Multiple choice

Congratulations! One of your graduate students has accepted a position with a college or university. Right now you feel:

  1. Proud
  2. Disappointed that the market is so tough this year
  3. Baffled at his/her choice
  4. Glad s/he will be clear across the country.

The position is:

  1. A tenure-track professorship at a major research university
  2. A teaching-centric job at a prestigious liberal arts college
  3. At some mediocre school whose name you can’t remember
  4. Not in academia
  5. In (sotto voce) administration.

Remember when he or she was just a wee young first-year student?

  1. No, like medieval parents, I never name them until they’ve survived a year
  2. Yes, s/he was so overwhelmed and eager, like a puppy
  3. Yes, what an arrogant little know-it-all
  4. Yes, but only because I’m great with names.

S/he worked in your lab because:

  1. I recruit anyone with that much potential
  2. S/he was so fascinated by our research
  3. The chair said I had to take him/him
  4. I’m not sure we could actually call it “work.”

In your letter of reference, you referred to him/her as:

  1. “One of the brightest students I have ever had the privilege of teaching”
  2. “I know hyperbole is common, but s/he really is the best I’ve ever encountered in 30 years”
  3. “A serious researcher with a true passion for science”
  4. “Competent, with a flair for drama.”

When you see him or her at the next conference, you will:

  1. Not a chance – there won’t be any travel funds with that job
  2. Give him/her a hearty slap on the back and offer to buy a drink
  3. Chat politely if they insist on talking to you
  4. Beg for a job.

About almosttruetales

The stories contained herein are entirely fictional. Any resemblances to persons living or dead are entirely coincidental. Anyway, what seems like a unique story probably plays out dozens of times in other academic departments each year. I don't know if that's consoling or depressing.
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