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Author Topic: Funny things said by non-academics  (Read 98815 times)
postmodern
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« Reply #30 on: June 29, 2007, 11:06:41 AM »

My non-academic father is working with a dean at X university to develop a degree program that his company can hire graduates out of. This program, and my father's field, are not even close to my field. My father told me he could talk to this dean about getting me a job in the art department at X university.
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eeggers
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« Reply #31 on: June 29, 2007, 11:18:53 AM »

My husband's boss really likes him and wanted him to stay working in the city we live in.  When my husband told him I was looking for jobs, he offerred to call a guy he knows in the math department at the hometown Univ. and tell them to hire me.  I'm sure the math department would love to have a neuroscientist to teach calculus... :)
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menotti
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« Reply #32 on: June 29, 2007, 11:47:10 AM »

This one I found more irritating than funny.  There was an editorial cartoon awhile back which said something like:  When businesses need more money, they widen their product line, research their markets, cut costs, and raise prices.  But when academics need more money, the only thing they do is raise prices (i.e., tuition).

As if every university in the country wasn't busy developing distance ed., certificate, adult master's programs, etc.; branding themselves to appeal to certain groups; and hiring adjuncts to replace full-time faculty. 
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mishy
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« Reply #33 on: June 29, 2007, 11:54:28 AM »

I think a lot of people who aren't in academia don't "get" that the academic job market is an entirely different animal.  They think that what works for getting other jobs - knowing someone on the inside, getting one's foot in the door, etc. - will also work to get an academic job.  My family is always suggesting that I "send my resume" to Hometown U.  I explain that Hometown U doesn't have a position open and would probably consider me crazy for sending my "resume" for no apparent reason.

Also, my non-academic spouse doesn't get why I write so much for no money and, since there is no money involved, why I care who publishes me.

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dagny
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« Reply #34 on: June 29, 2007, 12:23:40 PM »

What a fun thread!

I've had acquaintances both vastly over- and underestimate what a typical new professor makes. While I was on the job market, one relative ominously informed me that a friend of hers only earned $19,000 per year (surely she was an adjunct; I never got that whole story). Other relatives seem to think that I'm rolling in it and joke that my husband should quit his (way better-paying job) and stay home with our baby.

A coworker of my husband once asked him "So, what do you talk to your wife about? Do you always have to talk about science and stuff?" He hears things like that a lot. Another coworker of his was shocked to learn that I'm a baseball fanatic, but then said "Oh, I guess there's lots of statistics, sure!" like that made it all make sense.

Not one person in my family has ever asked me what my research is about. I think they assume that all I do is teach a class now and then.
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mytiaraisaskew
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« Reply #35 on: June 29, 2007, 12:29:50 PM »

My uni has three different campuses in three somewhat far-flung areas - I live in one of those areas, but I happen to teach at the campus that is furthest away because that is where my rather specialized program has its home.  I am constantly asked why I don't just teach at the campus nearest to my house.

Me, too.  I teach in a muti-campus university system; one of the campuses is located a couple of miles from my house, but the campus I work at is about an hour away.  The phone guy was here the other day and, as we got to talking, I mentioned what I did and where.  His response?  "What?  Isn't X Campus good enough for you?"  My reply:  "it's lovely, but they weren't hiring when I needed a job.  The dog does so enjoy eating, so I took the offer from the place that made it."
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Fear my Righteous Scepter of Wrath!  (with thanks to prof. viola)
dagny
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« Reply #36 on: June 29, 2007, 12:31:55 PM »

Another one: I once had a student come to my office for some advice about going into a field that was completely unrelated to mine. When I suggested that he consult a professor in another (more related) department, he got very annoyed, as though I should know the answers to all his questions. When it became clear that I would be no help, he asked (rahter aggressively) "Well, what have your books been about?"

I explained that in my field, we primarily publish articles in scientific journals, and that books are much less common.

He then asked me how I got my job if I hadn't published any books, because "that's how professors get hired, right?"
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vortex
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zen


« Reply #37 on: June 29, 2007, 12:42:30 PM »

This is a bit field specific.  When people ask my wife what I do, she tells them "he's a mathematician."  They invariably say something like, "oh, he must be a genius!"  (If I tell someone what I do, they just say "oh, I was terrrrrrible at math.")  Or say, "he must keep your checkbook in order," and "so what does he do, accounting?"  Sadly, most mathematicians seem to have trouble calculating a tip, let alone balancing the books.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2007, 12:43:14 PM by vortex » Logged

It is in this fathom-long body endowed with mind that the beginning and end of this world are made known. -- The Buddha
mytiaraisaskew
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« Reply #38 on: June 29, 2007, 12:42:57 PM »

One more from me:  two days ago, I was at my neighborhood mini-mart and the woman who normally waits on me (and admittedly, she and I have not talked about job things before), said "don't you work?"  Methinks it was because I'm often there getting a morning shot of caffeine at 8:30 or so.  She's clearly been dying to ask me about my profession (or, apparently, the lack thereof) for months, and she finally worked up to it.  The look of sheer amazement that I got when I said I was a college professor was absolutely priceless.  Apparently in her mental narrative of what I do, "college professor" never entered into it.  She was boggled.  Out of consideration, I did not mention the publications--that would have been too much for her to process.  Maybe I'll save that for next week.
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Fear my Righteous Scepter of Wrath!  (with thanks to prof. viola)
dr_stones
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пошлите законоведами пушки и деньг


« Reply #39 on: June 29, 2007, 12:56:55 PM »

This one I found more irritating than funny.  There was an editorial cartoon awhile back which said something like:  When businesses need more money, they widen their product line, research their markets, cut costs, and raise prices.  But when academics need more money, the only thing they do is raise prices (i.e., tuition).

That's because we have a constrained market with asubsidized product for which there is more demand than supply.

Up, up, up the middle class!
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"History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme." Samuel "Steroid Free" Clemens
grasshopper
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« Reply #40 on: June 29, 2007, 1:05:59 PM »

My extended family, who are very proud of me but have no idea what I do beyond "study and teach religion," are always asking me when I'll be able to apply to be Pope.

But what I find most humorous is when academics assume that they're such different animals than the rest of the world - especially in my discipline. You'd be surprised at the number of Religious Studies scholars who think that because they study religion, they're somehow magically immune to it.



I think a lot of people who aren't in academia don't "get" that the academic job market is an entirely different animal.  They think that what works for getting other jobs - knowing someone on the inside, getting one's foot in the door, etc. - will also work to get an academic job. 

What's funny about this is that sometimes, knowing someone on the inside does get one's foot in the door. That's why we network, and why we secretly love it when we get a chance to talk to Big Name In Our Field at the annual conference. 

See? We're not so different.

Of course, being jobless and sans PhD at the moment, I'm talking out of my ass.
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blacksheep
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« Reply #41 on: June 29, 2007, 1:10:46 PM »

This is a bit field specific.  When people ask my wife what I do, she tells them "he's a mathematician."  They invariably say something like, "oh, he must be a genius!"

I get this too quite a lot and it annoys the heck out of me. I love math, and thoroughly enjoyed all of my coursework, but I worked my arse off, and am not a genius.

I once tried to refute the whole genius thing with someone and he started arguing with me that no, I definitely must be a genius. This went on for some minutes before I just gave up.

People also tend to think that all of my coursework involved working with numbers. Trying to explain things like symbolic logic to them makes their eyes start spinning. It's kind of fun!
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mdwlark
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« Reply #42 on: June 29, 2007, 1:22:20 PM »

A friend suggested to me that I hire a professional headhunter.   I explained that headhunters know the corporate market; they don't understand the academic market.  He insisted that a headhunter could let me know about all the jobs available that I'm not aware of.  I told him I pretty much know about all of the jobs available in the US in my field, that I am linked to several job posting sites and get email notifications about jobs, and the problem is not finding jobs to apply for, but getting the job after I apply.  He was not convinced. 
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nothuntingnow
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« Reply #43 on: June 29, 2007, 1:22:47 PM »

A distant family member once commented on the fact that my Christmas gifts to (very) extended family were "stingy."  She mentioned that, since I was *almost* a doctor, I had tons of money.  That's right... "almost."  I was a 4th-year doctoral student at the time, living on a TA stipend.  Twenty dollars for a gift for someone that I see once a year was difficult, but it was even more difficult after hearing that.  To make things worse, the person to whom she was complaining agreed with her!
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bronwyn69
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« Reply #44 on: June 29, 2007, 1:29:34 PM »

My husband one told a client of his about me writing a book (meaning the dissertation), the client said something to the effect of, 'Great! She'll make lots of money.'

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I'm all, "Up yours with your arugula in March."  
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