Academia ex machina

Academia is a harsh mistress. If you’re not careful, it has a habit of spitting you out into the real world to fend for yourself when you’d really rather have other plans. So currently, being all out of funding, I’m doing some temping work to get some income. If I’m honest, I’d much rather just focus on thesis writing. But then, I do rather like eating food from time to time too. Sadly until someone invents Star Trek replicators, that means making sure I can afford it.

So I presently find myself as a gear in the great academic machine. One microscopic cog in its catastrophic plan, designed and directed by its red right hand (perhaps a Nick Cave reference is a bit too melodramatic for this particular context, but I’m going to go with it anyway). While the essence of a University is to be a place of knowledge and learning in their myriad forms, there’s a lot of background work to be done in keeping everything rolling. The beaurocratic contraptions of the university may be slow moving, but without them everything would grind to a halt.

So this week, I find myself working for the examinations office . Exam time is always frenetic in university land, and extra staff are almost always needed to cope with the extra workload. Finding yourself in a room whose walls are literally lined with packed exam scripts would probably be terrifying for most undergrads, and I’m sure a lot of academics would balk at the idea of getting their hands dirty with the menial side of university life, but… personally, and perhaps in a strange way, I quite like it. This isn’t the first temp job I’ve worked in university administration, and I honestly have a better appreciation for the other half of the university staff because of jobs like these. Though in this particular case, I’m going to handle so much paper over the next week that I could probably do with a manicure afterwards.

Any academics reading this? Whatever university you work at, treat your admin staff with respect. They deserve it.

Hey, Einstein worked in a patent office, right?

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
This entry was posted in academia, Imported from Livejournal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Academia ex machina

  1. Pingback: Examen ex machina | Supernova Condensate

  2. invaderxan says:

    Totally. The people who actually keep things running are often the most readily overlooked. And I haven’t ever met anyone who works in university admin who doesn’t have at least one story to tell about how ridiculous both academics and students can be!

  3. pax_athena says:

    Whatever university you work at, treat your admin staff with respect. They deserve it.
    — This! One of the thing I loved about the institute in A. is how the administrative staff was an integral part of the institute and treated in the same way. Invited to all the celebrations, involved in everything, respected for what they do.
    We are much smaller and have only one secretary who is rather a bit older than pretty much all of us. But without her there would be no institute.

  4. invaderxan says:

    Well I’m most certainly no Einstein. And I don’t expect any of the science I’m working on right now will ever be considered even possibly Nobel-worthy. But nonetheless, being in great places is no prerequisite for thinking great thoughts. I try to take a little comfort in that… :)

  5. 6_bleen_7 says:

    Yes, but then again, while he was working there he did his Nobel Prize-winning work on the photoelectric effect. And published the Special Theory of Relativity, along with his possibly Nobel-worthy work explaining Brownian motion. That’s a rather high bar to be setting your day job by. : )

Comments are closed.