Friday, January 8, 2010

More Interviews, More Life

I was saying the other night to RocketMom that my professional life today is better than I imagined when I entered graduate school, better even than I imagined when I completed the PhD. I thought I'd go to school, write my dissertation, marking off some niche of research interests, present my conference papers, publish some articles, a couple books; I'd get a professorship somewhere, moving up the ranks from Assistant to Associate, maybe Full Professor some day, possibly Chair or Dean; I'd teach my requisite 2 or 3 classes per term, sit on a few (too many) committees; advise students (sometimes invigorating, sometimes depressing); and continue on, adding interests, classes, or assignments here or there, dropping those that fail to hold my (or others') attention.

But here, now... I'm free, and involved. My research projects are self-directed, though with ever an eye to market needs (however that market is defined). What are the real world problems out there that touch on my research interests (there are many!)? Which of those can I bite off and chew? Which of those can I attack and resolve? How can I present my work to convince others to support that research, that I will succeed in the effort? So far I've done a pretty good job at that.

Yesterday, I held my second daylong interviews session. The first one, in November, resulted in one new full-time hire (starting this Spring). Hopefully yesterday's session will result in one or two more new hires. I am decided on an offer to one of them; the second I'm still deliberating over. It's all in my hands. That's a burden, and a pleasure.

We passed through the agency accounting audit with "no major deficiencies" noted. Everything is moving into place; everything is just clicking. I'm no longer really waiting for the bad news to arrive. But I am curious whether it'd even perturb me at this point. It's like having the car you always dreamed of, but understanding that it may get a scratch or a bump now and again.

At a recent entrepreneurship gathering, I developed a new image of my relationship to the business. I used to think of my business as being coterminus with my research. But I decided a better image is that the business is the vehicle I drive to carry me and my research from one location to the next. There may come a time when I outgrow the transport, take my things out of the trunk, and pass it along to a new driver, or the junk yard. For now, the vehicle is quite dandy. I think I can handle a few dents and dings.

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