I am going to Philadelphia! My second round of post-doc interviews went very well, after the Boston disappointment - I was nervous and not sure what to expect. My Boston trip had gone great as far as I could tell, but I still didn't get the job I wanted. I interviewed in Philly and D.C, in 4 labs- all excellent labs doing very good work. I think the best part of these interviews was getting put up in plush hotel rooms :) After years of student housing life and staying in youth hostels while traveling, it was such a fun feeling to be put up in fancy places and be actively recruited. I also knew it was the only time I could enjoy that before returning to the life of a poor post-doc, so I quite enjoyed it.
Some associated rants and tales: When I landed in Philly on a cold wintry night having just gotten out of teaching and taken the last flight out of here, my old friend M met me at the airport, and brought along with her some of her trademark rasam-rice and dahi-rice that I have missed eating ever since she left town. M and her hubby dropped me to my hotel and showed me the way around there that I would take the next day to the lab. Such a warm reception in that cold city made me feel good already. So I sat in my fancy hotel room and relished M's food, practiced my talk one last time and went to bed, I had several busy days ahead.
The first lab I interviewed at in Philly, was a really nice group and the P.I seemed really nice too. They work on a "model system" - i.e a well studied system and I envy how many tools and resources they have at their disposal to answer questions. When I presented my work, there were several interesting questions, and then the P.I said "well, I don't see why you needed to do all this when you could have just done a. b. and c". What he did not realize (or may be I didn't explain well enough) was that a, b, and c are a matter of ease for model-systems, but not for non-model organisms which are experimentally much more intractable. It is also possible that he was testing me to see how well I could defend my work- and defend I did, but I am afraid I came off as "defensive". But it always bothers me when folks take things like that for granted, and don't recognize that not all systems have it that easy. Ah well. I wrote a bitter email to my boss that night and she wrote back and said I had made a good argument, and to stay cool. But I did realize that I need to work on my responses and body-language when in a professional setting.
The next day I interviewed at the second lab in Philly and gave the "exact same" presentation. These folks also worked on the same model system, but they actually "got" my work. It was so nice to see that I had made it through and they fully appreciated the nitty-gritties of my work and were not blase about it. I went on to D.C and had equally good interactions there, and came home tired and exhausted after the long trip and trying to sort all those variety of ideas and projects I had been exposed to over 4 days. Soon after, offer letters came from 3 of the 4 labs! I was now in a position to choose.
After much deliberation, researching with past members of the labs, consulting my profs, senior friends, indulging in excel spreadsheet obsession and assigning weights and scores to all possible parameters, I went with my gut and chose the second lab in Philly. :) I am very excited about moving systems in a big way, and all the new stuff I will learn and get to do, still sticking to a field of science that has always been closest to my heart. :-). I will also be closer to my sis, my friend M and two other really close friends there. The city has a lot to offer and I can't wait to go and start exploring. Yeah, I do feel bad that I won't get to hang out with this friend as I earlier was excited about, but we will be close enough to meet every once a while, yes? :-)