Friday, February 27, 2009

Stop Trying To Get "X" and Start Trying To Enjoy Yourself

I was lucky enough to attend a large university for graduate school which had enormous numbers of science graduate students. At some point a group of students set up a series of events about academic careers for scientists. This series brought Rick Reis in to talk - and as a result we all got signed up for his "Tomorrow's Professor" mailing list. Now I get emails from this list about once a week. Sometimes they're interesting, sometimes I delete them. Every once in a while I find one that's very useful and really strikes a cord. That happened this week with the posting on Stop Trying to Get Tenure and Start Trying To Enjoy Yourself. Not that I'm in a position to worry about tenure since I'm still just a postdoc - but I think the principle applies to me - in that I should "Stop Trying to Get a "Permanent Job" and Start Trying to Enjoy Myself". I'll see how that goes. "Trying to Get a Permanent Job" clearly isn't working out that well (another chance bites the dust...).

Related to this, I think I have just recently realised what a nice job being a postdoc is. (Apart from the uncertain future and the stress associated with that - especially in an era of job cuts and lowering funding). I can mess around doing research and for the most part not worry about faculty meetings, teaching when I don't want to, being nice to the university administration (or even meeting them), reading job candidate letters, calling prospective graduate students and all the hundreds of other non-research related items I see the staff doing. In a permanent position I know I won't be expected to do any less research, I'll just have all that stuff added on top of my already hectic life. I actually can't see where I would fit it all in.

So I think "Stop Trying to Get "X" and Start Trying to Enjoy Yourself" is probably good advice for us all in our jobs and throughout life.

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