01 June 2011

Thirty by thirty: personal development, #12-14

Whew. Two categories down, three to go! So far I've covered Family (in part 1 and part 2) and Service.

And now it’s time for some navel-gazing, that especially self-critical part of the list I am calling “personal development”. These are things that don’t really benefit anyone but myself, and really, in some cases don’t even have a lot of intrinsic benefit other than saying I accomplished them.

#12: Get published

This is a gimme on the list and I know it. I have already written an article on my thesis research that is ready to be submitted to a scientific journal. Seeing it through to publication is another beast entirely, as all scientific articles worth their salt are peer-reviewed, and sometimes peers do not think it is good enough, those jerks. I expect a good part of my working life will involve seeing this paper through to its final print edition, and it will require a heck of a lot more effort than many of the other items on this list.

Technically, though, I should admit: I am already published, kinda. A workmate listed me as a co-author on his article that was published earlier this year. And I just admitted that I already have a paper along its way to publication. Still, this is super important to me. The saying goes, if it's not published, it didn't happen, and by golly all my work these past many years has happened. I also put this item on the list to challenge myself: yes, chances are I will have at least one publication before I’m thirty and can check it off the list. But can I do it again? Could I do it writing something other than a research article? We’ll see!

#13: Earn a PhD

You guys are rolling your eyes. Don’t pretend you aren’t, I can feel them! YES, barring a catastrophic event, I’ll defend my thesis in under a year, which is before my thirtieth birthday deadline. Chances of not accomplishing this are nearly none (so long as I didn’t just jinx myself).

However, “finishing grad school in my twenties” has long been a goal of mine, well before I got this far along in grad school or became introspective enough to write this list. I have plenty of classmates and coworkers who started graduate school a bit later, and have defended in their thirties, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I told myself a long time ago that I came to grad school straight out of college and there is no way I will be in grad school for eight years. NO WAY. This is the only item on the list that if I cannot, for some reason, accomplish before I turn thirty, I will cry.

#14: Teach a college course

If numbers 12 and 13 were gimmes, I am totally making up for them with this one. This one is the long shot. I won’t cry if I don’t get to do it because it's too uncertain, but I'll aspire to it anyway.

I’ve gotten some teaching experience with some lectures and assistantships here and there through graduate school, which is great, especially because I’ve started to cement my decision to teach at the undergraduate level. However, I still need course organization and exam-writing experience. BADLY. Fortunately, there is a way! The local community colleges are almost always looking for graduate students and recent graduates to fill the adjunct positions at their schools. It pays peanuts. No, it pays peanut fragments left on the floor and stepped on a few times. Even if you have a PhD! But considering that shhhhhhhh, I don’t know what I’m doing, I think that’s fair pay.

The reason it’s a long shot is OH HEY, GRADUATE SCHOOL! And the funding mechanisms that provide my stipend and require me to devote 100% effort to research! In other words not pursuing any dreams of practical teaching skills development! So basically in order for this to happen, I have to be 1) done with graduate school but 2) not started my postdoctoral fellowship yet and 3) living with my gainfully employed husband who is supporting me financially while I devote all my time to following my dreams for virtually no pay, tra la la (i.e. I must find a job and stay in the city where he is employed, i.e. Nashville).

A LOT of things have to happen, many of which are not entirely within my control, for all of this to fall into place. Those things are tedious (as if this list wasn't already tedious enough) and not worth writing about, so suffice to say for now that this is a semi-long shot.

I've got a few more personal development goals on my 30 by 30 list and they're next on the list. Stay tuned!