grad school proverb: don’t burn your bridges

One thing I tell students is that grad school is something like an apprenticeship.  Most students know this, of course; they are focused on selecting their mentor.  But they often forget that the apprentice provides something to the mentor in exchange for the training and mentoring.  So I often say that nothing comes for free.  The trick about grad school is getting someone to care for you – someone to invest and train you.  The flip side of this is not to burn bridges. I know of a student who switched mentors.  This student had published with the first mentor (that is, the mentor invested in this student), but then had dropped this person entirely.  The mentor was not on the diss committee (I think the mentor was a reasonable person to include, btw), but the new mentor did not exactly make the student a high priority.  So the student, in my opinion, entered the job market without strong advocates and lacked strong investment.  No placement.

grad school proverb: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

A soon-to-be unemployed adjunct receives a call telling him/her to apply for a new VAP position.  The job is likely a lock given the adjunct’s record and connections to the department.  The adjunct tells the connection that he/she will apply but will take a tenure-track position at another place if that comes through.  No offer is made.

Categories: advising, proverbs, students


Interesting list about self-sabotage in academia.  The advice is practical, and I certainly seek to hit the sweet spot on most of these.  What’s really interesting is the “self” aspect of this; it implies personal failure.  What about all the structural issues that produce disparities?  Not everyone has the same opportunities, ya know.

Categories: colleagues, i have issues


Fabio posted a nice list of “rulz” for faculty advising of sociology dissertators.

Categories: advising, students


I go to a lot of Starbucks.  The coffee is decent, and I get free refills.  Starbucks is known to have a decent compensation package for its employees, but it doesn’t strike me as a job that requires a college education (obviously).  Given that, I’m struck by what appears to be an over-representation of whites in these stores. Given the proportion of minorities in food service, Starbucks seems much whiter than many fast food operations.  I wonder if they have Abercrombie and Fitch problem.

Categories: sociological eye

what comes around

I just heard about a colleague who was advocating vigorously for her candidacy.  Part of her self advocacy was to attack the credentials of the person who actually got the position.  Her actions back then are now be used as indicators of her ability to work with others and to fit into a unit’s culture.  It goes without saying, that her reputation has taken a big hit, despite being a competent scholar.

Categories: colleagues, karma, proverbs