Friday, April 21, 2006

Circumstances being what they are

I'm slowly catching up on things, including my Bloglines feeds. ABDMom is stressing under the weight of life, wondering if she's taken the right job. I know it will all work out for her, but there are choppy waters ahead. It reminds me that circumstances are not always what they appear, and that in the best of them, our ability to focus on the good rather than the bad is our sole recourse. (Easier said than done, I know).

It's a lot like parenting: it's much easier for us to notice the misbehavior, but we have to work at "catching them being good". Life throws us all a few curve balls. Sometimes we need to vent. Let's hope the vents lead outside!

Yesterday, I noticed a new posting for a lecturer in my [Field/Subfield 1] at [Lake View University]. LVU would in some ways be a dream job for me, in particular because they are one of a very few schools that has an established program in [interdisciplinary subfield]. If I apply, this will be my fifth application to that school (once for grad school; twice while I was still writing the dissertation; once already this season). I was surprised about the posting, since I applied for a tenure-track job there last November, and hadn't heard anything regarding it's conclusion. Did the search deadlock, and this is an interim fill? Was the funding pulled?

I've attended two conferences on their campus: one for the [Society for Innovative Interdisciplinarity]; the other a sister international conference. Both were excellent. I have known several of the faculty members for years, including one on the committee who was on a panel I organized for the international conference there.

Once I had ascertained that in fact the search had been successful, I wrote to my contact on the committee, to see if he could give me any feedback on my application, and indirectly whether there is any point in my applying there yet again, for this lectureship.

Here's a bit of our exchange:
I noticed the new listing for a lecturer in [subfield 1] at [LVU]. I sent a quick note to [another Colleague of ours who was not on the committee], since I hadn't heard anything regarding the conclusion of the tenure-track search. [Colleague] assures me that it has closed, and the position has been filled.
Hi [Articulate],

Sorry you weren't informed. I interviewed here for a job in 1983. Even having interviewed, I was never told the outcome of the search, though after about ten years I began to have suspicions that I was not the first choice.
As I continue to pursue a faculty post, I wanted to ask if there is any feedback you might be able to provide me regarding my application. This has been an exceedingly discouraging process for me.
I think the process is discouraging for many young scholars. Years of training and great natural gifts, yet fighting to win sometimes crappy jobs at no-account know what I mean. The [LVU] search was very much for a "straight" [Subfield 1'er] --someone who had potential to be a significant figure in [the subfield], had already published in that area, and had teaching experience in a similar environment. The job announcement may have sounded interdisciplinary, but I believe it really meant interdisciplinary "within [subfield 1]."
Oh well, back to the drawing board. What I can say, from my informant's CV, he has taught at 6 schools since receiving the PhD more than 20 years ago. Two of them for five years, and the current post at LVU he has had for more than a decade. I come to understand that he knows from which he speaks, having gone through the drill himself, with "crappy jobs at no-account schools". From that standpoint, even if ABDMom has taken the wrong job, it is a step in the right direction. Even the wrong job can lead to the right one.

So, chin up everyone (including myself). There is yet hope.


Prof. Me said...

I think it's really awesome that you're so persistent, that you're not at all hesitant to call someone up and ask about things. That's one of my major downfalls -- I am, in some ways, and especially when it comes to academia, quite shy and reluctant to make contact. This is particularly true if I have to contact someone at a Big Name school in my discipline, or a well-known scholar. It's silly, but true, and I have to break out of it. I guess in a lot of ways I still have trouble conceiving of myself as a member of the "club:" although I've been working towards a Ph.D. for several years, and although I've attended conferences and engaged in academic debates, I still don't feel like I really belong here. I still feel like a shy outsider.

That will have to change, and I know it will as I regain confidence post-dissertation. I will be watching (reading!) you to see how you manage to do it and make it seem so effortless.

ArticulateDad said...

Dear Prof. Me:

Thanks for the vote of confidence. Shy I am not. Never have been. But... then again, if I were more so, perhaps I'd have snagged a job by now. Well, here's to a little more of me in you, a little more of you in me, and both of us celebrating tenure in a few years.

What Now? said...

So smart of you to have followed up to see what advice they might have for you. A grad school friend of mine wound up getting a very good job that way; certainly it's not the "normal" path to a job, but these things do happen.

In the meantime, indeed, chin up.

ArticulateDad said...

Back to chinning up. Thanks. And I try to stop avoiding parties.