It’s a Postdoc’s Life

September, 2010 · By Justin Bengry

I’ve landed! I’m a Saskatooner, no, scratch that. I’m a Saskatoonian. Hmmm, not sure about that one either. I don’t know yet what we call ourselves here. But I’ve got an apartment and a local café. I know where to buy wine (critical) and how to find my office (essential). No more the uncertainty or instability of an unemployed academic for me. No thank you! I’m now officially a postdoctoral fellow in History at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. The “Paris of the Prairies”…my Lonely Planet guide tells me.

Blogging has taken a back seat for a couple weeks in favour finding an apartment, buying furniture, and getting to know my department. But now I’m back with a new focus on post-doctoral life, projects, and survival.

The first thing I’ve discovered as a postdoc is that you have to hit the ground running. The term only started a few days ago, but already I’m on track to give the first talk at the department’s research seminar in a few weeks. I’ve also been brought on as the Saskatchewan organizer of a yearly bi-university, multi-provincial graduate history conference. This in addition to giving a paper in Montreal next month, and submitting a journal article in November. No rest for the wicked!

The second thing is that no one knows quite where the postdoc fits in the academic pecking order, or what benefits the postdoc can derive from this unsure status. And of course it varies from department to department, university to university. With apologies to Britney Spears for the paraphrasing: I’m not a girl grad student, not yet a woman professor. So, neither student nor faculty, I’m still working on finding out who to ask for conference funding, or how much of my extended healthcare is covered.

But after 6 months of uncertainty and break from academia, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m thrilled to be back in an environment I know and thrive in, with kind and generous faculty support, and welcoming colleagues who have already made me feel at home in Saskatoon.

And Wikipedia tells me that I’m actually a Saskatonian now.

This post was originally published at History Compass Exchanges on
9 September 2010.