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Faculty To Grad Students: Go Work 80-Hour Weeks!

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the and-stop-doing-that-annoying-sleep-thing dept.

Education 454

New submitter Ian Paul Freeley writes "Controversy has erupted after a departmental email from faculty to astrophysics graduate students was leaked. Key tips for success in grad school include: 'However, if you informally canvass the faculty (those people for whose jobs you came here to train), most will tell you that they worked 80-100 hours/week in graduate school. No one told us to work those hours, but we enjoyed what we were doing enough to want to do so...If you find yourself thinking about astronomy and wanting to work on your research most of your waking hours, then academic research may in fact be the best career choice for you.' Reactions from astronomy blogs has ranged from disappointment to concern for the mental health of the students. It also seems that such a culture, coupled with the poor job prospects for academics, is continuing to drive talent away from the field. This has been recognized as a problem for over 15 years in the astronomy community, but little seems to have changed. Any tips for those of us looking to instigate culture change and promote healthy work-life balance?"

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Happy Tuesday from The Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673553)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Advice? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#41673639)

yep...

Get a real job....

Work 80 hours a week! (5, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#41673729)

While producing your thesis!

Watch faculty position offered to applicant from China or India!

Win!

Re:Work 80 hours a week! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673977)

Just cos you got your stupid Masters or PhD doesnt mean you are worth hiring.

I thought you wanted to be hired on your capability and not your race/gender... what happend... did you just realize people in other countries can be smarter than you ??

Re:Work 80 hours a week! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673999)

They're also cheaper.

Re:Happy Tuesday from The Golden Girls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41674061)

It's COD'S MINOCH!

truth sucks (2, Funny)

alphatel (1450715) | about 2 years ago | (#41673557)

Astronomy students don't want reality checks, Romney doesn't want healthcare, and muslims get mad when you draw cartoons of Allah.
What's next, children don't want Santa?

Re:truth sucks (3, Informative)

Dzimas (547818) | about 2 years ago | (#41673611)

I think you mean cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. He was the dude who passed along stuff he heard from the Archangel Gabriel, who was Allah's PR guy.

Re:truth sucks (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#41673913)

You say that like it makes the angst/violence any more acceptable.

It would still be just as unacceptable if he was merely his father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate.

Re:truth sucks (0)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about 2 years ago | (#41673921)

Everything has noobs. These astronomy noobs gota learn to work 80 hours that's all. Then when they are vets they'll tell the new noobs to work 80 hours. The circle of life..

Re:truth sucks (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 2 years ago | (#41674017)

So, is the cycle to work 80 hours until you get tenure? Or until the next batch of noobs shows up?

Because one is MUCH more palatable than the other.

Re:truth sucks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41674045)

The "new normal" is to work 80 hours a week until you die.

strike (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673581)

Don't pay your tuition, organize, demand change, (kids at my university went on hunger strikes). Not advocating this but sometimes that's the only way the Regents actually notice this bs.

Get a life (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673589)

Get a fucking life, kids. You make the rest of us that want to enjoy our time here look bad.

Re:Get a life (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 2 years ago | (#41673763)

I've known enough grad students (and Ph.D'ed people) to know that's how they enjoy their time.

Re:Get a life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673961)

Go fuck yourself.

We don't enjoy 80 hour work weeks that we get paid a small stipend from.

Re:Get a life (3, Informative)

Gripp (1969738) | about 2 years ago | (#41674055)

There is a difference between enjoying it and needing to do it in order to be successful.

Med School (3, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 2 years ago | (#41673599)

This reminds me of the push 10 years ago to reduce the hours inflicted on med school students and residents.

Hasn't seemed to have made a huge difference in their workload, though.

Re:Med School (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673807)

As a current medical resident, 80 hours a week is practically vacation time. Interns (first year MD's) are limited to 80 hrs a week under current regulations, but their workload is simply shifted to more senior residents who still routinely work 36+ consecutive hours when on call in all but the most cush specialties.

Re:Med School (5, Insightful)

readin (838620) | about 2 years ago | (#41673811)

An important difference is that the reason for wanting to reduce the medical resident workload wasn't concern for the residents, it was concern for the patients. Who wants to be treated by a resident who hasn't slept in 48 hours?

Re:Med School (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673987)

Think of the galaxies!

Re:Med School (1)

JWW (79176) | about 2 years ago | (#41674007)

Won't anyone think about the stars??!!

Take a tip from the MDs (5, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#41673605)

This sounds shockingly similar to the (possibly still-ongoing, I'm not sure) controversy over 36-hour shifts for doctors. The only real justification is "We did it when we were young, so today's young'uns should do it too! Never mind what the data says!"

Re:Take a tip from the MDs (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673703)

This sounds shockingly similar to the (possibly still-ongoing, I'm not sure) controversy over 36-hour shifts for doctors. The only real justification is "We did it when we were young, so today's young'uns should do it too! Never mind what the data says!"

Fortunately, black holes can't sue for malpractice.

Re:Take a tip from the MDs (4, Informative)

readin (838620) | about 2 years ago | (#41673829)

The difference is that the concern about doctor shifts wasn't concern for the doctor's work-life balance, it was concern for the safety of patients being treated by doctors who hadn't slept recently.

Grad School (5, Insightful)

readin (838620) | about 2 years ago | (#41673609)

It's not just a job; it's an indenture.

Re:Grad School (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673693)

It's an apprentice ship.
A postdoc is a journey man.

Of course your advisor sees you as
http://www.labspaces.net/pictures/blog/4e42cb359280f1313000245_blog.jpg

How do you measure your life? (1)

3arwax (808691) | about 2 years ago | (#41673615)

I sure hope it is more than professional success.

Impossible to damage an astronomy grad any more (3, Informative)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41673621)

I thought they were all already mentally ill to begin with.

time to get a job on wall street (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#41673625)

i hear the stock market is like modelling the galaxy

Re:time to get a job on wall street (4, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#41673841)

Hell no. I was in this exact position when I graduated with my Physics degree. I had a job offered to me to work at Goldman Sachs with a starting salary of $150k+signing bonus. It took a lot of soul searching, but I ultimately turned it down to pursue a Ph.D., where I get $20k a year and work the 60-80 hours quoted above, nights, weekends, and holidays (guess where I was 4th of July and Christmas Eve). But even after all that, For $130k more I couldn't buy the time I spend doing what I love each and every day. Sure I could buy boats and cars and a house, but I don't think any of that would make me truly happy as I am pursuing my passion that will one day (I hope) make a difference (as opposed to managing rich people's and corporation's money and helping them to make even more money. Oh how fun and rewarding.)

Re:time to get a job on wall street (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41673923)

Not a binary decision. Work the $150K job for 6 years or until downsized, bank the whole thing, go back to academia for your $20K/yr 80 hr/wk job, withdraw money from the bank account to hire a clone of yourself willing to work for $20K/yr at only 40 hours, then give him half your workload and both of you coast along at 40 hrs? At zero interest rate, 150 * 6 / 20 is still 45 years...

Re:time to get a job on wall street (1)

PsyberS (1356021) | about 2 years ago | (#41674029)

At zero interest rate, 150 * 6 / 20 is still 45 years...

Man I would kill to know the tax loopholes you are using to keep all 150k of that income.

Re:time to get a job on wall street (1)

JWW (79176) | about 2 years ago | (#41674031)

Pardon me, but what the hell in Astrophysics is so important that you have to work holidays!!!

Its not like the stars are going to disappear, or the laws of physics are going to change overnight if you don't get it done now.

Any tips? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673627)

Quit slacking and get back to work!

High Skilled Professions put in more hours (4, Insightful)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#41673633)

Most of us with degrees and skills usually put in more than 40 hours a week in our work. We do it because we enjoy the work, the pay is good, and our employers give us time off when we want it. Besides, it doesn't mean your stuck behind a desk for 10-12 hours a day. Many of us take our work on the go, or do some of it from home.

Re:High Skilled Professions put in more hours (4, Funny)

operagost (62405) | about 2 years ago | (#41673683)

We do it because we enjoy the work, the pay is good, and our employers give us time off when we want it.

One out of three ain't bad.

Re:High Skilled Professions put in more hours (5, Insightful)

kevkingofthesea (2668309) | about 2 years ago | (#41673917)

"More than 40" is not the same as "80." I've hit 60 hours in a week before, but at 80 I doubt I'd be any more productive.

Re:High Skilled Professions put in more hours (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41673949)

40 is a far cry from 80 though.

however.. astrophysicists? .. do they really get "more" done by working 80 hours vs 20 ? do their data analyze programs run more hours if they're at the desk more hours? is there more data available to them if they work 80 hours - will they come up with any better theories this way? do they get more hours assigned to them at their observatories?

is there ANY benefit form them working more hours except it'll look better as in more worked hours per budget dollar on the institutions yearly report, that's the question.

besides than that it's bullshit if they got told to work those hours or not - they most certainly were, not just on an official piece of paper because it sounds so fucked up.

Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (1, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | about 2 years ago | (#41673637)

I guess most people just don't like to hear that some of us enjoy our careers enough that it is one of our primary hobbies. I easily spend 60-80 hours working on some software development related task (even if it is just reading a book), and I don't consider myself overworked.

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673733)

THIS. If you're not motivated to work 80 hours a week as a grad student, you're in the wrong field.

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673887)

That's all well and good for basement virgins, but you can be smart and talented and still have a life too.

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (5, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 2 years ago | (#41673739)

Bosses love to hear it. Employees like you are easier to exploit. More work for less pay. Employees like you also make it easier to pressure other employees into similar behavior.

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673899)

Yeah, who needs home life. Pfft, losers.

CLEARLY the best option is 'live to work', not 'work to live' like some idiots think. The most fulfulling life I could possibly live is the one where I make sure my higher-ups can take 3 months of vacation in one of their five yachts. Don't worry, you enjoy taking on their workload, right?

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (1)

ranton (36917) | about 2 years ago | (#41673981)

Who said anything about lower pay? When I was hired it was because of the knowledge and capabilities that I have because of the effort I put in. I would be a good developer if I never studied or worked on personal projects outside of work, but I wouldn't be as good. And based on discussions I have had with friends in the field about their pay, I am well paid for the extra skillsets I bring to the table.

Employees should get paid less than me if all they do in their free time is go boating. They are less valuable (unless their natural skill is great enough that it trumps my extra work).

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#41673745)

This. I've been working on my Ph.D. for about 4 years now and spend at least 60 hours working per week in the Lab. When I'm not in the lab, I'm doing the same thing I would be doing in the lab but on personal projects. I only get paid about $20k a year (below minimum wage if you work out the per-hour wage), but I'm happier than I think I'd be if I had taken a job on wall street that was offered to me out of undergrad, for $150k a year. Plus I just got back from an all expenses paid vacation to a conference in Europe, so there are some perks too!

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673937)

but I'm happier than I think I'd be if I had taken a job on wall street that was offered to me out of undergrad, for $150k a year.

Sorry, you're talking shit outta your ass if you think you could have gotten a $150k a year job on Wall Street out of undergrad, let alone with an Astronomy degree.

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673779)

I guess most people just don't like to hear that some of us enjoy our careers enough that it is one of our primary hobbies. I easily spend 60-80 hours working on some software development related task (even if it is just reading a book), and I don't consider myself overworked.

And that's all well and good, but the problem is that it comes to be expected that everyone else needs to put in those hours, too.

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 2 years ago | (#41674005)

In my present employment I can and do work over 80 hours a week and I'm happy as a clam, since it isn't 80 hours of corporate bullshit, it's 80 hours of engineering. The problem is not what I want or what the boss wants, it's what my family wants. When I was a college kid I could have logged those hours if I enjoyed it w/o a problem. But now, even though I actually have no problem with doing what I'm assigned to do, for as long as it takes to do it, I simply must not.

No one should be in a position where anyone is expecting 80 hours a week from them, whether they do so voluntarily or under duress. It's not in the best interests of the individual, his family, or the society which has to tolerate the issues that come from such single dimensional pursuits. Work hard, play hard, but balance the two or else bad things will happen.

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41674011)

I easily spend 60-80 hours working...

Yeah? For how long? A month? Year? Lifetime?

Working more hours isn't progress. Why do we make all these fancy machines if they don't do our work for us? Damn computers, they were supposed to reduce paper consumption and work load, but it turned out exactly the opposite on both counts.

Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 2 years ago | (#41674025)

I think the problem has to do with this being applied too broadly to expect that everyone should work 80 hours a week. Working 60-80 hour work weeks is becoming expected. Managers get it in their heads that anyone unhappy about working 80 hours a week for terrible pay is not "committed" or "a team player". Suddenly everyone feels the pressure to stick around the office until 8pm, even if they're just looking at Facebook, because the first person to leave the office is viewed as "lazy".

And you know what? It's not even good for productivity. All it does is damage the worker's lifestyle.

It's true (3, Interesting)

adenied (120700) | about 2 years ago | (#41673641)

My wife is finishing grad school with a PhD and getting the hell out of Dodge. She's already found a job related to science/academia in her field that pays more and has better benefits than anything she could expect as a post-doc or assistant professor. It's a stable job where she can see clear career advancement over the coming years. This as opposed to an academic career where she wouldn't have much say in what part of the country she ended up and would have to work like crazy (publish or perish is so true) in an attempt to maybe get tenure 15+ years down the road.

Not to mention that more than a few of her advisers and colleagues have been having serious funding issues. She's in a field where lots of funding comes from the NIH and they're cutting back like crazy. It's not a very good climate right now.

Not true. (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#41673647)

Look, the rule of thumb for non-science is 2 hours study for every credit, plus the time spent in labs and classes.

Which is only 60 hours.

The rule for science is 3 hours study for every credit, or 4 hours study for every credit in Law or Engineering.

Double majors add 25 percent.

Re:Not true. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673701)

tell that to my CS profs... rules of thumb in one class was 15:1

One kid committed suicide during the midterm; they no longer require this class at the undergrad level.

tldr: compilers sucks

Re:Not true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673875)

Knowing how a compiler works is valuable knowledge for a CS/CompE major. I'll even call it required material if you're going into embedded software.

Re:Not true. (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#41673965)

engineering now requires a lot of this too.

Compilers interesting, nock "suck", (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#41673991)

You had a bad teacher or something then, I enjoyed the hell out of my compiler class in my CS degree.

I would also rate a compiler class as one of the things more practical in later work experience, as off and off I have actually used LEX/YACC for real work related projects.

In a degree that can be really abstract at times, understanding compilers well has a clear value that will last you quite a long time.

Re:Not true. (1)

the biologist (1659443) | about 2 years ago | (#41673707)

And this has next to nothing to do with the grad school experience in most programs, as classes/credits are only a factor the first couple of years.

Re:Not true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673727)

Most places will wave the classes if you pass your quals without taking them.

Re:Not true. (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#41673947)

True. The last year you should expect to work on your thesis.

Actually, the hardest things to realize are:

1. You have to work on your thesis.

2. Arguing with your committee is rarely productive.

3. If you are unsure of what you are doing, you're probably not ready yet.

Re:Not true. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673755)

For students working on a PhD, the amount of time they spend on class work is probably well under half their total time investment. If you want to graduate from a good school with competitive accomplishments, you basically have to live for it for six years.

Or ten...

Re:Not true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673805)

Forgot to say, if you get a professorship after you graduate you get to keep working 80 hour weeks for another 6-7 years to get tenure.

It's not the gravy train some people would have you believe.

Re:Not true. (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#41673983)

Best thing to do is get funding as early as possible if you're doing research. Takes a lot of the pressure off.

Find a job that doesn't require it (1)

angryfirelord (1082111) | about 2 years ago | (#41673655)

Unfortunately, any beefing up of labor regulations and vacation time would be decried as socialism, so the only thing you can do is find a company that has a good work-life balance. Those are rare however and anyone in IT will tell you it has been that way for some time.

Tips to change things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673657)

Any tips for those of us looking to instigate culture change and promote healthy work-life balance?
I'm probably missing something somewhere, but the glaring response to that would be "Don't work 80 hours a week". I'm not entirely sure ANYTHING whatsoever can be done unless that first step is taken.

Supply and Demand (4, Insightful)

readin (838620) | about 2 years ago | (#41673667)

"It also seems that such a culture, coupled with the poor job prospects for academics, is continuing to drive talent away from the field."

Good. That's what is supposed to happen. The truth is we don't have a need for a large number of astronomers. If we did then there would be more job prospects. Since we don't have the need, it's good that talent is being driven to other fields where there is greater need. Those who love astronomy so much that they can't work anywhere else and are willing to put in the long hours - those people can still work in astronomy. Those less committed can go make themselves more useful elsewhere. Supply and demand is not just a good idea, it's the law.

Re:Supply and Demand (0)

Radres (776901) | about 2 years ago | (#41673747)

+1 that's exactly what I wanted to say. There's only so much budget for astrologers. That money goes further if you have people who can dedicate their lives to it vs. trying to balance other things in their lives.

Re:Supply and Demand (4, Insightful)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 2 years ago | (#41673839)

There's only so much budget for astronomers.

FTFY.

Astrology != science.

Astronomy does have weird hours (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#41673669)

When your lab is often only open from midnight to 6AM, you might find yourself saying "screw it" and just staying at the office overnight. The solution to this isn't to tell the grad students to get used to it; it's to encourage them to keep better track of their hours, and if they've hit 40+ by Thursday night, go ahead and take a three day weekend. They've done their time for the school at that point.

Inherent Effect of the System (1)

gentryx (759438) | about 2 years ago | (#41673681)

This is not limited to Astrophysics. I know a lot of students (both, grad and PhD) that work basically 'round the clock, from fields as diverse as bio-chemistry, materials science and computer science. I'm hesitant to call this even call this a problem. What few realize at the beginning of their academic career is that science is actually a lot like sports: it is constant competition. It's all about who can discover/prove/engineer the next milestone first. There is no such thing in science as a runner-up. Those who come in second, are the first to be scooped. Period.

Now, why do we work crunchtime in science? That's the difference to sports: our brain is our muscle, and that doesn't get sore -- provided sufficient sleep (5-6h sleep is sustainable), nutrition (sugar!), and the occasional reset. Working longer hours gets you faster to the results, gives you better chances of publishing. May sound sick to outsiders, but the truth is, that getting a paper out is highly addictive. In a way we're all hooked on achievement.

Re:Inherent Effect of the System (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 2 years ago | (#41674071)

Every paper is a stunning breakthrough? Every paper is the one that gets your name in the history books? I don't think so, I recall grads doing a lot of bullshit papers for completely non-technical reasons (quotas, resume count, etc.). Drugs are not the only commodity in which addiction is bad for you, and in which you develop a broken frame of mind in order to get the next fix.

Perfect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673685)

This (yet another edition of "Winner Take All" or maybe "Let's Eat our Young" or maybe "@#$% It ... This Country Is Toast ... I'm Gonna Get Mine While the Gettin' Is Good") is so 2012 it hurts.

don't expect to hear from Phil Plait (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673695)

He only uses slashdot as an astroturfing ground. He doesn't give a crap about you and the community. He's only in it for the dollars. He got his degree and he's roping in hits to his third rate blog by Slashvertising. He doesn't bother with the posts. He doesn't want to make anyone have a better understanding. He certainly doesn't want more people in the field making it so he can rake in the bucks with his sophomoric attempts at science writing.
 
No, friends, Phil has used you and you're like trash in the garbage to him unless you visit his blog. That's what he's all about.

Quit whining (2)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 years ago | (#41673719)

I remember a time in college when I was working 64 hours a week and carrying a load of 12 hours, half of it comp sci. The trick there was to find at least one BS job in there (typically graveyard shift) where you could do your homework and, hopefully, another large company job that kicks educational benefits in for a least a class or two a semester.

Tough? Yes. Would I do it again? Speaking from a zero-debt, never unemployed (unless I wanted to be) point of view - it was the best thing I could have done in my early 20s.

Witnessed this (5, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 2 years ago | (#41673723)

I did some consulting for a company years ago. Some of their top employees worked 4 day weeks as a reward for function points delivered and bugs not delivered. One guy generated enough that he could have worked 2 day weeks (but didn't) and still held the top position on the leaderboard (ranked weekly). The top 3 employees were not gaming the system they were just really good; their total points were a huge multiple of the bottom 20 employees. Then the company brought on a new manager (a lawyer) who said this simply couldn't stand. He eliminated the days off and the top 5 employees all quit right after lunch. I left a few months later when they were getting slower and slower paying my invoices and then poof they were gone. This was after the previous year of 20 million in revenue generating around 6 million in profits. Those top guys had started a new company doing this crazy new thing (iPhone app development) got bought out for about 5 to 7 mil a tiny bit less than a year later.

What I did involved coming in at random times of the day. I can remember was that the worst employees were the ones sweating the long hours. Then after the lawyer came in those same guys were singled out for their dedication and hard work.

Oh the lawyer unsuccessfully tried suing them after their success.

Wake. Code. Coffee. Code. Eat. Code. Sleep. Code. (2, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41673741)

As a code addict, I see nothing wrong with doing what you love +80hrs per week. Last I checked I was at ~108 hours per week of coding, it's what I do for fun & profit and I've been doing it since age 8 -- If people want to pay me for doing it, well that's just awesome. (repeat sentence with subject as: sex/masturbation, shopping, drugs, etc. instead of code until you "get it").

I talked to a girl the other day who works in the mortgage industry managing compliance with government regulations in 50 states... I felt bad for her because her job actually feels like Work, and mine feels like poetry/pool/hide&seek/sculpture... Anything but "work", sure at times it's tedius but I could say the same about HO scale train sets. If you feel as passionate about astronomy as I do about writing code, go for it! Don't let them keep you from "working"!

Point: Missed (1)

matunos (1587263) | about 2 years ago | (#41673757)

Clearly, the point being expressed there is that people who love the field so much *choose* to devote those types of hours.

Now, perhaps this was an indirect way of letting students know that they're *expected* to devote those hours, or that if they don't, they're likely to be out-competed. But taking the words at face value, it's saying that if you really love astronomy, you may find yourself spending hours like that.

If you're a grad student who isn't comfortable with that, then don't do it. It's up to you to decide if that means the field isn't for you.

Re:Point: Missed (1)

ThorGod (456163) | about 2 years ago | (#41673835)

I wouldn't say that point is entirely missed. As a grad student, I can vouch for it being a very tough life (at times - it's not spreading tar on roofs after all). Some profs slog their students with work and it's not entirely 'right'. The conception is that something has to push the "lesser" students out so that only the best examples make it through a degree program. So you get things like unrealistic lab work and homework that amounts to three times the practice actually needed.

Yes, if you like what you're doing then you'll be more likely to devote additional hours to doing it. That doesn't mean hours should be a requisite.

Re:Point: Missed (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41674009)

The conception is that something has to push the "lesser" students out so that only the best examples make it through a degree program.

That's a correct conception. Depending on the field of course, there might only be academic positions for a small fraction of the people who make it all the way to the end of the program.

Its very much like pro sports. Not a bad life if you end up as a NFL quarterback with a long career. Of course the odds of that are rather low.

With a little googling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673765)

I found links to "Science Coffee" and "Journal Club" here [stsci.edu] .

This is reality (for some) (4, Insightful)

rs1n (1867908) | about 2 years ago | (#41673767)

Though it sounds insane, they probably left out the some important details. When I was a mathematics graduate student, I too spent a LOT of time thinking about mathematics -- a lot of it was for fun. Did I spend 80 hours a week thinking about mathematics? Probably not, but likely close. However, it was not as though I locked myself up in a room and had someone from the real world slide slices of pizza underneath the door so that I could do mathematics. A lot of theoretical science happens in one's mind, and that can be done anywhere, anytime. On the other hand, you could not do this if your job was to be a surgeon or pilot -- it's not the same. Mind you, all that thinking does get exhausting even if only mentally. However, if you want to ever be a "star" in anything -- sports, medicine, mathematics, etc -- you have to "practice" (i.e. put in extra time). Maybe 80+ hours per week is a bit much, but it is not completely impossible in some areas of study. Of course, you could just go the "average" route and still be "ok" in the end.

I can attest... (5, Interesting)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 2 years ago | (#41673775)

I was not a grad student in astrophysics, I was Electrical/Computer Systems Engineering, but I can attest that those hours DO have a detrimental effect on the mental health of the grad students. It happened to me. My work schedule was basically around the clock seven days a week. I was under a lot of pressure from school/work (same thing for me in those days) and from general lack of money. I was in a bad mood most of the time and my relationships soured. I began to feel isolated. I wasn't sleeping. My health started to suffer in a few areas, culminating in a hospital stay when I got mono and tried to work through it. Finally I had a run-in with the police that almost escalated to an arrest. I did still have to go to court for excessive traffic tickets. I had a mental breakdown. The next week my adviser came in and told me to write up my thesis and get out of there. It was a dark time.

Anyway, that letter coming from the school is very, very disappointing. I feel sorry for the students in that program that must now bear that extra pressure.

Re:I can attest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673931)

I'm sorry to point this out, but perhaps school only has a detrimental effect on the mental health of *some* grad students. Having been a graduate student in (non-astro) physics, and decidedly not having developed your problems, it could be that graduate school wasn't the problem but that *you* were the problem. In my 6 years of graduate school, I saw more than one classmate fall to pieces in school and drop out--however, I also saw the distinct majority of my classmates go on to complete a Ph.D. There were some who left due to disliking their fields, disliking their job prospects, whatever; however those who *failed* out due to not being able to handle the odd life of graduate school were by and large those who never should have been there in the first place.

Should we make pro sports easier, just because all those hours of work athletes have to put in are really taxing on their personal lives?

Yeah, 60-80 hours/week doing work sounds pretty rough. But if you love what you do, you don't even notice the hours.

Tip: Get Another Profession (0)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about 2 years ago | (#41673783)

Any tips for those of us looking to instigate culture change and promote healthy work-life balance?

Yes, get another profession. There aren't enough astronomy jobs to go around, so if you can't keep up with the rest of the pack then as far as labs, schools, and other employers are concerned you're in the wrong field. 9-5 jobs can only exist in fields where labor has the upper hand, and in the case of academia where there's enough funding to afford adequate staffing. Neither of these apply to astronomy - especially the part about funding - which is why the 80 hour week is common as it's the only way to get enough work done.

Re:Tip: Get Another Profession (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about 2 years ago | (#41673879)

Sad but true. I wanted to be an astronomer years ago (rather than a fireman, or a doctor, etc...) but ended up in IT. About 15 years ago I saw an ad for an astronomical job that I could have actually applied for (needed some IT skills and an interest in Astronomy). It was paying a third of what I was then earning.

I didn't apply. Sometimes dreams are best left as dreams.

Re:Tip: Get Another Profession (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673885)

Maybe people working double hours is one of the reasons there aren't enough jobs to go around?

A simple solution to a "white" collar problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673789)

Go blue! (That's my boy, blue)

Hourly wage. Keeps management at bay.

Mis-quote and BAD critic! (1)

Tim12s (209786) | about 2 years ago | (#41673803)

The critic is misquoting and badly criticizing the original poster. Seriously, it is shocking how this is being torn apart as a result of poor criticizm by slashdot. If you read the letter, the letter is not coming across as being arrogant or demeaning and it might be reasonably sincere. Having done enough astrophysics to realise that it is no trivial physics or mathematical field, I do believe that having passion for any subject will allow you to surpass your peers. This is obvious stuff.

If you love programming, you will work at work during work, and work on home projects at home. Hell, you might just work on work until the coke/coffee runs out. Either way, passion is a significant advantage in any field. Obvious stuff... Enter the free market and someone is going to be better off.

Re:Mis-quote and BAD critic! (1)

Tim12s (209786) | about 2 years ago | (#41673843)

I think the trick is 'do what makes you happy', and 'dont let someone abuse you'.

Research working hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673863)

I would imagine that this started the same way long hours started in any research setting. That the only way to get data was to sit there and record each point or record by hand on paper with manually adjusted equipment. With modern computer controlled equipment the 16 hour shift of recording data everyday is no longer needed, but as the people who run research programs now are the one's who did it by hand and they think that sort of time input is required to get good data.

Grad Students To Faculty: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673871)

Guess who's gonna be soylent green in a few years! Bitch!

Tell me Professor (2, Insightful)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 2 years ago | (#41673881)

So, Mr(s). Tenured Professor, how many hours a week do you work for that $200,000 salary?

This is truth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41673919)

I am sorry, but as a former Physics grad student, the person offering this advice is merely stating the truth, sorry if it offends your delicate sensibilities, but the job of a research scientist is one that doesn't need dedication, it needs a true love and devotion to the subject. Amongst physicists there is a joke: Every research physicist needs both a wife and a mistress, why? Because when he is away fromt he wife, she will think he is with the mistress and when he is away from the mistress, she will think he is with the wife, thus he will always have time for his research.

The point being that for most research scientists, their love of their work is strong! They do not see 80 - 100 hours as work,rather they see having to take care of their bodies by getting enough sleep as an inconvenience to be dealt with when absolutely necessary!

Get over it, research scientists are a special breed. That letter is NOT about the faculty angry that their students aren't working hard enough, it is about a faculty member telling their grad students the truth.

hmmm.... (1)

woodworx (1780214) | about 2 years ago | (#41673939)

Seems to me one could spend 80-100 hours a week trying to instigate culture change...

the truth does suck ... (0)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#41673945)

I have a micro PhD and have worked as faculty in Sweden and now Germany. Hey folks ... it's extremely competitive and 80-100/h weeks are the norm. Your output is measured in volume (number of papers, talks and posters) and you need to be working that often just to physically write/travel/talk/present often enough to keep up. In addition, not only do you need to produce high volume, it better be top-notch quality.

As far as salary goes, after PhD (at least in Europe) it's quite good. Postdocs start at €40k and can easily negotiate €60k with the standard 6-8 weeks of holidays (which do get used by most people that I know.) Currently, I am flirting with Professorship offers at major unis in the US right now and it seems that going rate is $8-10k/month gross salary and most universities cover the 9 months that you teach, which leaves your first grant to covers the last three ... so you're looking at $96-120k/year in the US and a job where you're essentially not subject to being fired (tenured). It's not that bad of a gig. Sure, consultants make more (on both sides of the pond), but do you really want to do that?

Sounds Familiar (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | about 2 years ago | (#41674003)

My last two semesters in grad school (Computer Science) saw me spending about 16 hours a day in the lab, usually six days out of the week. Occasionally I wouldn't even go home to sleep. I would pass out for a couple hours on the floor and get back to work. Sometimes someone would kinda nudge me and say "Hey we've got a tour coming through, can you go sleep somewhere else?"

Ended up having a complete mental break one night, after reading a story about a guy who's Mom had died and he found a bunch of gifts from her in Animal Crossing.

All this while being paid $650/mo for a "20-hour a week" job, when my apartment cost $475/mo... After all that, all I have to show for it is 200% more debt than when I finished my bachelors, and a "two years equivalent experience" added to my resume when I got my first job.

Don't get me wrong, I still think it was worth it, but you probably have to be a special kinda stupid and/or have Stockholm Syndrome to do something like that...

Name the actual academy, or you are just a troll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41674021)

Name the actual academy, or you are just an internet troll.

No different that IT (1)

tatman (1076111) | about 2 years ago | (#41674037)

Other than in school vs in-work, the pressure to work a lot of hours is the same. I just heard my CEO say "just because it's time to go doesn't mean you shouldn't". When will bean counters learn that more hours do not mean more productivity or more results? When will bean counters realize that work, especially brain aka thinking work can be done in the shower, or on the drive home or after a break playing xbox?

You liked space and math as a kid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41674059)

... so you went into Astrophysics. Obviously what you really should have been into as a kid was getting your ass kicked every day at recess, because that's more the reality of this profession.

Poppy cock (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41674067)

If anybody thinks that they will be in academy for a nice simple life, they are dead wrong. Yes, you have to put in 80-100 hrs/week esp. until about age 40. After that, you can coast and do 50 or so. And yes, the work SHOULD be on your mind constantly.
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