Monday, February 12, 2007

Shifting Gears

Last week, I signed up for email alerts from [Corporate Giant] regarding job postings in [Applied Research Field]. Friday, I got a posting for a Research Staff position in Appleton Hills. I wondered whether this posting had anything to do with my flurry of emails to them this past week. Probably not, but it's nice to think of myself having some impact on the field. I say probably not, because they're looking for someone with requisite programming skills, which I think was clear I don't have. But the fact that there is a newly advertised position, doing seemingly what I wish to be doing, which specifies particular skills, gives me some focus. Okay, so now I've begun a want list of skills to acquire. This is exactly what I want!

One of the biggest frustrations in the academic job search is the sense that there is no checklist to follow, no specifics. Everyone who has looked at my CV says it's impressive, that there's really nothing missing (except substantial recent teaching experience). And yet, two+ years of applying, over 100 applications sent, a handful of interviews, and nothing; not only no job, but virtually no feedback. What's missing? What do I need? Okay, teaching fine... I keep looking for adjunct work. But what?

So now... as I begin to openly focus more on the research, possibly moving away from academia toward applied research, it's good to have a sense of specifics. I need to learn more about statistics, good. I need to acquire more recent knowledge of programming and coding, good. I can do that. Learning? Come on now! This is what I'm made for. I've got the questions, the problems. I've got the mind to attack them, to turn them over, to look at them in unusual ways, to break them down, to combine them. That's what you can't teach. Now... now, I can begin to see the particular tools others may expect me to use in the process. Okay.

I begin to get excited about the prospects. I wish to focus my efforts not on getting a job at the moment, but on understanding the field, what it's done, what it's doing, what remains. I've got my sense that de Waal is right, and also that I represent a different set of glasses, a different configuration of lenses through which to filter these problems. Some in [applied research field] may think that all they need are electrical engineers and computer scientists, but they're wrong. If they were right, the problems would have all been solved by now. I am confident that I can contribute to this field of research. No doubt. The trick is then to find the place, and the means to convince them it's worth taking a chance on me. It's the work that I need to think about, not the job.

I wrote to Larry Strope at [Big West Private University]:
Hi Larry,
I'm going to be flying to your area to attend [Industry conference] in a couple weeks. If you're around and could spare time for lunch or coffee, I'd be pleased for the opportunity. I don't know where things stand with [Research Center] search, but I'll do whatever I can to avoid any conflicts of interest for you.
Sure thing. The 22nd at noon for some coffee? We remain frustratingly obscure about searches at the present stage, sorry.
On Friday, I also wrote a follow up to the head honcho in [Applied Research Area] at [Corporate Giant], whom I had emailed last Monday as my first contact to the field, but who had not yet responded.
Dear Danesh,
Your name came up again, as someone to contact, this time in conversation with Frank Mayer. I'm planning to be at [Industry conference] in a couple weeks. If you will be in attendance, I'd be pleased for the chance to meet you and talk a little bit.
I will be attending [Industry Conference].
Would you please make sure that Articulate and I have a 30 min meeting.

Danesh Nikahang

[Applied research field] CTO & Strategist
[Corporate Giant] Research

Listen, and talk. I've got some meetings now. I think February will prove to be a good month.

1 comment:

Lilian said...

Good, my friend. I'm truly happy for you. Proactivity is always good. I think I'm learning a lot from your recent experiences. You're going to have very busy weeks ahead of you!