And you heard about this job how…?

Almost everyone has asked me how I came across the posting for this job. They are often surprised by the answer: Facebook. I knew my postdoc funding was coming to an end, so I posted this:

Two days later, a friend of mine sent me this:

8/25, 8:17am – Danielle Stephens: Hey not sure this is a post doc you would want to consider but my Aussie friend posted it within 48 hours of your post so I thought I should pass it on!

So, full credit for discovering this position goes to Danielle! If you are so inclined, see below for the full details of the posting :


The PNG Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) is a Statutory Authority of the Government of Papua New Guinea. Its mission is to conduct research into the major health problems of PNG and support the development of health services.The Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) is recognised internationally for its longstanding multidisciplinary research. PNGIMR staff have the opportunity to develop enviable track records attracting research grants from national and international funding bodies. PNGIMR is looking to recruit a post-doctoral virologist/microbiologist with molecular biology experience to join a multidisciplinary team of researchers based at the PNGIMR headquarters in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province. The successful applicant will join the Environmental and Emerging Diseases Unit (EEDU). The mission of EEDU is to conduct research on emerging, outbreak-prone diseases to develop diagnostics and improve understanding of the epidemiology of these diseases. The team is comprised of local and international staff and has expertise in bacteriology, virology, parasitology and molecular biology. Research programs are conducted in health facilities and local communities. The position offers the right candidate an exciting opportunity to contribute to existing research and to develop an expanded emerging diseases research program in line with the strategic plans of the Institute. The candidate should hold a PhD in Virology or Microbiology with expertise in molecular biology, along with a genuine commitment to working in a multidisciplinary team and training Papua New Guinean researchers. Previous experience in a developing country, epidemiology or public health research would be an advantage. A contract of up to 3 years with salary based on PNG public service salary scales is offered. Salary and employment conditions are negotiable. The overall package includes housing, healthcare, education expenses for dependants and generous recreational leave. The position is based in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province.

TL;DR: Basically, not only do I have the main qualifications they were asking for, but it described my dream job; everything I ever pictured myself doing after watching the movie ‘Outbreak’ when I was 12.


And so it was, on September 1, bolstered by the confidence that I would never get such a desirable position, I emailed off my CV along with a short cover-letter type message. To my surprise they got back to me the very same day, saying they were compiling a shortlist and asked if they could contact my references. At this point I told Matt that I had applied for the job, but that I doubted I’d get it. He said something like “I’m vetoing that, internet isn’t good there.”

On September 19 I received an email informing me that I had been short-listed, and slotted for a phone interview. I was completely shocked. At this point I told my mom: “So, I’ve applied for a job in Papua New Guinea, and I’ve got a phone interview. But don’t worry, I won’t get it.” I don’t think she was convinced. And Matt’s response was “Oh no.”


The interview took place by phone Sept 25 10pm Halifax time / Sept 26 11am PNG time. Still thinking there was no way I’d get the job, I was treating it as more of a casual practice type interview. I was completely myself. When they asked me what made me want the job I said something about how the movie Outbreak inspired me, sparking my interest in emerging infectious diseases, and how I’d always wanted to be on the ‘front line’. One of the interviewers said “That movie has a lot to answer for, that’s why I’m here too.”, and we all laughed. Pretty casual so far. Later, when asked if I had any questions about life in PNG, one of my first questions was about internet speed. Immediately they asked if I was a gamer – and I felt so busted. I sheepishly replied “Yeeeess…” and he said “You’re not alone, but the internet probably isn’t good enough for heavy internet gaming.” I was sad. Finally, I asked how many people they had interviewed and they said 3. THREE. Immediately my heart rate skyrocketed and I panicked a little as I realized I had a 1/3 shot at this. After I got off the phone I informed Matt of the odds and his response was to groan “Ooooohhhhhh and it sounded like it went weeeeelllllllll.” I told my mom as well, ensuring her that there’s no way I’d get it – it was too good to be true.

They told me they’d be in touch within 2 weeks, and we had a few back-and-forth emails where I asked questions about the job and life in PNG. The two weeks went by, so I assumed they had offered the position to someone else.

I got the job?!

On October 13, at 8pm, an email appeared in my inbox saying that I had been successful in my application at the PNG IMR. My immediate reaction was to burst into tears, and I called my mom. Her response was something like ‘I’m trying to be happy for you but I’m so upset.’ Crying isn’t really a thing I am prone to, and these were not really happy tears, more overwhelmed tears. I thought that maybe I wouldn’t be able to accept the position, maybe this reaction was bad. Matt assured me that I was just overwhelmed, and that ‘of course I had to take it’. And, when I awoke the next morning, I was excited about the prospect, and I realized that my reaction was simply the thought of being ripped out of my comfort zone – to a place as far away from my home and my people as I could possibly get. Halifax was a baby step. If anything went wrong, we could be home in 8 hours. PNG is a 4 flight, 34 hour, $1800 trip *minimum*. That’s a daunting thought. But, I accepted.


And, that’s how that happened. Because of Facebook, and ‘friend-of-friend’ connections.

6 thoughts on “And you heard about this job how…?

  1. We’re so proud of you Amanda, you’ve worked hard. This is the time of your life, enjoy every minute of it.

  2. I LOVE that you are embarking on this epic adventure and I will live vicariously through you 🙂 Post often with updates as I want every detail and lots of pictures!!!

  3. I love this. I hope you have time to write more of these thoughtful posts as it gives us a window into your world and life. I am so very proud of you Amanda and I think you are so lucky to have a partner in life who is supporting you on this amazing journey. Congrats to both of you. And my sincere condolences for the lack of adequate internet. lol

    • Thanks Misty, it’s pretty awesome that Matt will follow me on my adventures 🙂 We are both nervous about the internet – hopefully it will be better than we are expecting… In any case, technology is rapidly improving there.

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