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Sunday, October 01, 2006
Not Ashamed
I don't love my job, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I don't hate my job, either. For now, it's just a job that I do to get through to the next weekend.

It's not that I think I took the wrong job; indeed, SMU is even better than I thought it would be. I have tons of freedom to do what I want, after this semester I am in almost full control over what and when I teach, the financial support for research is far greater than one would imagine for a school this size, and the support for academic travel is astounding. Add that to the fact that my colleagues are all fantastic and supportive, my students are (mostly) pretty great, and I get to talk about my favorite subjects all day long. Overall, SMU is a pretty nice place to have landed, and we really are enjoying New Town and Pond House. T even seems more positive about his job, and hopefully ST will have a good transition to his new preschool tomorrow.

But I really don't love what I do. Not at all. I realized this when my sister Julie called on Thursday morning and asked, "So, are you just loving being a professor? This is what you've always wanted!"

I had to think for a second. No, I don't love it. I like it, sure. It's OK. But I really don't like staying up until 1:00am or 2:00am every night before classes, writing lectures and preparing PowerPoint slides, posting lecture notes and figuring out how to incorporate other texts. I really don't like lecturing to my Zombie Morning class (see previous post), stewing in my office for an hour, and then finishing my lecturing tasks for the day with my other (although fantastic) classes. I don't like that the way I organized the first part of my Intro to Subfield course no longer makes sense to me, and I don't like that I can't change it until next semester. I don't like thinking about how much research I'm not doing (and don't really want to do at this point) because I'm spending a crazy amount of time on teaching tasks (which I swore I would not do). I don't like that I have a conference proposal due tomorrow that I haven't started and that I will write completely on the fly, praying for acceptance, despite the fact that I don't even really want to go to the stupid conference (I HATE my discipline's conferences. HATE them). I don't like that I'm never EVER ahead in my course preparations, always jotting myself notes at the last minute. And I sure don't like attending "important" departmental or college meetings when I have little opportunity to influence things at this point, although I know I need to attend the meetings to learn.

Overall, I think I just don't like being new and inexperienced.

I told Julie that no, I don't love being a professor, but that someday I probably will. Someday when I have a reservoir of lectures to draw upon, experience with textbooks, knowledge of procedures, and time to work on things other than my classes. I hope that "someday" comes sooner rather than later. It's only Sunday night and I am already clinging to the promise of Friday.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 10/01/2006 11:00:00 PM  
7 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 11:33 PM, Blogger Marcelle Proust said…

    It does get better, but yeah, the first year is like that. And the only people I knew who understood that were other academics; my family was baffled as to where my time went.

  • At 5:49 AM, Blogger Greg said…

    Loving the job also doesn't have to mean loving every aspect of it. I hate grading massive numbers of papers, etc. but I love the job, for many of the same reasons you lay out at the beginning of the post.

  • At 8:19 AM, Blogger Ianqui said…

    Amen. I'm teaching the same undergrad course for the 4th time and it's a dream. I barely have to prepare anything.

    That said, I don't always love my job either. Mostly, I feel guilty about messing around on the weekends and doing maybe 2 hours of work. But I do otherwise like the freedom to structure my own day.

  • At 10:44 AM, Blogger phd me said…

    Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I've had this thought in the back of my head ever since I started at PRU - once again, we're in sync! There aren't any aspects I hate. I don't like a few things - spending inordinate amounts of time in meaningless meetings, sharing an office - but I can live with them. So, when my friends are so enthusiastic about my new job, I feel bad for not returning their bubbliness.

    Part of my "like it, don't love it" is that it is a job. I have to work at what I do and somedays that work is very frustrating. I don't sit around in smoke-fugged rooms having erudite conversations with people in tweed; I hunch in front of my computer in my windowless office until 8 at night, trying to figure out a connecting piece for the next day's lesson. Some days it's just hard to get out of bed because I have a long list of things I have to tackle; none of them are simple and all of them are on-going projects that will still be there tomorrow.

    So, yeah, I completely understand that you don't love your job. I too think I'll be able to say I love it in the years ahead, when I have a place in my department and a sense of where I'm going. For right now, I guess "like" will have to do, though.

    (sorry for the long comment)

  • At 1:26 PM, Blogger Dr. Mon said…

    I hear ya! I love where I live and I love having my own space and place in the academia, but the job is the job. I especially feel you on spending too much time on teaching tasks--the main reason I can't blog when I want to is that I'm always working on something for class!!

  • At 6:58 PM, Blogger biblioflection said…

    Yeah... I completely understand what you mean! I just started this tenure-track position in September, 2 months after I defended my PhD thesis. I don't _love_ my new job as much as I wanted to _yet_! Being a professor is not exactly what I envisioned it to be. My colleagues are extremely supportive and I have lots of freedom for collaboration. But I can't say I _love_ the need for continuous grant proposal writing and handling needy students. Maybe I am just being naive, but I feel that doing lecture is my way to escape the stress of research.

  • At 4:17 PM, Blogger Aliki2006 said…

    I love part of my job, and not the rest--I love, for instance, teaching. I really really do love its challenges and its ups and downs--I love the students, with all their quirks. I don't love the fact that my job continues on in the evenings and on weekends and that some people think an academic job is "easy" because of the "great" schedule. The schedule *is* flexible, of course, but comes at a cost. I don't like that I can't take a sick day to attend a special event at my son's school without cancelling three classes, something I can't really do. I also don't like how little I'm paid and how bad the benefits are...! But I'm hijacking your post to gripe...

    But I imagine all jobs have annoying and not likeable aspects which go along with the positive ones.

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