Jesse comments on “Aspiring Academics” – Part 1


The recent AAG text Aspiring Academics: A Resource Book for Graduate Students and Early Career Faculty edited by Solem, Foote and Monk (2009) offers a great deal of information in just a few pages (212 pages). Clearly as a book aimed at academics it references other academic materials on the various topics. As I read through the text on the flight back from Las Vegas I thought of several online and ‘real world’ examples and resources that might be useful to readers. This post covers section 1 of the book, chapters 1-5.

Chapter 1 Time Management
-GTD is the acronym for the philosophy that spread through tech and business sectors. David Allen’s ‘getting things done’ is an effective way to plan your activities and projects. No one does GTD more amusingly than merlin Mann of 43 folders.

Chapter 2 Career Planning
-This is a significant area of importance and due to the restrictions of the text’s topic looks at only the academic issues. But with the market as it is and the reality of changing interests through the grad school we have to look at jobs in government and the private sector as well. There several jobs that ate outside of academia that allow for research, teaching and service just like that plumb tenure track job that you could have gone after.

Chapter 3 Collegial relationships
– In most jobs if you are not a team player you are no longer a player at all, but academia allows you a certain protection from your own arrogance and self-absorption (it’s ok, it is the reason we thought we could go for a doctorite in the first place). There are several sites out there that talk about working with others, but let’s face it…just sit down and watch Dr Phil to know how to get along with others.

Chapter 4 Balancing your life
-Apparently after you graduate you are allowed to have a personal life…I will believe it when I see it! Until then I will jump back to GTD which is intended to help you effectively do the things you have to do so that you have time to do the things you want to do.

Chapter 5 Tenure and beyond
-Here I will point you to the new Quake Live or Yahoo! Games because that is the only help online. Tenure is a bizarre process, but it is the goal for many. All you can hope to do is decompress occassionally to maintain your sanity between collaborative sessions on Google Docs for that latest paper, comittee minutes, or tenure application letter.

Career planning and personal management is a significant issue in any job, but clearly academia has a few extra steps, hiccups, issues, whatever you would like to call them. Check back as I will bring more notes on chapters 6-14 in parts 2 and 3 over the next couple of weeks

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Jesse is Instructor in Geography and a PhD candidate in Geography focusing on the integration of phenomenology and geospatial technologies to study prehistoric cultural landscape. He is a GIS Professional and Registered Professional Archaeologist and holds an MA in Geography and a BS in Anthropology with a concentration in archaeology.