When you have been actively engaged in accomplishing one specific task for an extended period of time and you actually achieve your goal or finish that project, the next day feels both exhilarating and confusing. On Monday, I filed all of the necessary paperwork with the graduate school and cleaned out my graduate office. My long relationship with my university has come to a close.
I know that I advised new graduate students to prepare for these transitional moments, but something about this particular transition feels vastly different from ending a semester or sending off a journal article. It’s a seismic shift in where I stand in my professional life. I am not a student anymore.
In theory, the dissertation is meant to be the very beginning of a lifetime of research and scholarship production. The rest of the world does not see it that way. My dissertation is done so I should be done, right? Now that I am no longer a graduate student, there are a few things I need to clear up.
First, I will not miss writing at the coffee shop. That’s because I have plenty more to write and I plan to continue writing fueled by Stumptown coffee and scones at Hartford Baking Company. This summer I have two old journal rejections I need to resurrect from the back burner and send out. I will be devoting more time to Rogue Cheerios, posting more frequently. There is no shortage of work in my world.
Second, the summer is not a vacation for people in higher education. Sure the students are home working at their internships, but the summer (and other vacations) are a time to play catch up, to plan for the next year, and to make progress on other projects. I have been asked what I’ll do with my free time, but I have enough work to fill my summer. I ranted about this topic earlier this year during winter break. [I will probably continue to rant about this topic several times a year]
Finally, I am still unsure of my next professional move. I am luck to have a secure, full-time position for the coming academic year that actually starts paying me in July. I do know that I am a workaholic, so I plan to leverage the short term stability into massive productivity when it comes to research and teaching. I am terrible at relaxing and after serious layoff scare with my husband’s company yesterday, I am more motivated than ever to be productive so that I can find a secure job. That means over the next year, I’ll have a manageable teaching load and can negotiate the next steps of my professional life. When I know more, I’ll be sure to let you know, too.
My summer plan includes getting (hopefully) two articles in a publication pipeline, working on a new and fun project with my grad school bestie, prepping my courses for fall, and framing out a project I plan to start in the fall as well. I also plan to hang out at the pool and the beach with my littles, cook (many many things), grow vegetables, read the New Yorker, and exercise. Hopefully there will be sandy toes, lobster rolls, cocktails, naps, ice cream, and lots of blogging in my future.
Now that sounds good.