What You Know Now

Here is a question. Is there anything you know now about your profession that would have made you reconsider choosing your career path had you known it at the time of choosing?

I was extremely ignorant about what the life of a North American academic was like when I decided to pursue it. I was a very recent immigrant, and my knowledge was similar to the kind we have about life in other galaxies. Or the kind a toddler has about the structure of the family’s budget.

I think I might have thought twice (and probably still made the same choice) if I knew about the suffering Olympics and the culture of negativity. The positives I didn’t know about, though, outweigh all this by far.

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5 thoughts on “What You Know Now”

  1. I didn’t really appreciate how relentless the struggle for funding to maintain an active lab is in academic science before I started. I’ve survived OK so far, but it’s definitely not one of the more fun aspects of the job.

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  2. I don’t have a career, I have a series of temporary jobs as a warehouse workers, and the unwelcome parts of it were exactly as I expected – drudgery, occasional managerial incompetence, and a larger than average number of insufferable oafs as colleagues.

    There are, however, surprising things about it that I did enjoy – that the pay was entirely enough to cover my needs and more, that the rote work helped quell my neurotic tendencies and allowed me to think more calmly alone in private than actually being in private does, and that there were far more intelligent conversations to be had than I expected – I’ve met journalists, historians, programmers and statisticians working here.

    I’m still rather miserable, just not as miserable as I expected I’d be.

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  3. I did not realize how different it was to work for a private school, a regional, or a state R1. I thought everyone had the state R1 mentality. I had studied at 2 of these in US. Abroad I had studied at 2 public R1s and had dealings wth 2 private (Catholic) R1s that had a lot of features of the public/secular ones, I now realize, so that was why they seemed fine to me, and at 1 regional that I hated but didn’t know enough to diagnose the actual reason (regionals are not right for me). One of the public R1s had some features of regional and I didn’t like it as much as the other, which was USP (University of São Paulo) and was divine.

    I of course realized these things instantly and wanted to quit — public R1 or do something else, go into engineering and work for a firm, anything (although my actual ideas weren’t as different from what I do as that) but didn’t think I could be right, kept saying I should try it, try to adjust, learn to sacrifice, and everything. I really regret this.

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  4. The suffering Olympics and culture of negativity is an East Coast thing, though. I have only encountered it in people who studied there. I’ve always felt sorry for the sufferers, my life is SO much better than theirs even though I’ve taken bad advice staying in academia and haven’t had as nice or interesting or productive a life as I could have done.

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  5. In 1998, I was told that it was almost impossible to become a Cégep teacher and that it was super duper easy to be hired as a statistician. After all these years, I have never been officially a statistician, not an epidemiologist, nor an economist.

    So, I should not have listen to these scammers in 1998 and
    I should have gone for the pedagogy diploma, and I would be a cégep teacher today.

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