I keep insisting, and I am sure I am right, that you in fact learned how to do academic work if you have a degree from anything like a reputable institution, and that you got it from the program itself.
Where else do you get advice? This is the submerged question, since much of the destructive advice I got in graduate school was from special workshops and pamphlets about the job market, which prophesied much doom but were also only half informed, composed as they were by faculty at my institution who did not have anything like the right kind of experience. (As one said to the other one famous day, what do you know? Where have you been? Princeton and Berkeley, and that is all.) The advice for those places is well known, but in most it does not apply without serious, Dr. Crazy-style modification.
That is why I need to write my book on this matter, and Dr. Crazy, who is different from me, hers.
In the meantime, however, I have only just realized what the sources of much of my advice are except in places like Princeton and Berkeley, where the advice of a department chair is standard and recognizable and nice, and does suffice.
Otherwise the sources are not reliable. They include department chairs who assume based on past experience that many faculty really are not research oriented, so they are speaking to an interlocutor that may not be onself, and also colleagues who are as shell shocked as you. They include other colleagues who may in fact be less well trained in reality or less experienced than you, or traumatized into a different shape than you, or have other goals than you, that neither of you may recognize. My point: all bets are off outside a certain circle, and this is where advice is necessarily non-standard.
How to discern better from worse non-standard advice is the actual question. Because everyone is exhorting because they are theorizing, they do not know for sure, they either have completely different priorities or are twisting themselves into pretzels as they attempt to apply a standard agenda or they have special status or they are just desperately trying to improvise.
There is the imperative to fit in and this really is imperative, but I have seen the effort to comply destroy peoples’ sense of integrity, in the sense of wholeness, more times than I can count. You cannot lose sight of North, but you must also modify your path.
I keep insisting on the destructiveness of all the directives to save time, which I have heard too often. But if you cut here and cut there until you have nothing left, you cut any purpose beyond bare survival. That is where all the dicta come from about how “It is your bread and butter, dear,” and “At least we are still employed.” Those are the phrases pronounced by people who have already renounced everything.
Your guides have to be true, they have to have North in sight themselves, they have to be able to see you clearly, and they cannot have nefarious agendas of their own. I used to tell the lost to find some old feminist or person of color in another, but related department, who had lost some wars and come past them, who was in another space now but still knew where the minefields lay and the allies lived.
Suddenly I realize I will soon be that person.