Curveball

What happens when life throws you a curveball… in a good way? When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When life gives you delish lemonade, you drink it! After consulting as many friends, family and colleagues as possible.

Lemon

About a year ago I was approached by a professor from the Acoustical Society in the same technical field as myself (musical acoustics) asking when I would finish and what I was going to do when I finished my Ph.D. If you’ve done or are doing a Ph.D. you know that this is not a nice question. It is the largest unknown…WHEN. And the what, well I’ve been struggling with that for quite some time. Hence the 21 years in school 😉

Long story short(er): he might have a physics professorship open up at his small liberal arts college near Orlando, Florida and he’d like me to apply.

what-hi

Fast forward 6 months (next conference): he mentions it again. I tell him again that it would be a great opportunity and to keep me in mind for sure.

Fast forward 3 months (next conference, in France): he mentions it again. and he has 4 students with him willing to talk up the department and school.

Fast forward another 3 months (last week): I get an email, offering me an interview for a visiting professor position at his college for 1 year, beginning August 2015. The position will likely turn into a tenure-track position after the first year (at which point I would have to reapply and interview).

Questions I had:

  • BUT I won’t have finished my PhD yet:
    • Good news Whit, it’s ok! You can accept this position without your PhD and finish up writing during the year teaching (if you manage your time well and REALLY buckle down in the next 10 months before the position begins!)
  • BUT I don’t have teaching experience! Isn’t that kind of the most important part of a liberal arts college, teaching??:
    • Good news Whit, teaching is something that can be learned (or so I’m told) … it takes a particular personality, a charisma and interest in learning the “art”. If you have these things (which they say they’ll likely pick up on in the interview) then it is likely I will become a good teacher. Perhaps even great! I never counted out teaching from my future but it always scared me. If I were going to teach, I would want to do it well. A small liberal arts college allows that. And being a visiting professor for a year, this would be my only professional responsibility, teaching. If I end up being terrible at it after a year, or hate it … I can leave. Move on to other things. A tenure-track position is subliminally somewhat of a short/medium term life decision. You will need to devote your next 6 years to getting tenure. If achieved, it’s possible to move to other things (other Universities), from what I understand. But in certain situations, it’s a life position.
  • BUT I will have to leave France sooner than planned!:
    • This is one of the things I am struggling with. My heart pulls at me when I consider leaving this country right now. I had begun to like the idea of staying here for at least a few more years past my Ph.D. Kind-of figuring myself out. If I accept this position, I will not have that chance. I will not have time. Obviously this means possibly living apart from the BF for a while. But that conversation has already happened and ended in a “well, Florida sounds great!” 😉 So I may be leaving France but I would get to take a pretty awesome part of it with me. 😀
  • BUT I never thought I would live in Florida!:
    • It’s true that after all this time in France, traveling, adventuring … Florida seems pretty tame to me. BUT, it’s still new(ish). And, I would be closer to family, at least for a while. My older sis lives in Florida. And some cousins. And at least it’s a place where your family would want to visit !

and the kicker…

  • BUT this isn’t what I planned
    • If you’ve ready my blog for a while now, you’d know I am a planner. Like over-obsessivly. I make to-do lists daily, by hand and in online agendas. It’s actually quite ridiculous, but it’s me. My BF makes fun of me because I attempt to plan things months and months in the future while we don’t even know what we are eating for dinner that night. It’s a problem, I know. And because of this problem, I find it hard to stray from the current trajectory. But when an opportunity comes a knockin’ … why should my obsessive planning brain say no automatically just because it isn’t what had in mind? Who am I to say what my future holds?

 

I think the whole thing is exciting and I want to try! If I have learned anything from years and years of school … no matter what task I face, I will do whatever I can, everything I can to be the best, to win. Teaching at this level will be a challenge but I think I want to face the challenge, I want to see what I am capable of. This is a challenge unlike grad school and the PhD, completely different! But the prospect  motivates me.

SO. I took the interview … it’ll be at the beginning of November, just when I arrive in the states (but after a week long acoustics conference). It’ll be a whirlwind two months in the states but I figure they’ll tell me before Christmas if they want me. Then some decisions will be made.

images

And hey … being down the street from Disney and Harry Potter world wouldn’t be that bad, would it?

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One thought on “Curveball

  1. That’s exciting! Congratulations! And you certainly don’t have to have any of that figured out to go on an interview. Maybe being there and getting a feel for the place and the people you’d be working with will give you more confidence — one way or the other — about the decision.

    Bonne courage!

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