Monday, September 7, 2009

So Odd

The applications have been trickling in. Tonight I received my second application from a standing assistant professor. It's so odd to be receiving materials, to be on the hiring end, to get these respectful, deferentially worded letters—Dear Dr. Dad... thank you for the opportunity to apply...)—eager, enthusiastic, hopeful. I remember so well the effort I put in. The one I received tonight shows enormous energy, and impressive credentials.

I wonder how many more I will receive before the deadline in a week and a half. Will I really be able to hire the best? Will I pale in comparison to their accomplishments and potential? How many nearly-best applicants will I have to pass over, simply because I haven't the funds (like so many departments) to hire more? Will what I have to offer them actually satisfy? I thought I'd be vetting unemployed PhDs, those like me who've spent inordinate effort for nothing. But I've yet to receive an application from that sort. Either they've just finished or are about to finish their doctorate (in one case, only a Bachelor's degree), or they're already Assistant Professors. Where are the mes of the world?

I've created the post I was looking for. But I'm no longer applying; I'm the boss. How odd. How truly odd. And the chickens are not yet home to roost. Something could always fall through. The two year contract may be delayed, or fail to get finalized. I don't expect it (at this point it's highly improbable), but I've grown leery of overconfidence, and I've gained a rooted sense of pragmatism. I know that whatever occurs, I'll be fine. The boost in my confidence and the validation of my research that I've gotten over the past couple years is enough to sustain me for quite a while.

Even in the worst case, however, we won't lose our house. I'd still be able to cover the mortgage on the new office building downtown for a couple years. I worry about those hopefuls whom I'd be forced to disappoint, the ones who by right I ought to hire, whom to be honest I would be thrilled and honored to work beside.

I remain confident that things will continue to progress. I have this second project commencing in the next couple months. I have transitional funding from my first project through the end of the year. And the two-year follow on contract remains only a few (albethey significant) formalities away.

If all goes well, I will be hiring some of the choice candidates in the coming months. I will move into my new office in the next month. I will have stable and rewarding employment for the next couple years.

Joni Mitchell's words and Judy Collins' voice best sing my life today:
Moons and Junes and Ferris Wheels,
the dizzy dancing way you feel
when every fairytale comes real...
But now friends are acting strange
They shake their heads and say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
in living every day...


Lilian said...

Well, my favorite version of the song is from Mitchell's own recent beautifully orchestrated album Both Sides Now, but I agree that it's a lovely song that fits in well with what you're going through.

And I'm very surprised to see assistant professors applying. Are they unhappy with their work? Or risking not getting tenured? Odd indeed.

undine said...

"both sides" indeed. It must be gratifying to have assistant professors applying to work for you.

Kris Peleg said...