Tonia A. Dousay
Scholar | Educator | Leader
Reflections on Year 3
Another year of graduate school has come and gone. Here I stand at the end of year three. A number of my friends (and former classmates) managed to graduate at this point and it seemed like a trend to make our program at the University of Georgia a 3-year program instead of the traditional 4 years. Personally, I struggled with this question throughout year 2. I could have sped up the clock and busted my butt to make it in 3. In fact, it’s not too late for me to try and finish by August if I really, really wanted to. But, my decision has come down to 3 major factors.
- My funding is guaranteed through May 2013. May as well take full advantage of that.
- I love my boss and she seems to love me. She talks about not enjoying the process of having to replace me and is glad I’ll be around another year.
- My fantastically wonderful support system (also known as my husband) insists that I do things “right” and not burn myself out.
So, here I am. Poised to take on my fourth and final year of graduate school. I plan to take advantage of my funding situation by completing my dissertation this summer (final data collection commences next month!) — chapters 1-3 are complete; just gotta gett hat last bit of data and write it up. I’m planning on a defense around October (my advisor keeps saying December…we may compromise on November). I want to focus this last year on writing. I have three pubs in mind to spin off of my dissertation. One is to publish the results (duh!). One is a design case for an exciting new-ish, online journal. One is TBD. I also want to push my advisor to finish a book revision he’s been meaning to do for three years. It’ll give me the experience of publishing a book with him (so far I only have a book chapter with him). I have a few book chapters in mind I could be working on.
And then there’s the job search. Oh yes, the job search. I’m constantly amazed at how many graduate students (and recent grads) I meet who are somewhat clueless on this front. Of course, the high competitiveness of jobs reminds me that not everyone is in the dark, but still. I suppose I’ve just paid attention along the way and know that finding a faculty position in our field is a year-long process. Positions will start posting, well, now (I saw the first announcement earlier this week out of IU), and continue throughout the school year. That means I need to have transcripts on hand (still debating on whether I should buy 10 transcripts each now from UGA & Texas A&M or buy 20) and make sure my CV is in pristine condition. I need to start my process now of tracking job applications, getting my recommenders lined up (having a variety would be good), and I need to have my cover letters ready. I’ve heard whispers of a few openings (Georgia Southern and Oklahoma) and hopes of a few others (Wyoming, UTexas, Texas A&M).
I’m not really sure where the time has gone, though. I’m co-teaching a class this summer with my advisor and my assignments from when I took the class (two years ago) are among those provided as samples to the students. I’m amazed at how my writing had matured and adapted in what feels like such a short time. I now understand what one of my committee members meant when she said, “please don’t quote something I wrote 5 years ago, much less 10!” So much changes in so little time.
I love serving as a mentor to our younger students. It’s one of the favorite parts of my “job.” I love teaching (which I’ll also get to do for James Madison University this fall!). I love researching, it makes me pay attention to the ever changing world around us. In short, I love my life. I loved it before grad school, don’t get me wrong. But, like any great job, things change. And the circumstances around me were changing drastically. It’s just nice to know that I made the right choice. Even if I find myself facing 20 rejection letters, I’m happy. And something will turn up. I’d like to think I’m resourceful enough to make sure something turns up.