Thursday, March 7, 2013

Things I'm loving about my job

Whinging online notwithstanding, I have my dream job. In recent weeks, I have been thinking more than usual about how lucky I actually am to have this particular job -- not just a professorial job, but a professorial job in this department. I am fortunate that I am part of a relatively harmonious collective -- no, we don't all hold hands and sing kumbaya, there is definitely politics, there are disagreements, but the overall environment is generally healthy. Things get done and I think most people really have the same professional values. When someone is successful, people first and foremost consider it a good thing for the whole department. In recent weeks, it has been shown to me that I am a valued member of the faculty and that my opinion is respected. Also, my intensity seems to be accepted and recognized as a force for good.

I am also really happy with my research group composition right now. I have a really nice bunch of graduate students and they are all really smart. I have been really enjoying the the group meetings, hearing them present, and the "guided reading" course that I am offering to a few of them -- it has been so much fun! Interactions with students are always an efficient way to lift my mood.
Random things I'm loving about my job this week:

1) Brainstorming/troubleshooting with my graduate students. Listening to two graduate students try to find their way out of being stuck. These are the best times, because they show you how much the students have grown and how much they can do on their own. As a junior faculty, I used to get frustrated when people got stuck, now I am just so excited for them because of all the awesome that is waiting on the other side of that  dam that is just about to burst...

2) Hearing that the department is working on my next promotion.

3) Writing papers. It's a favorite every week. It may be my absolute favorite part of the job altogether.

4) Heck, all of writing. I even like writing grants and responses to referees.

5) My quiet, huge, early-ish class, finally warming up and speaking up. Heads are nodding, there is even spark in some eyes. Could also be contacts.

6) Colleagues listening to what I have to say; appearing to respect me in a leadership role.

7) My office. I have the best office in the world. It is large, with high ceilings, and delightfully messy.

What do you love about your job?


Kaneenika Sinha said...

Great post! I work at a new science institute in India. From this perspective, here are some of the things I like about my present job.

1) The opportunity to teach very motivated students who join us right after high school with a desire to pursue a career in basic sciences.

2) The nurturing atmosphere here. The leadership has set high standards for excellence in research, and also willingly provides the required resources to enable us to meet these standards. They play a motivating role, not merely a critical one.

3) The presence of a good number of faculty members in my department, which leads to balanced teaching loads and service duties for all of us.

4) The fact that we have moved to our permanent campus from a temporary campus - it gives a lovely sense of space and belonging.

5) Friendly colleagues.


inBetween said...

I absolutely love the fact that there is a thermostat in my office that works. If I want it hot, it is hot. If I want it cold, it is cold.

I am really, deep down, pretty easy to please.

Whoosh... said...

The fact that my university offers a lot of really good workshops for the staff.

I get 2-3 international PhD students and undergrads per year, who work with me for a few month. They are incredibly motivated most of the time.

Writing papers is one of my favorites as well - and hitting the "submit" button!

What are you actually doing in a "guided reading" session. That sounds interesting!

GMP said...

Whoosh, "guided reading" is also known as independent study. The way I am doing it this semester, since I have several students doing it, is that I assign reading each week and we meet once a week for a lengthy session (about 2 hours) where one of the students presents the material on the board and everyone else, including me, jumps in with questions, clarifications, etc. It's awesome fun and excellent for deepening everyone's understanding.

Anonymous said...

Is this a therapy exercise? And more importantly, does it really work? Because you sound a lot happier than you have been lately! And I'm truly glad for you if this is the case. I don't always agree with you ... in fact, sometimes you say things that tick me the hell off. But I have always thought of you as a good and caring mentor towards your students, and, even though you might disagree with me on this, I don't think "good and caring" is the norm when it comes to advisors. So we cannot afford to lose any of those!

What do I love about my job? Well, my "job" is being a grad student, and I love that after 2 unsuccessful experiences with one uncaring and one truly nuts advisor, I've finally found someone who's made me never regret quitting my (former) job to make less than a third of what I used to (as a grad student). I love that I'm no longer judged by how much face time I put in, but primarily by the quality of my work. And I love that my full-time "job" is now to learn new things and produce awesome research.

OK, can I sneak in a request for future post, since you're in such a good mood? :-) I will be middle-aged (the horror!) when I finish grad school. Am I too old for Academia? I know age is not supposed to matter, but....