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Thursday, August 24, 2006
This is a Real Job
Before I was a graduate student at Doctoral University, I was a human resources director at the graduate school T attended. I accepted the job not because I had a burning desire to work in HR or was a well of knowledge about employment matter and benefits, but because working there gave me a nice salary and gave T partial tuition remission. I come from a retail/customer service-oriented family, and so helping people in the HR office was actually a fun job for me. I would come in every morning at around 7:45am, flip on my computer, answer dozens of emails, fill out loads and loads of paperwork to hire, promote, or terminate people, interview secretaries and meet with professors, ensure everyone was getting paid properly, do some filing, and then go home. It was the last time I had a real job. I left that job in August 2000.

Between August 2000 and June 2006 I was a graduate student at Doctoral University. The first and last years there I was on fellowship, and so I didn't have any obligations aside from my coursework or my dissertation. In Years 2-5 I worked as a teaching assistant and in the University's writing center. I put a lot of effort into my teaching, and tried to make each class my own even though it was not actually mine: it was the professor's. Each day I'd go to class, teach a few sections, answer student emails, and grade. It was a lot of work, and work I enjoyed. But all the while I was doing it I always knew that the buck didn't really stop at me. The class wasn't mine, and in the end the really "difficult" stuff like the lectures and exam and syllabus creation were done by someone else.

I've been at Smallish Midwestern University off and on this week, meeting with the Department Chair and Amy the Administrative Assistant Everyone Wishes They Had (and that's really true: she works very part-time in another department because their chair loved the work she was doing for my department). I also had a chance to meet with Trudie, the only other female on the faculty and the only other non-tenured member. It has been an eye-opening week: this is a real job. Real as in loads of paperwork, tons of little administrative tasks to do, dozens of mildy-irrelevant emails to answer, and politics galore. I've had little time to work on my syllabi or do anything research-related all week long. It's all fun (new! exciting!) to me now, but I can imagine that in a few months' time it's going to be tedious, tedious, tedious.

I've craved a "real" job ever since I left my HR position years ago. I suppose I got it. And honestly, despite the pestering student emails and the increasing demands on my once completely unstructured time, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Addendum: And speaking of real jobs, guess who got one today? T had a meeting with potential employers this week and they went over salary figures. T countered their offer and today they accepted his counter. The funny thing: T doesn't know any of this since he's on a wilderness trip with some friends until Sunday. Blogosphere, you heard it here first: if you run into T, tell him he's employed, would you?
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 8/24/2006 09:31:00 PM  
8 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 11:54 PM, Blogger phd me said…

    I know exactly what you're saying! I just walk around the building, shaking my head and thinking, "Well, you asked for it."

    Congrats to T! What great news to have for him when he gets back!

  • At 11:57 PM, Blogger Leah said…

    Enjoy it while it's new, I guess :)

    Well done to T on the job - nice for you all to know what's happening now.

  • At 12:16 PM, Blogger ScienceWoman said…

    That's awesome for T and you. Two people with real jobs, a real house, a real ST - it's almost like you are real grownups. :)

  • At 7:35 PM, Blogger Holly said…

    Yup, it's all very exciting for about three weeks. By week ten you'll be wondering what you got yourself into! I look forward to your posts on how teaching goes.

  • At 9:59 PM, Blogger ArticulateDad said…

    Mazel Tov to T, and patience, persistence, and perseverance to you. It is all good, even when parts of it stink.

  • At 12:22 PM, Blogger MusicalMom said…

    Congratulations! I'm so glad T now has a job. :)

    What will you do now? Your big to-do list is completed! Maybe you should add the ugliest bathroom to it? lol

  • At 7:55 PM, Blogger Peri said…

    I know just what you mean about wanting a 'real job!' It's crazy but I long to be dressed in suits and heels again. How's that for insanity? I just liked feeling professional. Go figure. I'm just glad it's all working out for you. :)

    And of course, we can't neglect the gigantic accomplishment that is T's new job. Wow! I love it that he's out in the wilderness and doesn't know. Nerves of steel, that one. I can't believe he hasn't called in to find out.

    Hooray for you two!

  • At 3:30 PM, Blogger Dr. Mon said…

    Ditto--I know what you mean about the real job--I'm so caught up in it right now that I can't even blog :(.

    So glad to hear T has a new job!! Many congrats.

    Miss you doll!

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