As I’m in an advice-giving mood, I thought I’d post here something I wrote quite a few years ago. This began as a lunch conversation with a departing grad student (who is now a dean) who asked me if I had any advice for her as she took her first job as an assistant professor. I wrote it down later and it evolved over a few years. I’ve gotten feedback from quite a few people that this was helpful, and some of you will doubtless recognize it.
1) Don’t take anything personally, especially not at first. People will probably treat you as insignificant, not because they think ill of you, but because they are socially inept. Most of us are comfortable with the people we already know, and are not good at being friendly to new people. The old timers ought to go out of their way to be friendly and inclusive to someone new (you) but they probably will not, and you should just chalk it up to poor social skills and nothing else.
2) Help integrate yourself. Even if you are normally more productive writing at home, work in the office a lot during the first year. Make a point of loitering in the hall when it is near lunch time, so people will notice you and think of asking you along to lunch. Continue reading “advice for new assistant professors”