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.

  1. My funding is guaranteed through May 2013. May as well take full advantage of that.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.