February 14, 2012, 11:23 am
I’ve been thinking about constructive criticism–the kind we give to graduate students or mentees–and how they receive it. Over the past few years I’ve noticed a bit of push back from students and mentees. My faculty friends and colleagues have told me they get the same kind of push back. Now, don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with push back–you have to stand up for what you believe. However, I’ve watched individuals struggle and have difficulty with their job search while neglecting to follow any of the advice their mentors have given them. Sometimes these students are headstrong. Other times they are convinced that they know what is best and that they know how to build a faculty career. Here are a few examples:
I have had students and mentees who present at academic conferences on a regular basis but they don’t publish the resulting papers. Many time…
December 8, 2011, 11:48 am
Sometimes, I get frustrated with my students. Just the other day I was talking to one of them about his career. He told me that he wants to make a difference. He wants to help underprivileged youth. Yet in the same breath, he told me that he had to make a lot of money and pretty quickly. He told me he wanted to have a big house, a new car, and to live the ‘champagne life’ soon. Upon graduation, he secured a job working with college students in a somewhat haphazard but wholly innovative environment. His job came with a wonderful role model, a good salary, and the opportunity to shape an institution in rich and meaningful ways. Before he took the position, I advised him to make the most of the experience and to learn everything he could from the leader of the institution. Unfortunately, my student did not take my advice. Instead, he has become bitter because he has to work…
May 15, 2011, 8:51 pm
As a professor, attending graduation ceremonies and parties is always a bittersweet experience for me. Although I am happy for my students’ success, I’m always a little sad to lose them to the “real world.” Don’t get me wrong—I’m happy to see them move on to a professional career or more school, but given all the time and energy we professors spend on students and their dreams, it’s hard to say goodbye.
As I sat through our graduation ceremonies at Penn this year, I loved looking at the faces of the students. Some looked sad, others frightened about what is in front of them, and others were beaming with happiness. Year after year, I get choked up during graduation. The thought of what these young people are going to do with their lives is so exciting and hopeful. Many of them are not even aware of their potential. Imagine the surprise when they discover it. I…