Monthly Archives: January 2014

Knowing All the People

Knowing All the People | New Faculty


Sometimes when I’m talking to my boss or other more seasoned colleagues, I find myself green with envy.

They know ALL the people…..

But, I have to remind myself of one very important thing:

they’re old & they’ve been riding this horse a lot longer than I have!

I don’t mean old like “ancient” or “stone age” but old in the sense that they’ve simply been on this journey for 15+ more years than I have. Rome wasn’t build in a day. Relax…have patience….

I’m an introvert so meeting people can be painful for me. Not “stabbing in the eye” kind of pain, but it’s not on my top 5 list on most days….

As a young faculty member, building your network can seem like a daunting task. Knowing yourself and your personality are the first (and probably most important) things in order to help you build your network without “stabbing” yourself in the eye later.

I attended a LARGEEEE conference last summer. It was thousands of people and if we’re being honest: was painful for me. There were some organized events, but for the most part, it was a free-for-all after the day ended. It was so big that everyone just scattered and set in a large city, which was great for going out and checking out new restaurants, but terrible for networking. I socialized but it was with people who I already knew. No one new. On the networking scale of 1 to 10, it was a -84 for me.

Scaling back my expectations and the size of the crowd, I’ve been invited to several STEM related events over the past few months here at big box U and I’ve done much better. The size of the crowd is key for me because I feel like I can work the room without feeling like it’s working me over. I also know one or two people in the room (generally) so I can say hello to them, which leads to the old, “do you know my colleague……?” This often leads to an introduction and a connection. Much more my style.

As a young faculty member who is balancing every possible expectation, it’s ok to stand back, evaluate the crowd, and decide on a plan of attack. Knowing how we work socially is the most important aspect of the plan so don’t deny yourself before entering the hunger games of networking. You might like the challenge of taking on a room of 200, or you may covet a room of 20, either is fine.

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Seek Forgiveness Instead of Permission

Seek Forgiveness Instead of Permission | New Faculty


Mistakes happen. Mostly we don’t mean to make the flub. Sometimes, we just forget. Other times, we were not informed. Only in a small margin, do we do things we know are wrong and then ask for forgiveness later. Putting yourself ‘out there’ in an academic sense can be tricky and like life, mistakes happen.

Someone once said to me, “it’s sometimes better to seek forgiveness instead of permission” and they may be onto something.

Scenario 1: I had apparently made some administrivia errors the past few months without even realizing it. In fact, the person I was also working with was making the same mistakes (oops) and upon being ‘busted’ for our errors, we were sent a nice note, nothing harmful, to remind us. Upon receipt of this, I sent a note back saying, “my apologies if this caused any extra paperwork, i appreciate your patience.”

The mistake: small.

The paperwork behind it: minimal at best

The mistake: not intentional

Scenario 2: I booked a flight for a long weekend to see a friend during break. I had the vacation days. I am usually quite transparent about taking days off with my supervisor and in the midst of the end of the semester, I must have forgot to notify him. Of course, he asked for a group meeting on one of those days and I had to inform him I’d be out of town. I searched my email and did not find any record of communication. My mistake. It was a mistake because I had not even realized it. My supervisor was more than understanding, asking me to keep him abreast of my travel from here on out and that was more than fair. I once again thanked him for his patience and cooperation and compromised by letting him know I’d be available via email as he needed.

The mistake: small/medium

Paperwork: none

The mistake: not intentional, failure to communicate.

The moral of the story here is this: we don’t plan to make mistakes very often. For me, the travel communication was my fault and I am usually very transparent about my travel and my supervisor knows this. It is sometimes necessary to simply seek forgiveness because it’s too late to ask for permission. When I discussed it with him, he said it was no big deal and that he was glad I had taken a long weekend to head south to warmer climates.

Keeping those lines of communication open is key for ourselves, our colleagues, and our students. Sometimes, we must also just seek forgiveness and be ok with that. As the semester gets underway, we will find ourselves busy and forgetful at different points. We may need to seek forgiveness instead of permission.

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2014: More “Time,” Less “Busy”

2014 Goals | New Faculty


I stopped being so generous with my time in 2013 and I have to pat myself on the back and say that I did pretty well.  I’d like to also think it contributed positively to my pubs, my scholarship, and my overall professional life in general. There’s always more work to do, more, more, more and the tone of “i’m so busy, busy, busy” but this year, I’d like to resolve to spend more “time” being less “busy” and more “available” for things I want (or need) to do. 

I saw an article about being busy and recall that I’ve blogged about it before because I get so tired of hearing everyone have a busy contest with each other. In fact, I’ve blogged about it a couple of times  exhibiting the amount of annoyance I have with people who do nothing but tell me how busy they are versus how they ACTUALLY are….

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be productive in the professional sense, but I get sucked into the busy trap just as easily as the next person and I get disgusted with myself for it. I stopped saying “yes” to fun things a while back when my personal life was in a clamor and I suffered. No one else. After my summer of feeding my soul, I realized quite a few things:

  • to be honest with myself first– i like the peace of living alone, even if it means i’m not saving money. i also need to continue to do things for myself, which is NOT SELFISH, it’s necessary now.
  • to continue to carve out time for peace and things i enjoy in my personal and professional life
  • to admit when i am busy or i’m not busy or “busy” as in perceived busy-ness

In 2014, I’d like to stop playing the busy contest with myself and other people and invest in myself professionally by giving myself the gift of time once again. The people who play that busy contest have been put on notice, I will not be playing that contest with you. I’m not going to join you on your hamster wheel. I will not feed into it or support it because being busy with perceived important tasks isn’t what life is about. I’d rather be busy spending time with real friends, working on my scholarship, or my own personal growth. The work will still get done, the to-do lists will still get managed, but I’ll drop it for the real people in my life, not the things in life I kept pining after with no positive results.

What is your professional goal for 2014?

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