I (finally) decided to leave academia, here’s why

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It was not an easy decision, but my upcoming tenure meeting triggered me to decide, and the final decision was to leave academia. In this blog post I try to explain why finally I came to this decision after months of doubt.

The trigger

I looked at the tenure meeting as a marriage proposal: the university is in essence asking me to stay with them forever and ever. However, first ‘they’ (the tenure committee) evaluates whether they really want me to stay forever by looking at my research output, teaching quality, etc. etc. If I would accept the tenure proposal, I would in essence have a ‘job for life’. This provides great stability, both personally and professionally, to really work on my personal career. However, this assumes that you stay in academia for a while, building your own profile, career and research line.

The reasons

I started looking at energy gainers and drainers, and I realized I gained energy from doing data analysis myself. However, in my day-to-day work I was mainly involved in helping fellow researchers obtain funding (in my role as research program manager at the Data Science Center), helping PhD and master students execute their research and projects, and to setup and run courses both online as well as in the master program. I realized I really wanted to do what my PhD and master students were doing: digging into data and finding answers (and more questions). However, in research, you’re always developing hammers (tools, techniques), for which you are looking for nails to use them on. And sometimes you pretend a screw was also a nail for your tool. You are generally not really concerned whether you were answering the business question, your main aim is to gather evidence for your paper or thesis. In the end, it felt too much of creating and then solving puzzles for my own satisfaction.

Secondly, and probably even more important, I do not know of any colleague that is spending <50 hours a week on this job. This is not a bad thing, if you do what you love this comes natural. But for me it is time to do as I say, and really show that “I’m married to my wife, not my boss”. I realized family time was really suffering, and even if I was having a good time in the evening/weekends I could not always enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

What I’ll miss

Of course I’m also leaving a lot of cool stuff behind. I’ll miss the stimulating and challenging environment, the many young students and PhDs in our group each with different personalities, the cutting-edge research we do and the many industry contacts we have. This might sound a bit contra-dictionary to what I mentioned above, but it’s all true. I’ll also miss the transition in which both the Data Science Center and our research group are currently after Wil van der Aalst left to Aachen. I’ll also miss the MOOCs I’m running and the nice contact with the people following them, etc. etc.

What I’m looking forward to

I’m looking forward to start my new job as senior data scientist at APG (a large Dutch pension fund). I’m looking forward to finding the right tools for the nail at hand, to work in a team towards an answer, and to keep learning. I’m also looking forward to stay in touch with my current colleagues, and possibly even start new collaborations from my new position.

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Written by Joos Buijs

January 3, 2018 at 13:08

Posted in Personal

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