Two years after leaving academia: DH is flourishing

DH just got back from his second business week-long trip this month.  It was an important trip and really clarified some things for both of us.  I was considering turning this into my annual anniversary post, but I’ve already written one with a little bit more me-centered-ness.


When he was trying to figure out what he wanted in a job, he realized he wanted to work in teams.  He wanted regular feedback.  He wanted to feel as if he was doing something productive and valuable that would really help people.  He wants to feel valued.  He wanted to do programming but not just programming.

With his new job that he’s been working at for well over a year, he works on teams.  He gets regular (weekly) feedback.  He’s producing something valuable that will be literally saving lives within the next two years, should all go well.  (Engineering ROCKS.)  He’s doing computer programming, but not just programming, and he’s managing a project and a programmer.  He’s written as many successful grants in the past year than he did during his entire time as a professor.  Telecommuting and a bigger salary also haven’t hurt.

DH is happier than he has ever been before.  And I’m so very proud of him.  He is truly amazing.  Talking to him on the phone after a particularly successful meeting I felt my uterus twinge and had to remind it that I have already reproduced (twice) with this amazing man.

I feel a little bit guilty that he wasted all those years teaching undergraduates who didn’t realize the value they were squandering by not paying attention to their studies.  Truly we should have been less risk-averse and maybe he should have left academia earlier.  But things have worked out.  Being able to live together has definitely been a bonus and it isn’t clear that he would have been able to find such a great job 10 years ago.  Spouses of some of my colleagues haven’t been so lucky and either house-husband or live apart.  It’s hard to say what the counterfactual would have been.

Academia is still working well for me, but leaving academia is working extremely well for DH.  We are truly blessed.

12 Responses to “Two years after leaving academia: DH is flourishing”

  1. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:


    ” feel a little bit guilty that he wasted all those years teaching undergraduates who didn’t realize the value they were squandering by not paying attention to their studies. ”

    Hindsight is 20-20, and who’s to say he’d have ended up with as great and rewarding a jobbe as he has now if he’d left academia sooner? And who’s to say that all the time he spent in academia, while less than overtly fulfilling, wasn’t a necessary prerequisite for becoming the person who could thrive where he is now? I am convinced that we are very bad at distinguishing how and why our experiences in life influence the trajectory of our lives, and specifically that whether we enjoyed or didn’t enjoy such experiences is almost always a red herring.

    So don’t feel guilty!

  2. Revanche Says:

    That’s flipping fantastic. I love the moment you realize you truly made the right choice when it was initially risky enough to think: who would have seen this coming? Yay for making good changes!

    And whenever I feel bad about not making some life change sooner (getting married, starting a family, whatever) for reasons of having my mom or his dad around for it, I am reminded that it may well be a good choice NOW only because we did wait and grew as people. It would have been a very different life and lifestyle if we’d done these things eight or so years ago. We are where we are at least partly because of all our experience to date. This may not have happened any other way.

    (P.S. PiC will occasionally joke he loves me so. we should get married and have kids. And I think wait but if you love me, why would you want to torment me with pregnancy? I may be a mom now but I’m still a curmudgeon because what is it about loving your partner and the reproductive imperative? Clearly if the human race were dependent on me, we’d be doomed.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t care about other people’s reproductive choices, but conditional on my desire to reproduce, I wanted my genes to have the best possible partner genes. Also taller ones so my kids would have at least a chance of getting an average height. (Thank goodness DH is tall… to paraphrase that one Marilyn Monroe movie, I’m sure that it’s just as easy to fall in love with a tall man as a short man…)

  3. Mrs PoP Says:

    I’m really glad that you posted this. It seems like too often career academics are unable to see or vocalize to their students that there can be monetary success and happiness beyond the walls of academia and that doesn’t have to be regarded as “selling out”. So the dream of a TT position gets drilled into every promising student, when the challenges of an academic career may not be in the student’s best long term interests.

  4. Cloud Says:

    Hooray for DH! I’m glad it has worked out so well for him.

  5. What Now? Says:

    Yay — so glad to hear this great update! Good for DH!

  6. Steel Magnolia Says:

    That’s wonderful! And a good word for a constantly wavering academic . . . .

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think if you waver constantly, you may be happier outside academia. Only you can know, though. I maintain that people who have just quit their jobs are the happiest people in the world.

  7. zenmoo Says:

    I love hearing about things going well. Hurrah for finding work that suits.

  8. First Gen American Says:

    I guess I was fortunate to have been friends with some chatty post docs during my undergrad days and heard about all the crazy politics that academia was full of. Some people can learn to live with it but I knew it was not for me.

    I am so glad he was able to transition so successfully. I am sure making such a big career change is hard to do at any age. Plus, as an engineer it’s very, very fulfilling to be able to quantify the mark you are making on this world. In some jobs it’s harder to do that.

  9. xykademiqz Says:

    Woot-woot for DH! I suspect he might be in a similar field to mine. There are many phenomenally creative industry jobs in the field.

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