Friday, January 25, 2008

Seeking Clarity

Relationships with the advisor are tricky things. I'm told one professor here is entirely hands-off, so that most "meetings" are brief exchanges whenever advisor and advisee pass in the hallway. One student is fine with this; one changed advisors over it; a third tried it then requested and received a regular meeting scheduled.

The relationship with the advisor is incredibly important, so I didn't dare rock the boat...until it capsized. Individual meetings with a mediator were arranged, a joint meeting is in progress.

There were no job descriptions or contracts provided when I became a graduate student, just a brief list of milestones and the deadlines by which they should be reached. Last semester, confusion and controversy reigned as I tried to figure out why I was doing an RA's work while being paid as a TA (my advisor's other graduate students were doing the same work without the added work of teaching). I don't know for sure what adv wants, other than taking all steps possible to avoid further shipwrecks, but I'm hoping for a job description.

People who are organized and meticulous enough to manage research shouldn't be expected to like or even manage fluid, semi-stable situations. Every future professional relationship is getting some kind of contract.

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