my advisor means well

My advisor means perfectly well. He values mentorship and the guidance of his graduate students in an abstract way, gazing at education with affection from afar. But when it comes to the the nitty gritty of enacting his plans he averts, avoids, in favor of getting nose-deep into a grant proposal – or flying back to his home in Florida and (I suppose) getting nose-deep in a grant proposal while wearing pajamas.

His grants butter me bread, so I can’t complain too harshly. But. Seriously. How many canceled meetings? Postponed deadlines? And he’s taken on a bunch of other students recently, making plans, which frankly’ll only spread the dragging-down-of-things wider and deeper.

Oh, well. Canceled meeting, took a bus trip for nothing, but I suppose it got me out of the house on a nice brisk morning. My officemate is pleasant, the instant coffee tolerable, a picture of my cutest cat staring at me. Could be worse.

I don’t know if you’ve already made an excursion into the so-called real world (working world), but that’s how it is here too. I work in IT, and delays, cancelled meetings and ever-changing deadlines are the norm. Nothing happens in an orderly fashion. Deadlines are constantly pushed back (which seems at first glance to buy you time, but really just pushes you deeper into trouble). Chaos, constant changes of direction and priorities, new plans – your advisor would fit right in here. He’d probably be CEO within a year.

And then there’s the government. Don’t ever work for a government customer.


Heh. My experience with the “real world” has been rather limited, although I’ve seen enough not to quibble with what you’ve written. You’re very right – a successful academic social scientist (where “successful” means “getting lots of grants”) lives in a hectic world full of last-minute scurrying around, and in that respect Dr. T has been very successful. That’s why I’m probably going to try for a government jo –


One of my colleagues had a meeting in DC with some departmentagency big-wig. They go to the building and were shown to the conference room. After waiting for like 20 minutes for the big-wig, they wrangled somebody to find out what was going on. Apparently nobody told big-wig that they were there and she wasn’t going to be able to meet with them that day, maybe next month. One of the people at the meeting had flown in from LA.

My advisor was a bit of a pain with deadlines and keeping meetings. I got an early taste of it when in my first year I had a Friday afternoon meeting with her. My classes were over and I was planning on taking off for the weekend, but waited around for the meeting. When I got to her office she said she had to cancel to go pick up her cat at the vet. I laughed at first because I thought she was joking.

It could be worse, of course. My the advisor of my officemate’s husband – at a different, and (let’s be honest) much higher ranked school – has required driving to the airport, driving to coffee, paper grading within classes not in any way related to the student’s funding … my SO worked with someone with someone whose advisor – if I’m not mistaken – once required a lawn to be mowed (!). I’ll take a pushed deadline or two …