Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Some weirdness - or...interesting-ness

I am feeling more even-keeled by now. This has to do in part with the fact that I spent the day at the university today, and it was dead. Dead, I tell you. And I was not stressed! Ta-da. That is the way to go - spend holidays at work.

But anyway, here is what I've been thinking about lately:

Yesterday I was at the home of the colleague who, essentially, hired me. I just went by her place to talk through some stuff related to the six curriculum proposals I'm submitting tomorrow. We got to chatting - she's a chatter - and I said that I'd had a hard couple of days. She told me some veeeeeery interesting things. She said that when they hired me, they were aware that I was a risk. That I might be really unhappy here and might leave. But that I was still the best candidate, so they went for me. That I'd even cracked the Dean, who didn't really want to make a hire in this area. (Such a charming Dean.) She asked me if I'd looked at any job listings. I said I'd seen them. (Oh yes, I have seen the two freaking AWESOME jobs, one of which is in Home City, and one in Dad City, that I am a very good fit for.) I said I'd decided not to apply, though, feeling that woudn't be right. (Which is true - I just didn't feel right about going out on the market in the first year of a new job!) She said, "You should be doing what makes you happy, ultimately. I'm very lonely here...I've reconciled myself to spending most of the rest of my life here, but I'm lonely." She also said that she felt strange saying this to me, given how happy she is that I am here, but that she was just being honest.

Given all the asshole brouhaha recently over junior faculty changing jobs, I found this really interesting. It just goes to show how fundamentally the thinking around job-changing in mid-career has shifted, if I have senior faculty members telling me, in the first year of my job, that they know I might choose to leave - and giving me their blessing. (She is not the only person who has said as much to me, either - someone else has, as well.)

Anyway. I tried to swallow my despair at not having applied for those two PERFECT jobs - it is too late now. It is true that I just ethically wouldn't feel right leaving after a year; I'd feel like a complete ass. It would make it nearly impossible to get this long-straggling program off the ground; it would be the final nail in the coffin. Still, though - ouch. Home City, Dad City? Buh-bye.


Psychgrad said...

Wow. That's quite honest. Why do you think she told you all of that information? To give you her blessing or to make you empathize with their position?

I'm not sure what I would do in that situation.

Pantagruelle said...

I saw the posting for your Home City and considered emailing it to you but assumed you'd seen it already. In fact, I considered applying myself but didn't. I thought that you probably wouldn't apply for the Home City job because it's your first year at SCwP, but given the recent discussion over at Dr. Crazy's about junior faculty applying where they can, my thoughts on the issue have been recently revised too.

One of the schools in the States to which I applied sent a HR email to all 92 job candidates last week (how crass and stupid!), and I was able to track down online practically everyone who applied for the same job as me. I'd say that of the 92 candidates, about one-third of those candidates were assistant professors at small colleges, colleges where I bet they didn't expect to end up based on where they got their PhD (yes, dept profiles reveal a lot!). On the one hand, going on the market for a fourth year, I'm pissed at these people for trying to get jobs when so many of us don't have jobs at all. On the other hand, I know that my best chance this year is at a similar small college where I have an inside connection, which would be nice for a while, but where I would not want to spend the rest of my life. I've been thinking a lot lately about the ethics of going back on the market next year if I get that job this year, about what I would be doing to the nice person I know who would have had some influence on me getting a job at all, and about my own need to apply to the same state where my GF lives if that job comes up next year. Should one sacrifice one's own happiness, for the rest of one's life, because of some sense of loyalty to the school that gave her the first job? In the end, I think that Dr. Crazy is right. You just have to do what makes you happy because you're the one stuck living in that situation.

I do admire your commitment to the new program at SCwP though. A lot. And I think that what you are doing is a really worthwhile and important project, and I hope that as things advance you will find it rewarding and that feeling will make SCwP a bit more tolerable.

By the way, I had dinner this weekend with a really nice guy from my grad program and his wife. He got a last minute job at the other college in SCwP and they just moved there, and had similar assessments of the city as you did. He is a super nice guy, as is his wife, just normal and down to earth and not at all pretentious like most academics when one first meets them, but still really smart. If you'd like their contact info, let me know by email...

Ok, blathered for too long now. Can you tell that today is the day that I completed the final of all 47 pre-MLA job apps and didn't leave the office til 9:30pm and now can't even keep a coherent thought from one paragraph to the next?

Hugs to you, and I'm sure that many more opportunities will open up in Home City over the next few years! After all, it's one awesome place. I wouldn't be surprised if you ended up with the best of both worlds--the pride of having established the program at SCwP, and the chance to find a new job back in Home City before you get too close to the tenure-deadline. After all, as your colleague said, they wanted you because you are the best!!

Hilaire said...

Psychgrad - I think she wasn't being strategic, that she really was just being honest. Probably didn't occur to her that she was essentially giving me the blessing. She's kinda like that. She speaks off the cuff - I don't think she was trying to make me empathize. It didn't have that effect, at any rate.

Pan - Yes, I agree with Dr. Crazy 100%. I wouldn't judge anyone for leaving a job. It's just a question of what I can live with for myself. I also think it's quite possible that I would be a whole lot better positioned, anyway, in a year - once I have a track record in the admin part of my job, etc. Also I don't think I'd really have been a viable candidate for the Home City job at this stage in my career - maybe after a book, but not right now. Also if I'd been applying for those two jobs, I'd be competing against my friend M, whom I always talk about on here. Tonight I helped him edit his apps for those two jobs, which need to be sent out tomorrow, ironically enough!! Anyway, I'm no competition for him - he's a total rising star - and that would be incredibly awkward. All in all, I know I made a good decision, it's just that sometimes I momentarily second-guess myself.

As for you, my friend, you must be seriously burnt out after 47 job apps! And the task of investigating 92 candidates!! Good lord. (That was a *colossal* error, eh, to send out those names??) Best, best of luck this round...I guess you've got your trip to MLA booked already?

And maybe after the December break, I can get the contact info for your friends here - thanks!

Take care.

Anonymous said...

You might want to think baout calling the programs and asking if they might consider late applications. Sometimes they will.


Pantagruelle said...

I agree that the Home City job ad looked tough. That's one of the reasons why I backed out (after the secretary already sent my dossier). It was *very* specific about what they wanted. It didn't really feel like an open call anyway, if you know what I mean? Maybe they did or didn't have somebody in mind already, but, damn, they sure knew what they wanted.

I admire you for not wanting to compete with your friend M. In academia, that kind of friendship and mutual respect is really rare, and something to be treasured. I hope he gets it and you get to visit often!

Colossal error by the secretary. Not the first time it's happened to me though! Major research university in your province did the same thing two years ago. In both cases, it was the fault of secretaries who cc'ed instead of bcc'ed the entire field of candidates. Very bad form, but then again, shouldn't chairs be doing this themselves?

Ticket has been booked to MLA for ages, not because I was confident going into this, but because my GF will be there interviewing candidates and it's a chance to spend time together. Hopefully I'll have interviews too though! Going suit shopping sometime in the next week or so. GF suggested a dress, as a gag that would make us both gag. :-)

Hilaire said...

AM - That *is* tempting, and it's occurred to me. But I think I should just leave it be. Ultimately, my gut is telling me not to apply this year. But it's good to know for the future that late apps might be a possibility.

Pan - For the Home City ad (biiig uni, right?), for me the posting actually fit *really* well. It's just that I think we are talking about a very fancy place, and they are hiring fancier people than I am. Anyhoo...maybe there'll be a post there in a couple of years, when I've got more under my belt - a SSHRC, a book, or something.

It's not that I *wouldn't* compete with M. If I had to, I would - we acknowledged that last night. It's just that it would be incredibly awkward. And also pretty futile - we're in different leagues. So I'm really glad not to do it - and, since I'm not, I'm thankfully free of envy and resentment and can help him with his apps without any of those nasty feelings.

Best, best of luck with MLA interviewing possibilities - dress or no!