Heather Yu, PhD
Dr. Heather Yu admittedly has it all-- a rich and fulfilling scholarly life, a happy marriage, a healthy young child, and another baby on the way. She credits the New England Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) for being a key ingredient in helping her find just the right work-life balance.
Dr. Yu completed her B.S. in Biology at the University Massachusetts Amherst in 2001, a Ph.D. in Biology with a Neurobiology emphasis in 2010, and was accepted to a postdoc at Harvard Medical School in 2010. She met her husband, Kwok Yu, while they were both undergrads at U. Mass. and they subsequently married in 2006. Kwok has enjoyed a 10 year administrative career at Harvard University where he currently serves as Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs in the Office for Faculty Affairs.
During her postdoc, Dr. Yu learned she was pregnant. She opted to take a brief time away from her academic life after the birth of her new child but her mind kept wandering back to the impact this might have on her job prospects. She had invested 14 years pursuing a rigorous scientific education with the intention of going on the academic job market after completing her postdoc. As a new mom, she didn’t know if she’d be competitive in the academic job market where expectations of new faculty members to produce can be very high. She didn’t want to give up being a mom to pursue a scientific career in the academy but turning her back on her career aspirations weren’t an option either, nor was living on a single family income. Could a part-time position exist in her specialty? This is where HERC came in.
After discussing the situation with her husband, he recommended she check-out the New England HERC website to search for positions in the area. “I went and looked right away. What was so helpful was being able to see all the campuses that were within a commutable distance of where we live. We’re lucky enough to own a home and my husband loves his job so relocating wasn’t an option. We both want to be here and raise our children around family and friends. HERC enabled me to research campuses in the Boston area, search for all the jobs in my field and narrow the results by positions that were part-time.”
Little did Dr. Yu know that a match would be made that very day, in early August 2010, on her first visit to the website. “It’s a bit like a Cinderella story and I know it doesn’t happen like this very often. I have friends and colleagues on the academic market who have horror stories about their experiences. HERC streamlined the entire process for me and enabled me to zero in on the perfect position…and I got it! Now I recommend HERC to everyone I know who is seeking an academic job.”
Dr. Yu found a part-time job as a Neuroscience Fellow at Stonehill College, a private liberal arts school just a 30 minute drive away from their home. “I was offered the position only a few weeks after finding it on the HERC site. It was as if it were made for me. Stonehill wasn’t a campus I was familiar with because I spent most of my education at large institutions. I love the small class size and emphasis on teaching and individualized learning. The position was in my specialty and allowed me to teach and perform administrative duties for the Neuroscience program. It was also part-time which enabled me to work with an infant at home. Stonehill is an incredibly family friendly employer and my colleagues are very supportive about me being a mom. The campus offers childcare and some faculty (including me) have summers off. There is no way I would have known about this opportunity without HERC.” In 2011 Dr. Yu’s position at Stonehill increased to full time. She and her husband are expecting their second child and she is confident that the balance she’s struck between work and life will continue.