In my last post, I mentioned that I deferred starting my job for a year, which is one of the best career decisions I’ve made.
When I was in graduate school, I didn’t understand deferring at all. The point of getting a faculty job was to be a professor, right? Why would anyone get that job and then spend an extra year not being a professor? And it definitely didn’t seem like a good idea to give up a year of faculty salary and benefits.
But then I actually had the opportunity to defer, and all of a sudden it started to seem like a much more attractive option. I could have a whole extra year to finish projects! And to set up my lab! And to get a head start on that whole tenure thing!
Part of what made my deferral year such a great idea was, indeed, the opportunity to do all of those things. I did finish some projects, and I started some new ones, which gives me some much-needed momentum. I think it would be harder to start an entirely new line of work in my first year as a TT faculty member; it seems slightly easier to continue something I’m already doing. I submitted a couple of grants, like I mentioned before. I worked with an entire team of people (from facilities at my new school, from an architecture firm) to design my lab, which is currently being constructed. Without my deferral year, I would have spent my first year on the tenure clock waiting for a place to do my science.
The biggest benefit, though, is probably the psychological boost I get from having done all those things. As ridiculous as it sounds to be thinking about tenure before my official start date rolls around, I feel more prepared for the long haul as a professor because I had this head start. I’m less stressed about having enough time to do everything I need to do.
Ironically, given the stance my graduate school self had on deferring, I’m a little nervous about my deferral year coming to an end. It’s been really helpful to have all of this unstructured time where anything that I accomplished was icing on the cake, and I’m a little sad to give that up. But also, super excited to start being a professor for real.