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How do you do it?

Toward the end of today’s CSC 151, a student asked me something like the following:

Sam. I don’t understand. You have bunches of advisees. You answer questions quickly via email even though you have lots of students [1]. You seem to spend time with your family You write a musing every night. How do you do all that?

Since we were reviewing for the final, I didn’t want to give a very long answer, so I gave a short one.

While it’s a lot of work, it’s worth it. I get the chance to work with awesome students and sometimes make a positive contribution. It’s easily worth it.

That’s true. While I’d like to work a bit less [2], and expect that I will find a way to do so eventually, my job is incredibly rewarding. I also have moderate control over what I do - I can choose what I do beyond my core responsibilities and I have some control over what I teach. Plus, I love teaching and programming and being a curmudgeon and everything else that goes with this job. So, if I work a bit hard some days [3], it’s still a good tradeoff.

And I really am fortunate. I know other people who work just as many hours as I do, and they have much less control over what they do. We have Academic Support Assistants who also work as cashiers, Information Technology Specialists who also work as butchers, and Cafeteria workers who work at Walmart. Our staff shouldn’t have to moonlight in a second job. That’s a bigger and more complicated topic, so I’ll leave it for another musing [4].

Anyway, my quick answer in class is really true. I get to work with awesome students and colleagues. It’s worth the time. This afternoon, they once again confirmed that sentiment.

Thank you!

[1] Sometimes I answer questions quickly; not always. But I do have lots of students.

[2] Well, a lot less.

[3] Realistically, most days.

[4] The evidence also suggests that I have absolutely no power to convince those who control the budget strings to act differently. I also lack the broader understanding to figure out what we can and cannot cut in order to achieve the various goals I’d have: higher salaries for staff, more faculty, higher salaries for students, exemption of students in MAPs and College-sponsored internships from their contributions, and so on and so forth [5].

[5] As I said, this really needs to be a musing for another day.

Version 1.0 of 2017-05-12.