How can my wife and I get back to the Gold Coast, and what job changes might I need to make to get there?
April 23, 2008 3:15 AM   Subscribe

CareerAdvice: How can my wife and I get back to the Gold Coast, and what job changes might I need to make to get there?

(Apologies in advance for the length!)

As you can see from my previous questions, about 2 years ago (July 2006), my wife and I moved from our home on the Gold Coast to Sydney, Australia, so that I could take up a new job as an entry-level academic manager (think Head of School or rough equivalent). This was an upgrade from my previous position as Lecturer (including a reasonable pay rise), so we decided to move, even though we had a lot less family in Sydney.

Through our time in Sydney it quickly became apparent, especially to my wife, that we didn't much like it. Sydney was just much too busy and crowded for us, and we were feeling lonely and weren't actually that much better off (Sydney is more expensive to live in). However, I was on track to higher levels of academic management (even getting a chance to act as my boss when he went away for a 3 week holiday), so we decided to stick it out.

Unfortunately, in Sept/Oct last year, everything changed. The university, which had previously been growing up until 2006 or so, suddenly realised that student numbers were dropping. To cut costs, they merged staff positions together and restructured, and this move included removing all the people at my level of academic management, and also merging the two positions above me (originally UG and PG, one of which was my boss) into a single combined position that was given to my boss' counterpart. Myself and the other academic managers (5 of us in total) were given the opportunity to stay on as (Senior) Lecturers at our current salary. At the time I considered making a move (and there was some talk of redundancy pay), but decided that it would take me too long to get a new job (academia seems to advertise jobs on a set timeline), so I decided to hang about and see what happened.

Six months on and I'm starting to go insane! Numbers are continuing to drop and while I am not totally convinced that the university/campus will go under (especially if they can match staff levels with the student numbers), this does mean that the growth that I saw in the past is no longer there, meaning that it is unlikely that new positions will open up on campus. This puts me in the unenviable position of waiting for somebody to leave (or die!) and, even if this happens, I have 4 other very qualified fellows that will possibly compete with me for the job (including my former boss!). Since the changes I've also been casting around for another job, but it's been hard to find anything, especially since I am a little hesitant to move to another unknown city and would prefer to go back to the safety of the Gold Coast at this point (and you can imagine how likely it is to find a job for an academic (scarce anyway), in my discipline (Information Technology), in one location!). The real straw that broke the camel's back, however (and that leads to this question), was when I applied for a position at my alma mater (Griffith University, for those of you that know the GC), and was told that I wasn't the right choice, since I hadn't done any research lately! Basically, this makes me an academic manager who can't get an academic management job and also can't get a lecturer job, which makes life very difficult!

So, I guess the question is, what do we do now? Currently, we are looking at either a) getting my wife a job on the Gold Coast and going back on her wage, with me doing some sessional work or b) expanding my horizons to include non-academic jobs as well as academic roles. The problem is, I'm not sure if people will think I'm qualified to take on a commercial role, as I've been out of the industry (information technology) for a number of years and while I would take a small pay cut, we really can't afford for our only wage to be a grunt-level position in some organisation where I work my way back up (and needless to say, this wouldn't be an ego boost)! My wife is also worried that while she can get a job, it will mean that a lot of the stress gets put on her new job, and since she's only recently finished university, she's still working out what she really wants to do and wants a little flexibility in being able to move jobs without feeling like she is the sole bread winner.

This question has been vexing me for a while, so I'd really appreciate any opinions/suggestions you can give. Happy to provide more information if you need it (for instance, more details on my qualifications etc). Thanks!
posted by ranglin to Work & Money (6 answers total)
Have you thought of USQ at Springfield? Not as up there as QUT, UQ or Griffith but it gets you closer. You could possible even commute (I know someone who drives from the GC to Ipswich or St Lucia on a regular basis). Also, Springfield is very much connected to Delfin, the housing development mob, and apparently, they're pro-research into their developments, and I understand they precabled the whole place so as to have a world class IT community. Worth looking into, anyhow.

Also, there are some learning institutions that are not universities - what about QANTM, in Brisbane? Why not have send you every email on IT or academic positions on the GC so you can get a better idea of what's out there. You could send in a couple of applications to a few jobs and see what the feedback is. Doesn't hurt to try.

Oh, and consider lead IT management roles in the public service perhaps (I'm obviously not talking technician or sys admin but in charge of the department where management skills are more important than detailed up-to-date knowledge). Brisbane is moving a bunch of public service positions and offices a bit south/west - there might be opportunities in that as well.

Lastly, email your old colleagues and ask if they have any ideas.
posted by b33j at 4:18 AM on April 23, 2008

My partner is in a similar situation - he has been in educational management for years in Sydney and wants out. He has been frustrated by an inability to move in the system, and has had a long break from industry (15 years!) and can't afford to drop 40000+ in salary.

Things we are considering -

I seek higher positions at greater pay, giving a bit of a leeway for his salary to drop if he returns to industry.

We move to another country where the education system is more favourable - with all the restructuring going on in higher ed in Australia it's only going to get more difficult.

Set up a consultancy to ease the transition from education -> industry. This might be training, strategy or policy research.

I feel your pain - it's tough out there right now, my husband like you isn't quite sure what he will do.
posted by wingless_angel at 4:20 AM on April 23, 2008

Money isn't all it's cracked up to be, obviously. And the fact that you will adapt no matter how bad it gets is another factor you will get to work with. If your friends and family are at the Gold Coast you will be a lot happier just going there. Don't worry about the position, one will show up that will be suitable to your talents and desires. It just works that way once you make the comittment. Enjoy.
posted by ptm at 6:53 AM on April 23, 2008

I know nothing about the broader question, but I'd second looking around Brisbane for work as well as the Coast, I know a lot of people who commute in one direction or the other (like dg, for instance).
posted by jacalata at 7:17 AM on April 23, 2008

I know this isn't that useful an answer, but in my experience from living on the Gold Coast from 2000 - 2003 IT jobs in the Gold Coast are very very scarce. In fact in Brisbane and the GC I struggled to find any that suited my skill that weren't public sector. From being in touch with friends who still work in IT in that area it doesn't sound like things have changed much... but depends on which part of IT you were in.

I'm reasonably sure that the biggest employer in the Gold Coast is The Gold Coast City Council. You could try seeing if there are any IT positions going there?

Feel free to mefi mail me if you'd like some more info.
posted by Admira at 2:58 PM on April 23, 2008

I'm curious what Uni are you at; UWS form the sounds of it?
posted by oxford blue at 4:05 AM on April 24, 2008

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