Woke up today and decided that I wasn’t going to lay around and do nothing (which I’m actually allowed to after four years of non stop studying and almost 3 degrees). So got meself a cup of caramel macchiato (the lipstick stain did not come with it) and headed to the library and have been researching for an upcoming project, for the past three hours.
I think it’s time for me to head back and do the laundry and cook dinner.
Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
by Rebecca Schuman
"It’s your sister’s wedding, and you and your quiet but nice cousin—he’s doing his Ph.D. in something, maybe history?—are doing your best to get drunk off the watered-down open-bar bourbon. You’re just making polite conversation, so you ask him: “Want to come visit us next Christmas?” Why on earth did his sallow face just cloud over at your kind and generous offer? Because he has no idea where he’ll be living two Christmases from now—he just applied to 30 jobs in 30 far-flung towns, so from a logistical standpoint “next Christmas” might as well be Pluto.
Such is the madness of the academic hiring process. If you have a relative or friend who is an early career academic, chances are you have recently set that poor, damaged soul of hers into an existential death spiral, simply by asking what would ordinarily be a friendly question. For example, with your cousin, pounding booze and scoping bridesmaids, you might follow up: “Well, where do you want to live?” He looks even more miserable, like he just swallowed a scorpion. “Well,” you soldier on, “have you ever thought of moving to [major metropolitan area] and working at [world-renowned institution]? They’re such a big school; they’re sure to have something for someone smart like you.” Now your cousin is beginning to shake. “Why don’t you just send them your résumé?”
It’s not your fault that your cousin has dropped dead! But the reasons for this are perplexing and counterintuitive, and to understand them, it’s worth understanding the Byzantine process that Ph.D.s of almost all disciplines go through in their attempts to get jobs doing the things they went to school to do. (Silver lining: It’s a process your cousin no longer must endure.)
The academic job market works on a fixed cycle, and according to a set of conventions so rigid that you’d think these people were applying for top-secret security clearances, not to teach Physics 101 to some pimply bros in Sheboygan. For my examples, I will use the cycle of humanities hiring because I know it all too well; the cycles for the social (and anti-social) sciences vary somewhat but are similarly inflexible, with complex requirements and geographical limitations all their own” (read more/and cry).
"The minute you enter grad school, you’re a professional. Grad school is not college, or at least not college as I experienced it, i.e., a special personal journey of exploration and wonder and alcohol. You’re at grad school to be professionalized into academia, and your behavior is expected to reflect that.
Your fellow grad students are your colleagues, not (necessarily) your friends. You’ll make good friends, of course you will, but relationships with most other grad students will be more like coworkers than buddies. So if they don’t come to your party, say, or don’t want to hang out after class, don’t be offended. That’s just not what it’s about for a lot of people.
You are supposed to go to all the departmental lectures, screenings, colloquia, etc. This stuff is not a fun extracurricular activity that you can hit or miss depending on your interests. Your attendance is expected and your absence is noticed. It’s part of being a good colleague.
Pick your classes according to the following criteria, in descending order of importance: 1) The professor is someone you want to know and might want to work with; 2) your seminar paper might come in handy for your oral exams or dissertation research; 3) you’re interested in the topic.”
My days have been a big blur.. With school, hospital work and research, I haven’t had a weekend to myself.
I love reading PhD comics (is there such thing as a MD comic??) and most of it is all fun and games, but this one was extra interesting.
I love the research I am doing and its fascinating, but I can’t help think “what’s the point” pretty often. One of the thing that worries me the most as I read more papers is the quality of research. I definitely think this is driven by the competitive nature of graduate school and the job search and the need to have publications out, but it definitely slows down research as a whole now that we have so much to filter out.
I hope to continue my research as I start medical school in the future… but I will keep all this in mind as I do, and work with the same zeal I started with to produce quality work.
Anyway, I am rambling on because I am so tired… I will update next time with a fresh mind and some exciting stories!