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Jayo
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24 Dec 2013, 11:34 am

Sometimes I wish that I'd gotten a PhD and taught at a university/college, given that my career in office/team settings has frequently run up against pernicious forces that have left me seeking therapy or doubt (did I choose the right profession as an IT systems analyst - the better part of me thinks I did, but...unspoken agendas and expectations abound, which are like Japanese to me.)

One time in a corporate job I had a boss who told me flat-out that I'm better off in the academic world, teaching material to students and answering a minimum of questions - because I simply don't have the spontaneous intuition to keep up with group/team dynamics and demands. I'm sort of compelled to agree, unfortunately.

I know that being a university professor is totally a stereotype (or rather, archetype) of someone with Aspergers; eccentric, fully absorbed in and unswervingly devoted to a field of expertise; lacking executive function (absent-mindedness) and so forth. Picture a prof behind a cluttered desk having a student in during office hours, and he's not making eye contact with the student, but rather looking down at his desk and giving long-winded responses not noticing that the student's already satisfied with the response 10 seconds ago, etc, etc.

But I see advantages to the position, too - almost to the point where I'd consider going back for a PhD (I already have a Masters that I did part-time while working) and teach, even publish material. Maybe I'm naive, but somehow I think that a university teaching setting would entail less politics and games and so forth, I mean you have the hierarchy of adjunct profs, full profs, assistant chair of the dept, dean of the faculty etc so it's human nature that some favourite-playing games would be going on, and determine who gets what research funding, tenure or promotions...I mean, I'm not that naive to believe that there's an absence of such NT-endorsed games, but I would presume that it's more decent and less rampant than in the corporate world.

So in any case...is anyone here (or has been) a University professor, and how did you find the work - immensely enjoyable, satisfying enough (hey, it pays the bills), or total hell??



Liblady
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24 Dec 2013, 12:15 pm

I'm not a university prof, but one of my former staff members is married to a history prof who is almost certainly an undiagnosed aspie (at present they're a bit afraid of discrimination if they get him an official diagnosis -- what happened to me coming out in the library setting being one example of what can happen). If you PM me with your email address, I would be glad to forward it to him and put you into contact. I'm sure he would be helpful. I don't know a great deal about it, but they had to move around a lot until he finally found a tenure-track position. His wife told me he finds the classroom rather challenging, but I think the opportunity to research what he loves for a living makes it worth it.



LabPet
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24 Dec 2013, 4:46 pm

I do follow your reasoning in terms of finding a suitable profession. Academics might be a good route for you to direct your interests. And yes, there are professors who are Wrong Planet members. Jayo, I am a post-doctoral researcher: I have a PhD. After completing this post-doc position, I hope to find myself a position as faculty, i.e. assistant professor.

I'd encourage you to pursue your PhD. While I'd like to say it's all about the research & 'raw talent', this is not wholly true. Just like any other profession, those who network well and get along get the funding and move ahead. Still, if you're persistent and patient (Aspie traits), then you'll do well. In academia, I've noticed that those who are willing to persevere are the survivors. Choose a research path that's your passion and stick with it. I do like it, but I also know that there can certainly be favouritism, but isn't that true of most professions? Try to find even one or two whom you do trust, and keep them by your side. Nobody does research alone, so you'll want to find your niche and work hard.

All the best Jayo, I bet you'd make a good professor. Why not enquire about a PhD programme for this autumn? :study:


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Waterfalls
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24 Dec 2013, 4:47 pm

I'm not, but I have heard academia can be very political. Maybe depends where you are?



LabPet
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24 Dec 2013, 4:48 pm

Jayo wrote:
One time in a corporate job I had a boss who told me flat-out that I'm better off in the academic world, teaching material to students and answering a minimum of questions - because I simply don't have the spontaneous intuition to keep up with group/team dynamics and demands. I'm sort of compelled to agree, unfortunately.


Yeah, and we'll take that as a compliment :wink:


My edit (Jayo, this is a quasi-PM): http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt200144.html A member started this *sticky* in the Members Only Forum, Highly Educated Aspies. It's gotten kind of off the track, but you might find ideas.


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thewhitrbbit
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24 Dec 2013, 7:06 pm

Quote:
teaching material to students and answering a minimum of questions


I work at a University as support staff. I can tell you that one of our PR points is our engaging, interactive, accessible faculty.

Quote:
I'm not, but I have heard academia can be very political. Maybe depends where you are?


It is EXTREMELY political. It's the only job you elect your own boss.



TiredMom
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25 Dec 2013, 7:41 pm

I am a prof--and you should know that universities are changing very rapidly Teaching at a small college might be fairly low key still, but it's very competitive and increasingly "corporate" in bigger schools nowadays. I would never encourage my daughter (our beloved Aspie) to do what I do. Way too much stress. S



Latinist
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04 Jan 2014, 1:32 pm

Interesting topic. :)

The academic world can be very businesslike in the sense that you will have to network and 'sell yourself' and your ideas, at your home university and on congresses. When there are few PhD-positions, here in the Netherlands the favourite students who network best get them.... Not always the best students, unfortunately. :(

But if you submit articles to journals, this is most commonly anonymous. You will have much more chances to be judged on your merits. And you get the opportunity to work with your interests, which is a privilege, and meet many intelligent people who like to talk about the same interest.

Depending on what you like, the frequent travel and often moving from place to place/country to country can be an advantage or a disadvantage. I like this, I would find it exciting. But it can be stressful too.

This is what I know from people around me who went into academia or have the plan. Personally I'd like to do a PhD, and go into politics as an advisor/speechwriter back home afterwards. I hope that is possible by that time. Good luck you all! :)



tarantella64
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08 Feb 2014, 2:07 am

You're thinking of a university from 1960, and even those were hideously political. See every academic novel or play ever written (by writers who'd had visiting terms teaching creative writing).

I'm looking for the door out. Deeply unhealthy, deeply dysfunctional environment where the money's going away and the tenured have license to treat everyone else horribly. It's like Lord of the Flies except a grownup fails to show up at the end. Actual businesses are much better.

Even if the politics were okay: talking to students all day long. Answering student emails late at night. Being wary of obviously psycho students about to fail out of school. Etc.



LupaLuna
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08 Feb 2014, 10:20 pm

I have never been a student at a collage or university. But I have sat in on classes trying to decide whether or not I would like to go back to school again. I don't know if any of you notice it but the professors at those universities are on some kind of ego trip. It's like they don't care about the students at all. But I guess your right. it all ran by business and politics.



leafplant
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09 Feb 2014, 10:23 am

I also want to do a PhD but only because I want to get lost in research for three years, not because I want to play the game that comes with it. The point of becoming an expert in a topic is that others can come to you for information/opinions on that topic. This is the last thing I want for myself, I absolutely HATE it when people come to me with questions, although I enjoy going to other people with questions. So I could do a PhD but then wouldn't be able to use it for anything sensible as my overall aim in life is to reduce the number of people I *have* to interact with and be left with just those people I *want to* interact with.