Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Phone interview 3

"Advisor mentioned you in the spring, but I wasn't ready to move yet. So I hated to let the opportunity pass, but timing is a funny thing."

"It is." He agreed. "But you didn't. We haven't yet hired for the tenure-track position that I mentioned to Advisor then." From subsequent remarks and the overall tone, I got the impression that he was considering me for said position.

But, listen, I wanted to tell him. I'm Katie. I screw up and don't feel like I know as much as I should. I get rejected by journals and funding agencies alike. It takes me too long to write code and I cry when I discover my patients have died. I've not taught a single class in my entire life and I'd just stand and stare at a grad student if you told me she worked for me. Despite training and publications and expertise that does look impressive on my CV, I'm not cut out for faculty.

The utter ridiculousness of applying for a tenure-track position at an R1 institution strikes me. I analyzed data today that left me mostly baffled. I gave Boss a draft of work-in-progress paper that only sort of makes sense. I need to make my points more clearly and focus the minor points to reflect my major point. If only I knew what my major point was. I read some papers and gathered relevant information. I talked to Mom on my commute through a morning filled with traffic. Then I came home early to work through some data I owed a collaborator instead of having dinner with Cousin.

I often think lately that I'm doing the best I can. That it's OK to sleep and read and seek time alone. It's fine to ponder projects for months as I try to write or discover some new facet which has remained stubbornly hidden. I still wince over the idea of taking classes, shake my head over homework problems with one of my officemates shows me something, vividly recall hiding behind a chair while I answered questions at my prelim.

I suppose I have more than a month before I need to figure out if grants and classes and a lab of my own is something that just might work for me. Given Advisor's euphoric response to my email informing him of the interview, I realized this has been the goal. I have been groomed for tenure-track faculty at a large research institution.

Given that I just took an interview with people who deemed me inadequate, I'm not overly hopeful that these folks in academia will want me for faculty once I arrive. Yet it's nice that my CV makes me sound good. And perhaps I can talk them into a different position when I get there.


Lucy said...

They didn't deem you inadequate, just not what they needed right now. Maybe this job will fit you better. Good luck with the interview!

Day ByDay said...

Yay Katie! Even if it turns out not to be what you want, it's always a nice ego boost to be courted like this!

Don't let the previous interview get you down. I'm sure you really did impress them - it just probably wasn't the right fit.

I've been on hiring committees before, and there were plenty of super-stars we had to turn down simply because our hands were tied - we had to hire by some pretty strict criteria in some cases.

I'm pretty certain that you will excel wherever you end up next. The most important thing will be figuring out where you'll be happiest.

Oh, and let me know if you come up with an easy way of figuring that out! :)

life_of_a_fool said...

What lucy said. And, most people I know can give their field's version of the "I'm Katie" paragraph -- (almost?) everyone feels inadequate, at least sometimes. . .

CJR said...

One could argue that the whole point of science is that you spend a lot of time not really understanding what's going on. Acknowledging that is not a weakness, and thinking that you're the only one is a mistake.

And with regards the other job, didn't you tell them at the end of the interview that they probably wouldn't take it if they offered it? If so, I'm not sure you should read so much into their decision.

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