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Monday, August 01, 2005
On Uncertainty
This September I will officially be "on the market" for academic jobs. I've been looking forward to it for a very long time, imagining what it would be like to give a job talk and to know enough about my discipline to chat with professors I don't know about classes I'd like to teach, research I'd like to conduct, how I would work with students, which committees I'd serve on, etc. Now that interviewing season is almost upon me, however, I am feeling very nervous and underprepared.

First, there's the dissertation. I have three chapters that are in pretty good shape, just needing a little polishing. I like the chapters, my advisors like the chapters, and people I've talked to about the dissertation seem to think it's a neat project. I've never formally presented it before, though, and so I'm terrified of putting new ideas out there. I'm afraid that I will not be able to answer tough questions, despite the fact that I'm the self-proclaimed "expert" on my topic. I'm petrified that someone will say, "Well, haven't you read XYZ?" and I won't know what they're talking about.

Then there's the wait. What it no one wants to interview me in the first place? What if my CV is too dull, too limited? Fortunately, I have big name advisors -- that should help me here. But still, there's that deep-seated fear that I'll be passed over. I remember looking at cover letters and resumes when I was working in Human Resources in college -- there were some that were the immediate tossers, ones that you didn't even have to read all the way through. What if I am a tosser?

There's also the commitment factor. Right now, my husband has a job he loves working for people he really respects, and is building a substantial clientele. We cannot leave for "any" job for me -- it has to be a good job. A really good job, one where I can envision a long career so that T can rebuild a practice. I hate to drag him away from his current job -- but yet I hate to stay stuck in ABD land much longer, or take a year off after earning the doctorate. Complications abound. On the upside, however, it is nice to know that if I don't land a job this year, we'll be OK.

Yet another factor: a second child. We really want one, and don't want N to be much older before we have one. I don't want to be pregnant during my first year on a new job, so the time is now -- a small window for conception that would give us a summer baby. If I am visibly pregnant during interviews, will that affect my chances of landing a job? Is trying for a baby the right thing to do? Do I put my "real" life on hold for academia?

This is really where faith comes in, I guess. I just have to trust that everything will work out as it should, and that my diligent work will take me where I am supposed to go. I have never been good with uncertainty, however, and so I know that this upcoming academic year will be a challenging one for me. It's very difficult to wait for the possibility that your life could change.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 8/01/2005 10:39:00 PM  
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