Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Ideal Life .... If You Can Get It

One of my friends asked me the other day if all things being equal and money wasn't a factor, what would I do for a living. The answer is easy for me: being a college professor. Now I know some people who are studying for their PhD's right now might look at me as if I'm crazy, but let me tell you about the life of one of my professors back at Arizona State University. Pedro is one of those people that I know no matter where I go in this crazy world that I will always keep in touch with. He will be the first to admit he has got a great gig.

Pedro's typical office hours ...
(and no, that isn't Pedro; he's not very Pedro looking)

I envy his life. He gets to teach a subject he thoroughly enjoys and has spent years researching. Unfortunately, he won't be teaching this fall because the entire department erupted into a chaotic mess of back stabbing, half truths, and disfunction. The entire fiasco got so bad that the president of the university decided that the entire department would simply go away and merge those profs into existing departments. So now ASU will have no Sociology department.

On top of that is the constant pressure to publish. Pedro could care less about seeing his name in some big name soc. joural; all he wanted to do was teach. He was often stuck with "Introduction to Sociology" classes which are like 300 students and just a pain in the ass to teach. But he was still happy to just teach. Unfortunately, the department kept pushing the whole publishing thing and became sort of a persona non grata with a few of those who wanted to see their names in lights along side with the greats like Cornell West or Henry Louis Gates.

Overall though, Pedro will always say he has a great gig. He teaches a few days a week (typically 3-4 classes a semester and usually on M,W, F). He goes to class in shorts, short sleeve shirts, and Birkenstocks. His office hours are usually dead because most students are simply taking the class as a requirement. Evenings he spends in the library going through some obscure articles and writes a bit each day. I know Pedro has spent years getting to where he is and I completely appreciate the work he's done to get there since I have a J.D. myself. But the fact that he gets to research topics he's interested in, write articles on them, design classes around the way that he likes, and gets to dress down is not a bad gig ... if you can get it.


MoDigli said...

the ability to design your own work experience and hours is pretty envious. But you also described some down sides to the job, like the big meltdown and the pressure to publish. I guess when you come right down to it, there is no perfect job. maybe just a perfect outlook? It all depends on how you look at things sometimes, and what you find to be interesting.

NML said...

I agree with modigli. It's all about perception of what we think is interesting and half the time, the grass isn't greener on the other side. Ultimately if we all do jobs that we're passionate about, you're onto a good thing. It is great that Pedro designs his own work experience - I plan to work for myself one day.

Ruben said...

Photography! but since money is definitely a factor, I will have to settle for the hum-drum life of business:(

Cincysundevil said...

I guess you're right (sigh); there is no perfect job. I guess outlook has a lot to do with it as well. I can say the outlook at my current job is absolutely shitty, i.e. I absolutely hate it
When you start your multinational, don't forget your blogging friends!!
When I got out of the Army, I actually thought about going to art school, but decided to just do the traditional thing instead. Should've just went the photography route maybe!