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Waiting and a Special Message to International Students

I am at a point in my academic career where it seems as if everything is about waiting. Waiting on job prospects, for dissertation feedback, journal submissions, and a bevy of other things.  It sometimes seems as half of grad school is spent in limbo.  I have coped by writing and working on new manuscripts and perusing new job listings.  However, the time of year is coming when many faculty positions are being filled and it makes one wonder if they will be in limbo for yet another year.  If you are in a similar position you know how it can feel to be waiting on everyone else.  I write this blog post to share my experiences so others understand that it is a normal part of the process.  We live in a society that worships the immediate and so few have learned delayed gratification.  The longer I wait for job offers and journal decisions, the more I understand how great it will be to finally hear good news.  Yet, I also feel powerless since there is not much I can do, but wait.  I am eager and optimistic for the future, but time seems to drag on.  If you are struggling with waiting for a faculty position, article, or committee response, realize that you are not alone.  If you have done the work and put in the effort, good things will come.

As a side note, I send my thoughts and encouragement to all of those international students who are struggling with waiting while also dealing with the issues presented by changes in immigration.  While it may seem that the US hates you because of the things the President is doing, rest assured there are some people in the country that welcome your presence and want to see you succeed.  While it is easy to think that all Americans are alike, this is not the case and not everyone is a xenophobe.  Good luck with your dissertation, research, and writing.  Stay strong and keep your eye on the goal you have set for yourself.  Sometimes that is all we can do.

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Dealing with Professional Rejection

A major part of academic writing and publishing is learning how to handle rejection.  I have had five publications so far and two more under review.  I am also working on three other articles at this time, but handling rejection is still difficult.  Today, I received a call from a university where I interviewed a few weeks ago.  The dean was very complimentary, but the sting of being turned down did not hurt any less.  I have spent 20 years of my life in school and the last 3 working on my PhD.  Each article I write is tackled with enthusiasm and hope and my interview was no different.  I felt like I performed very well and I was very confident that I would get the job.  Unfortunately, someone else did better and accepted the position. It was heartbreaking and it will take me a few days to get back to a place of normalcy, but the one thing that has always helped me to succeed is an attitude of never giving up.  In fact, I may not be the best scholar, teacher, etc., but I always seem to persevere.  However, this would not be possible without a good support system.  My wife, family, and friends have been very supportive today and throughout the process.  If it were not for them, I may not have the strength to forge ahead.  Therefore, I cannot tell you that rejection gets easier, but I can tell you to build a support system that believes in you even when self-doubt begins to creep in.  We will all deal with the dreaded impostor syndrome, but we can surround ourselves with people that will believe in us when we cannot believe in ourselves.  While today’s rejection will hurt for some time, hope still exists and my family and friends have helped to stoke that hope.  When you deal with rejection, whether it is from a journal, conference, or employer, remember that you did not toil toward a PhD or other terminal degree just to give up.  I write this for my readers as much as for myself and I wish you all good writing.

Getting it Done

Good afternoon.  I am sitting here in my office taking a break from dissertation revisions and thinking about the varying pieces of advice about when to write, how much, etc.  I know people that write in the morning, but refuse to right at night and vice versa. I have also been given many other ideas and tried a few.  Whether it was writing in short blocks, using the 5×50 method of productivity, or writing for an entire day each week, I found each to have pros and cons.  No system has been perfect for me, but I am currently using the self Journal from https://bestself.co/ to manage and boost my productivity.  I really love their approach and it is working for me.  However, I have tried some of the other ideas out there and did not like them as much.  Therefore, my advice is two-fold: 1.  Write everyday, even if it is a small amount, 2. Find a system that works for you.  It may take some time to find something that works for you, but as long as you are writing each day, you will get things done until you can find a system that truly works for you.  If a professor or colleague suggests working and breaking in 15 minute blocks and that interests you, then give it a shot.  But, if you find yourself working for 15 minutes, taking a Facebook break for 15 minutes, binge watching Netflix for 3 hours, and then writing for 15 more minutes, you may want to look at other options. When you find something that works for you, stick with it, but remember that writing is not always easy, requires perseverance, and it may take some time before you become your most productive self.  And now, back to my dissertation revisions.

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This blog will include short articles or even videos discussing the publication process, writing and editing, and myriad other items that readers may find helpful. There are many things in the process of writing and publication that can be challenging and frustrating, but it is my hope to use my experiences to help you navigate your journey through grad school and academia.