Brenda W. Shirley shirley at vt.edu
Wed Apr 24 08:17:35 EST 1996

Kelly Tetro wrote:

"Being a realist though, I am trying to keep my options open, but my dream
job is to teach at a small/medium size university that offers interaction
between the students and their profs and a wide variety of courses in my
speciality (microbiology). I want a small but productive lab (no more
than say 5 people) that encourages everyone to be the best that they can
be (not necessarily a scientist because grad school is so much more than
a thesis!)."

I just want to add a positive note to this discussion.  Sounds like I may
have that "dream job" but it's not at a small college.  I'm in the Biology
Department at Virginia Tech.  Rumor has it there were more than 200
applicants for this job - don't ask me how I got it!  I have a "small but
productive lab" with two terrific (male) grad students, several (female and
male) undergrads, an NSF grant for 5 years (not a TON of money, but it's
wonderful) and it looks like tenure may even happen a year early.  I also
have 39 terrific collegues in this department, mostly male of course, but
two full, one associate and one assistant (on the way) profs of the female
gender and a very supportive (male) department head.  This is a "big"
school - the largest state university in Virginia with a major research
focus.  I teach one course each semester and that is PLENTY, believe me,
together with interactions with undergrads in the lab and being on other
grad students' committees, to get all the teaching and mentoring
fulfillment I could possibly want!  This job is NOT what I thought it would
be and certainly not what it looked like from the outside, don't ask me
why.  What is most wonderful about it, and the reason that I no longer have
the stress headaches I had as a grad student and postdoc, is the CONTROL I
have over my situation, DESPITE the crappy grant funding rates and the
struggles to get work published.  I am really not some special case,
certainly no genius who knew all along she was going to make it!  All I can
say is HANG IN THERE, there is reason for hope!

By the way, I very much like Kelly's final point about "grad school being
so much more than a thesis" - I'll try to do a better job of remembering


* Brenda W. Shirley                                        *
* Assistant Professor           540-231-3013 (phone)       *
* Department of Biology         540-231-9307 (fax)         *
* Virginia Tech                 shirley at vt.edu (internet)  *
* Blacksburg, VA 24061-0406                                *

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