Students discuss balancing long-distance romance, job
Christina Ragan has balanced being a post-doctoral researcher in neuroscience and a long-distance partner for two years by doing everything a normal couple would do. She said things as simple as watching movies and eating dinner together through FaceTime and Skype have helped the graduate student and her partner stay connected as she applies to a variety of universities.
Her first-hand experience in dealing with these problems is something Carolyn Peruta, mentoring director for Women and Minorities in the Physical Sciences, or WaMPS, wanted to incorporate into the WaMPS panel discussion about the “two-body problem” and long distance relationships Tuesday in the Biomedical and Physical Sciences Building.
The two-body problem is when a couple works and studies in the same field, causing them to compete for jobs. Those jobs are very limited in the field of physical science, Ragan said. Physical science students, like many graduate students, must be flexible in where they end up after school, Ragan said.
“The goal is to try to make it as close to how it was before you left each other,” Ragan said.
The discussion was held for graduate students to hear tips on how to secure a job in the physical sciences while maintaining a relationship.
Peruta came up with the idea of holding the discussion when she was asking friends for advice and she realized they were running into the same problem.
“When talking to some of my other friends, they had the same problem,” Peruta said. “Some of us decided to get the couples together who are going to be in a long-distance relationship and help each other out because it helps to hear other peoples’ stories.”
Peruta said the two-body problem hits women harder than men because women tend to date and marry men in the same field. Peruta said she hopes the discussion not only helps those students who are experiencing it now, but those students who are just starting to study physical science, Peruta said.
“It’s so important to learn strategies to make long-distance relationships work and how to keep searching for jobs in the same area as your significant other,” Peruta said. “As far as those who aren’t interested in the long-distance relationship aspect of the talk, they should be educated on what the two-body problem means to them because it will affect their hiring process.”
WaMPS Faculty Advisor Filomena Nunes said the subject not only affects people in the field of physical sciences, but everyone across campus.
“It is an issue not (specific) to the physical sciences but to all people across the campus looking for jobs,” Nunes said. “This is usually discussed at the faculty level, but also is an issue for graduate students because they have to go to those jobs where they can get them.”