Monday, January 21, 2008

Comparing my Industry Job to my Academic Job

In this blog post, I attempt to compare my old industry job with my new academic job. It's a bit early to do this (less than one month into it) and it seems that all things are on a spectrum, nothing being black and white, but I'm going to give it a try anyway. Since I'm just starting a new job, there is a lot of "start-up" activities that I need to do that have nothing to do with academia vs. industry (get health benefits, unpack my office, figure out how to print and photocopy for free, figure out the email system, determine the fastest commute route from A to B, meet new people, determine who does what, etc.) I won't add those to the comparison.

My first attempt at a comparison:

In my industry job, I was accountable to a large number of people and groups. I had to ensure that I was doing the things they needed: my employees, my bosses, collaborating university students, collaborating university professors, others in IBM and external to IBM, etc. A great deal of my time was spent responding to their needs or pro-actively setting up processes or systems to enable me and the rest of the organization to respond to others' needs.

In my academic job, I am accountable to less people and groups. I expect this to change as I become more active on committees, with students, collaborative research, and teach more courses but I think it will still be less than in my old job. Now, a great deal of my time is spent deciding where I should focus my effort and responding to my needs. Of course, I have high standards and needs so I push myself hard but this is definitely one difference I've noticed so far ... one that I like!

3 comments:

estroulia said...

In my experience, a major source of responsibility in Academia arises from my relationships with my students, or more generally with my research team. I feel that I am to a great extent responsible for the progress of my graduate students, especially when they are just starting. There are so many decisions that a supervisor makes, or guides a student to make, on research questions, methodology, publication strategy, that have a great impact on the student’s career, that it is a bit scary sometimes. And you definitely do not want to drop any balls doing that. On the other hand, you get to channel some of your creativity through another person and see it grow in interesting ways, which is exhilarating. So it is probably worth it.

Kelly Lyons said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Eleni. Working with students is something I very much look forward to in this new capacity. Being responsible to and for their progress and experiences as grad students is huge. I see the way you are with your students and admire the all important role you play in their careers and lives. It is one of the main attractions of this career for me.

ankush said...

I feel that I play a major role in shaping the career of young individuals and I also feel that a person stays young throughout his life ,interacting with young generation everytime...