Happy Prof-iversary to me!

Aug 31 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Today marks the official 1-year point since I started my faculty position here at NJU. And what a year it's been! Taking a page from the Neuropolarbear handbook, here are some musings on the first 12 months.

  • Unlike NPB, I do use my office landline phone. It's an easy way to know that whoever's calling has nothing interesting to say.
  • I will think VERY carefully before agreeing to create a lecture course from scratch again.
  • The first time an undergrad calls you "professor" is pretty much one of the best things ever.
  • You can make yourself look way more dressed up than you actually are by wearing a necklace, I am so serious. I never used to be much of a jewelry person at all, but on an impulse bought some cheap dangly thing at Ann Taylor Loft (or we are just calling it "Loft" these days, I guess?), and I love it. Between that and this other necklace my future mother in-law got me for Christmas at TJMaxx, I feel so grown up! If you get a long one, you can wear it either long or doubled up, and it's like having twice as many necklaces! Anyway, that is my fashion tip for you.
  • It is amazing to me the ease and transparency with which some undergrads will try to bullshit you.
  • Alternately, there are some undergrads whose wisdom and maturity are equally amazing, and I find myself thinking, I didn't have my shit half as together as this person when I was 28, let alone 21.
  • I don't know why, but I continue to be surprised by the fact that I can ask for something and get it, even stupid stuff. My desk is L-shaped, with one side of the L about twice as wide as the other, the intent being that you sit facing the wider side. Nearly a year ago, the contractor was finishing its assembly, and he put the pencil drawer on the wide side, where it normally goes (in front of the desk user). But I could tell that it was going to be hanging too low and would hit my legs, so I had two choices. Suffer thigh bruises for the next 5+ years, or see if something could be done. So I said, "is there any way to move that drawer to the other (non-sitting) side of the desk?" and it turned out there was, and he did! Big teaching moment, there, and I'm only being slightly hyperbolic. Since then, I've also asked for and gotten: 1) an extra room for behavior testing; 2) a new, better, custom-designed microscope room; 3) an extension on the time limits of my startup. There can be a feeling when you first arrive, like,  I just got this gigantic pile of money and space, wouldn't it be greedy to ask for more things? But the reality is that there may be things that you can justify, and that wouldn't actually be all that hard for people to do for you. As they say with jobs, grants, etc, the only way to be sure you won't get it is not to apply/ask.
  • Running journal club with my small lab is one of the absolute most fun and rewarding things about this job.
  • I still kind of feel like I'm making things up as I'm going along. I've had both good and bad instincts, but so far only one thing has caught fire, so I consider that an overall success.

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