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The good, the bad, the academic

My conscience has been mildly assuaged by putting in several hours of dissertation-relevant work this evening. I'm hoping that I'll feel even better about my attempts to manage my time when I turn in a chapter draft in a few weeks. I've promised my advisor I will, and I do work well to deadlines.

I haven't been feeling badly about academia, just frequently fretting over my time management skills. I've been worrying about the details lately, not the big picture. Still, it was good to read Mama Musings today and be reminded about some of the many good things about being in academia. Those good things include collegiality, and she's absolutely right. I have some amazing colleagues, in all sorts of ways. Help is there for the asking from them, if I want it.

Help may be there, but I feel that I'm still learning how to ask the right question, and still learning how to make use of the information I'm given. Asking the right question is a challenge. There are several scholars whom I know I need to contact. Indeed, I want to contact them. Their work is related to mine, and I'd love to know more about it. It seems so odd though to write a letter saying, "Hello, I exist, here's what I do, let me know what you're working on since it might be relevant." It's such a non-specific request. I'll give you a particular example. I took no history of science courses as an undergraduate, but I'm now working on my second degree in that general area. I'd like to contact the coordinator for the history of science minor at my undergraduate school and let her know I exist. But really, that's about all I can think to do with the letter at the moment.

Any suggestions on how to make networking letters be more constructive and purposeful?

Comments

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sioneva
Feb. 28th, 2003 08:49 am (UTC)
I hate the whole networking-letter thing too (haven't written any myself, really, but that's my own fear of the process). I don't see any reason why you couldn't masquerade the undergraduate institution letter as a "I'm so and so working on such and such and if you have any students who might like further information on graduate studies in that, i'd be happy to answer questions...i hope to get the chance to discuss things with you in the future." That only works, of course, if you actually WANT to answer questions, but it *does* act as an "in" and lets the person know that you're interested in potentially networking. It'd have to be worded more eloquently, of course ;)

Anyhow, if you find anything out, let me know--I certainly would appreciate hearing any advice!
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