Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back to the plan?

Today, RocketMom headed out of town with the two younger boys to pick up our oldest at his grandparents. He's been there for the week attending a summer camp. I had my intern over this morning for a few hours, then... I've been alone. I think perhaps this is the longest I've been alone at home since we moved here. It's been a time to reflect on things. I realize how important my family has become to my sense of self, how much of my motivations and quotidien decisions circle around being part of a domestic group.

It's been a time for me to reflect on where I am in life, and where I'm going. I submitted my second stage contract proposal earlier in the week. I'll still need to work up a contract with them. But it seems ever more expected that this will simply go. I can't quite bring myself to disbelieve it... but I remain amazed at how far I've come these past few years. And I'm hoping to submit yet another new grant proposal in the next couple weeks. That'd make four outstanding proposals, on top of the expected two-year contract. Each one of them represents the potential to hire another one or two or three additional employees over the coming year or so.

Some of you have followed me on this journey from desperate academic seeker to whatever I've become. Three years ago, I wrote:

I know where I want to be in 5-10. I want to be director of an interdisciplinary institute or center on my area of study, bringing together researchers and faculty from a variety of disciplines and methodological backgrounds to focus on the subject matter.

I find myself, three years later on the verge of heading just such a team. Not quite the plan I had. In some ways, more independent. I'm not running an insititute or a center, I'm running a start-up, a bootstrap as they say (meaning not a penny from investors, just me). I've gotten two contracts, and a third on the way, enough to hire a small team. And it's all on me.

There's an ad I've seen on the web, showing a business card, that slowly adds more and more titles: President, CEO, Accountant, HR, Receptionist. I chuckle. It's not a joke. I'm the grants writer, and the payroll specialist, the PI, and the maintenance engineer, the purchasing agent, and the janitor. But soon, oh so very soon (even if it's months away), I'll be the director of my very own hand-picked research team, engaged in my very own hand-picked projects.

It's humbling. And inspiring. It's what I wanted those years ago. In a sense. The odd thing is: I fell into this role, being an entrepreneur, a business owner. Looking over things, I came across a post over at BlogHer by my friend Leslie , that linked to some of my posts from early 2006, when I was still in the thrall of academia, wanting so much to just persevere long enough to make it. I never did, at least not in that realm... but oh I held on.

It's just somewhere along the path, I meandered. I tired of the monotony of application, rejection, application, rejection, appli... Finally, I emerged, hesitantly, uncertainly. Less than a year ago I got word of my first contract four years after completing the PhD. Four .. very .. long .. years. Only a month ago, I got word that the transition funding was approved, and that I was invited to submit a two-year contract.

This is all still new, the paint is still drying. Yet another chapter in my life is about to begin. Wow!


timna said...

Your progress is really impressive and exciting. I've been reading long enough to remember the academic job search.

All the best!

Leslie M-B (trillwing) said...

I agree with Timna--it's been very exciting to watch your progress, and to see your learning curve (on your other blog) as you wrestle with the repercussions of legislation about funding and more.

My job situation is looking grimmer by the week, so I may be joining you sooner than I'd like!

Lilian said...

Good for you, I remember all of it, obviously, having also cited you several times...

I'm really happy with your progress!

Oh, I was very distracted while reading your post by an ad by a former "pseudo employer" of mine, the for profit organization named after mythical bird that emerges from the ashes. I cannot help but feel very very upset just looking at that ad, that logo, that name. I feel the burning desire of writing a scathing post about this pseudo university. Blah. I've never googled anything to find disgruntled former instructors and or students, but I sometimes feel like doing it. If I didn't know it was going to be a waste of my time, I'd do it.

Anyway, sorry for the semi-rant, but I was really bothered by that for reasons that go beyond my conscious control.