Advice from Reginald Shepherd

“My boss at the library  . . . chided me constantly for my posture, my wardrobe, and my general demeanor, but never seemed to notice that I was almost the only competent person in the department. (One’s attitude and deportment have counted for much more than one’s actual work in any job I’ve ever had, including those in academia.)”

–Shepherd, Reginald. “To Make Me Who I Am.”  Poets and Writers, Jan-Feb. 2008.

University politics can be heartbreaking when it comes to being hired/promoted/fired/awarded/passed over.  Consistently behaving in a courteous and professional manner may be the only way to deal with the injustices that come with any job.

To give a positive example, my relationship with my dissertation director began long before I had seriously considered working with him, when I was one of his teaching assistants my first year in graduate school.  He appreciated the fact that I came on time to his lectures, something not all my colleagues did.  I earned his good opinion based on something unrelated to my dissertation, but it surely paved the way for a healthy working relationship.


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