Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Survival Job Survival 101

Last night, I slept better than I have in almost one year. Even The Dump Truck cooperated by refraining from dropping bowling balls on his bedroom floor (my bedroom ceiling). This morning, I awoke in a warm apartment to the sounds of my birds quietly discussing politics in the darkness. It was so pleasant.

After donning my favorite blouse and my newly patched pair of jeans, I arrived at the Community College (CC) a few minutes early and felt an odd momentary sizzle of excitement as I walked into the building. Professor Owl.

My building is nice. Even though the labs were dark when I peeked into their windows, I could see that they are large and modern.

I met the people who run the Science Department where I will teach (profess?). I was given the course textbook (still in plastic wrap), and the course materials and I filled out mountains of paperwork (I wonder how many forests were sacrificed to the gods of bad handwriting on my behalf?). I was told about the odd CC class schedule and how to decipher their grid system so I am teaching the right topics at the right times and places. "The grid" seemed to make sense when they explained it to me, but looking at it now, it is utterly incomprehensible to my exhausted brain.

I listened and asked questions and answered questions and walked around the building and looked out onto beautiful Manhattan from the departmental windows and eavesdropped on desperate students trying to add my class.

My class.

After three hours of this excitement, my brain was crammed to the explosion point with wordswordswords, names, books, diagrams, syllabi and peoplepeoplepeople. They finally let me go in the early afternoon. Exhausted. Drained. Hungry. This experience will help me empathize with my students tomorrow.

My students.

I fell asleep on the subway under a mountain of books and papers and almost missed my stop.

I hope I do well tomorrow. I am so tired now that all I want to do is go home, eat a non-chocolate meal and snuggle under my blankets while I dream of Resplendent Quetzals.

This reminds me, I have one piece of advice for everyone who is or will be in a similar place as I was today (after hiring, before the paperwork); if you are too broke to properly celebrate your new job with numerous rounds of competitive drinking with your friends, resist the urge to eat a big bag of Peanut M & Ms for your celebratory breakfast. Especially avoid doing this on the morning when you meet your colleagues and supervisors for the first time, even if a Peanut M & M breakfast normally makes you feel really good.

That is all.


Non-academic applications: 2 (editor for a science journal, science writer)

Academic Interviews: 1 (preliminary telephone interview for tenure-track position at a smallish midwest university)

[I admit I've been quite depressed this past week, which has greatly reduced the number of applications I've sent out recently. I hope that getting this CC job will help me deal with the prospect of hundreds more rejection letters from my professional/academic applications jamming into my post office mail box and email boxes. I once jokingly referred to these as "fan mail" but my amusement with this little "alternative reality" game died approximately ten days ago.]


© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

3 Peer Reviews:

Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Oh, that is so cute!! I am living vicariously through *your class* and *your students* and your textbook in plastic wrap and being called Professor.

Even falling asleep on the bus under a mountain of papers, it sounds so romantic and movie-like.

It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. The view of Manhattan sounds amazing.

Having a view is a good thing. Panicking students signing up at the last minuts is just funny.

Well, I will go to bed tonight dreaming of the trappings of a Real Job. Now I am off to walk to my car, which is in the faculty lot, which is my little nod to my ambition, while also acknowledging that parking in the faculty lot may be as close as I ever get to actually being faculty.

Keep up the good life! You have quite the fan club here.

12:29 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Tonight is the night that I deliver my first lecture, Ms.PhD. Well, okay, "lecture" might be a little bold since tonight is lab night.

Oddly, I am not nervous AT ALL, which surprises me because even though I have worked very hard to overcome my stage fright, I have only learned how to manage it but have not been exorcised of it entirely. Of course, my teensy brain might be overloaded with zillions of thoughts swirling around in my mind like a flock of migratory warblers circling as they try to get their bearings. I don't want to spill the beans about all those thoughts in this reply, otherwise, I won't have anything fun to blog about tonight/tomorrow!

12:05 PM  
Blogger hermit_the_crab said...


I'm wishing you luck on your first class. Since I've been in your position (i.e., teaching a class where you feel overwhelmed and under-prepared), the best piece of advice I can give you is this: See yourself as a student as well. If you don't know the answer to something, if you are floundering in a class, take a moment to breathe.

Then approach everything WITH your students. I made the mistake when I taught my first university class of feeling very inferior, and I thought I had to come off at all times as someone who knew more than my students. They all saw through it, and they hated me, and I was miserable.

My second semester, I approached it in a different way - that we were all there to learn together, and I was just group leader. That class turned out to be a lot more fun and open, and I feel like I did a much better service to my students.

I know you'll be great, and you're going to have such a good time teaching these kids! Good luck!

4:16 PM  

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