Turning points: sometimes you spot them immediately and sometimes only in retrospect. In this series, members of the WUR community describe a decisive moment they will never forget. This time, Jeroen de Keijzer talks about the moment he decided to return to Wageningen.
‘Some people have an extensive career plan, but I was never that type. I take things one step at a time. And so last year I found myself facing a difficult choice. I was working as a postdoc in plant cell biology in England. When my two-year contract ended, my boss offered me a three-year extension. It was a hard choice to make, with lots of different factors at play. But they added up to a two-way choice: take the job or change course. Stay in England or go back to the Netherlands. In England I had nice colleagues, a social network and I felt at home. And the institute where I was working is one of the best laboratories for plant sciences. The perfect place to pursue my career. Plus, I didn’t have any other offers.
On the other hand, my research there wasn’t going so well. In the first six months, the experiments failed, causing me to doubt my own capabilities. It turned out later that there was something wrong with the experiments I was basing my research on. That got me off to a bad start. Who could tell what problems I would run up against if I stayed?
Also, my girlfriend lived in the Netherlands and I still had an apartment in Wageningen. Although my girlfriend and I saw each other regularly, the distance took its toll. It was getting harder to maintain a long-distance relationship. After my two years in England I would describe our relationship as ‘complicated’. So I took the plunge and moved back to the Netherlands to work on my relationship. With no job and no security.
Sadly, the relationship broke up shortly after I came back. I still didn’t have a new job and I felt drained. I wished I hadn’t left England then. But I’ve never really regretted the decision. Now I am teaching Cell Biology at WUR, and I turned down another job to do that. It seems it pays to put up with a bit of insecurity sometimes and not take the first option you get.’