Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Some more feedback

Well, here's some feedback I got from a friend of mine, who happens to be an Associate Professor in the department I graduated from, and one of my references for jobs.

Here is my overarching concern. Your research is truly exciting and unique. It is also so unique that very few people in [our field's] departments know or have interest in the core of your research. Have you considered [a particular research establishment in Paris]? There you might be able to present yourself as the research scholar that you are. But what about just about every job stateside? You need to figure out how you fit into a [departmental] program. Yes, tell committees about your work, but also tell them why they should be interested and what it will contribute to their interests and that of their students. Reassure them that you will cover those service courses they need taught. ... This is what junior faculty have the privilege of teaching.

... Right now your letter reflects your mind, and that is not a bad thing in and of itself. However, it must also place you in a department, and you have not done that yet.

Please excuse me if this is harsh. Just one semi-junior guy's read.

My response:

No apologies necessary. I want direct and honest feedback, something I've gotten little of since I arrived here in 2000. No one has stood in my way, but I've had little guidance and direction, partly just bad timing I guess. The result may have been a sort of estrangement from what others are doing. I guess that's the downfall of heading off in your own direction: you might think you're blazing a trail, but when you look back, there's noone following.

I've had enough self-pity, and probably enough of the flip-side, arrogance. The task at hand is for me to get a job, where I feel a part of the culture, where I can contribute to research and teaching, where I respect and admire my colleagues, and they me (at least enough of them in both cases to make it worth it), and where I have a connection to my students as well. I truly believe I have something to contribute. I want to find the best way to do that.
Just so you know, I very much appreciate your input, and your friendship.

Well, there you have it. I've got a task in front of me, and hopefully a job at the end of the road.

1 comment:

Wanna Be PhD said...

I'm pretty sure if you want to go to Paris you must speak French. You must teach in French and you must write in French and you must communikate with the other members of the research community in French.

People don't speak English there.

If that's a problem for you, Paris is a bad choice.