Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dr. Amelia wants you to keep your chin up

An Ivy League proffie has published a CV that details everything he didn't get along with the things he did. Nice reminder that even for those at the top of the profession (aka not me!), it's a journey.


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  2. This strikes me as a useful exercise. The list is probably unsurprising to most apparently-very-successful people, but may well be surprising to many students (perhaps especially today's students; I'm once again reminded of our recurring discussions of what seems to be especially high anxiety, fear of failure, etc., etc. in this generation, a mindset that leads to everything from reluctance to participate in discussion to what seems like over-the-top disappointment at not getting into a particular college).

    The only surprise to me is that he remembers (or has records of) some of the failures/rejections listed, though it looks like he's at least a decade younger than I, so he probably has more of his early records in electronic format. There's at least one item on his list that I, too, applied to once upon a time, but it took his list to remind me. It may take a certain mindset/personality to remember this stuff.

    On the the other hand, I will admit to saving the one rejection letter I got in response to my grad school applications, from a very prestigious program and university, on the off chance that I ever found myself working in that program/university (in which case I planned to frame it and hang it on my office wall. That seems very unlikely at this point.)

    Mostly, my reaction is to think that I haven't worked hard enough at collecting rejections (i.e. applying for things) in the last decade or two. I've tended not to bother, on the theory that many things are out of reach (forever, or until I complete and publish an amount of writing that seems implausible under current conditions), and I still think that there's something to be said for realism, but there's also something to be said for reaching a bit, and, if not knocking one's head against brick walls, then at least knocking on the occasional door, perhaps even a bit insistently.

    So maybe I should get to work on that. But first there are many, many papers to grade.

  3. I actually did this in one of my classes once, showing my students my "shadow resume." It was a very scary exercise for me, because my list of failures is incredibly long.

  4. I note that Prof. Hrala has in fact made some of the sections lists of partial successes. For the first few rounds of my faculty search I never got the faintest nibble. Then I landed a phone interview. And the next year an in-person interview which actually lead to a job.

    But for the first few years I was counting personal rejections in the kinda-sorta-a-win category. Because it was that or break down and cry.

    If I still had the data to list places I applied to for a faculty position and didn't get so much as a call at it would run onto two pages all by itself. Even the ones that I thought plausible would probably be the best part of a page.

    That's before we talk about the Ph.D. programs that would be happy to have me attend but couldn't offer any support (tantamount to a rejection in the physical sciences where some kind of stipend is par for the course).

    Then there is the professor (of a course in my major) who said I'd had "monotonically decreasing performance over the term".

    I think CC's got it right: I should try to rack of a few more failures in the next couple of years. And who knows, the horse might learn to sing.

  5. I suspect a line was drawn somewhere. Haushofer's CV certainly doesn't include the great devastations and regrets:

    Rejected by Sally Jo Smith when I invited her to the senior prom.

    During the rehearsal dinner before my second wedding, I inadvertently overheard my mother tell my brother that he had always been her favorite child.

    Failed to ever tell my father I loved him before he died.

    . . .

    1. Or as Ralph from Rutabaga Ranch said, "Quit frantically reaching for the top rungs of the ladder. What's waiting up there is not what you're chasing."