Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Post-script

So yeah: a lot of people are interested in moving jobs some day. There's nothing wrong with that. But here's a tip: when someone you barely know asks you--just conversationally--how you like your job at X, your response should not be, "it's a good first job."

Maybe you've absorbed the snobbery of your grad school cohort; maybe you're afraid of your interlocutor's condescension or pity. But I swear to God: I'm not even a job-seeker, and when I hear that I still want to punch you in the face.

13 comments:

Comradde PhysioProffe said...

I know you're talking about the opposite, but there are some ILAFs at which almost no junior faculty ever make tenure.

Withywindle said...

How often have you heard this?

Flavia said...

CCP:

Yeah, that's not the issue. These are people who are (probably without meaning to) coming across as enormously entitled and as thinking themselves "too good" for their jobs. At least three were at less-prestigious R1s, a couple at private SLACs with something like a 3/2 teaching load.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to move, wherever you are. But what I'm describing is situations where I'm chatting with someone I truly barely know--a friend of a friend, whom I just got introduced to over drinks, or someone I was on a panel with--and to whom I've said something like, "hey, you're at X! Nice part of the country. How do you like it there?"

Withy:

Maybe half a dozen times?

Withywindle said...

Six times too many ...

Historiann said...

Hee-hee. Now we know what provokes Flavia, the Good Catholic, to violence!

(**Putting on my sympathy cap.**) All I can think is that the "first jobbers" look up to you & your work, and they know you're moving to a second job, and they want to alert you to their ambition. But graciousness and a willingness to bloom where you're planted goes a lot farther than condescention! (At least, here's hoping.)

Flavia said...

Historiann:

Ha, that's generous indeed! I do realize that it comes from a place of anxiety, but it's pretty socially clueless. And, oddly, I've generally heard it from people who are at equivalent or better jobs than my own, which makes the social faux pas even more glaring (and I've not heard it since I got my recent offer, actually).

I can say that at least one of those people has grown out of this attitude (see, I even remember who some of the individuals are! another reason not to do this, kids), and is flourishing. I hope the same is true for the others, but I really don't know them well enough to say.

Doctor Cleveland said...

I can confirm that Flavia has heard this thing in conversation, very much unprompted, from people she did not know especially well.

I'm a bit surprised by it, too.

Susan said...

Just no. No one should ever show that much contempt for their institution - both their colleagues and their students.

And if you told me this when you were I terviewong with us, you'd get a big black mark in my book.

Flavia said...

Susan:

EX-actly!

It's also curious that the people who have said this to me don't ever seem to wonder whether I might know other people in their department (often), or even the intimate details of their hiring (in one case). Not that I'd ever rat them out to their colleagues. . . but someone who isn't me very well might!

Contingent Cassandra said...

This strikes me as the sort of thing you say *only* to people who know you very well (and vice versa), and only in private, and only if you really, really trust the person's discretion in not repeating it at the wrong moment (which might rule out saying it even -- perhaps especially -- to some relatives).

I wonder if your elite-school background has anything to do with people's willingness to say it to you? It strikes me as the sort of thing someone from a similar background (or aspiring to end up at such a place) might say to someone they know holds a prestigious degree or two, not realizing that some of us who come from such backgrounds think there's some very good work being done outside the ivies (or even the R1s) and aren't necessarily panting to return.

But if they didn't know you well (unless you were being introduced by, say, an undergrad or grad classmate whose background the person did know), that theory might not wash.

Doctor Cleveland said...

I agree with Flavia that this is not a smart thing to say, by any means.

I think it grows out of people's anxieties about being judged by the job market; it's a way of deflecting the fear (quite often I expect the u examined fear) that you willw be looked down on for "only" getting job X or Y instead of job A or B.

But, as Flavia points out, this is such an unexamined response that I have heard people say it to people who have *less* prestigious jobs than the speaker has. Living the unexamined life makes you unintentionally rude.

Phoebe said...

Amazed that anyone would say this. As others have said, it only makes sense if they for some (bizarre, neurotic) reason think they're being judged.

Anonymous said...

I often say that my job (which I'm still in and have no intention of leaving) is a great first job and that's because it is. I got my position straight out of grad school with little teaching experience and my colleagues did a wonderful job of mentoring me and helping me figure out how to be a teacher/scholar in a supportive environment. So, yeah, I'm one of the people who say this, not in the way that people here seem to hear it, and I mean it. And i'd like to think that for grad students considering whether they want to teach at a SLAC hearing this is useful.