Well, that’s it – my days as an academic, at least a research focused one, are drawing to a close. I have been offered, and will most likely be accepting, a new position beginning Spring 2008. The position is an administrative one where I will be directing a newly launched graduate program in my field. I’m excited, I enjoy the process of creating and implementing new programs so this should be fun. In any case, for me this is a job – not a career, at least not yet. If I don’t like it, I’ll look for something else.

At this point in time, I’m happy but a little bit numb. While I’ve worked through most of my angst about leaving academia, I didn’t anticipate making a shift quite so soon. I really wanted to, and was trying my hardest to find a new position, but escaping academia always seemed so difficult that I thought it would take a lot more effort on my part. Apparently not. It’s sort of like when you get ready to push an extremely heavy box of books, take a deep breath, bend and push with all your strength – only to find that your wonderful fiance has already emptied the box. And now instead of slowly crossing the threshold into your study, you end up with your face planted in the opposite wall 10 feet away. Umm this analogy is getting kind of scary so I’ll stop. But anyway, I’m disoriented, you get the point, ignore the tortured analogy.

The only thing that I’m really anxious about is the whole being at work every day thing – you know what I mean, as academics we work hard (or pretend to), but do have the option of doing it in our pajamas – I love working in my pajamas! Somehow I doubt that they will look kindly on that.

While I’m sure I will have many posts here about the transition out of academia, I have two immediate observations:

1) Anyone who has survived an academic job interview can do well in non-academic interviews. People are polite! pleasant! kind even! There are rules about what they can and cannot say to you. No tortured silences after they have told you that X (whose work has heavily influenced your, and they know that, and they know you know that) is so pitifully inadequate that even a cretin could see it. If you can hold your own in an academic interview and are worried about holding your own in non-academic ones – trust me, you can.

2) All that ‘flexibility’ sure comes at a price. I expected executive management at universities to be paid pretty highly, but was surprised by how much mid- to low-level administrators make. Let’s just say that while my bank balance is not going to be mistaken for Donald Trump’s anytime soon, for that kind of money I am willing to give up working in my pajamas (for a while anyway).

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