Same job / new job

Jan 30 2014 Published by under [Education&Careers], LifeTrajectories

The longer I have this job, the more it changes. Outside of the general adaptation to new science and evolution of that arena of my job, there seems to be a convoy of Things That Must Be Learned at each stage. When you first start a lab you need t figure what it is to actually do that job (No, not just what your postdoc-self thought was the job. The one you could totally handle if someone would just give you the keys.). Then you're thrust in to learning how to teach. Oh right, then how the university actually works. Suddenly you're not "new" anymore and people are looking to you for things.

If you couldn't guess from yesterday's short post, it's only now becoming clear to me that I've been taking on an increasingly "political" role in my college. In hindsight, I can see that I haven't found myself here by mistake, rather I've been maneuvered into this position fairly deliberately. Suddenly I find myself navigating yet new waters, once again. But somehow this seems different.

First off, this isn't something I need to do for my job. Yes, we all have a service expectation, but it is surprisingly easy too look busy on that front without really contributing anything. No, this falls under the things you do because you want to make your environment better (as you see it) at the expense of your time doing career stuff. It's also the best way to make academic enemies - the kind that will hold a grudge for decades over a minor slight. And you are BOUND to piss someone off, because resources are limited. If they are used to support something you champion, it means they were cut from somewhere else.

Thus, I'm left in the unexpected situation of being seen as linked to a particular administrator because of... circumstances. It's becoming clear to me that many senior folks are feeling under-appreciated and under-resourced and they are getting antsy. Things are tight everywhere and, man, those new start-ups are looking pretty fat. Do new people really need all that to get rolling? etc. etc.

I imagine that part of being "politically savvy" is being able to contribute to a shared agenda without drawing attention of those opposed to it. I don't know if I've got that ability. I'm bad at keeping my mouth shut (Surprise, I know) and worse at not pointing out staunch defense of the status quo. I have no idea how this is going to go or if I'm pissing people off right now. I'm not even sure if I should care.

So, onward. I guess.

3 responses so far

  • drugmonkey says:

    All I can say is plagiarize all that happy, sharey we're-all-in-this-together language that Janet deploys. Especially on anything that might last on your permanent record.

  • JaneB says:

    Scary! There are definitely some advantages which come along with the relative invisibility that goes along with being a somewhat underachieving middle-aged white female... as in, most people assume I'm hopelessly politically naive, and since I've carefully carved out a service niche with a lot of paperwork (i.,e. found a couple of admin roles which I can do, which aren't very people-involving and which no-one else likes much) I'm also not seen as short of service work.

    Good luck!

  • Eli Rabett says:

    Hello Ms. Dean to be

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