T: Amazing Husband ST: Three-year-old Wonder Prof. G: Advisor I Prof. C: Advisor II Julie: Stylish Sister Rob: Awesome Brother Belle: Our Cat Bill: Grumbling BIL Rita: Uncomplicated SIL SMU: Smallish Midwestern University Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
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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?