The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons...
The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.
Below is our interview with Andy Cantrell, an astronomer turned math teacher. After his first postdoc, he worked with a recruiting agency for private schools to find his new position. He describes his working environment as ‘warm and supportive, and extremely family friendly’. If you have questions, suggestions, advice to share, etc. about this career path, please leave a comment below.
For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. We plan to post a new career profile to this blog every first and third Thursday of the month.
What field do you currently work in?
What is the job title for your current position?
What is the name of your company/organization/institution?
The Blake School
What city, state, and country do you live in? Work in?
What is the highest degree in astronomy/physics you have received?
What is/was your ultimate/final academic position in astronomy/physics?
What has been your career path since you completed your degree?
2009-10: Postdoc with C. Bailyn at Yale.
2010-11: Lived in Japan, where my wife was doing dissertation research.
2011- present: Mathematics teacher at The Blake School.
What were the most important factors that led you to leave astronomy and/or academia?
The most important factor was simply that I loved teaching and wanted that to be my primary job. I also wanted a career path which would allow me to settle down earlier and give me more time at home with my family.
If you have made a career change, what was your age at the time?
What have been particularly valuable skills for your current job that you gained through completing your degree?
The depth and breadth of my experience with math and its applications has allowed me take students places that most calculus classes never go; for example we end the class with an exploration of the heat equation and its connections to analysis. My teaching experience as a graduate student, and the admirable mentoring I got from Charles Bailyn, was also invaluable in setting me up for a career teaching.
What, if any, additional training did you complete in order to meet the qualifications?
Describe a typical day at work.
I teach four classes a day, with the rest of the day spent either preparing materials for class or meeting with students or my colleagues. My classes are generally fairly freeform; I let myself follow up on ideas suggested by students, while also making sure we get through the core material of the class. The students I teach are smart, lively and fun; I often find myself disbelieving that anyone would actually pay me to spend the day talking about math with such a lively and interested bunch of people.
Describe job hunting and networking resources you used and any other advice/resources.
I found the job through Carney, Sandoe & Associates, a major recruitment agency for private schools. They were extremely helpful and patient in working with me to find a job which was a good fit for my skills and background.
What advice do you think advisors should be giving students regarding their career path?
I wish more advisors had real respect for positions outside academia. Even if they don’t feel comfortable recommending or discussing positions outside their field, they should do whatever they can to mitigate the stigma often attached with leaving academia. I was incredibly lucky to have Charles Bailyn as an advisor, and he was completely supportive of my transition to teaching. I wish more of my peers had the same support that I did in making this transition.
How many hours do you work in a week?
What is your