Friday, February 24, 2017

On Jobs, Part the Millionth (Naptime Blogging)

I recently applied for a job Assessing Things. I was quite well qualified, but they didn't bother to interview me. (I guess that they had already decided who they were going to hire, but anyways.)   This makes three jobs at Mountain U that I've applied for, with zero results. 

There are, functionally, no other viable employers here.  Will my spouse's employer ever employ me?  Will he have to apply for jobs elsewhere to give me any leverage?  (Possibly, but that doesn't make it a good idea.) 

On the other hand, for now I have a job.  It's conveniently located and relatively well paid (per hour). I am not super fond of Endless Lab Which Everyone Hates, but this semester I picked up a lecture which actually contains stuff I care about and/or can engage the students with, and that they don't totally hate.*  Let's be honest: titration is not really a useful life skill, but biology is at least relevant to them being alive.   For Reasons, however, my wages are functionally capped at half-time.  I would very much like to make a reasonable total salary at some point. 

I worry that the longer I teach, the more likely it becomes that I will be stuck teaching forever.  (Yes, I am still doing the certificate in IT Things.)  I'm actually pretty good at it - I can tell where I need to get better, but this is the first time I've lectured since 2004, so cut me a little slack - and I can interest all of my students at least some of the time.  I don't think I'll inspire any of them to go into research (not least because I strongly discourage grad school!) but I can teach them something.  (This year, this is the one thing they'll remember, but whatever.)

But.... I've been doing it long enough to have a reasonable schedule.  I want a MWF lecture with a W lab?  Yep, I can have that.  I can have 3 other labs every semester (this sounds like a lot, but isn't; they're the same lab, and designed to be very little work for me.)  The people who do the scheduling are now different people, and they treat me with respect and courtesy and also it's February and I have a September schedule already.  This is much more workable; the previous chair inspired me to fire-filled rage, so that was 100% not working, but this might be okay.

What do I really want from a job?  Probably... something that feels like a mental stretch at least some of the time, rather than force-feeding science.**  Something where I get better at something that I value.  (I am not sure that the Foie Gras approach to science has value to me, although it is standard for this intro course, for well-founded reasons; also, this is why I didn't major in biology in college.)  Something with a full-time salary. 

But again, I don't know if it's so bad.  I was talking to two of my female students a couple weeks ago, and seeing myself through their eyes practically gave me vertigo.  The person they were seeing is dressed in professional and stylish*** clothing, earned a fancy PhD, takes no nonsense, and leads a nice, fairly well-off, happy life with a good spouse and healthy children.  She has a job where she gets respect, professional fulfilment, and the opportunity to make science interesting.  She's a role model.  (Who is this person?  Not me; I'm the barely-awake mother of a toddler who switched xylem and phloem the other week, and just said a totally wrong thing about epidurals.)

Whaaaaat am I even doing with my life?  I have no trajectory!  I lack a plan!  I am... going with the flow and, incidentally, doing a LOT more of the housework than I'm happy with long-term!^  Ack!  Ack!  Ack!

TL;DR = I flail a lot but this is Good Enough For Now, so nothing's going to change right now.

* This week, in response to a casual question, I gave a short lecture on muscle-related mutations which lead to increased performance in elite athletes. Everyone was interested and awake!  It was great!
**I was offered an upper-level lecture/seminar next term, but it would end up being twice as much work (really) for 50% less money - and a one-off, not a regular thing- so... no. (I pointed it out to my immediate employer in those exact terms, in fact.)
*** My work wardrobe is 100% from our (relatively posh) Goodwill.
^ Because I work somewhat less than half-time.  Also, five-minute commute.

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