Overqualification / Underemployment

Have conferences become a giant racket?

What has happened to a bunch of nerds getting together in a big room, eating some sandwiches and talking about ideas?

Why are people so willing to pay big money to meet other people in their respective fields at conferences, when they just could have done what I have referred to in the paragraph above?

We now have a conference ‘industry’.  Take Ted talks for example.  Come to our conference!  Our speakers have all the big ideas!  These people will save the world!  The conference industry is booming!

Seems to me there is a lot of talk-ie and not enough do-ie.

Take this conference for example, which is only 5 years young:

International Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference

Fancy website!  There is money for that and the nice conference, yet, there is little to no money for research in this field.

If you happen to be one of the lucky folks to have a steady job in industry, government or academia, someone may foot the bill for you to go – $470 for members and $550 for non-members, but only if you register early.  Of course that doesn’t include travel and hotel costs.

But wait!  If you can’t get your costs covered, for the low low cost of $150, you can still pay the organizers AND work for nothing at the conference.  This is referred to as ‘volunteering’ on the conference website.  So there is always that.

Sorry to pick on you, International Fire Behavior and Fuel Conference, but you are following the modern conference ‘industry’ trend.  You folks could instead spend your time figuring out how the dollars would be better spent actually funding climate research, or figuring out a way to actually use the internet to communicate at your conference (the internet — what’s that?) so as to minimize the carbon footprint of the large number of people travelling to your conference.

I’ll leave it to my readers to answer the rhetorical question that serves as the title of this article.

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The $550 conference meal — if you register early (Sandwich by whologwhy)

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The Looming Crisis in Higher Education

The excellent article below was posted on the American Association of University Professors’ blog and was written by Martin Kich at Wright State University.  I agree with all of what he writes, except that we have a ‘looming’ crisis; we’ve had a crisis for quite some time now.

ACADEME BLOG

The “real problem” behind the exploitation of adjunct faculty is quite obvious: universities have continued to produce a reasonable number of Ph.D.’s but no longer are willing to hire a reasonable number of them into full-time, never mind tenure-track, positions.

This situation will change when enrollment in graduate programs starts to contract, and even to crater, because students confront the reality that they have significantly less than a fifty percent chance of finding full-time employment after completing their doctorates—when they confront the reality that the majority of them are spending up to a decade or more in graduate school, and in the process accumulating far more debt on average than undergraduates accumulate, all in order to earn a wage comparable to what they could earn as an “associate” at WalMart.

Because the current pool of adjunct faculty has been built up over several decades but is continually eroded by the…

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Pineapple t-shirt

I bought a linen t-shirt at a department store.  I liked the pineapple on it.  My cousin says if I drew a door on the pineapple that it would look like SpongeBob Squarepants’ house in Bikini Bottom.

Have a couple more job interviews coming up.  This includes a visit with yet another employment recruiter.

I love it when recruiters try to ask you what your previous salary was, which has nothing to do with the job for which they’re seeking a candidate.  I spoke to one particular recruiter over the phone the other day, and told her that I wasn’t going to discuss my previous salary; especially given that I know absolutely nothing about the job requirements, or nothing about the company that is looking for a candidate.  Recruiters always love to respond with the standard, “Well, we can’t help you” and then I basically say, “Well good luck finding someone else”.   I mean, they’re calling me, right, and, do I ask them what their salaries are?  It’s so much bullshit, and meanwhile, I know that there aren’t many people who have the type of experience I have.  I could have said that I did backflips at my last job and this recruiter would have believed me.  Given that I worked at the circus, this wouldn’t have been too far off from the truth.

It’s also almost time for another government job interview.   Those people should be tired of interviewing me by now.  I know I’m tired of talking to them.

If neither of these opportunities lead to a job, I’m going to move to Bikini Bottom and will get a job flipping Krabby Patties at the Krusty Krab.  Perhaps my t-shirt purchase was prognostic.

My future home in Bikini Bottom

My future home in Bikini Bottom

Officially tired of job hunting.

I am officially tired of wasting my time.

I applied for a government position back in February and even interviewed for said position a few months back. I thought the interview went fine.

The position outline of course describes the ideal candidate, who is expected to be a virtual human encyclopedia with a godlike ability to apply his or her knowledge in innovative and creative ways, while simultaneously solving all the world’s sustainable development problems.  So yes, the moon and the stars, please.

In order to improve the way governments approach sustainability, they must change how they operate.  But this is like trying to ask Kim Jong-un to get a better haircut.  It ain’t going to happen.

The government decided to repost the position for which I’ve already interviewed now 3 months later, with no application deadline in hopes that some other superhuman candidate will come along to fill the position, I assume.  They could have had someone (me, or anyone else with experience) working on their problems for months now, but prefer to adhere to the norm of inefficiency.  This way the HR people are kept busy paper-pushing at least.

Just have to keep studying for the LSAT.  I am incrementally improving my accuracy in answering questions, but it is slow and painful.

When you look this good, why change it?

When you look this good, why change it?