May 06, 2003

Be Careful: It's Strange Out There

I'm not sure how long it's been since Alex Soojung-Kim Pang left the academy (though apparently it's been long enough that he had forgotten about a "peculiar academic reception food group."). In any case, he has some interesting observations on the differences between academia and the business world:

"One of the biggest differences between academia and the business world is that, by and large, in the latter you simply have no choice but to find a way to work with people, even if you don't really like them. Academics have the luxury of misanthropy and solitude, and if they don't finish their next book, absolutely nothing bad will happen to their employers. I, on the other hand, could really screw things up for the Institute if I blow a deadline, or refuse to work with someone."

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at May 6, 2003 08:04 PM

I left my lectureship at UC Davis in 1996, spent 3 years at Britannica World Headquarters in Chicago (brrr!), then returned to the Bay Area in 1999. I was deeply affiliated with the Stanford Library for the next two years (now we're just good friends), and did a little teaching.

But I really didn't attend many recreational functions in that last pass through the academy (i.e., roundtables on the future of the humanities, etc.), having a small child at home. I lived on those cheddar cheese-on-a-stick appetizers when I was a grad student, though.

Posted by: askpang at May 8, 2003 09:35 PM

One comment I've always enjoyed is this one, attributed to John Rosenwald:

"The difference between business and academia is this: In business it's dog eat dog. In academia it's just the other way around."

Posted by: lchimene at May 9, 2003 03:27 AM