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Life on the page

So as many of you know, I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree at Queen’s. Though there may be a PhD in my distant future, I have decided not to pursue one next year — mainly because I don’t want to enrol in a PhD program until I really know what it is that I want to pursue. Four to five years in a program is too long to spend doing something I apply to on a whim.

And it’s sort of for that reason (my overall uncertainty about my place in academia) that I haven’t felt a huge amount of pressure to apply to conferences, or to get my work placed in academic journals.

But then: a friend sent me a notice about a conference that seemed like the PERFECT PLACE for me to present at. The application process seemed pretty relaxed — all they wanted was a 250-300 word abstract, and a CV. Piece of cake, right? I gave myself yesterday morning to get it all done (yesterday was the deadline) and by 9:30, I was at my desk, ready to work.

And then it all fell apart. The 250 word abstract suddenly ceased to be a mere abstract and became, instead, a page in which I had to clarify and justify my research to an unknown public. AHHRRG! And then, because I don’t have a true academic CV (I have a number of versions of my work CV) I had to draw up that, too. Well, though it sounds simple, it became and incredibly challenging task. With very little academic experience to speak of (no conference presentations, no peer reviewed papers), how was I going to convince the conference people that I would be a good bet?

In fact, if you let yourself get carried away with it, the CV-writing process can be hugely overwhelming. After all – your CV is an on-paper representation of EVERYTHING IMPORTANT THAT YOU’VE EVER ACCOMPLISHED, at least when it comes to work and school (two institutions of extreme value in our culture). Staring down a blank page trying to figure out how to make your humble accomplishments sound sufficiently impressive… it’s an invitation for anxiety to come waltzing in!

I am pleased to report that I got the abstract and CV written and submitted on-time, but it took most of the day, rather than the couple of hours I had allocated to the task. The good news is that the next time I apply to an academic conference, I’ll have a CV all ready to go…

Posted in SGS Blog 2010-2011, Student Perspective

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