…and it’s kicking my ass, as you can probably tell from my lack of posting. Last October, I posted on how I was diving right into the deep end (see: What’s the difference between 18 and 27?) because my feeling was that academia is sink or swim and those that can cope will, and those that can’t cope won’t. I was most decidedly in the camp that thought they could cope and things would be easier once I got a grant or two under my belt. This led to a, shall we say, promiscuous year applying for any and all proposal solicitations that were remotely in my area (~10 NSF-length proposals, and ~10 smaller opportunities). I wanted to make sure I got some funding in the first year to get off to a good start.
It turns out that when you get more than 1 or 2 grants under your belt, it becomes very difficult to cope.
I have done less planning for my class than I would have liked and herding graduate students is definitely like herding cats. On the flip side, I’m not going to burn through my startup in the next few months (which was a big concern only 6 weeks ago!) and I received some grants (yay!). And I’m in a weird position where I’m looking for students and I need to hire them but their first year is all classes so they have no time for research. Additionally, getting grants opened up an entirely different
sinkholeworld within academia which is the accounting/bookkeeping/reporting side which I’ll save for a later post.
I think the most interesting aspect that I’ve noticed is the new-shiny feeling has definitely worn off everywhere. I remember I was really nervous (and excited) in the days leading up to my first class. What if my notes are too short? Too long? What if my voice cracks or my fly is down? What if I misspell something stupid or have a Freudian slip? All of those things that I was very nervous about last year are absolutely no concern for me this year. Aside from the last minute panic of “oh crap, have to prepare a syllabus”, it feels very business as usual.
I’m still plugging away on grants, although not at the pace I was last year. I’m definitely taking a more measured approach which I think will improve the quality of my proposals and hopefully my success rate. Additionally, I’m part of a fairly sizable multi-uni effort that will hopefully pan out in the next few months (it’s one of the reasons why I haven’t had time to post).
I hope everyone else in academia has had a good start to the semester and has a fruitful year!