Thursday, April 05, 2007

But I'm not playing!

Walking back from lunch, I tell the boyfriend the good news about my friend K.

"K. is defending on Monday."
He thinks about it, "Because the best offense is a good defense."
He thinks about it more, "And we know that CS majors are offensive."

* * *

I was a mean big sister. Was. In 1992, my brother puberty-ed up to 6 feet, and I became the nice big sister that I am today.

Back when I was a mean big sister, I played competitive games without my brother's knowledge. We'd be walking to the car, and I would quietly walk a little bit faster, knowing I'd reach the car (store, house, tree) first. "I WIN!" I would declare. He'd cry, "But I'm not playiiiinggg!!" And I would laugh in my mean big sister way. Horrible. I realize that I deserve the bad things that happen to me.


The University of GradShitTownVille is exacting my brother's revenge. They are playing a competitive game against me. Unlike my brother, I know they are playing. Thing is, I just don't want to play. There's a variety of names for this game,

Publish! Get the biggest pile of publications and work at a Top 10 school!
Buzz! Lie to your colleagues about your accomplishments, and make people think you are better than you are!
Plagarize! Steal from old publications and put them in your own!
Intellectual Starvation! Need things other than CS Research to make you happy? Forget about it! You need to focus to get that Top 10 job!!

[ages 22 and up]

Because I'm not playing, people often tell me, "You are losing. You aren't good at this game. You aren't going to win if you keep this up."

Well, that's not exactly what they say. Their messages sound more like, "You don't have enough publications to get a good job. You aren't going to get a good academic job with this publication record. You can't prelim with this few publications."

And yet, I get all these recruiter e-mails. Google. Lockheed Martin. Wind River (which is a funny one, since they laid me off in 2002). They tell me they are interested in me. They tell me that my skills are a good match. They say nice things about me. I feel like that 13 year old girl with low self-esteem sought out by the 26 year old man. Perhaps you know her. She makes public phone calls to Dr. Drew Pinskey.


Jane said...

Hee hee. I did the same thing to my younger sibs too. Luckily I was off to college before anyone got big enough to beat me up. :)

I never thought about grad school that way before, but your analogy is pretty spot-on. Unfortunately, I feel that way about the tenure process sometimes, too....

Jordan said...

I had a wildlife professor who always said that getting a job or making it through grad school is all a game. If you play the game by their rules, you make it through.

Michi said...

The buzz can easily happen by accident - or at least so it seems to me. Going to a lot of conferences is fun, and builds contact networks, and then suddenly you're asked about your own research, and answer with what you hope to do but seem to be failing miserably with right now - and all of a sudden everybody's attention is on YOU.

Tale of my spring this year.

FemaleCSGradStudent said...

Michi, thanks for the happy story! I hope that this recent success helps you reach your goals.

pluto said...

> Because I'm not playing, people often tell me, "You are losing."

I think I know the feeling. To throw yourself whole-heartedly into the (often small-minded, ego-driven) academic game feels like a betrayal of your better self. But try to stay healthily aloof from it and you do get indirect messages that you're not doing well. Plus, although you try not to, you do compare yourself with those who are doing better at it than you are.
I'm not sure what the best thing to do is. I think a lot of us would like to know.

FemaleCSGradStudent said...

pluto, I really appreciate your comment. I'm not sure the best thing either. I've experimented with:

1. Do EVERYTHING advisor says. Only to be told I'm not "independent enough."

2. Do LITTLE my advisor says. Only to be told that I'm "struggling."

Neither of those experiments worked. Now I'm trying, "collusion." Stay tuned.