Doug Yanega wrote:

Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D. mivie at MONTANA.EDU
Thu May 22 13:01:09 CDT 1997


Doug Yanega wrote:

> This begs the question - we have to be *INVITED* to participate in the
> process before we can genuinely demonstrate our value. What you seem to
> imply is that we must demonstrate our usefulness *first*, and that this
> will then convince people we deserve support. So how do we demonstrate our
> usefulness if we are not being supported to begin with?

This attitude is what I mistakenly called "hiding in the museum" in an
earlier posting (for which I got pounded) [Note: there is a minority of
museum scientists who do this, so I am not attributing this to everyone
in the back of a museum.  That is where we keep the bugs, so it is an
important spot].  Would
any business (with the exception of Apple Computers) wait to be or even
expect
to be "invited" into a project? No, they have sales staff who pound the
doors down looking for opportunity.  Would the person with a new idea
for the business community, that (s)he is sure would improve
productivity waits to be found and "invited"?  No, they go out and pitch
it (or are forever ignored). In our lab we watch for projects that need
our services, but don't know it.  Then, we put together a pitch, just
like a business, and go out and try for the business.  We call it
proposal writing.

Like any business, if one client (say NSF) isn't buying, we go to
others.  We demonstrate and document the power of our approach, and put
a realistic budget on it.  I actually think that with many clients, a
sizable proposed budget gets more respect than a small one.  Figure out
the mentality of your target.  Does (s)he get more prestige by managing
a large grant budget?  Does the project become more important if it has
a large budget?  If so, give them one.

As much as I hate to say it (and I don't want support for basic research
and museums evaluated this way), but many people under-employed or
unemployed could be absorbed if more of our established systematists
would be entrepreneurial in their approach.  For instance, I didn't
identify or count those Malagasy beetles, a very high quality but
otherwise unemployed post-doc did it.


> If there is no money, how exactly is one supposed
> to "get on" with doing *anything*? If I do not have a job that involves
> taxonomy, how precisely am I supposed to contribute and demonstrate my
> value?

Not by complaining loudly to everyone who will listen, but by actually
demonstrating value, as suggested above.  Write up a proposal, find a
way to do something novel, look for strong impacts.  Use published
examples,
cite the work of others -- the same way you were trained to do in
college.

In my own field of entomology, there were more jobs for systematists,
taxonomists and collection managers advertised in 1996 than I have seen
in a very long time.  There are jobs for the best. Make sure you are
among the best, and make sure the potential employer knows that you
are.  As cruel as it sounds, we are stronger as a community when we have
a large pool of talent, and can select the very best.  Students and
post-docs must become realistic about job seeking skills, presenting
themselves in the most productive manner, and doing what it takes to get
the job.  This involves the same job seeking skills that MBAs have to
develop to get a job.  And don't tell me taxonomists don't get the
advertised systematics jobs.  Look at who got interviews at Davis,
Corvallis, Ames, Auckland, and elsewhere this year.  They are not all,
or even mostly, molecular systematists, but what looked to the search
committees like the best systematists, independent of techniques used.
They all do species ids, and describe species.


> I'm not complaining solely on my own behalf, that SHOULD be obvious.

I'm not sure it is, perhaps you should think more about that.

> If all I want is a job, I can always go to McDonald's (yes, even in Brazil)
> - but if I want a job that makes use of my skills and expertise, then
> SOMEONE is going to have to make the decision that they *want* to hire
> someone with my sorts of skills,

Wrong.  Many institutions want your SORT of skills, but YOU have to make
sure they want YOU, because there are a whole pile of people available
with your SORT of skills.

> ********************************************************
>
> Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D.          |
> Associate Professor and Curator |   Us   Them    Other
> Department of Entomology        |    \     /      /
> Montana State University        |     \   /      /
> Bozeman, MT 59717-3020          |      \ /      /
> USA                             |       \      /
>                                 |        \    /
> Phone: (406) 994-4610           |         \  /
> FAX:   (406) 994-6029           |          \/
>                                 |
> e-mail: mivie at montana.edu       |  "We have more in common
>                                 |      than we think"
>
> <http://virgin.msu.montana.edu/People/miviehm.html>

--
********************************************************


Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D.          |
Associate Professor and Curator |   Us   Them    Other
Department of Entomology        |    \     /      /
Montana State University        |     \   /      /
Bozeman, MT 59717-3020          |      \ /      /
USA                             |       \      /
                                |        \    /
Phone: (406) 994-4610           |         \  /
FAX:   (406) 994-6029           |          \/
                                |
e-mail: mivie at montana.edu       |  "We have more in common
                                |      than we think"

<http://virgin.msu.montana.edu/People/miviehm.html>




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