I recently moved from Logan, Utah to Milwaukee for a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin (wait for it) Milwaukee. The nature of academia means you move where the job takes you. I’m pleased that it took me to a new part of the country and a new work environment with supportive and welcoming faculty and staff. The goal for many leaving a doctoral program or post doc (as I did) is a tenured track faculty position. A challenge to achieve that (honestly) I try to share with doc students or those considering entering a doctoral program. During your last year of a doc program or post doc, you apply, apply, apply, interview, interview, wait (for what seems like an excruciating amount of time), and maybe have an on-campus interview and (possibly) get something. There’s so many of us searching for these idealized tenure track positions while there are so few of actual positions to go around. I am where I am now for a number of reasons (hard work, mentorship, networking, a great post doc). Some that I may not even know about. I am happy where I am. But the transitional period from post doc to faculty and from Utah to Wisconsin has been much harder that I expected.
My monthly YALSA blog post is up! This time about it’s about something that is particularly relevant to what’s going on in the world around us. Check it out on the YALSA blog or read it below! Don’t worry. I’m … Continue reading
On Monday, March 24, my post for the YALSA blog appeared. It’s my first blog post in a monthly series of posts on Transforming Teen Services. You can read the post on the YALSA blog here. Or you can read … Continue reading
Since I officially submitted my first manuscript for publication on last week, I feel the need to blog about writing and writing related activities. The knowledge that my poor, sweet little paper is awaiting review by anonymous researchers who may (or may not) tear my writing and research apart is terrifying. For me, the entire writing process is filled with a mixture of excitement, dread, and stress. The stress comes from the blank page on my screen, especially when writing that first paragraph. At that point, everything I writes sounds trite and unimpressive. Usually I push through, writing down whatever comes to mind and returning when I’ve written enough that the pressure to perform is slightly less intense. The dread comes from completing a research paper, article, or blog post and knowing that I have to come up with something else to research and write about. Even with something as simple and informal as a blog post I still feel a slight anxiety about what to write next. Additionally, I worry whether or not what I blog will be interesting to my audience. (Eh. Probably not? Maybe?)
Asking others to proofread my work is a bit of a nail bitter as well. Sometimes it feels physically painful. It’s uncomfortable to give up the work that you stressed and slaved over to the criticisms of a friend, colleague, etc. But it’s a necessary evil. Hopefully, the criticisms are constructive and helpful. After a long period of nervousness about proofreading, I’ve reached the point where I’m asking my (very kind and giving) proofreaders to give my writing a serious ripping apart. It can only benefit me in the end. If they don’t do it, someone else will. (On a side note, getting undergrads to understand the concept and importance of proofreading may be impossible or at least really, really, really, hard and disappointing.)
How did you learn to write without fear? How did you overcome the fear of knowing others will read your work? What does you writing process look like? What do you do that makes you comfortable while writing? Unless I’m the only person who has writing nerves, which is very possible.
I have now officially completed my first year of doctoral work. Hooray! I am currently staring into the wide abyss of my second year. This is as good as any time to pause and reflect on all the successes, missteps, and surprises I encountered during my first year. Entering my second year, I feel slightly more confident in my research, public speaking, and general intellectual capabilities. Note the slightly. Perfectionism is a difficult obstacle to overcome.
- I made it through one year’s worth of coursework. This is both a success and surprise!
- My writing skills are improving, especially after completing the doctoral seminar on Research Methods. The massive amount of writing that this course required will either make or break your writing confidence. It seemed that way for me anyway.
- I completed my first entirely-written-with-publication-in-mind article as of last Tuesday! I can’t wait to submit it for publication in the very near future (like next month). My future publication track is moving along very smoothly. Two more written articles that need some minor edits, then ready for submission.
- I’m improving my public speaking abilities. This is another success and surprise! It wasn’t until the beginning of the summer semester that I felt comfortable enough to join in on group discussions and speak up during class. Apparently, it takes 13 years of K-12, 4 years of undergrad, 2 years of grad school, and 1 year of doctoral work for me to speak in class willingly.
- I have darn good time management skills. The importance of this skill was made very clear to me during Fall semester when the work was so overwhelming. The only way I survived was by carefully designing a work plan for every assignment, TA duty, and meeting.
- I am not as tech savvy as I thought. After troubleshooting computer problems and other tech issues for six years in the public library, I thought I could do techie stuff. I was wrong. After talking with other doc students about computery stuff (See. That word doesn’t sound very tech savvy), I found out that these people know so much more than I do about the nitty-gritty technical world. They can speak a language that I am very confused by.
- I need to learn that I am only one person and I can only do so much. Stress management is an area in which I could use additional tutoring or hand holding.
- Much like stress management, assertiveness is a skill that I lack. At my former workplace, it’s necessary to be assertive, even aggressive. This is especially true when you’re dealing with funding, politics, or public support. It’s also true in academia. I’m not a naturally assertive person. I envy those who are. So this will be my next project: Be more assertive!
- Initially, I used the word ‘failures’ instead of ‘missteps’ for this section. Probably a misstep in its own way. Obligatory quote on failure: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett
- Apparently, I’m good at SPSS and statistics. Excelling in this area is more than a surprise to me. Frankly, it is astonishing. I was quite pleased when I walked out with a good grade. There may have been a happy dance involved…..
- I love to write! I’ve never considered myself a “writer”. I’ve always been a compulsive reader, but writing was never something I’ve had much of an interest in pursuing. After everything I slaved over this year, I’m looking forward to slaving over some more. (When I stack all my research papers up together, it forms an impressive pile!)
- I’m surrounded by a group of very supportive and motivating doc students, colleagues, and committee members. I’m not sure if this is the norm in other doctoral programs, but I’m very grateful that I have it.
What successes, missteps, and/or surprises did you experience last academic year (or normal world year)?
What does the next academic year look like for you?