Post Academic

A Post Academic and his academic dossier

Posted in First Person,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on August 12, 2010
Tags: ,

So this week, I’ve been putting off setting up an Interfolio account and transferring my recs to it, which I need to do because the UCI Career Center is discontinuing its dossier service this month.  There’s really no psychological block keeping me from doing so–it’s just that I’m lazy and I don’t feel like dropping off the forms on campus to start the process.  The more I think about it, the less I know why I would continue to store my (old) letters of rec, since it’s not like I’m in much of a position–mental or professional–at this point to ever use them again.  Besides, with this blog, I’m imagining I’ve burned bridges I never had in the first place.  Here’s what I’m thinking about with my letters of rec, both in practical terms and more intangible ones.

Practical concerns: The practical reasons for keeping my dossier could go either way, really.  The obvious choice would be to just take the minimal effort and do the paperwork, since the letters are there and it wouldn’t hurt having them safely tucked away.  But just because that might be the obvious choice for an academic clinging on to the possibility of staying in the profession doesn’t mean it’s the right one for the post academic…

More about my decision below the jump…

As a post academic, I’m tempted just to let it slide and allow my letters of rec get swept into the dustbin of history.  There are more reasons to explain why this is the practical choice, beyond being lazy.  Most importantly, I have a job I’m really enjoying, so there’s actually no need to apply for another job, even if it’s for something I trained for for so long.  In the end, the recs might not be so useful for any position outside of academia.

But let’s say I did have the motivation and will to go on the academic job market to likely face abject disappointment that I’ve pretty much finally gotten over.  I would still need to get revised letters of rec, even if it’s just to get my writers to change the date on the letters.  And at this point, it’s really all they could do, since it’s not like there’s a ton to add to my academic profile at this point.  As for the letters I wouldn’t ask to have revised, I don’t really need to have them kept at this point, since they would definitely be past their expiration dates.

Intangible issues: Call it nostalgia or habit, but, the thing is, there’s still is a lot more to my dossier than just the letters themselves and what they can/can’t do for me.  For one, my most important letter of rec also has great sentimental value to me, since it’s from a mentor who passed away a few years ago.  Beyond the matter that it’s a recommendation that I probably won’t ever be able to replace it, it’s something that I’ve clung onto for personal reasons–even though I’ll likely never see what it contains myself and actually don’t really want to.  But it does represent a certain time in my academic career and it helps me hold onto a really important relationship to me, never mind that, practically speaking, the letter is likely out-of-date at this point and might not hold a great deal of value for the direction my academic headed after it was written.

The more I think about it, perhaps I do have a greater attachment and identification to my dossier than I would admit to.  It really is a record of my last half-decade of my academic career: Wiping away my dossier account would not only dump my archive of old recommendations, but also clear the list of all the jobs I sent my files to–complete with receipts that show how much money I’ve wasted.  Ugh…talk about digital clutter.  But in any case, I guess holding onto my dossier might not necessarily equate with holding on–just barely–to being an academic.

I’ll have more to say about letters of rec next week.  And I’ll let you know what I decided to do with my dossier after I actually decide.

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