What I've learned in four months

Dec 21 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

Arlenna at Chemical BiLOLogy recently posted a first semster roundup, which got me thinking about what I have learned in my first semester as a tt assistant prof. As lame as Top Ten Lists are, here is my Top Ten Things I Learned About Being an Assistant Prof in the Last Four Months.

10. As willing as I was to take any job where I felt comfortable, I am glad I ended up in a department where I am treated well and have colleagues that respect each other. Many of my friends have not been so lucky.

9. Having a semester off from teaching is essential. This experience has been overwhelming enough without teaching responsibilities this semester. If I had to add teaching on top, I would be seriously behind with my research.

8. A lot of the people around me have been telling me not to be as ambitious with my attempts at funding, to build slowly, etc. As DrugMonkey discussed yesterday, fuck. That. Apply for everything that fits.

7. Hiring people is both a lot harder and a lot more important that I had first thought, and it was something that I considered key before starting.

6. I count more on the people at Post-doc U than I thought I would.

5. Spend money fast and furious in the begining to get things in the lab as fast as possible, because every day counts. I filled the lab with almost everything I needed in two months and I still feel behind.

4. My wife kicks ass and I wouldn't be able to be doing nearly as much as I have without her support and effort.

3. Hire your first students based on the recommendations of people you trust. The first few people in the lab can make or break the most important time you have.

2. Get to know the grad students in other labs, they will tell you what is really going on in the department.

1. Have I mentioned that my wife rocks my shit? This job will test your relationship, especially if you have kids. It takes two to make it work, but it helps a lot if your partner is understanding and constantly encouraging.

One response so far

  • Arlenna says:

    Hey thanks for the link! A lot of the time I feel like I am reading my own thoughts when I read your blog, so it is nice to have such relevant internet friends. I so agree about being glad to have ended up somewhere that the people are decent and supportive. I was pretty dang naive and sparkly eyed going into things and could have gotten myself in a situation where people did not care about my even medium-good interests. Here, I feel relatively safe that they want to mentor me through to tenured colleague-ship, which is pretty important (and apparently unusual) in this day and age.

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