The dissertation was only the beginning.

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Friday, September 30, 2005
The State of Things
I have spent the morning assessing the State of the Dissertation.  It is freaking me out.  

I have quite a bit done, almost half, but there’s still so much to do.  I’m currently working on two of my case study chapters – I was working on the first case rather diligently until I thought that a different case would make for a more interesting job talk (it concerns events that people are more likely to know something about, which means I won’t have to give so much background information).  The work is kind of fun, but I need to be working a bit faster.  I’d like to have two cases well in hand before I leave for Berlin in a month.  (Yikes.)

So, here’s the new plan:  1.) finish interesting case first in the event I need it for a job talk; 2.) finish slightly-less-interesting case just to get it over with; 3.) go to Berlin, work like mad collecting interview and archival data; 4.) return home and finish final case study by end of January.  Totally do-able, but #1 is the most difficult.  The rest of the academic year can be spent polishing and writing the ultra-dull-but-necessary statistical chapter (Chapter 4;  I’ve already run the numbers, but haven’t written about them).  Then I should be set to turn a draft of the complete dissertation in April and graduate in May. (Although I do have the luxury of graduating in August if things don’t go according to this plan, I really do want to finish up in May.)

I’m feeling a whole lot better about the job situation, after speaking with some friends who got good jobs last year and reading advice like this.  My best friend, now in his first year as an Assistant Professor, put it this way:  “I thought that the first year of graduate school was the worst year of my life.  Then I went on the job market.  The job market sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks.  The worst part about it is that while it seems like it’s a linear process, in the end it’s totally random.”  It is out of my hands.  I have sent in applications, and I completed them to the best of my ability.  I know my recommendations are good, and they’re from top scholars in my field.  I know what’s on my CV, and there’s nothing I can do to change it now, even if I wanted to (which I don’t).  I like my dissertation topic, and I’m doing it in a way that makes sense to me.  The pieces of the job puzzle that I can control are under control, for the most party.  All I can do now is wait.

It feels pretty good, actually, to relinquish control – to really let it go.  I’ve been telling myself all along not to get worked up about it, but I worked myself up anyway.  After thinking long and hard these past few days, I’m just letting it go.  There’s no use in worrying or planning or even thinking about something that I can’t control – it’s just a waste of my energy, energy that could be better poured in my dissertation, my relationships, my life.

We’re leaving later this afternoon for the trip to Marathon City.  I need to finish washing ST’s clothes, print off a few more German documents to read in the car (long trip for us), and get the vehicle gassed up and ready to go.  Lots to do before T comes home from work.

Side Note:  very proud to say that I ran two whole miles yesterday, with only one 30 second break at the top of the hill.  It was T’s final jog before the marathon, and so it was nice to run with him.  He hardly even broke a sweat after two miles – I was a sweaty mess.  I think he was pretty impressed that I made it two miles… I was, too!

Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 9/30/2005 10:45:00 AM  
2 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 1:53 PM, Blogger Brian J. Phillips said…

    Just a brief kind of "FYI" note to the blog author and other readers/posters: I just received my BA and am applying to grad schools for poli sci (IR) right now, and these grad student/ABD/professor blogs have been very informative about the field. I appreciate all the info.

    I'm sure other recent grads and undergrads do, too.

  • At 8:27 AM, Blogger Eric said…

    The whole dissertation stuff brings back a lot of painful (but also very good) memories. Good luck with it!

    And of course with the ever so competitive academic job market in the US!

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