Thursday, May 21, 2009

Closing A Chapter

Tomorrow is my last day as a post-doc. I've been thinking about the past year and realize that although there have been some frustrations, it has really prepared me for my new faculty position in a number of ways.

Specifically, at times I have been frustrated with the lack of structure and supervision. Flash back to my mini freak-out a couple days ago about the complete lack of structure (beyond the teaching schedule) and supervision, and in retrospect it has been really good for me to have a job where I didn't see my boss for days, sometimes a couple weeks, at a time. Would I have liked more guidance at times? Yes. But really this was a good dip into the pool of academic freedom (which, I have decided, can be defined in a couple different ways). And in retrospect, wasn't writing a dissertation a pretty solitary, unsupervised, and structureless activity? It was, but I didn't see that as my job. Of course it was because it was the one thing that consumed my days (and nights) for nearly two years.

The other frustration was the whole research process. I learned a lot about working with a school district, individual schools, principals, teachers, and students. While I may never again work in k-12 research in this same way, it has really given me an insight into what is needed to run an efficient and comprehensive study.

I know I've mentioned the whole "I like statistics" thing quite a bit. But this year has really confirmed that yes, at my core, I am a qualitative researcher. But I also understand the importance and utility of quantitative research. I have also gotten quite competent at data analysis. And like my boss says, it is a rare quality that someone can do both methodologies well. A fine compliment that I humbly accept.

My new position, Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education Program Coordinator and Instructor (phew...long title!), taps into my love of student affairs, desire to teach and mentor, and excitement of delving into the academic aspects of student affairs. There is a definite excitement about the coming year. Of course, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I have also been a bit freaked out about the seemingly complete autonomy. But I have been assured by people who know me well that I can do this and I have earned it.

Think of it: earning the right to work from home when you want, make your own schedule, set your own pace, essentially deciding the course of your career and your life for yourself. That I choose to be accountable and available to my students is, again, my choice. After all, we've all know faculty members who could care less about students. But again, building a good relationship with students and caring and fostering their success is the choice I will make.

And guess what? I know I have earned it. I know I deserve it. And I am absolutely amazed at the possibilities that lie ahead.


Sally HP said...

You really couldn't have written a better example of how a woman can 'have it all' (after a hell of a lot of hard work) ;) Congratulations, and have most definitely earned it!

Big J said...

I'm Proud of you and I know you will do great.... remember if you every feel over whelmed it is alright to ask for help. ( especially from me)

I love you !