Imagining the Dream Job

This week has been about finding out what you do after you’ve written your dissertation and sent it off to committee.  A mandatory lag is built into the system to allow the committee time to read, so much of the week has gone to housekeeping (literally and metaphorically) around all of the things that I ignored last semester. I cleaned my closets.  I registered for dissertation credits to remain an active student. I started training for a 10K.

Most importantly, this pause provided opportunity for reflection.  At the most practical level, it resulted in an updated CV. On a slightly more dreamy level, it led me to contemplate the perfect job and it is…


That’s right. I aspire to being a research ninja and ambassador of scholarly ideas.  A bit epic sounding but I prefer to be entirely myself while dreaming and I aspire to epic, so there you have it.

I started this project with a quick google search on something like “compelling job titles” and came up with this article  on the power of the job title in terms of inspiration, description, and recruitment.   I picked up the roles of “ninja” and “ambassador” there.

Then I really thought about what I know and what I do.  Clearly research has to be in the title but it’s such a loaded term, especially when juxtaposed with “educational.” This led to more googling  and I came up with the definition for research you see there.  It reminded me of Sian Bayne‘s Smoothness and Striation in Digital Spaces.  I love that article so much I voluntarily summarized it  once while sitting in a bar in Newark.   That article makes me want to climb up on an urban camel and ride off into the distance.

The reference to Boyer’s Scholarship Reconsidered is personally meaningful as well.  As an extern for a central administrative office, I was tasked with identifying core elements of faculty productivity across disciplines and faculty positions.  Once I figured out how controversial my task was (it took five minutes), I knew I had to set up a concurrent independent study to examine faculty productivity from the perspective of the faculty member. I discovered Boyer in the process.

Like faculty productivity (and pretty much everything valuable, right?) job titles and descriptions are multifaceted.  They are beginnings and endpoints simultaneously – beginnings in that they should provide foundations of expectations but with plenty of interpretive space, and endings because people should grow into (and out of) their job descriptions.  Once the shoe fits exactly, it is time to move on.

Research ninja and ambassador of scholarly ideas is a reflection of what I value, who I’ve been, and what I aspire to grow into. It’s a dream job title. I don’t expect anyone to call me up and offer me this position (exactly). I’ll have to fight for it and settle for a less auspicious title.  However, writing it all down was a good project.  I recommend you try it out.


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