There’s something delightful in thinking about how to design things in the exact opposite way they have been designed previously. In my design experiences, we’ve used Wrong Theory to “break” design, and I marvel at the ways Wrong Theory continues to infiltrate my life in new and unexpected ways. The newest is, of course, the idea of doing an Alt CV (alternative curriculum vitae) and/or an un-introduction, which Maha has, of course, already mastered…
— ℳąhą Bąℓi, PhD مها بالي 🌷 (@Bali_Maha) September 10, 2018
That is awesome, Maha.
My Alt-CV is something a bit more wordy (and less graphic at the moment) I’m afraid, because even though a picture’s worth a thousand words, my story is as I am – more text, less pics. Until, of course, I get the words down and can start thinking about how to depict them in a graphic. Perhaps it’s more un-introduction than Alt-CV, but we’ll figure it out as we go along.
So what is the basic idea of an Alt-CV? It’s rather simple actually – that you would write down the parts of your career that you are most proud of or are most meaningful to you rather than the pre-formatted collection of education, positions, publications, etc. that’s inherent in a CV (you can find mine here: Rissa’s CV).
The most meaningful parts of my career are what they have always been – the relationships. These include the new relationships I’ve forged by being a teacher, mentor, book editor, conference symposium organizer, reviewer, grant co-writer, Twitter and social media user, student, etc., as well as the relationships I’ve protected and made time for – like those with my family and close friends. Making family and close friends a priority takes intentionality when one is an academic, and that intentionality has always been present in my life, even from the earliest decisions I made in deciphering what my career would be.
I originally wanted to be a doctor (a M.D.). I thought I could really help folks and I loved anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and where chemistry met the human body. And, because I’m an extrovert, I talked with everyone I knew who had any association with the medical field about being a doctor and what that entailed. Including my friends at Trinity University who had 1-2 doctor parents. And that’s where I hit the major snag with my life plans.
The children of the full time doctors I knew were very proud of their parents but lamented not seeing them very often.
And for whatever reason, that not only made me incredibly sad for my friends but also became a deal breaker for my medical career. I wanted a child/children, and I wanted to be fully present in their life/lives. I, of course, decided this in my late sophomore/junior year, and had already joined on the MCAT train, which is why I say that I originally took the MCAT for fun (later, while teaching, I really did take the MCAT for fun while watching “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer”).
I also had fulfilled the vast majority of my biochemistry major by the time I made this decision. And Trinity, at the time, made you write a rather long essay (20 page at the time) if you needed to take more than 4 years for your Bachelors degree, which I didn’t want to do. So, I fulfilled the rest of the requirements for the Biochem degree in addition to a history minor (in French Revolution and Enlightenment) and looked towards what to do next…
How does this apply to the relationship idea? It became my mantra that if anything within my career was going to take as much time as the M.D. would have, then why was I doing it (and why didn’t I just do the M.D., of which I continue to mourn the loss)? This mantra has become a strong protective boundary of my family time within my life. And I also apply it to a few exceptionally close friends every semester in terms of making time for weekly lunches or regular coffee.
Yet, many other relationships remain important within my life beyond my family and close friends – my students, my mentees and mentors, my social media PLN, my relationship with myself.
My students are the major reason I continue to teach. Even when I feel beat down or totally burnt out or just plain done. My students continue to engage the material (and me) in unique and mostly wonderful ways that stretch my creativity and innovation. And every great once in awhile, I have a student who comes back and asks me to mentor them in the art of teaching, which is the greatest feeling in the world.
I’m saying this even though I’ve had stalker students. And students who had to be escorted by security from my class. And…and…and…
I still feel like my students are the reason why I do this.
My mentees (peers and students) help me transform my own thinking on teaching through reflection. As with my students, mentees force you to think through what you’ve done so that you can start at step one. And my mentors, who include so many but some standouts are Robert Rodriguez (@intel), Dr. Jennifer Lewis (@NSF and @USouthFlorida), Dr. Ada Haynes (@tennesseetech), Dr. Tim Schroeder (@UNM), and Dr. Cathy Middlecamp (@UWMadison), have done the same for me. My mentors encourage me to keep on keeping on, even when I no longer think I can. And for that and so much more, I cherish them.
And yet, the list of relationships (and resulting network) continues to grow. Those I’ve collaborated with, either via symposia or via publications or via successful or failed grants, are so important to the way I see myself in my career. Being a student and having faculty advisors to whom I am accountable helps to build the relationships I might call upon in the future.
Relationships, y’all. They’re all that really matter to me in the end.
I hope as you read this, you reflect on the relationships that are important to you as well as how you would frame your career if given a chance to re-envision the CV format. And perhaps we can chat about your thoughts and conclusions, thus adding another intentional relationship outreach to our networks.