Blogs about the professions and what they are like

by on April 22, 2010 at 5:07 am in Education, Science | Permalink

Richard, a loyal MR reader, writes to me:

For the last couple months I've been following the FemaleScienceProfessorblog (http://science-
professor.blogspot.com/).  It's basically about the professional life of a biology professor.  It's not fascinating or thought-provoking in the way MR is.  Much of the time, it's really rather mundane, which is the whole point.  Reading it, I feel like I know much more about what it's like to be in a professional position much like hers. It's not cluttered with really any other random stuff; every new post that comes in from her, I know what I'm getting.

Here's my request: I'd love to find 5-10 more blogs like this.  I don't even particularly care what professions, but I'd like to get a non-glamorized, relatively even-handed inside view of other professions. I certainly would have loved to have had a few dozen of these to follow when I was trying to make career choices…

This is a good question, but I have nothing to offer.  Would MR readers care to make some suggestions?

1 Zach April 22, 2010 at 6:27 am

I think part of the issue is that few people want to write about their relatively boring jobs. I’m an experimental physicist, and at my level, there’s quite a lot of repetition –the fridges need liquid helium every day, the cold traps need nitrogen every day, and 90 percent of your ideas don’t pan out. That being said, my phd advisor maintains an interesting blog at nanoscale.blogspot.com. Not quite the same as FSP, but it’s a good view of condensed matter physics from above the trenches.

2 Andrew April 22, 2010 at 7:34 am

Great idea. I just learned why it is so hard to schedule a committee meeting during the Summer. Right or wrong, it’s pretty lame to enforce the rules they do on grad students and not even tell us why it is almost impossible to comply.

The linked blog post is interesting at http://science- professor.blogspot.com/

Academia it seems is fraught with a few common landmines. You can probably be lucky enough to avoid situations like this, but you can’t really plan to be lucky. I assume you have to be able to fight through most of them and let the lost causes run off your back to be successful.

3 Andrew April 22, 2010 at 8:10 am

On the Female professor blog, I was going to say that I don’t understand why gender matters, but then I read one of the letters about a rape victim suffering from sexual harassment.

Maybe it is just my field, but I don’t see it at all. Academia is highly competitive (it’s a feature!) and I wonder if a particularly ossified research area amplifies competitiveness which manifests in many different ways including sexism. So, while I can’t empathize with sexism victims, I also wonder if they can’t often see that a lot of times things suck for everyone and the causes they attribute to their uniqueness are (to some extent, at least) a fundamental attribution error..

4 Brian Moore April 22, 2010 at 9:27 am

This kind of stuff is great. I don’t think people really have any idea what actually goes on at say, a pre-tenure academic position, or as a doctor. The more stuff like this that publicizes it, the better. The only reason I have a decent idea is that people I know do them — who knows what other professions I am completely clueless about?

5 anon April 22, 2010 at 9:33 am

@Andrew, thanks for that link.

The current method of figuring out what you hate by spending 5 years doing it sucks.

Most people take far too long to leave work they don’t like. I’m sure that for many, not wanting to write off sunk costs plays a role in that.

If you go to grad school for a few years, get a job in your field, and then find that you are miserable in your work, what do most people do? Redouble efforts! Sometimes it’s the immediate group of people you work with, sometimes people really are not suited to particular work.

The best advice I got in college was from a professor who told me that for any field I was considering as a career:

1) contact a trade association or professional group for that field and tell them you are a student and want to speak with 5 to 10 practitioners about what it’s like to work in the field.

2) Call at least 5 of the people suggested and explain to them that you are not looking for a job (you’re not) and that the association gave you their name as someone you could speak with about what it was like to work as a “___”. What do you like, what do you dislike, why did you choose it, what’s a typical day like, etc.

Most people who have worked (and stayed) in a particular line of work for more than 10 years will be happy to talk with a young person trying to figure things out.

After that, I must have spoken with at least 30 or 40 people in different jobs/fields I was thinking about and was always pleasantly surprised how so many were friendly, helpful, and willing to talk about the good, bad, routine, highs, lows, and indifferent aspects of their work.

Most were phone calls but several people invited me to meet them at their offices. And even though I made it clear I wasn’t looking for a job, just exploring the occupation, I nonetheless received at least 3 jobs offers (which I turned down).

Today, whenever I get a call or question from a young person who wants to know about my line of work, I always speak with them.

I believe we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and we all have an obligation to help the next generation.

6 Rob April 22, 2010 at 9:41 am

I’m even more interested in Tyler’s thoughts re female professor’s latest post on peer reviewers stealing academic work

7 what is this a joke April 22, 2010 at 10:52 am

Well yes MR is interesting in the way that a train wreck is. You got the white nationalist Sailer, a rational fool fantasizing about the sublime possibility of raising himself as a son (and providing a sublime caricature of the economics profession), and an esteemed economist happy to take pot shots against a careful argument for removing some of the unemployment and suffering caused by deficient aggregate demand.

8 Brad April 22, 2010 at 11:00 am
9 Andrew April 22, 2010 at 11:14 am

“an esteemed economist happy to take pot shots against a careful argument for removing some of the unemployment and suffering caused by deficient aggregate demand.”

What are you talking about?

10 Mersey April 22, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Canadian accountants: A Counting School has plenty of trade tips and details.
http://steeplemedia.com/blogs/krupo/default.aspx

11 Jake April 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Although it’s not exactly a blog, Reddit’s “I Am A…” is pretty close. People say things like, “I am an NBC page” and so forth, then answer. A lot of them are oriented towards professions.

A lot are also oriented towards sex. Sometimes both get combined, as when escorts and what not answer.

12 jdar5039 April 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm

The bloggers no longer work in their former roles but the archives are worth checking out:
Bouncer – standingonthebox.blogspot.com
Waiter – waiterrant.net

Also, the best police blog out is inspectorgadget.wordpress.com

13 Cameron Murray April 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Of course my own blog is worth reading – http://ckmurray.blogspot.com

14 David Stern April 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm

The trouble is that if you write a professional blog usually you want to use your real name for publicity and then there is a lot of stuff you can’t write about. I do write about some professional stuff on a personal blog but mixed in with a lot of other stuff and there I can’t be too explicit either because I don’t want to out myself. So that’s why there aren’t that many of these blogs.

15 tomslee April 22, 2010 at 9:50 pm

“I don’t think so. She makes it clear she is in the physical sciences.”

– in her “About Me” paragraph, no less.

16 Noumenon April 22, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Doctor rotating between ER and internal medicine:

http://anondoc.blogspot.com/

17 zach April 23, 2010 at 10:19 am

This one fits the bill (and is one of my favorites). It’s from a klezmer musician slash landlord from Michigan.

http://www.yiddishecup.com/blog/

18 Richard April 25, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Thanks all (and Tyler)! Now I have tons of these to read and share with my students. (And the error in identifying discipline was definitely mine, not Tyler’s.)

19 bumper_car April 26, 2010 at 11:40 pm

This doesn’t exactly fit the criteria as it isn’t a “blog”, but the “Ask/Tell” forum at somethingawful.com (no, seriously) regularly hosts threads by users elucidating on their jobs, hobbies and so forth.

http://forums.somethingawful.com/forumdisplay.php?forumid=158

Just making a quick scan of the “Ask me about…” threads active now, one can find: computer forensics, traffic engineer, Peace Corps, police officer, professional translator, porn director/producer, teacher, DJ, cake decorator, and working in Antarctica. In the past, there have been threads by an anesthesiologist, abortion escort, cruise ship employee, schizophrenic, 9-1-1 dispatcher, and even an “Ask me about being the ‘other woman’,” among numerous others.

There’s is a catch: to read the threads, I believe a membership is required. And a membership costs $9.95 (one-time fee), a measure the SA forum enacted rather effectively to limit exposure to the common internet problem with spam and trolling on high-traffic sites.

20 Forex Robots June 18, 2010 at 2:40 am

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