Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A friend's academic journey

It's crazy to think that a year ago I was interviewing for faculty positions. Time really does fly when you're terrified of what the future holds.

A friend from my National Lab days after my MS went to industry after his PhD and now he's applying for positions in a similar field to mine (this is his 2nd application cycle). I helped him with his applications but I still have no idea what committee members look for. He's only applied for 3 schools this since he's very particular about where he lives. And he's said that this is his last year. Otherwise, he'll just stay with the company he works for forever. This will be more monetarily beneficial but he says he isn't stimulated.  Now, I don't view him as a spectacular researcher, though he does have great pubs and he went to a top-10 school for his BS, MS, and PhD.  One big thing is how his students react when I ask about him.  THEY LOVE HIM!!!

They have mentioned how he is the sole reason for keeping in the field.  He clearly cares about students; much more than most profs I've talked to.  He's far from selfish and can truly inspire students while getting some cool results out.  I guess a lot of profs have fed back to him that he doesn't have enough academic interbreeding....that he went to the same school (though a great one) for all his degrees.  He needed to stay close to home for family reasons...his dad was very sick and died which he was in grad school.   I never heard of academic interbreeding before this.  And I kind of wish I wouldn't have.  Now I'm wondering if when I get to be on search committees if I'll pass judgment on this simple metric.  This is someone that really cares and if you feel the main job of a professor is to educate, then he's perfect.  I told him to look at maybe some R2s that wouldn't care and maybe make his way up.  His schools are better than mine, but wasn't able to change schools because he took care of his dad.  So his career is forever tainted.  

1 comment:

  1. The other term people use is "academic cross-breeding". It makes sense for the most part, but your friend could have taken a position at a good school or industry after the post-doc. This is another way of "diversifying".