Monday, July 30, 2007

My first time...

The end of July. It is less than three weeks for my very first semester at my new tenure track job. I have settled into my office and I am deep in preparations for my classes. Before arriving here, I was asking the question how to best play the game of departmental politics. The options are to take sides or to remain neutral. I have decided to not play any games and just to be myself, and take the side of the colleague in a departmental fight whose cause I believe to be the most rational.
Another issue that I have been facing the last couple of weeks is that my new colleagues have already found many house hold chores for me to do: Pricing and organizing new software for the student computer labs, initiating a student departmental club, writing a grant proposal for new instruments, becoming an active member in the student organization on the other end of the campus, etc. And my first paycheck doesn’t arrive until September 15. Teaching and Service and Scholarship – I understand, but how much service is too much? I am usually eager to participate in “extra-curricular” activities, but now I had planned to spend all my time on getting experimental results for publications, and it seems like every colleague has some other chore in mind that keeps adding to the list. So who do you keep happy? The most influential faculty, or the ones that you like. This is the first time for me where I will have to bear the feeling of compromising or having to balance between my principles and what gets me ahead in my career. Life as a graduate student and post-doc seems so much less complicated now. In addition everyone seems to know exactly, which Service activities and committees to join are best for me. Of course every colleague has something different in mind. Aaaaaaahhhhhh! I have the uneasy feeling that matters will only get worse.

47 comments:

hypatia said...

I don't know if this will help (I saw your post via scientae carnival), but one strategy is to set someone else up as a gate keeper. Identify a mentor with lots of seniority who you trust to protect your time (in my case, it happens to be my dept. chair). Then whenever anyone asks you to do something, you can say "oh that sounds wonderful. I'll need to check with *authority figure* before I say yes though" My dept. chair and I have a deal... I don't volunteer for things, but I say yes whenever asked by him. He doesn't ask often, but usually they are important things that help build my portfolio for tenure. I don't know what I would do if it was my chair pressuring me to volunteer... Of course your mileage may vary....

Twice said...

You've been tagged!

susan said...

I have similar advice to Hypatia's--this is a great question to bring to the department chair, with whom it would be good to have an early meeting (if s/he isn't already telling you it's in the works). You'll get a feel for what service matters in what ways, what service takes what kind of time, but in the early years especially it's good to have a chair and/or mentor who can help run interference for you. You don't have to say yes or no right away to any request: never be afraid to say "that sounds interesting: let me think about it and get back to you soon."

marias23 said...

Hi there! Congrats on your tenure track faculty position :) As a female grad student in biology who's struggling through my last year in school, it's nice to see someone who has gone through what I am experiencing do well. I suppose that with advancement of any career comes bigger responsibilities and more complicated inter-personal relationships. Anywayz, I can't wait to live vicariously through your blog!

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Sarah Tuttle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Collins said...

Hi. I really enjoyed my brief visit on your site and I’ll be sure to be back for more.
Can I contact your through your email?

Please email me back.

Thanks!
Kevin
kevincollins1012 gmail.com