And so it begins...

Oct 23 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

I am not sure what is motivating me to do this, but perhaps I need a place to express everything that is going on as a new faculty member and this seems like a good place to do it. I am also justifying it in my own head as a productive form of procrastination, unlike many of the less-productive activities I have used for such purpose in the past. I am choosing to do this anonymously because I want to be able to be honest about things and not have to pull any punch for fear of saying some that might turn out to be politically unwise at my university. Also, I have never been comfortable with self-praise, so when good things happen I would like to be able to express that as well, rather than downplaying my excitement. Call it academic therapy. In any case...

A bit of history. I started this job in August 2008, after 4 years of a post-doc and 5 years of grad school in places distant from here. Fortunately for me, I have managed to land a good job in a place close to where my partner and I grew up. The job market at the moment is not great, so the fact that we are close to our respective parents has worked out particularly well for us, especially since we have a child who is less than a year old. 

Starting a faculty job has been by far the most difficult professional change I have gone through. Moving your life and family to a new place is bad enough, especially with a small child, but it is the different expectations of running a lab, compared with working in one, that have made it a challenge. Suddenly, the lab "buck" stops with you. All the administrative tasks have to be done. There are committees to be dealt with and grants to be written. I am now worrying about getting people into the lab (how many can I afford? How do I recruit/decide? What types of people should I bring in?) and which types of equipment to buy. I am an accountant, a manager, a mentor, a mentee, a writer, a trainer and the "new guy". I am figuring out how the university runs at multiple levels while trying to get my research off the ground. And I don't even have to teach this semester! That's a whole other worry for a few months down the road, but I have had to design the new course and advertise it. Luckily, I am breaking into that slowly with an advanced seminar course, rather than being thrown to the freshmen (read: wolves).

I have enjoyed it so far, but balancing everything at work, let alone at home, has made the past few months interesting. I figured that keeping some type of record of this time in my life would provide humor in the future and if someone else stumbles on this who is or will be in the same position not too far down the road, maybe we can commiserate together. 

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