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Careers Café

Time so say goodbye, for now…

BY NICOLA KOPER | AUG 21 2013

I’ve had a great time working on this blog for the last two years, but it’s finally time for me to say goodbye. My reason for leaving will probably resonate with many of you. One of my first posts was called “just say no”, and while that post was aimed at urging young profs not to take on too many administrative responsibilities, the underlying reason for that advice was to make sure we all avoid burn-out. I’ve decided that it’s finally time to take my own advice. So ultimately, this blog is about choices.

It’s seemed like every year since I started my faculty position, I’ve been less concerned about the stability of my job, and I’ve concurrently become busier and busier. There have been so many amazing opportunities that I just couldn’t say no to, which have just accumulated to the point where I need to step back and set some limits. I’ve taken on keen students, brilliant students, students who just needed a break. I’ve pounced on opportunities to work with professors all over the world. I’ve had opportunities to help marginalized communities make a better life for themselves, and help our environment at the same time. How could I say no to these opportunities? That’s the problem … I couldn’t. And while I don’t regret a single experience, I now simply have too much to do, and too little time to do it all. I need to jettison some responsibilities, and keep only those that make the best use of my skills and provide the greatest social benefits.

When I started working on this blog, I wanted to give readers the perspective of a young, early-career prof. I had learned so many new things about the inner workings of academia, grant writing, teaching, and tenure, and I wanted to share those discoveries with other young academics. Now I’ve been a faculty member for eight years (and counting), and I don’t feel quite so young anymore. As I reflect over those years, my lessons can be condensed into these: I love being an academic. It is a privilege to live this life. Sometimes the money for research is there, it’s just not where I thought it would be. And if I do a great job teaching one student at a time, I can make the world a better place even if no one chooses to follow my environmental management recommendations. So those are the thoughts I leave you with… and I look forward to learning about the insights of other faculty members who might take my place.

I love UA. Reading it feels like sitting down with a colleague over a cup of coffee and talking about problems and opportunities that we both face. It’s been a privilege to be a part of that. However, I know there are other people who can now fill that role, and who can bring in a new perspective and new ideas to this online world. It’s time for me to put down that coffee and get back to my other responsibilities, and make time, at the end of the day, to go home to my family.

ABOUT NICOLA KOPER
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