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Being Responsible for More and More

Posted on July 29, 2009

Don't allow yourself to be pulled in too many different directions, advises Kiki D. Chang (bio).


Eventually, once you get to a critical mass of having enough grants, you have to make sure you've hired the right people, and then you have an operational machine. And the question is, do you want to grow it even more?

So it doesn't make your life easier, it actually makes your life much harder, and you're responsible for more people and more studies. So it's a question if you're going that direction — if you want to go that direction or not. You can stay with doing your own studies, a smaller group, smaller lab if you'd like, and you can keep going for a long time on that, or do you want to keep growing, and growing, and growing, or do you want to stop at a certain time? Those are really good questions. It's really up to the own individual to figure out what your career path is.

My career path — I'm trying to decide that right now. It's a good question. Because at my level, now, as associate professor and having done this work for so long, people are — there's a lot of good positions, especially in child psychiatry, for example. There's a lot of great positions around the country. A lot of directorships, a lot of people who need administrators to run things and to build programs, and this is all very important stuff, and it may be very flattering that someone may be asking you to be the head of child psychiatry, the head of this, or direct this, but is that really what you want to do? And if you're going towards research remember, that's going to dilute it a lot.

So that's where I'm at right now is that there's offers and there's ideas. Even internally there's ideas. Well, should I be taking more of administrative role or should I continue on with the research? At an early career level, it's clear that you want to get the research thing going unless your goal is to become an administrator, but really you should get the research thing going. But after a few years of that, you'll be pulled in a lot of different directions.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2009 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Palo Alto, CA.


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