Thursday, January 20, 2011


It is an age-old dilemma...

  • Do I run a sloppy six miles because it's the mileage on my training schedule or do I do run four quality miles because I am sore and tired?
  • Do I eat a single piece of dark chocolate in the afternoon (quality) or munch on a baggie full of carrots sticks?
  • Do try to write / publish five papers based on my dissertation or focus on getting two really good papers out the door before the end of the semester?
The list of quality vs quantity questions in my life could go on and on...

The quality vs quantity question that I've been wrestling with the past couple weeks is this... in order to get a job post-completion of my PhD, do I just apply to every job that is remotely in my field of interest? Or do I hold out for only those jobs that meet my L-O-N-G list of criteria I am looking for in my first job in four years?

My friend, Becky, has been processing all of my job-related anxiety, questions, worries, fears, expectations with me. She has listened to me without complaint and offered some excellent (and at times) hard to listen to advice. Yesterday I called her as I was leaving school to ask her yet another question about a set of applications I was working on. After talking with her for a few minutes, I knew the answer to my about quality vs quantity question related to my job search.

Quality is definitely the answer.

I had been putting pressure on myself to submit X number of applications each week, but what I realized yesterday is that it was a HUGE waste of time (and I don't have time to waste). I have been slaving over a set of fellowship applications for positions that I would have killed for four years ago when I started my program.

But I am four years older now. Four years ago, I wasn't a mom; I wasn't faced with balancing work, parenting, and everything else. I'm not ready to transition into a full-time 40 hours a week in an office job. And until August, we only have child care a couple of days a week (and I'm not messing with our child care --- it is perfect!!).

In the past few years, I've come more interested in possibly teaching after graduation.

In the past few years, I've come to value my roles as mom, wife, friend, and homemaker more.

And with that, I am not going to apply to jobs just to apply to jobs. Quality is more important than quantity. If an "I would LOVE to have the job" advertisement comes across my desk, I will apply. But I am not going to set goals related to the quantity of applications I submit. I am going to start talking with individuals in my field about possible options post-graduation.

I am going to focus on further developing my list of what I'd like to do and then work on making that a reality. Maybe I'll even put together a multi-step program to get there.

This past week I have learned that it is a waste of my time pouring over the jobs section of the paper and applying for prestigious positions I do not want.

Good uses of my time are: hanging out with my little girl, spending time with D, getting out for a run, planning meals, getting out with friends, enjoying the free museums in the city, reading a good book, and, oh..., finishing my dissertation.

Quality vs quantity.... in this case, it is definitely quality.

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