The [noun] is dead; long live the [noun]...

It's like MadLibs but with my life...

Noun = bracket:

I was clinging to hope - my finalists both made it to the Final Four, and I was an outsider in the standings. If they both won their games, I'd move into first or second, depending on who won it all. But alas, it was not to be. UCLA couldn't do it, and now I'm likely relegated to the top 10 of the pool which gives me no money and no bragging rights unless people give me an award for my moniker.

But the games have been compelling, and I don't ever expect to win these things. And at least I'm not the poor sap who has been weighing down the wrong end of the curve this go-round. And the Spurs are still there in the NBA.

Noun = crunch time of the term

Somehow I made it through all the big bits of the year (except the book, which I'll thank you not to mention or ask about) with only three weeks of the flu to cope with. Our hire is completed and on their way. My third year review is floating around the university two levels of management above me (where I expect it to be lost for a month if precedent means anything).

But already projects are appearing.

I've been more or less conscripted into a steering committee for an upcoming conference. Thankfully, at least, the conference is the one that confirmed to me years ago as a graduate student that I was in the right field with the right people. It's one of my favorites in the field - small, personal, critical, engaging - and I haven't been able to participate actively for awhile. And if I get to shape the theme of it even a bit, it'll be something positive for me and for those participating. And lots of my grad school friends usually attend so there's no reason I shouldn't expect to see lots of them appearing on my doorstep next year, too.

And when the book's tamed a bit, it's time to tackle some new research projects so that I don't lose any ground in job searches. Which brings us to the following.

Noun = job search:

There was some hope there, too. I guess, technically, there still could be since the school that rejected me earlier in the cycle now has some new things to deal with. Some places would be able to swing a second hire from the same pool; most places can't. And there's been no word from two schools.

But really, it's time to let it go for the year. And there have been some lessons - good and bad - to take from the whole thing.

One thing I've learned to ask about is housing assistance. Mark my words: more schools are going to look at and find ways to help faculty with this as part of the employment package. In my case, I found that there are often programs for new home buyers in some states, and they're often pretty favorable. And in a market like this, where the pay isn't so competitive as it might be and that is seeing increasing numbers of advisers beginning to warn off potential students, this is going to be something places are going to have to consider.

And I've recognized you need to pay extra attention to the process. What you see might be what you get, but what you're not shown or told can tell you even more. If you don't get to talk to a particular group of faculty, for instance, it means something. You might not be able to say what, but it is rarely a good sign. And any place that tells you they've got a union and speaks poorly of it should cause you to take a second look and come armed.

It was also interesting to come across folks who admitted that they felt trapped in positions by virtue of a slightly better than average salary. There are places, for example, that pay better by virtue of trying to meet the cost of living. But once you're there, it's at least possible it can trap you the same way tenure can: fewer places may be willing to match high(er) salaries once you've achieved it.

In the end, there's always next year, right?

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Dance said...

My third year review and contract renewal came back about 2-3 weeks after my contract ended--but backdated to 3 days before. Uh, okay.

So of course I forgot to sign and return it for about two months (traveling was involved) but no one really seemed to care.

April 7, 2008 at 11:32 AM