Making your own career rules

Radhika Nagpal, a computer science professor at Harvard, has written a wonderful piece called “The Awesomest 7 Year Post-Doc or: How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Tenure Track Faculty Life.” It’s about maintaining good emotional hygiene in the academic environment. She writes: “It seems to me that at all levels of academia, almost regardless of field and university, we are suffering from a similar myth: that this profession demands – even deserves – unmitigated dedication at the expense of self and family. This myth is more than about tenure-track, it is the very myth of being a ‘real’ scholar.”

Her program:

  • I stopped taking advice.
  • I created a “feelgood” email folder.
  • I work fixed hours and in fixed amounts.
  • I try to be the best “whole” person I can.
  • I found real friends.
  • I have fun “now”.

Although the piece focuses on the particularly obsessive world of academic teaching and research, its insights regarding the cultivation of rational, personal expectations can be applied far and wide.

(h/t to Clarissa’s Blog)

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