Sunday, February 27, 2011

Life as a professor

Occasionally a student asks me diffidently: "So, when you are not in the classroom teaching... what exactly do you do? I understand that class preparation takes a lot of time. Do you also do, like, research?"

Here is a list of the kind of things I do (or feel guilty about not doing) at work.

Preparing lectures, giving lectures, writing lecture notes, holding office hours.
Meeting TAs, preparing (or helping to prepare) assignments, grading (or helping to grade) assignments.
Advising undergraduates.
Attending faculty meetings, doing department committee work and university committee work.
Organizing workshops and conferences.
Journal editor work, Conference program committee work.
Reviewing conference submissions.
Reviewing journal submissions.
Writing recommendation letters at various levels.
Applying for grants, writing grant reports.
Preparing talks, giving talks, traveling to give talks.
Attending seminars, workshops, conferences; traveling there.
Reading paper, just for the sake of learning.
Meeting with students and research collaborators to do research together.
Writing conference papers.
Writing and revising journal papers.
Reading, processing, sorting email.

That is more than full time, so some things end up not getting done. For example, I almost never read a paper just for the sake of learning.

My favorite activities by far: meeting other people to discuss research, and lecturing. Because those activities form the core of this profession, it is my impression that it is a good profession for me. However it also requires managerial skills that I just do not possess, and that tends to spoil my life.

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