Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Career and a Calling - Good Advice Part V

The last professor, a more seasoned researcher, spent the first few minutes explaining to me what he had worked on in the past. After several minutes, though, he asked me what I expected to get out of a doctorate. I answered, and he looked at me for a long moment before pointing to a set of pink journals on his bookshelf.

"You see those? One in ten articles submitted actually gets printed," he let me know, looking for a reaction. "So you can work for five years on something, only to have no one read it."

I thanked him for letting me know that bit of information. I also let him know I was undaunted. We then had a wonderful exchange about my perspective on what I might accomplish versus the likely reality. Each question and answer gave me plenty of reason to reconsider my path, but each time I assured him I would not be dissuaded.

Then our conversation took a more casual turn. We talked about where he had gone to school, and I realized he was a member of my church. I had not considered it before, but with that knowledge, I felt I could share something with him I wouldn't share with just anyone.

I told him I felt called to become a professor. I knew I wanted it, but I finally felt as though it was time to do it. He understood immediately.

"As a member of the Church, saying that you feel called to something means a great deal," he agreed. He even told me something very personal about his own path to become a professor. I assured him I did not bring up my membership in the Church to influence my application in any way, but I knew it would help him understand. He definitely did. That conversation was certainly one I know I will remember for a long time. It was congenial, it was enjoyable, but most of all it was filled with the Spirit in the end - if not the entire time. I had felt it when he kept asking, and yet it hadn't occurred to me he might be feeling it to until the conversation took that last turn.

Whether or not I end up at the school I visited, I hope I can keep in touch with that professor. I think I could learn a lot from him, and I felt a kindred connection beyond the simple commonality of religion. I would love to find a new friend in him in time.

-- Robert

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