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Ask a Senior Colleague- Spring 2017

Section Editor: Elaina Behounek

Question: What is your favorite part about being in the academy (or your position)? What do nontenured faculty have to look forward too?

Response 1: I love teaching and mentoring. In addition to teaching regular classes, I run the department's internship program. I love this because I learn the changing framework of the local criminal justice system through my students' experiences. Once I became full professor, I felt the freedom to concentrate on those things that I truly enjoy without worrying about evaluations of any kind.

Response 2: 1. That I get paid to conduct research on what is important to me (even if I'm funding some of it out of my own bank account, I have a paying job that makes this possible).  2. That I almost always get to teach what I want and I always get the amazing freedom of designing my lectures/classes and choosing the readings. 3. That my job is helping to create social and system change, and nowhere is this more likely than the huge number of undergrads who've been in my large classes over the past 30+ years. 4. That I rarely have to get dressed up for work.

Response 3: My favorite part about being a professor is the freedom and flexibility I have over the work product (what I teach, research, and write about, and the service I do) and the work process (how and when I do all of that work).

Response 4: I can’t state one – I have three: Interesting work that lets me learn every day, my colleagues and the flexibility it allows for caring for my family.

Response 5: The best part for me is the flexibility in time - which means I can fit in teaching and research, with family time and fun. I think nontenured faculty can look forward to relief from the pressure and insecurity of the tenure-track time, and can plan more longer-term projects

Response 6: To be honest, one of my favorite parts of being an academic is the flexibility, both in terms of actual time and in what I do every day. As for time, as a single mom, there are very few other jobs what would allow me to challenge myself, feel fulfilled, and still be able to be there to pick up my child at the end of the school day or go to his extra events. But there is also the flexibility of the work itself.  Post-tenure, I switched research topics (for awhile at least) and explored areas that I found to be interesting – even if they were not resulting in the consistent annual publications.  This is a privilege but also gives us the space to think about new areas and bring new perspectives to the work we have been doing.

Response 7: A few fun things about being a tenured faculty member is (1) Job security; (2) Excellent breaks (Summer, Winter & Spring); (3) Relatively flexible schedule (especially if you have kids); (4) The ability to drive your own interests in teaching, research and service.

Response 8: What I enjoy is that my post enables me to write and think and do research and communicate ideas. It feels privileged to have a job which is interesting and stimulating and well worth having worked for. I am a Reader in the U.K. So tenure not an issue like the US.

Response 9: I love the flexibility, creativity and opportunity for impact that my tenured position at an R1 provides.  I can do a TV interview in the morning, teach on campus about my research in the afternoon, be home to greet my kids at the bus stop, and then teach a course I adore in the women's prison in the evening.  It is a busy life, but one over which I have a great deal of control.  I'm very grateful.

Response 10: One of my favorite parts of being a professor is teaching about issues that have a major impact on people’s lives. I get to share information about common social problems with a large number of students who will, by virtue of taking my classes, be among the most educated people in the field on the issue. One of my favorite parts about being an academic is the flexibility of being able to arrange your work schedule to a much greater extent than most other jobs (although this differs dramatically across universities and countries). I also love that there is a cycle to the semesters and academic year, with a beginning, middle and end of each semester and different pace of work on different tasks at different times of year.

Response 11: My favorite part about being in academia is the flexibility that the career offers.  First, it lets me have a very flexible schedule.  Obviously, I have to teach class, attend committee meetings, and so on but other than that, I can dictate my own time.  I can choose when to work from home and when to work (or not work!)  If I want to take a day off, I can.  If I prefer working at night and sleeping late, I can do that too.  When my kids were smaller, I could usually stay home with them if school was closed or had an early release day, or if one of them was sick (unless I have class!). Second, academia gives me considerable flexibility in my work activities – the actual work I do.  I have a lot of control regarding what courses I teach (and when they meet), and what I cover in those courses, and, of course, I control my own research focus. As a result, I am able to teach courses and conduct research on topics that interest me, and can work with terrific colleagues around the U.S. and abroad. Seriously, what other job lets you work when you want and on what you want?  Academia is terrific!