Life After the Defense

3 05 2010

My life seems completely different, now, than it was just last week. It feels like a huge burden has been lifted off of my shoulders, and I can breath again. In reality, my dissertation is due to the university today, but unfortunately mine will not be turned in today. Our dissertations have to go through and extensive format review process that can take up to 8 weeks! Due to various circumstances, I was unable to obtain full format approval from the university before the deadline, but thankfully our university has contingency plans in place. Since I had the body of my dissertation complete and I have successfully defended it, I have been granted a “walk extension.” This means that I will get to fully participate in graduation, walk across the stage and get hooded, and receive my blank piece of paper. However, I will not get my official diploma until my dissertation is accepted by the university. I have until July 31 to complete this task, and my diploma will still say May 2010! I will receive and “I” on my transcript until it is turned in, but then it will be changed and the university will provide me with written documentation to provide any potential employers. You all should have seen me Friday running around trying to figure out what I was going to do since I didn’t get final approval in time, and then when I discovered this process I let out the biggest sigh of relief…ever! In theory, I don’t have too much more work to do on it, so hopefully I can knock it out ASAP and be done with it completely.

In related news, my official interview (that I have known was coming for over a month) has finally been approved, and I should get the details today. It will be this Wednesday and Thursday! I am very excited to go and see if I will be a good fit for this place, and to meet the faculty in person. I’ve learned that you can NOT tell a lot about people from their faculty pictures on the school’s website. The good thing is that my talk is a research talk, so I will just give a shortened version of my defense presentation…that makes it a lot less nerve racking for me! I’ll be sure to let you all now how this one turns out!

JB, Ph.D.


The End is Nigh

25 04 2010

The past 5 years has had its share of ups and downs. There have been times when a year would pass in what seemed like a month, and then there were times when a month felt like a year. However, this semester has passed in what seems like a week! It has been insane! Between family, writing my dissertation, the job hunt, etc…life just hasn’t stopped. Alas it is all drawing nigh. My defense is this Thursday!!!! I can’t believe that this moment is finally here. Do I have time to savor it? Absolutely not! Between making final corrections on my dissertation for my boss, correcting format issue for the university, and finishing the presentation for my defense, I have no time to savor this amazing time. I guess that will have to wait until Thursday night!

Well, it looks as though I may have a choice between two jobs when it is all said and done. I am going to be offered the position with the university at which I recently interviewed (although they are waiting on university officials to send back the offer before they can officially offer me the position). I have also been informed that I am the top candidate for another position that I have an interview for during the 1st week of May (in other words, I should expect an offer unless I screw it up big-time)! While I was hoping that this would be an easy choice (i.e. I would only get one offer), it may ending being a decision that comes down to one or two deciding factors. If it does come down to that, I’ll be sure to post my pros and cons list so that you all can help me make up my mind!

Ok, now that my break is over…back to work!


5 04 2010

Things are still in a holding pattern with the job situation as of right now. I’ve been told that I am going to receive and invitation for an on campus interview at my #1 choice, but it has to be approved by some upper-level administrators at the university and that is holding up my official invitation. I’ve had a couple more phone interviews, and I’ve had a couple of more rejections filter through. One of the phone interviews that I had was extremely short. There were two interviewers and they asked a total of 3, yes three, canned interview questions and that was it. They weren’t even the types of questions where I could really expound on my answers…oh well.

The next phone interview that I’ve had recently is a job that really interests me, but it also worries me at the same time. First off, it is a VERY small college and a VERY small department (they currently only have 1 full-time faculty member). So, with it being so small, in my first semester there (this Fall) I would be teaching Organic I (with lab), General Chem I (with lab), and Environmental Chem (with lab). The first two aren’t an issue, but I’ve never even taken an Environmental Chem class much less taught one. I’ve been browsing some syllabi that are online for various Environmental Chem course, and it really seems like gen chem with an environmental twist, which I guess isn’t too bad. I really like this job for the opportunity that it offers me in expanding my knowledge through teaching, but I am worried that I would be a little overwhelmed with it being my first semester of teaching full time EVER!

Well, all of this talk about jobs is useless unless I finish my dissertation…back to work!

Life in The Slow Lane

2 03 2010


There are lots of slow things in my life right now; the decision making process by search committees, the writing of my dissertation, and my research. However, some things are going by at warp speed; time until my dissertation is due, my child growing up, and my life outside of academia. 

I knew that the search process in academia was slow, but I had no idea just how slow until I actually became the one waiting on the responses. I know that I may be a little (OK a lot) impatient, but it is just so nerve racking waiting to hear back from a university about the status of your application.  However, I can’t complain because I am about to have my 2nd phone interview, and I could potentially hear back from the 1st phone interview this week!

The Beat Goes On

23 02 2010

Well, not much has changed on the job front since my last post so I won’t bore you all with that right now.

Today, I was just thinking about the Ph.D. process and how it differs between science fields and between universities. My Ph.D. process has been rather disjointed at times. It seems that the profs in my department never really seem to know what needs to be done and when.  When I first started, I would ask someone, “Do I need to take class x or class y?” I would usually get an answer that was either, “Well, we don’t offer that class anymore,” or “I’m not sure, go ask prof x.”  It was very frustrating.  I somehow managed to survive my coursework.  Although, I think I took entirely too many courses, and some that don’t even have anything to do with my field! During this time, you would form your committee.  That was not bad since my boss pretty much told me who I should have on it.  So, after I finished the majority of my course work (usually after about 2.5-3 years), I took my qualifying exams. 

This process seemed to change every year. When I started, you could take them whenever you wanted, you just had to make sure everyone in your committee was on board. However, when it came time for me to take my exams they said that they could only be taken during x, y, or z months! So I waited for x month to come around and I got my committee together and they agreed that I could take my exams.  My exams consisted of 1 written exam per day for 5 days (1 from each of my committee members).  After you have taken all of your written exams, you had to get your committee together again, and have an oral exam.  This was where your committee got to ask you a bunch of random questions…it was insanely nerve racking for me because I tend to get very nervous around my committee for some reason!  However, I managed to survive! I then had my committee sign some forms, and I officially became a Ph.D. Candidate!

So here I am in my 5th year.  I’m in the process of writing my dissertation, applying for jobs, finishing up some lab work, and praying that I can get it all done and land a job ASAP.  I will then have a whole new set of things to worry about!

How was your Ph.D. process?  Any tips on how to get and stay focused enough to write on your dissertation for any appreciable amount of time? 

Have a great Tuesday!