Long time, no ramble. Apologies; it has been an interesting and challenging few months for this particular academic rambler.
It has also been a period of reflection. I think I have said before (but bluntly am too bone idle to check) that all too often academics are tuned to ‘broadcast’, rather than ‘receive’. Too many academics are far too fond of the sound of their own voices, and take delight in proclaiming to one and all just how successful they have been with, for example, grant capture, paper writing, keynote speech making, etc., etc. At times it is as if academics are paid to take part in an endless game of seeing who can urinate highest up a wall.
As I say, over the past three months I have had cause to stop, take stock and reflect on my own achievements. But, unlike many of my wall-pissing, willy-waving colleagues, being the contrary soul that I am, I have reflected on my failures. On the things that didn’t go as I would have liked them to. It is an indisputable fact that if you want to succeed as an academic (I’ll leave it to you to define success in this context), you need to learn to fail. And, boy, have I failed! Consistently and regularly. I’ve made it into something of an art form. Whether it’s job hunting, grant applications or getting published; you name it, I’ve failed at it.
And so, as a bit of an antidote to the regular shameless self-promotion that goes on within the academic industry, I present to you my CV of Failures. If nothing else, I hope that this litany of disasters helps someone, somewhere appreciate they that they are not alone with their failings. We all have them, and maybe we should reflect on them a bit more.
I always maintain that nothing is ever lost, even if it comes to nought. And so, whilst the list that follows is a long one, I’d like to think that I have learned something from each of them (even if it only that Reviewer#2 is an idiot).
Professor of Something STEMM-y, A UK University
My CV of Failures
1 Career Summary
1.1. Jobs I applied for, or was approached about, but did not get
|Date||Role||Comments / Feedback|
|2016||PVC & Dean||Final interview – “Lack of cultural match” (Although, if you’re interested, I still have the voicemail from the Recruitment Consultant pre-interview in which he says “The VC says, barring any major cock-up on your behalf, the job is yours”).|
|2016||DVC Research||“Our internal candidate knows more about the University than you”.|
|2016||PVC Research||Shortlisted by Recruitment Consultant. University then withdrew role and gave it to an existing PVC two months later.|
|2015||PVC Research||Shortlisted by Recruitment Consultant. Car crash of initial meeting with VC.|
|2012||Professor||Final interview. Described in feedback as “academically lacking” (i.e. you don’t have enough income or papers) and “intellectually weak” (i.e. you’re thick).|
|2010||Reader||Not shortlisted for interview.|
|2010||Reader||Not shortlisted for interview. (Yes, that’s a different one to the one above)|
|2004||R&D Manager||Sideways move with existing (industry) employer. Feedback: “Well you can apply, but I can tell you now that you won’t get it. We like you where you are”.|
|1999||Planning Manager||Promotion opportunity with existing (industry) employer. Feedback: “Frankly, you’re not as good as we thought you were”.|
2.1 Research grants applications that were not funded
|2015||FP7 Marie Curie Fellowship||180,000|
|2013||FP7 Marie Curie Fellowship||180,000|
|2012||FP7 Marie Curie Fellowship||180,000|
2.2 Papers that were rejected
|2016||Proceedings of ICE – Water Management|
|2015||ASCE – Journal of Environmental Engineering|
|2007||Journal of Water Supply: Research and Technology -AQUA|
|2005||Journal of Water Supply: Research and Technology -AQUA|