Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New versus Junior

DrWife said something very interesting to me, which I thought warranted a blog post. First, some background. 

Yesterday, I was part of a large planning meeting involving multiple universities on a research consortium where I am the greenest person in the room. Unlike most junior (emphasis will make sense shortly), when I'm asked to be part of a meeting, I actively participate, give feedback, ask questions, etc. I really dislike just sitting in the corner, acting like another n00b prof, where its seems like I'm either too timid to join in or too worried about pissing people off while I'm untenured. I figure that if I'm asked to be a part of a meeting, then expect me to be participating in that meeting. Otherwise, it's a waste of everyone's time.

The problem with this philosophy is that I have a tendency to either 1) get dragged into tangential arguments, 2) end up putting my foot in my mouth, or 3) get "worked up" where I can't let things go. (Number 3 I know is going to be my downfall in the future unless I can get a handle on that.)

Well, in the course of the meeting, I did overstate a few things and realized that I was going down a path that was going to get me kicked out of the consortium, regardless of whether my point was correct or not. 

Later in the evening, I was filling in DrWife on the details and she said something that was pretty profound, at least to me. "Remember, you're the most junior person in the room by a long shot. It's not like me at my SuperAwesomeSauce Company. At SuperAwesomeSauce Company, I may be a new employee, but I'm not a junior employee. Academia is still a hierarchy. You may be part of the faculty, but you're junior faculty." (emphasis is mine)

Her statement really hit home, hence my post on it today. I'm not sure what do or say, if anything, about it. I feel like I am a contributing member on both of my faculties and I feel like I'm doing all of the things that a faculty member should do (research, teach, service). But I'm a junior faculty member as opposed to a new faculty member....