Friday, March 03, 2006

An open letter to my mentor

A la Wannabe PhD, but not quite. I won't likely send this. I think posting it here may serve.

An open letter to my mentor

Dear [Mentor]:

I'm feeling a need to chat a bit, to gain some guidance. I hope you will find the time to read this, and to respond.

The immediate impetus here is the issue of whether or not to renew my membership in the Society of Old Dinosaurs. I recall your comment regarding the job search: Don't get discouraged, it just may take a while to get things moving where you want them to be. And, I know you are right. Sure, some people get their first job straight out of grad school, but many just as inspiring folks languish for years before obtaining their first tenure-track post. It's not really about that.

But, the question to renew or not? stirs existential questions in me, regarding my staus in the field. As you may recall, when I applied to the [University of Paradise] in [OurSubdiscipline], I was a bit apprehensive about what area I should associate with, even to some extent what field. But your reassurances, and encouragement helped firm my resolve to come study with you. You actively recruited me, saying that [OurSubdiscipline] needed fresh ideas like the ones I presented.

I also remember in my second year, when I was feeling a bit discouraged, and considered seeking university approval to pursue an individualized interdisciplinary PhD, you kept me on the path. You said at the end of the day, you want a job, and there are no "interdisciplinary" departments. Stay in the program; it'll be fine. And it was. You encouraged me to draft up requests to emend the curriculum, to allow greater flexibility in my coursework, and you had them approved. And I wrote that dissertation, didn't I?

But just now I'm a bit back where I started. As they say: My jsme tu, kde jsme byli. I'm wondering whether this is my field and area at all. When I looked over the accepted papers for the SOD conference last October, I didn't find anything of interest. Sure, I didn't submit this past year. But I've not yet had a paper accepted there.

I told you I wrote this big article recently, and submitted it. But, I didn't send it to the Journal of SOD. I don't think I was too scared, just uncertain that it would be the right venue for my work, and figuring I'd rather have it published sooner, than set myself up for a long wait until they sent the manuscript back stamped not [OurSubdiscipline].

Perhaps it's not fair of me to assume a priori that it'd be turned down. But why do I feel this way about SOD? And if I do, is it really the place for me? More importantly, will I ever get a job in [OurSubdiscipline]? Okay, I guess it really is about that after all.

Patience... Don't get discouraged, it just may take a while to get things moving where you want them to be. Okay... okay.



Ahistoricality said...

Worthwhile questions.

By the way, who says "My jsme tu, kde jsme byli"? Just a region would be nice, but a translation would be nicer....

ArticulateDad said...

Ahistoricality, I sent you an email with the answer. ;)

But I like the mystery of it.

Wanna Be PhD said...

Ahistorically, guess that's Russian?

Dad, these open letters are open b/c they are too personal to be sent IRL. That's what's blogging for! And of course I didn't tell that friend of mine what I was thinking....

ArticulateDad said...

Wanna Be PhD:

Yah! I guess it goes without saying. I just felt like being explicit in that regard. I started to write to my mentor, about a sentence or two, then decided this would be a better vent for my exhale.

Ahistoricality said...