But this week seemed to mark the turning of a corner. An admin assistant in a different department sent a group of us a long email with lots of questions about submitting grants to a particular funding body - and I was able to answer them all! (This is the funding body I've submitted to twice since starting the job, with one success and one decision pending). This prowess naturally got me invited to a big meeting yesterday, at which I was able to amaze the assembled bigwigs with my stunning revelations (i.e. I told them how the application process works; what the paylines are this year (6%); what aspects of our previous submissions the reviewers liked and didn't like; and suggested that they use American spelling and stress the few advantages of a Canadian submission over US competitors). This morning I sent them some of our text to work from, and got them started on the local human ethics application. They're working in a different area of research to my department, but with overlapping staff, technologies, resources and facilities, so some of the people who matter (i.e. decide my fate next November) know that I was involved, which can only be a good thing.
Later on, I received a phone call from a grant facilitator at UBC who'd heard a rumour that my institute had been awarded a grant from this same funding body. She wanted to know who she should contact for advice on her department's submission. Pleased as punch, I gave her some advice over the phone, and gave out my email address for future reference.
Baby steps, I know. But it's nice that people are starting to come to me for help and advice. It will take me years (if they give me that long) to learn all the ins and outs of this job, but my first taste of independence has been very welcome. Especially as my 6 month review is well and truly overdue (coming within a couple of weeks apparently).
Things that may detract from my budding image as a competent, mature professional who is the fount of all knowledge:
- I've started wearing jeans at least two days a week.
- I have broken my new job's resolutions. Every single one of 'em, duuuude. My pals Mermaid and Infinite Science will not be surprised to hear this.
- I take my Sigg water bottle into meetings. It is a cheery yellow colour and is resplendent with images of a blue cartoon dinosaur in orange boots, waving and doing cartwheels.
- I use poker analogies when talking about grants. (I once told my boss that he should continue with a grant that was already half-written, but that he was having doubts about, because of pot odds. i.e. if you've already contributed lots of chips to a big pot, it's worth staying in even if you don't have the nut (optimal) hand. I recounted this tale at my weekly poker game and was told that next time, I should talk about sunk costs instead).
My Nature Network blog updates: