Friday, February 09, 2007

If it isn't one thing...

Ah, the memory of Gilda Radner's nebbish Roseanna Roseannadanna. If it isn't one thing, it's another.

Alright, up for a few days, coasting on a new found charge. I reflected earlier about some of the issues that are coming up. I sent an email earlier today to one of the contacts Frank pointed me to. Almost immediately, I got a reply.
Hi Articulate,

Susan Parmenitz told me you'd probably be in touch.
I'd be happy to talk.
Phil is a manager in the field I'm looking at, for a rather major player, another company name you'd all recognize. [It is getting more and more difficult to discuss these things without referring to specifics about the research, or becoming so vague as to be obfuscating, but I'll try. Bear with me.] Only... I don't know any Susan Parmenitz. Wow, I thought, I guess my name is making the rounds. Then, of course, I realized she must be one of Frank's contacts, and she told Phil she'd passed along his name and contact info, so to expect my call.

Okay, all fine and good. We talked. I think it was about 25 minutes (longer than I spoke with Frank mind you). But not quite as much rapport. Something was off. I realized later that he seemed to be mostly interested in telling me about him, about what he'd done. Am I like that?, I wondered.

I thought of BrightStar's recent contemplations. I had a similar experience to hers, but much more recently. My first term as a doctoral student, the professor who was teaching the requisite "Bibliography and Research Techniques" class pulled my adviser aside, which he in turn did to me. "She thinks you're cocky. I mean, that's okay. Cocky is good. I like cocky... but maybe you need to tone it down a bit, be aware of it." To be honest, I felt silly sitting through a class that mostly entailed a bunch of make work requiring hours of looking through encyclopedias at the library, and noting down page numbers and the like. Bear in mind, this is the same class in which I cranked out a 55-page annotated bibliography, when she was expecting 10. In the end, I think she appreciated me. But, I am cocky.

But cocky and arrogant are different. I'm confident, enthusiastic. I get excited over ideas. But this Phil, he seemed to not get too excited. Except, he kept talking about himself. Not the ideas so much, as himself. I was invited by [such and such] department at [big name school] to become a professor there, but I turned it down. Blah blah blah. You know [particular methodology]? Uh, yeah, sure. I was first author on that paper.

Now, that doesn't mean I didn't learn anything, or that everything he said was bunkum. It wasn't, even the stuff I didn't particularly want to hear. But, I also learned that while he may be an important person to know, and he did invite me to keep in touch with him, I don't expect him to be a strong advocate for me. For one thing, he seemed to be pushing me to get a post-doc, but it seemed more of a brush-off. He even off-handedly suggested I might wish to look at a certain program at a big name school, which he went on to disparage: They're really good about getting funding to do work on things they don't really understand, then calling it progress. Uh, great, thanks for the suggestion.

But most importantly, I think, I left the call considering it simply more data points, like Paul keeps recommending. The point is, I'm committed to success. While I'm not opposed to doing a post-doc or getting another degree somewhere, I am rather inclined to get a job which supports me along the way. The last thing I wish to do is put myself through the meat grinder again, doing something to bide my time before I need to start looking for something more permanent. My first choice is to get hired somewhere, somewhere they'd be thrilled to have me, which will support me and sustain me as I go about acquiring whatever additional skills might be useful. But, you know, I've got a lot to offer now, off the shelf, I'm ready. I've got to keep reminding myself of that.

Because... if it's not one thing, it's another. Maybe Phil thinks I lack programming experience. Someone else will say statistics. That's alright I don't know everything, I can't. Nobody does. But, I do know what I know, and that's something. I've got to put the Phils back on the shelf for another time, pull a few of the Franks down, and keep on schmoozing.

1 comment:

What Now? said...

I've just caught up on your posting flurry in the last few days, and it sounds like there are some exciting possibilities out for you. You've jumped from the plane!