Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The work experience kid

... has just come home from his first day in the office with a family friend who's a Senior Counsel in the city. Still looking pretty spruce in his skinny black jeans, dark red shirt, v-neck jumper and sharp black tailored jacket, he's collapsed exhausted in front of the Simpsons (well, I presume he's taken the jacket off!). He spent much of the day in the Supreme Court, observing appeals today; and meditating on the balance of incredibly interesting and boring that is the law.  He also had the fun of catching up for lunch with a dear friend who's doing his work experience in the Federal Court.

For his second week, next week, he's working in a fruit and vegetable shop in Brunswick.

Of all the things this boy has done this last year — grown taller than me, cycled in Italy, wandered around selected blocks of Manhattan on his own, performed with his jazz group at various school venues — this business of heading off into the city for work is the one that has most made me reflect on the years that have passed since he used to sit up in his high chair wearing a stripey jumper knitted by Nana and eating toast.

Weird to meditate on the nature of work, today, too. I gave a little talk this morning on a panel about finding academic employment. Don't know what planet the HR person was from: the advice to find an academic job by searching the University of Melbourne's job list would have sounded somewhat hollow to anyone in Arts...  But the muscle wastage expert and I were of surprising accord: no, the pay is incommensurate with the hours you put it; no, it's incredibly difficult to strike the right balance between teaching and research; but yes, the job is great and still worth doing if you love the research.

But the struggle never ends. As Gordon and I both said, you will be continually asked to excel, to exceed expectations, to perform and to compete.

For example. We've just heard that our application for an ARC Centre of Excellence (the History of Emotions, 1100-1800) has made it to the final cull. We think there are about 15 applications left, of which perhaps 10 will be funded. So I have to start preparing to go to Canberra to be interviewed in early July — and to Perth next week to be grilled by way of a practice interview. L'horreur!!! But it would be truly wonderful if this UWA centre, with nodes in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne were funded. Fingers crossed...

8 comments:

Clare Monagle said...

I am very hopeful for you all about the History of Emotions bid...

best of luck...

Penthe said...

Also, where but a university would you get a medievalist and a muscle-wastage expert chatting on the same topic? Brilliant.

Good luck with the grant.

Stephanie Trigg said...

That is true, Penthe: that is one of the best things about such panels; and such universities, too.

Jeffrey J. Cohen said...

Today is Katherine's kindergarten graduation. She will wear a little mortar board and receive a small certificate. Last night she and I were looking at her baby pictures together, and thinking about how little resemblance she bears to that chubby cheeked little infant now. She is all independence. So this post tugs at my heart!

As to the History of Emotions proposal: congratulations on making it so far! May it be funded.

frog said...

I am very glad to hear to hear that the proposal made it to interview stage. Ours did not (federalism) but it does make me feel better to know that such a complex and interesting proposal has made it this far - best of luck!

Stephanie Trigg said...

ANd here is the cutest pic of Katherine's graduation on facebook.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Frog, that is extremely gracious of you. This is a particularly hard round, isn't it, as there isn't another round for another 5 years... I hope your team at least took some pleasure in thinking about other things they could do together.

Byzantium said...

your reflections of the son returning from a day spent with lawyers and the law reminds me of stephen dedalus' reflections on hearing italian