Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Adventures in Mentoring

After presenting my take on Smart Defence yesterday at the U of Toronto, I spent this morning chatting with a friend's grad student. It has been awhile since I gave my advice to a phd student about how to approach the job market, as my last bunch is employed, and my new ones are not close to being done.
This chat reminded me of the iron law of dissertations: just because you learned something does not mean it belongs in the dissertation.  In this case, it applied to me-- not everything I learned while researching the NATO-Afghanistan book belonged in that book.... Or my next one but the next one will definitely make use of some of that stuff.  

 The biggest point that I emphasized was that one must always keep in mind the short and long games at the same time.  That the publication process is a long one so if one just focuses on what it takes to do well next fall, one might not submit stuff now to help improve one's record for the following fall in case one is not successful.  Better to spend a few weeks now to polish a piece and submit it so that it sits on someone else's desk rather than on one's own.

In the course of this conversation, I realized that my last three students did not do what I recommended (PUBLISH much) before they went on the market.  Then I had lunch with one of the these folks, who was just returning from some place dangerous and, more importantly, chock full of really interesting questions and ideas.  I don't know how I avoided stifling her creative curiosity or that of her sisters-in-crimeresearch, but I am pretty sure that was the key to their success.  That they zestfully pursue interesting questions in ways that knock the socks off of folks.

  I am lucky enough to take credit for their success, not to mention being wildly entertained by their adventures since leaving the nest. Makes the wading through reams of rough drafts of chapters, even (yuck) lit reviews, worth it.

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