Saturday, June 11, 2005

A late introduction

Just back from my trip and starting to catch up ...

I'm an assistant professor (social sciences) at a public R1 school, in a department much like the one that granted my PhD. This is my second t-t position, and it is considered a move up from my previous one (which was considered a pretty desireable position as well) although I'm not here because I was overly ambitious and trying to leave. They came for me. This has been the hallmark of my experience, with the path just laying itself out in front of me and inviting me to walk down (start with my first accidental MS). I do work hard when I work, but I've not really chased a passion or a dream. I get handed an opportunity and take it on as a challenge, and then the next opportunity dangles in my face. The biggest differences for me in this job are teaching load (in my two years here I've only taught 2-1 so far and I'm being protected from new preps/classes I don't want to teach) and the students (pretty much only dealing with grad students these days). I suppose higher tenure requirements, too, but I have a very "whatever" attitude about that.

I have no idea where I am on the tenure path for complicated reasons. I may be able to use 2 years from my previous job, but I may not want to because my first year here was very rough due to personal life issues. I mostly don't think about it. I mostly don't care. My area of expertise and skill set is one that is desireable in a corporate setting and I tend to keep that as a safety in my back pocket. This is typical of me, keeping each foot planted in a different world and not really wanting to belong to either. Might be something worth exploring.

I feel really guilty about saying all of this, knowing how some folks have struggled on the market, taken jobs they didn't want, etc. My field isn't one of the overly impacted ones, but it certainly isn't this easy for everyone.

My job is great. Yes, there are always things that could be better, but I feel like my department values my presence and contributions and I'm pretty realistic that every place is going to have its little issues so I don't let those bug me very much. My worst complaint is incompetent support staff, followed by inadequate pay. My colleagues try to mentor me, but no one interferes too much. They accept me as I am.

My biggest issues/problems would be lack of motivation and my personal life (or lack thereof in this lame college town). I suspect the two are related, that I'm waiting for a stable personal life before I do anything else. I have no plan. I'm drifting. I've always drifted and things have just worked out. That may need to change. Maybe this exploration will help me set some goals and get a sense of intentionality in an overall sense rather than just tossing myself at project after project. Goals. Yes, goals.