General Question

mcbealer's avatar

Any risk in accepting a grant-funded job?

Asked by mcbealer (10150 points ) January 14th, 2009

I don’t really know a lot about these type of jobs. Thinking the likelihood of the grant running out would dictate job security. Your thoughts? Any good/bad experiences out there?

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6 Answers

tonedef's avatar

This is a scary time for grant funded employment. I have a grant-funded position, and there’s a constant feeling of dread that the source of the grant will get raided or misappropriated. At least I know that I’m secure until fiscal year 2010!

Although there’s always been the prospect of losing the grant, my position has been here a long time, and that helped me make up my mind. Is your position a new one? That might be cause for alarm, as the program has already learned how to function more or less without it.

mcbealer's avatar

yeah, it is a new position due to expanding government. I would be switching from regular somewhat-secure employment into this the grant-funded arena.

basp's avatar

Grant funded employment is very precarious right now. If you want to get your foot in the door, it is very helpful. But I would think twice about giving up secure employment for a grant funded job right now.

wundayatta's avatar

When I got my current job, I had the choice of a grant funded job, or this one. I took this one because the funding is secure until the department is closed down.

With a grant funded job, you’ll probably have more interesting work. It’ll look good on your resume and teach you a lot. You’ll be more employable. However, as others said, there is no guarantee of getting a follow-on grant to fund a continuation of the project.

So you should count on being on the job market again at the end of the grant. If you are prepared for that, then take the job. If not, I would think very carefully about my need for security, and my loathing of job hunting. It may not be worth the risk.

I don’t suppose you could tell us what the project is?

Darwin's avatar

Grant-funded jobs at any time have an element of risk to them, hence the term “soft money.” Sometimes the jobs last a long time (my SIL was a theoretical physicist on soft money for 18 years and then the grant went away) but sometimes they can end rather suddenly. However, if the job will be very interesting, teach you a new skill, look good on your resume, or otherwise advance your career in a direction you want to go, then consider taking the job.

As a biologist I had a number of grant-funded jobs. Most were relatively short term (6 months to three years) and all added productively to my Curriculum Vita (the academic version of a resume – it includes publications). Eventually I did land a permanent position, but the grant-funded jobs all served not only to put food on the table but also serve as a form of internship if you will. It is very common in my field for people to make a career of soft-money position.

Depending on what field you are in and where you are or are willing to go jobs may be plentiful or not. There aren’t a lot of niches open for theoretical physicists who don’t want to relocate, for example (so my SIL is still not fully employed – she is working as a tutor right now). However, another person I know works as a campaign manager and is willing to travel. She worked for Obama in California, Texas and Arkansas, then worked for a congressional campaign in Austin, and is currently working on some sort of petition drive. All are paid positions to varying degrees.

So examine your own needs and goals and consider your field.

It helps a great deal if you are single, without kids or pets, and don’t have a mortgage or a major car payment.

augustlan's avatar

One of the only regrets of my life is the grant-funded job I turned down. It was as a secretary to the then newly formed Presidential Commission on Aids. It was ‘temporary’ employment (the grant only guaranteed for 1 year), with no benefits. When I balked at the benefits situation, they said they’d find a way to get them for me. In the end, I turned it down to stay in my rut, and to avoid job hunting the following year. Little did I know how important that commission was going to end up being, and how long it would last. By far the most exciting job opportunity I’ve ever had.

If the position you’re considering has any chance of being that interesting, I’d certainly consider it. People rarely regret what they do, but what they do not do.

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