Juggling the hoops…job search & dissertation

One thing you don’t realize when you get to this stage of a doctoral program is that as you are writing your dissertation, you also start looking at the job market. I have an amazing teaching position right now, but, unfortunately, it’s a 4/4 load, which actually turns into a 5/5 because I teach an overload. In addition, my friend who is a coordinator at a local community college was in a jam this semester and needed an extra instructor. Thus, my fall semester has turned into teaching 7 classes (actually 9 sections), writing a dissertation, as well as looking for a tenure track position for next year. I literally work every hour of every day. My husband is currently a single dad right now, and he doesn’t complain at all, but I feel incredibly guilty that I do very little around the house and with our 2 year old. He says I do more than I give myself credit, but, still, working from 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. leaves very little time for housework and playtime.

The dissertation is going well, however. I dropped my packet off to IRB this past week, and I am lucky that I know a couple of the reviewers very well. I have to say, though, it doesn’t change too much about the swiftness of my application through the system. They are very fair about first submitted, first reviewed. In addition, I told one of the reviewers that I haven’t finished my database yet so it was no rush – that is, unless there’s major problems.

My database consists of 600 human resource directors, personnel managers, city managers, and any other person/title that oversees city employees. I know they don’t care at all as much about my dissertation as I do, but I do hope they see the importance of the topic. I tried my best to keep the survey short, and I think my two major professors and my methodologist did a good job with that. I owe so much to those professors. I don’t think they can ever know how much I value their time.

So this week also brings my first interview for a tenure track position. Let me just first say that the search committee head has been fantastic. He is so enthusiastic and excited about my visit. He said that he was really surprised at how fast I submitted my materials and also that he was very impressed with my credentials. I want to send this professor a big shout-out because all of the work I’ve put in over the past five years paid off in that one moment. It was an incredible feeling to have someone notice.

One of my best friends from undergrad visited last weekend, and after she left I wondered why we hadn’t spent more time together. I knew the answer to my question, though, when I looked at my vita. I will continue to work hard in my next position and if I choose a teaching university, I will continue my research because I love it. However, I’m leaving work at work 95% of the time. I hope I can make that transition.

While looking for a tenure track position, I have also been watching for emergency management positions at the state or federal level. I did apply with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, but I’ve yet to hear anything. I’d love to work in planning or training. My analytical skills and my research in emergency management is direct evidence of my abilities in that area, and my 12 years of teaching would really lend itself to training. If there are any readers out there that have a need for a planner, researcher, or training in their agency, please feel free to contact me, especially if you are in the Southeast. It would be nice to be back in my home state of Alabama, but I am definitely open to any and all ideas. My motto is, if you are interested, so am I. I know I would be just as excited about actually working in emergency management or even homeland security as am I about teaching. But, again, I would continue my research.

So just as I jump through another hoop, I realize I have to juggle three more. It’s a good life, though, and I am a true believer that I will end up in the right place. I’ve never regretted a career decision thus far.

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Stacey Cole Mann

Thanks for reading! I am investigating the involvement of HR managers in emergency planning for their cities. I am surveying HR managers in cities with populations of 50,000 – 249,999. My professor and I conducted interviews with HR managers, city managers, and others in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to find out how they handled human resource issues. As a native of the Gulf Coast, I was shocked to find that most cities didn’t have a plan for how they would pay their employees, how they would get in touch with them to report to work, how they would recruit new employees with no housing in which to live, etc. My goal is to find if geography, size, experience in HR, and type of city government influences involvement of HR. That’s probably way more than you ever wanted to know.


Actually super fascinating…Would be cool if you could highlight some of your findings in blogs for the HR practicioners on GovLoop – maybe a 3 or 4 part series