PREFACE xv
then you will probably be granted some slack in your research program. If
you are a terrific departmental citizen, seen as a person who holds the ship
of state together, then you will perhaps not have to put in quite so much
time on the other two portions of your profile.
The bottom line is that there is an awful lot about this profession that
you are going to have to figure out for yourself. This book is intended to
help you through the process. One of the main messages here is to talk to
people. Find a senior faculty member who is willing to let his/her hair down
and tell you some things about how life works in your department, or your
organization, or your company. Bond with others who are your peers and
who can share experiences with you. Become friendly with the staff, with
the Chair, with the key players in your group or department. I can assure
you that—if you are in an academic department—a good deal of the decision
of whether to tenure you is based on raw quality, but another good part of it
is based on collegiality and whether you will fit in. Is this someone that we
want to have knocking about in this building for the next forty years or not?
Is this someone whom we would look forward to seeing each day? These are
intangibles, not written in any guidebook or Tenure Document. But they are
facts of life.
The purpose of the present volume is to give you some hints as to how
to make your way in the academic world, or more generally in the corporate
world or professional world of mathematics. I cannot claim to be expert in
every nuance and corner of the profession; but I have had more experience
than most. I can certainly help you to avoid most of the pitfalls.
I should perhaps stress that I know quite a lot about the life of a math-
ematician in the United States. I know very little about that life in other
countries. I do know that there can be considerable differences—in culture,
in style, and in emphases. I must leave it to another scholar to write a book
about the mathematical life in Italy or Sri Lanka.
By the same token, almost all of my professional experience has been of
an academic nature. I have done some consulting, and I have collaborated
with nonmathematicians. So my communication skills are moderately well
developed. But I have never worked for Microsoft, or at the Social Security
Administration, or in a genome laboratory. And I probably never will. I
know some of the key features of non-academic jobs, and I intend to share
them here. But it is a foregone conclusion that the focus of this book will be
largely on an academic career.
It is a pleasure to thank Gerald B. Folland and James S. Walker for a
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