Monthly Archives: February 2012

What we THINK we do vs. what we ACTUALLY do

I was getting facebook bombed with those posters of what we think we do, what others think we do, what we think we do, vs. what we actually do. ¬†Truth be told, I’m glad they’re gone ūüôā

But, like most things in life: it humored me and got me thinking. ¬†What do we actually do as new faculty? ¬†I did enjoy the graphic of the man sitting at his desk surrounded by stacks of paper. ¬†While the good feminist in my would have wished it was a woman, the picture was true. ¬†To an extent. ¬†The Internet has given us digital immediacy and we are switching over to all of that grading on our iPad’s and computers, but¬†sometimes, I think a more appropriate graphic would look something like this:

While there is no doubt in my mind that all new faculty have the best of intentions, are intrinsically driven, and strive to succeed, there are days and moments when being a new faculty in academia looks like my friend up there. ¬†While we may not physically look like that, we FEEL like that. ¬†Like the duck, calm on top but paddling frantically underneath, new faculty are always rushing and waiting. ¬†Kind of like Disney World, hurry up and wait. ¬†Hurry up: get that RFP in, go to the mandated university training, complete online NSF funding webinar, teach class, grade class, drive a van full of students, organize yourself while sitting on the floor surrounded by a mess, eat your lunch in 7 gulps in 3 minutes….and then wonder why your head hurts, you’re getting early carpal tunnel, and you have a stomach ache. ¬†Not to mention when you finally roll in the door and the person/people on the other side of it say something like (or your animals give you the ‘look’), “you keep getting later and later….” Enter your old friend: GUILT.

It always becomes crystal clear each week when I talk to my dad on the phone. ¬†600 miles is not the ‘farthest distance’ winner from family, nor is it a contest, but once a week, we get on the old telephone and talk about our week. ¬†He talks to me about the farm (530 acres and 120 head of registered dairy cattle), the dogs (one of them is mine), his hobbies: trains, building his workshop, and other things. ¬†I talk to him about what I do in my job. ¬†While there’s no doubt in my mind that my parents love me, want the best for me, and hope I’m happy, I know that every once in a while, my dad will come back and say, “what?” ¬†He has NO FREAKING idea what I do. ¬†He knows I’m in education. ¬†He knows I go to work every day, he resonates with some of the things I’m involved in, but that’s where it ends sometimes. ¬†I’ll start rattling on about research and a dead, death like silence hovers from the other end…..*bueller?* ¬†Sometimes, I can tell he’s working really hard to understand what the h*^^ just happened and he does his best, but he’ll come back with, “that sounds interesting.” ¬†That’s it. The end. ¬†I know I’ve gone too far….

Our time on the phone usually ends with him saying something like, “why don’t you go do something fun that’s not work related.” ¬†Easier said than done since our passions are our hobbies and vice versa, but I hear him loud and clear.

In the end, what we think we do as new faculty vs. what we actually do may or may not look the same as its perceived. ¬†Maybe that’s why academics like other academics or loathe them with a passion. We strive to do it all to make our mark in the academic sand, but at the end of the day, walking through the door might be the most rewarding time of the day. Whether you come home to a cat, dog, other humans, your DVR, a good book, or a cold beverage and hot meal, in that moment you’ll be doing what you THINK you do and what you ACTUALLY do: winding down for the day. (or grading for another three hours…at least you’ll be on your couch or another comfy spot).

Happy Leap Year Day!!!

Tagged , , , ,

Sorry I’m not sorry….

You’ve heard that before? ¬†It’s a hashtag on twitter and it’s what many of us think sometimes when we apologize in academia because we think it’s the “right” thing to do. I’ve got a newsflash for you ladies out there. ¬†APOLOGIZING IS KILLING YOU PROFESSIONALLY. ¬†stop it!!!! This applies to men too, but women for sure.

As a female in academia, I’ve met some over apologizers and some cut throats. ¬†I admire the cut throat women. ¬†Why? Because they take no prisoners. ¬†They’re not mean about it. They just never apologize. ¬†While I work with them I think, “dang, I need to be more like that.” Then, I got meet with an over apologizer and you know what, I end up pitying them. ¬†I think that they apologize because they’re insecure, insincere, or like a puppy: cute, cuddly, motherly, marshmallow. Period. Be a marshmallow sometimes, just not all of the time.

Don’t believe me? ¬†Fine. Have it your way…..I’m not sorry, but I am going to give you a few examples:

Fox news: you can bash me for using a Fox news link here, but not for the content because if you read it, it makes some good points.  It also has some good links off of it to other sources.

I also enjoyed this opinion piece off of politicsdaily. Why? Because this woman is right. We apologize for everything. And for what? ¬†Just like facebook has changed how we view a “friend,” our zest for apologizing when the sun doesn’t come out also waters down the meaning of an apology. ¬†People don’t take it seriously, they view it as superficial, and without meaning. ¬†Just like Fairbrother says, you’re cheapening your value as a female, an academic, and your overall value when you insist on saying ‘sorry.’

What can you say instead? ¬†“I appreciate your patience,” “I agree, the weather is awful today (insert appropriate response to someones complaint),” “Let’s keep working on this together and we will reach a resolution,” “Let’s discuss your concern,” “I hope your day improves after we’re done here.” ¬†You get the idea. ¬†Turn the negative into a positive. ¬†A student got lost finding my office and was 15 minutes late. ¬†I had another meeting and I left. ¬†He emailed me later in the day explaining that he had gotten lost. ¬†We rescheduled and when he found me the second time, he began by saying that I had a difficult office to find. ¬†Instead of starting with “I’m sorry,” I started with, “I’m glad you found it and we could work out this time to meet instead.”

A grad student stopped by my office to talk about a facebook comment. ¬†He told me I hadn’t read the whole article (it was not research related, it was pop culture in nature) and instead of apologizing I countered with, “I guess I didn’t have time to read every single word, you have more time than I do.” ¬†No apologies. ¬†You know why? ¬†I can’t give the undergrad a map and a tracking device. ¬†I wasn’t all that invested in the facebook thread to begin with. The bottom line: THESE PROBLEMS AREN’T MY PROBLEM. ¬†They shouldn’t be yours either (they’re non-problems). In the case of having to apologize, I did it once, with sincerity, and was done apologizing and started taking care of business.

I apologized for my fender bender in the university van. ONCE. IN PERSON. FACE TO FACE. TO MY BOSS. ONCE MORE TO FLEET SERVICES. IN PERSON. FACE TO FACE. Done apologizing. I went back, filled out the proper paperwork, and finished with, “I hope to not have this experience again.” ¬†I forgot to add a colleague to a paper in grad school, he called me on it. ¬†I had totally forgot–it was not intentional. ¬†I apologized to him when he confronted me, explained it was an honest snafu, and moved on.

Stand with me (male or female) and quit freaking apologizing!!!!

We might be addicted to apologizing. ¬†As women, it’s our nature. ¬†It’s a tough habit to break, but it is doable. ¬†Like exercise, eating correctly, and saying the word “um,” we need to be mindful of it to catch ourselves from doing it.

You can break the cycle.  You are a smart, sophisticated, intelligent being and gosh darn it, people like you.  So, stop apologizing yourself to death and get to work!

*my soapbox is packed back up and put safely away. i need a piece of chocolate…..*

Tagged , , ,

Fender benders (and other non-glamorous mistakes)

Fender bender?  YUP.  I had one.  My first one.  In a 12 passenger fleet van that the university owns.  First accident since I was 19, first accident in a fleet vehicle.

I WAS MORTIFIED. ¬†No one was hurt. ¬†Another car and I were both backing up watching a big ol’ truck in our mirrors. ¬†Apparently so intently we forgot to watch each other and *bump* we did. ¬†Minimal damage to the vehicles, none of my students were hurt, the other driver was more than agreeable, and the university police were right there–parked and waiting (I joke that they knew this was going to happen, but I often see them sitting here as it is a busy spot when classes go in/out throughout the day). I have a bus drivers CDL license from my previous life so I was working to be aware of all things around me, but you know what, just like life, I missed something in my blind spot and made a mistake.

The big lesson here: as a new faculty, you’re going to make mistakes. ¬†Lots of them. ¬†Some days, you may trip and fall (literally) on a flight of stairs, spilling your iced coffee all down the front of you….not that I would be speaking from personal experience or anything……*grimace*. ¬†Other days, you will make a mistake that needs to be taken care of. ¬†Perhaps a slip of the tongue, not playing politics quite right, missing an important deadline/meeting, receiving less than spectacular teaching reviews, or whatever it may be. ¬†This list could go on for several paragraphs so in the interest of time, I’ll stop. You’re welcome. ūüėČ

How do you bounce back? ¬†I’ve read lots of motivational quotes over the years and I’m sure you have too, but let me tell you how I learn from my failures. ¬†#1. Admit that I did screw it up. ¬†Sometimes it’s easier said than done to really say, “I totally missed/screwed that up.” #2. Apologize. ¬†Mean it. ¬†Don’t half a** it. ¬†Don’t make a joke. Don’t try and cover it with shame or any other emotion. Don’t cry. ¬†Just apologize and mean it. #3. ¬†Build a bridge and get over it. ¬†Again, this one can take about 14 seconds or 14 minutes or 14 days or 14 months…depends on who you are. #4. Don’t keep bringing it up. Nothing will make you look/feel worse than bringing something up that’s done and gone. ¬†Odds are you’re making it bigger than it needs to be because we’re often harder on ourselves than others might be. Unless it was something of a HUGE scale that might effect your annual review or something legal; stop talking about it. ¬†Build that bridge, go over the bridge, and learn. #5. Try your best to NEVER DO IT AGAIN. Freudian slips happen. ¬†Karma happens. Technology fails and makes all of our appts. three hours later sometimes. ¬†CHECK YOURSELF. #6. Make jokes later. Way later….Using your failure as a way to learn can be beneficial. ¬†Some people really want to hear about that in future job interviews, when you’re advising students, and of course–for personal reasons.

After owning my fender bender, apologizing, filling out the proper paperwork, and taking care of business-the incident is over. ¬†Although, my boss did joke that I might not get my ‘standing desk’ due to the insurance deductible.

As someone who believes in karma, I try to be forgiving and hope others have the same kind heart.

And if I may–as a woman: stop APOLOGIZING!!! all. of. the. time….. ¬†This is one thing I’m working on each and every day. ¬†I don’t know why, but we love apologizing. ¬†It rains, ‘gosh, I’m sorry you got wet walking to meet me.’ STOP IT. Instead of saying “sorry,” try, “thanks for being so patient with the weather.” ¬†Don’t believe me? ¬†Wait a few days and I’ll be posting about that too.

Back on track, let me finish by saying this, mistakes are inevitable. ¬†They are unavoidable, but just like you learned when you were a child, how you handle these set backs will help define your character, your coping skills, and can set you up for success later on. ¬†No great person in life was successful 100% of the time, so why start now? ¬†Mistakes and failure are humbling and can be moments to help you in the long run. Don’t avoid them because of your own fear.

I’ve got to go, not to have another fender bender but I’m sure there are some stairs for me trip up or down…..

Tagged , , ,

Bringing back the busy signal-ending immediate response

Remember the “old days?” ¬†You know, when you’d call someones house on your land line phone and the old ‘beep, beep, beep’ would come on signaling that the person you wanted was on the phone? ¬†Ah, the busy signal. ¬†A forced lesson in patience, slowing down, and waiting to call back.

There is no more busy signal. ¬†Now there’s ringback tones, call waiting, email dumping at all hours of the day/night, and an endless stream of ways to communicate. ¬†This is what I’d like to call “too much of a good thing.” ¬†As a young faculty member, you might feel like you HAVE to answer everyone right away. ¬†Do you need to? ¬†NO. Do you? YES.

Want some evidence about email? ¬†Check out this neat graphic from mashable business.¬†147 emails a day: that’s about right for me as well. ¬†Long gone are the slow days of 10-20 emails on my work account, now I get around 100-150 each day. ¬†I can also believe the 2.5 hours we spend each day reading, writing, and responding to email. ¬†It drives me crazy because I know that with each “reply” button I hit, I’m losing valuable time doing other things. ¬†You know what I think the root of my problem is: CONTROL. ¬†Yep, I’ll admit it, I like being in control. ¬†Email is something I can’t control on the intake because anyone can email me at any time. ¬†I’m also a big call screener. ¬†If I don’t recognize it or it’s not in my address book, I don’t answer it. ¬†Why? ¬†Because I’m usually answering email ūüėČ (I kid). ¬†The real reason: because it’s going to suck more of my time! ¬†Dang it! When do I answer? ¬†If it’s my parents, my sister, PIC, or someone I needed to speak to b/c we probably emailed that we needed to talk *shakes head in shame….*

How am I fighting my addiction/love-hate relationship to set some healthy boundaries? ¬†I’ve started turning off my email on the weekends. ¬†Turn it off? ¬†Why? ¬†Because I need to unplug. ¬†As someone who works with technology, loves it, studies it, and basically immerses herself in it–it’s just too much sometimes. ¬†Work email gets delegated to a check in the morning on Saturday to tie up anything residual from Friday and not again until Sunday afternoon/early evening. ¬†Do I see it? Sometimes. Do I read it if I see it? ¬†Sometimes, depends who it’s from. ¬†Do I answer it? Rarely. ¬†WHY???? I need the down time. ¬†I need the busy signal. ¬†And as a new faculty you do too.

What else can you do? ¬†Go through and do a clean sweep. ¬†You know all of those listserv’s you’re subsribed too? ¬†Dump the ones you rarely pay attention too, filter the ones you like to a folder or re-route them to a different address. ¬†Use an RSS feed or google reader to put all of the content you like to view in one place so it’s there when you want it, not bombarding you every 25 seconds. ¬†Your digital life is manageable, but at first, it’s so overwhelming. ¬†Default subscriptions you like to another email account–gmail, yahoo, whatever. I have a yahoo and gmail. ¬†Both are used regularly and help me filter what I want to look when I want to look at it. ¬†I still even use my account. ¬†It’s there for me, why not use it?

If this is too much dot. anything., then make it work for you.  By all means though: turn it off and get some time for you in there.  I cannot stress it enough.  While we always feel that urge to answer everyone and please everyone as a young faculty, there are just times when we need to put up our own busy signal.

How can you discipline yourself to do it? ¬†Step 1. Unysnc it. ¬†Step 2. Find a distraction or something you actually WANT to do. ¬†I hadn’t read a book for pleasure in…….a year? ¬†I have been reading up a storm and enjoying it. ¬†I love bad tv. My DVR and I spend a few hours each week together, no distractions, and double bonus: no commercials. ¬†Step 3. If people think you need to get back to them right away, set some clear guidelines. ¬†Odds are, you’re being reasonable. ¬†I’ve heard it 100 different ways from different people, faculty and non-faculty, about their own rules. ¬†I tell my students that while I try to be prompt, it can be 24 hours, especially if they send things in the afternoons, when I’m off campus. My boss knows I lay low on email on weekends and ¬†he’s fine with it. ¬†He knows I usually browse it and if I have time, I get to it Sunday afternoon/evening. ¬†Step 4. Still struggling? ¬†Find someone who will help you be accountable. ¬†My best friend from home helped me stop working so much and we set rules that on Saturday’s (barring really¬†necessary¬†things), we’d always do something in the afternoon, even if it was just go to lunch and order dessert or sit and watch more bad tv we both love. ¬†I like the structure and schedule of life-too much. ¬†Step 5. Find something else to fill your time. ¬†Hobby time? ¬†More reading? Outdoor? ¬†Pretty much anything? I started blogging ūüôā -twice over…..

Like I said, discipline. I know myself well enough now to know that I need to set myself some boundaries with my electronic life. Sometimes, I need a gentle reminder to unplug and sometimes I get rewarded with something that sounds like, “wow, you went for several hours w/o checking tonight, way to go.”

Taming the electronic beast can also serve as a humbling reminder of what’s truly important. ¬†Turn it off, enjoy some time for you and loved ones, prioritize your life. ¬†Avoiding burnout and letting go of that “I have to please everyone all the time at all hours” mentality is tough.

What have your experiences been as a new faculty?  What can you do before your new position starts to help yourself out?  What would you share with new faculty to improve their transition?

Up next: fender benders in academia and how to handle them….

Tagged , , , , ,

Transitioning from old to new

No matter where you end up going, whether it’s across the country, or in my case: across campus–you’ll have some loose ends that need to be tied up. ¬†In many cases it will be research and publications. ¬†In my case, I have articles to pump out, video that could be viewed forever, and some great relationships that I had worked hard to build professionally and personally. ¬†I have been fortunate to work with some great folks in grad school and these are relationships that I wish to continue on both levels.

Besides articles and presentations, I spent three years working on facial recognition and non verbal behavior analysis. ¬†Pretty neat stuff. ¬†If you can’t picture it, go on Hulu and look up an episode of “Lie to Me” and you’ll know what my skill set is. ¬†It’s pretty awesome to a nerd like me. ¬†Pretty freaking awesome. ¬†I hope to return to it someday. ¬†Fo’ realsies. ¬†With my work came relationships with other departments and people who have been and will continue to be great. ¬†Since I do have the luxury of being in the same area, I have since been asked to sit on committees for grad students, collaborate on some publications, work on expert panels for my work, and other things. ¬†I have also offered my time and services, not only because it’s the nice thing to do, but because I hope it takes me somewhere someday too.

I also left behind a new mentoring program. ¬†Mentoring is something that I feel very strongly about because it helps set up new graduate students for success by giving them a ‘go to’ person for all of those questions new students have. ¬†So far, it’s worked well. ¬†Since everyone is an adult, the project is being worked on by myself, a faculty back in the dept., and a graduate of the program is collecting the data. ¬†A dream project. ¬†Everybody wins.

How did it all work so smoothly for me? ¬†COMMUNICATION. ¬†I can’t say it enough. ¬†I made sure to ask those questions, communicate my desire to be included, communicate that I would make myself available, and have FOLLOWED THROUGH on those things. ¬†Sure, it would have been easy to drop the mentoring program. ¬†Even easier to cut ties with the other depts., but I don’t and I won’t. I have set dates in my calendar to remind me to send emails, check in, and follow up with these old responsibilities. ¬†So maybe the key is to first communicate and then follow through. Holding myself accountable has continued to pay off.

As you start a new position or get more responsibility added on, reflect on what’s important. ¬†What has to be kept? ¬†What might be let go? ¬†Now go back and look again. ¬†As an over achiever, I didn’t want to let anything go. No one does. We all like control. But, I had too. ¬†When I knew my time was coming to a close, I started to back off of some things. ¬†Being second author, changing contact information on my work, and deferring questions to other parties who could answer them and would remain in that dept. were all part of the transition phase for me. ¬†It didn’t mean I was ‘quitting’ on anyone or any project, it just meant that I wasn’t going to be in that space every day anymore.

In the age of technology we can still remain connected with old responsibilities and make decisions as they arise. ¬†If something life altering had happened in the last few months, I could trim some more off. ¬†Thankfully, life has been pretty consistent with no big surprises. ¬†As I reflect back on how I made my decisions on what to keep and what to dump, it was more like a mental list and next to the list was a mental ranking. ¬†The #1 slot was left to ‘good relationships with the people’ because even if I had to dump it, I wanted the folks I was working with to know and be clear of my intent. ¬†As a person who tries to live by the rules of karmic retribution, I try to do the right things and I’m sure you do too. ¬†Transitioning can be easy with minimal drama or it can be extremely difficult with hurt feelings and bad karma. ¬†In this environment, there’s no reason it can be easy with some open communication and follow through.

How do you decide what to keep and what to trim? ¬†Do you go with your gut and passion or do some things because they’re the ‘right things’ to do? As you begin your first faculty job, the feeling of being overwhelmed can swallow you if you let it so be deliberate in your intent, communicate that intent, and follow through!

Up next: bringing back the busy signal-managing the onslaught of being in academia.

Tagged , , ,

Negotiating: prioritizing your wants vs. needs

Now, before we go any farther I will be clear; I’m funded through a large grant *soft money* and many tenure track positions are funded through university, departmental, or other funds *hard money* with *soft money* supplemented after the faculty member receives grants.

So, you’re thinking: she’s not tenure track? (TT). No, I’m not. But, I’m doing the exact same things that a TT person would be doing except teaching a full load. Research, scholarship, service, long hours, etc…I also hope to parle this as a stepping stone to a TT position. ¬†This is a good step for me, the job is great, it’s applicable, and quite frankly, I’m having a great time working hard. I will also admit that while I miss teaching, I’m working with a class full of undergrads three days a week and in public schools three days a week as well. ¬†Don’t worry, I’m not looking for more to do right now! ¬†In all seriousness, the jobs aren’t ‘there’ still and I view this as a good stepping stone for my career. ¬†I’m designated as research faculty and while I wish I was teaching, I also know that I’ve got my hands full right now, making this an excellent ‘middle step’ for me. ¬†It is allowing me to hone my research skills, keep up with scholarship, and I still get to work with students from grades 5-college students most of the week. For more information on negotiating TT offers, the professor is in has some great words of advice. ¬†Things like spousal hiring, start up dollars, funding for grad students, travel, even office equipment are all on the table, and this is your chance so negotiate well! ¬†Get the facts, know what your options are. I negotiated a calendar year salary so I wouldn’t go unpaid, lots of technology perks, an office to myself (you’d be surprised now-a-days w/ shrinking resources), and full university benefits.

Since Akon wasn’t part of my negotiation (shucks), the term “right now” was the bit of language my negotiator used when discussing my salary. ¬†Now, my salary is low for a phd. But I will refer back to the “i’m so grateful to have a job and benefits again” statement.

But, if we’re being honest: it’s the money talking. ¬†And talk it does. During my negotiations, I asked what the options were for salary increases and while the grant was steady and the starting salary had been approved by the funding agency, my supervisor said, “we can’t pay you more right now.” ¬†Right now. Now, depending on which way the glass is for you today, half full or half empty, you may have thought, “well this is junk, it’s not a promise.” ¬†Believe me, I thought this. But, after sitting on it for a day, I also got to the half full mindset, “he said right now, that means there’s wiggle room.”

Please remember: you have time from your offer letter being sent/mailed/delivered to making a decision. ¬†Usually several weeks. ¬†TAKE THEM. Keep going back and forth. Make a list of priorities of what you really want out of the negotiation. And for Pete’s sake, don’t sell yourself short. ¬†YOU ARE VALUABLE. This is the time when the ball is in your court so make the most of it. ¬†I followed up about salary and it was discussed again. ¬†I referred to people I trusted, I even had another interview during that time to get a feel for how the result would be. I didn’t get a good vibe from the other interview, they liked someone else better and the dept. head was honest and open, sharing that it would be wise to pursue other offers. ¬†I was glad he was candid with me and glad I had done the interview. ¬†Keep on learning….

The last day about two hours before the deadline on the offer letter, I accepted. ¬†I had negotiated every other detail I had deemed important except a huge starting salary. ¬†“Right now,” I’m happy with this. ¬†Why? ¬†After only a few months of hard work, my supervisor has seen my hard work pay off and the funding agency has agreed to move some of the money around, giving me a nice raise in salary.

I was receiving a compliment b/c the project is turning into a good and huge monster. My supervisor initiated the conversation of money and I professionally added that more money would keep me on the project for the duration of the funding.  He came back saying that he hoped to retain me.  I countered with the fact that it would be necessary as my student loan grace period would soon end. You get the picture.

Had I not played my hand and not ended up w/ the raise, I’d still be ok. ¬†But, I had waited for key moments to bring up money and while I know I’m valued and respected, I also understand I am disposable. ¬†Working between that fine line has been a learning experience. ¬†When do you think the “right” moments are to discuss salary? ¬†When isn’t it the “right” moment? ¬†What might other deal breakers be? What can you forgo to take a job where you’ll know you’ll be valued and respected?

Up next: balancing responsibilities from a previous position or other professional interests. ¬†Also on tap: bringing back the busy signal–learning to stop answering everyone and everything immediately.

Tagged , , , ,

The Politics of “Getting Hired”

This is my first of many posts on politics. ¬†Why? Because it seems that academia is built on them (insert bad joke….).

I know that after dozens of applications, a few interviews, an offer that had to be turned down, and the acceptance of another, politics was heavily involved in most of that process. I will admit: I am no good at playing politics.¬† Why? ¬†I’m not very good at putting on a smile and nodding. I’m too honest. ¬†I always just say what I think. ¬†In the whole grand scheme of things, it’s probably better NOT to know ALL of the politics. ¬†It can make us jaded, cynical, and skeptical. ¬†Aren’t we already all of those things to a large enough degree to begin with? ¬†Yes, you should do your homework on prepping for the interview, you should prepare fully. ¬†Politics might be part of that preparation b/c while it pains me to say this: many folks lose positions b/c of politics.¬†Not to their fault either. ¬†It’s stuff they can’t do anything about, no matter how hard they prepare.

My current position got political. ¬†I learned this after working for over a month. ¬†What politics you ask? ¬†Degree, credentials, ethnicity, gender, power. Yes folks, power. Who was intervening? ¬†Everyone.¬†The research team, the office that I would be working out of, HR. ¬†HR? Yes, HR. HR called when my application came in and said, “you should interview her, she’s over qualified and {fits many boxes}. I use the {} to paraphrase, I don’t know their exact wording.

Well gee whiz….thanks for pointing out the obvious HR. You shouldn’t have. ¬†But, I have grown to accept a few truths about academia in my field. ¬†I am a female. I am a minority. ¬†English is my first language. And yes, I was overqualified on paper for the job, the posting asked for a master’s.

From my view now, the research team, the office that I would be working out of, and the parties I would see day-to-day could have cared less.  They wanted someone to do a job. The pressure they felt was from *higher up* and out of their control to a certain extent.  I got back from the interview and had the offer that very same day.

What’s the lesson here?¬†Power is the pink elephant in the room that cannot be avoided, can be communicated with small gestures and ‘looks,’ and if they’re not aimed toward you, you’ll miss them and sometimes be left behind. ¬†(this i learned from my advisor and the great class/experience that was shared w/ me during my program). ¬†As I’ve gotten comfortable and gotten into the nuts and bolts of the job, I’ve learned more about power and politics and am working to keep the people I work with and for happy, but more importantly, keep myself productive and happy.

Can politics and power go in your favor? ¬†Of course. Absolutely. Without a doubt. Balancing the two can be tricky and I’ll be posting about politics and power again.

What has your experience been like in trying to get hired?  How has politics and power entered your professional life?  What advice would you give others searching for employment in academia?

In my next post, ¬†I’m going to discuss negotiating and how my negotiation went. ¬†As I said in a previous post, it was pretty straightforward, but there was some specific language that was used that led me to believe that some hard work would net me some financial rewards. ¬†Now, to find time to write it!

Tagged , , , ,

98% Excited, 2% Scared

I love the following quote from the movie, Armageddon.  It takes place while Oscar  (Owen Wilson) is being strapped into the shuttle by the NASA tech, talking to  Rockhound (Steve Buscemi).

“Great, I got that “excited/scared” feeling. Like 98% excited, 2% scared. Or maybe it’s more – It could be two – it could be 98% scared, 2% excited but that’s what makes it so intense, it’s so – confused. I can’t really figure it out.”

That’s how I felt after accepting my position. ¬†There was very little room for negotiation in this particular position due to the nature of the funding (grants primarily) so other things like vacation, benefits, office space, technology, etc… were relatively easy to negotiate. ¬†My¬†immediate¬†supervisor knew (and has verbalized) that since he couldn’t offer me more money, he was going to provide me with as many other ‘perks’ as possible. I also knew I had bills to pay that included a small mountain of student loans. ¬†I appreciated knowing that he recognized that and has been able to¬†accommodate¬†me with those things and some others. That’s for another post.

I will be honest, I am so grateful and appreciative to have a job offer. Period. ¬†I know the economy is in the dump still, I know funding is going away every minute I type, so for me, it was a ‘win’ alone. ¬†No one is more sorry than I am when I hear about colleagues who still have not found permanent work who are all smart, qualified, and more than capable. ¬†I am so thankful.

Back to the scared/excited though….

I had what I would call an ‘easy transition’ from one job to the other. ¬†My former dept. head was more than gracious, very understanding, and flexible with me. ¬†With the exception of a few journal articles and other pieces of research, I was portable and¬†movable¬†in only a few weeks. ¬†The day before my new post began, my new boss had emailed me a list of things to discuss at our first day meeting. While the anticipation was building, I was thankful that he was a bit like me in that respect. When I interviewed, I sat through it and thought, “I can do this. It would be really fun. It would be a great experience for me.” ¬†I had made my own mental list of things to ask and things to ask later after the job got going.

Like a kid on the first day of school, I got up for my first day of my new job, did my morning routine, packed my lunch, and was out the door with coffee in hand. ¬†As I walked to my new office and to meet my new colleagues, I was NERVOUS. Omigosh, that hadn’t happened in quite a while. In the back of my mind and by the nature of my personality, I also thought, “I’m going to rock this b&%h to prove myself, so let’s get going!” ¬†(also another post) ¬†So, like Oscar and Rockhound from the movie, I was 98% excited, 2% scared. Or wait, maybe it was 98% scared, 2% excited….Looking back, it was the first and so far, it’s still a lot of fun.

*disclaimer: everyone will be referred to in a masculine “he” form or given a gender neutral name. it’s the researcher in me, i just can’t help it…..*

Tagged , ,

The Inaugural Post

Since transitioning from completion of a dissertation, earning the Ph.D., and being hired on as a faculty member, it’s been a busy few months. ¬†Along the way I keep having this thought, “how come no one told me about this?”

There is no blame on my doctoral program because there is NO WAY they could teach me this stuff.

So, here we are. ¬†What I hope to do is walk you through my trials and tribulations as a ‘first year faculty.’ Please know that everyone will be unique based on location, university, expectations, etc… but along with the thought above, I also thought, “I bet I’m not the only one….”

Comments: make them. Tell me I’m right, tell me I’m wrong, share your story. ¬†Want to guest blog? ¬†Just say so. ¬†Have a burning topic that I’m missing? ¬†You can guest blog ūüôā

Will I blog every day? ¬†Heck no–I’m too busy keeping my head above the water, learning the ropes, and praying for grant funding. But, I make the vow to try and blog each week. I check often, I receive the email alerts.

A few guidelines:

  • Let’s learn from each other shall we? ¬†Odds are–you’re not the only first year faculty that feels like they’re drowning…
  • Be constructive.
  • Be gentle yet firm, but never mean.
  • Respect people’s privacy. ¬†I won’t use names (other than my own) so you shouldn’t either (pseudonyms¬†accepted).
  • If you want to guest blog and not identify yourself, that’s ok.
  • This is not research. That is not the intent of this blog.
  • This is not a place to just ‘complain.’ There are great things happening, let’s celebrate those too!
  • It’s perfectly ok to be “wrong” or have a day where nothing went ‘right’ b/c that’s life.

Are we all on the same page?  Good.

Let’s get started!


My personal short list of topics:

  • HR: your new best friend
  • Learning the ropes, retirement, insurance, parking…etc….
  • Working with grad students
  • EMAIL onslaught
  • Managing the balance between teaching/research/grants/scholarship
  • Home life? what home life?
  • Politics 101
  • Office staff-gossip
  • Building new relationships-transitioning from grad student
  • Getting into the system-list serv’s, people to meet
  • Awkward Turtle moments
  • Bumping your head, tripping, falling, bruising yourself and sometimes your ego

Want to add a topic?  Just say so!  (leave a comment)

Tagged , , ,