You ought to… February 15, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in career, education, grad school.
Tags: academia, career, community college
I was discussing some of my career aspirations the other day. After talking a bit, the person I was talking to lifted their index finger in that way people do when they’re trying to be thoughtful.
“You know, you really ought to get a job at a community college.”
I was floored. The person realizes that despite the fact I could have stayed here and finished my PhD in just a couple years, I chose to go someplace else and spend two years apart from my family because I didn’t want the stigma of “only been at one school”. Why would I do that if I wanted to teach at a community college? In fact, why would I go get a PhD at all? I could start teaching at a CC after finishing my MS and not put myself through all that.
I’m not saying this as a slight to community college teachers, either. I went to a community college for a couple years and had some of the most awesome teachers I’d ever met there. It’s just that 1 – it’s not really where I want to go and 2 – I don’t think I could handle it. Given the choice between research or technical work and teaching general ed-type classes, I’m pretty sure research would win out. I’ve learned that I can live without spending hours in front of students or grading papers, but I can’t live without the mental stimulation that doing technical work provides. Further, I’ve had the opportunity to teach in high schools as well as general ed labs for non-science majors. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I like teaching labs for circuits, optics, and physics. I love teaching, but I’ve also learned that the material I like to teach is not suited for just an average student. I like math and theory, and most community colleges are not going to be offering the kinds of things I would love to teach, at least not at a high level.
Now realistically, if that was the only job available, I’d take it and try to be a totally kick ass teacher that makes their students want to be great scientists and engineers…or whatever else they want to be. I just am not convinced that’s a good first career choice for me.
Anyway, this whole interaction was very disappointing because it left me feeling that this person either has little faith in me or really doesn’t understand my interests well at all. I do realize they had no intention of making me feel bad, but I still felt slighted. It was all the more disappointing given that this person, in the past, has been very encouraging of my career goals.