Academic job prospecting; or, Why by some total fluke I have an advantage.

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It is hard to get an academic job these days.  According to The Professor is In (an academic job consulting service) a PhD holder has something like a 1-in-20 chance of actually getting a job in a university.  Post-docs might make it easier to get an academic position, though they can even be hard to get into.

However, here is my perspective:

I think it depends on your field.  PhDs in the humanities are kind of like a dime a dozen these days. At the Victoria University of Wellington graduation I went to last night somebody in the programme (at a different ceremony) was getting a PhD in Design for studying Tamagotchi Fan Fiction.  Seriously?

PhD in Information Studies are still quite rare – most people in information studies just want to be librarians and quit after the MLIS.  I was the only PhD in Information Studies to graduate in from Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Information Management in probably 5 years.
This is mostly because of funding/political reasons – other people do PhDs on LIS topics but because the School of Information Management gets more money for people enrolled in Information Systems, they enrol all the PhD students in Information Systems, regardless of the topic, because really the only thing that matters is the topic of your thesis, the degrees are all PhDs.
So when it comes to graduate you have to be aware of this discrepancy and make sure the graduation office puts “Information Studies” as your degree title rather than “Information Systems”, even though they were all confused and double checked with me several times – “Are you sure your degree is in Information Studies? It says you are enrolled in Information Systems?”.
This was a big issue for me throughout my time at SIM – I think forced enrolment as Information Systems students devalues information & library studies and obfuscates professional identity.     I even raised this issue to an external review of the Information Studies programme, though they didn’t do anything or seem to care and this practice carries on.  So I was sure to advocate for my PhD in Information Studies when the time came.  At yesterday’s graduation one of my colleagues who studied Information Literacy in Malaysian Primary Schools received a PhD in Information Systems.  Am I the only person that sees a big discrepancy there?
/End rant on VUW’s School of Information Management.
My PhD in Information Studies is somewhat less common, as mentioned above, and the Library & Information Science Education market isn’t yet completely oversaturated with PhDs at this stage, unlike some disciplines.  And, I got a full scholarship to do my PhD, and was unemployed at the time, so it was a good choice for me.  I didn’t do it to get rich, no one in academia does.  I got a free degree and spent a few years working on an interesting project.  It was a win/win for me, even if I did end up just working as a librarian after finishing my PhD.  At least with a PhD I could probably get something pretty high up in an academic library if I decide not to try for a faculty position.
But areas like film, history, etc, those PhD are basically useless unfortunately.  I apologise to those of you with PhDs in film or history, and hope you have found happiness in your career, but job prospects are really limited in those areas.
You also have to consider what disciplines are getting lots of students & research funding, which unfortunately seems to follow trends quite a lot of the time.  Data science and human computer interaction seems very popular at the moment as far as faculty recruitment, because there’s big money for undergraduates who come out with degrees in those areas, and therefore big student numbers, and lots of funding to those kinds of programmes.  People doing BAs in art history probably end up as baristas or waitresses, and those departments aren’t hiring. If you are in Chemistry of Physics or something yes you probably have to do a post-doc if you want to get into a research position, but in Information Studies it’s not really necessary, in fact there aren’t many post docs available (though there are a few, mostly in data science type stuff, which I guess would be valuable if you were in that area).
So yeah, I am really glad I have a PhD in Information Studies. Even though my topic was mostly related to culture/sociology/ international development, I have colleagues with PhDs in Human Geography and Sociology who’s research is not very different from mine, but will basically be stuck at a polytechnic forever because there is just such over-saturation of the market for those kinds of degrees. At least I have a slightly more marketable degree.. which was a total fluke because I had no idea going into it! I just got lucky I guess!
But as mentioned above, if you can get a full scholarship to pay for your PhD you might as well do it, even if it doesn’t help you earn more money in the end, at least it’s a cool project you get to work on for a few years and then you can make everyone call you “doctor” :)
enough ranting about academia… I should do some work.
Dr. Nicole

SEWapalooza!

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I have been spending all of my free time sewing lately.

Some of my latest creations:

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I used Simplicity 1666 to make a top and a skirt.  I liked how the top turned out but knew that I would need to make the skirt a bigger size. Unfortunately the way the patterns are sold the one I bought (6-14) does not have larger sizes… so I guessed and tried to cut it about a 16 or 18, and even so, the skirt was tiny and I fear I may bust a seam when sitting!

I used some fabric I ordered online from AliExpress that looked quite different on the computer than it did when it turned up… for a while I hated it but I decided I should try to make something with it, and actually I am loving the top. It’s pretty colourful but not too overwhelming when worn with black trousers or jeans.

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There’s a fairly good description of the construction here.

I found that the zipper is probably unnecessary unless you are particularly big busted (and need to do some bust adjustments).  However this project did make me really appreciate the importance of stay-stitching, a step I usually skip.  Never again!  It really made the neckline turn out much nicer, and only takes a few minutes.

Once again I broke out the Burda 7486 and made some trousers-

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this time I ended up making 3 pairs – one in a black silk it the turned out also too small (curse my damn big booty!), one in rayon, and one in fluro orange with a slight stretch that I also added a fabulous reflective piping detail to when the cuff is turned up!

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These are my new cycling trousers.

I’ll post more pictures when they come out of the wash.

I also spent all day Sunday working on my first Colette pattern – The Cooper.   There’s a great sewalong for the Cooper, and a companion book that complements the pattern instructions.

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This was particularly helpful for some of the more difficult aspects of this project.

The biggest challenge with this bag was finding all the supplies!  It took me a visit to Spotlight, and Made on Marion, and extensive internet searching to figure out what I needed and where to get it from!

I could not figure out what Jiffy Rivets were at Spotlight (they had all different sorts of eyelets and etc. but none of them looked right), and lobster clasps were $5 a pair!  I got a few d-rings (which later I discovered were cheaper at Made on Marion) and a magnet clasp (also $5 for 1!!) which they did not seem to have at Made on Marion.  The best option is probably to go to the Dump Shop (Trash Palace in Poriua or Second Treasures in Happy Valley) and buy a 2nd hand laptop bag for $3, and then you get 2 lobster clasps and 2 d-rings that can be recycled.

So… bad construction.  I also learnt quite a lot here.  For example – fusible interfacing will not fuse to waterproof synthetics!  I bought 1 metre of “waterproof canvas” from Spotlight, and also had a bit of vinyl lying around that I used to make the bag.  The interfacing would not fuse to either, and the “canvas” in particular has very little stiffness, so my bag is very floppy, which especially in the flap is annoying.

However, I discovered that this makes the bag easily tuck-awayable into my other pannier, so I can have it for an emergency pannier bag rather than always lugging around a 2nd pannier basket in case I decide I want to stop at the supermarket on the way home.

On a side note I am so sick of my workmates always commenting on how I look like a hobo with all my bags and gear… I keep trying to explain to them all I usually am carrying is my lunch and my gym gear but I like to have an extra bag in case case I want to do some grocery shopping on my way home… but they still act as if I am some crazy weirdo.  Please, just leave me alone workmates.

Anyway here is my finished Cooper, which I am happy with as a first go, but have some definite ideas about how to change it in a 2nd version.   Notice the lining is the same fabric as shown above for the Simplicity outfit.

Cooper Front

Cooper Front

Cooper Back

Cooper Back

Cooper lining

Cooper lining

Cooper inside

Cooper insid

A few other comments about construction -

I am concerned about the durability of the bike-rack clasps here, because the straps attaching them to the bag are quite narrow in the pattern (25 mms), and short.  I don’t think as written this pattern could handle carrying a very heavy load.  if you are like me and you buy 2 kgs of chick peas and cheese by the block you really need a bag that can handle some weight.  So, for this version I increased the width of the fabric straps holding on the d-rings an the lobster clasps.  For a future creation I would also lengthen the d-ring attachment straps, making them go all the way to the bottom gusset seam, and possibly add some rivets to help secure them.

Also I like the modifications Squishy Lab made – adding a cross body strap and shortening the height.  Also the wool is beautiful! So, some inspiration of my future creations.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes with lentils, paneer and TVP

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New Zealanders don’t really know what Sloppy Joes are, yet the longer I stay away from the US the more nostalgic I get for childhood comfort foods.  Sloppy Joes are something I have been thinking about lately, since spying a tin of Manwich at a grocery shop in Apia.  On side note I was strangely confused/comforted by the availability of American junk food in Samoa.  I brought home a jar of Goober (the pre-mixed peanut butter & jelly stuff my mom would never buy for me despite pleading for it at the supermarket as a child).

manwich

Warwick asked me about the pervasiveness of Sloppy Joes.  Do any chain restaurants have them?  I said yes, thinking maybe Arby’s does? (He had never heard of Arby’s so assumed it was not actually a well known eating establishment in the States).  I’m not sure if Arby’s actually has Sloppy Joes but some chain restaurant must do? It’s common enough yet I don’t think I have ever actually ordered a Sloppy Joe in a restaurant.   I only remember eating them at parties and family gatherings.  I don’t think it was something my mother ever made either (though maybe my step dad did once or twice?).

Then he advised me that since Sloppy Joes hadn’t filtered down through popular media (TV, film, etc) to New Zealand it must not actually be a wide-spread food.  I tried to argue it was and I think soon to become quite popular outside the US as it seems like all somewhat white-trash kitschy American foods are getting claimed by foodies everywhere and becoming gourmet-ified.  So here is my gourmet vegetarian Sloppy Joes recipe I came up with, and it was yum (despite Warwick calling it “slop”).

 Vegetarian Sloppy Joes with lentils, paneer and TVP

  • Boil ½ cup French lentils in veg stock
  • Add ½ small TVP (mince or peanut sized chunks) to lentils & stock after 20 minutes.
  • Boil for another 5 minutes then strain.
  • Add 2 tbs oil to a heavy bottom pot
  • Sautee 1 chopped onion
  • Add 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper/capsicum
  • 1 chili pepper (I used 1 small Thai chilli, then later added chipotle chilli, depends how spicy you like it)
  • Add ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • Sautee 5 minutes more
  • Crumble in ½ block of paneer (1 cup crumbled, 2”x2’x4” inches of the block?  I get Gopala paneer from the local Indian shop and I love it.  You can substitute tofu for paneer for vegan Sloppy Joes)
  • Add lentils & TVP
  • Add 1 tin tomatoes (whole or chopped)
  • Add veg stock to just cover eveyrthing
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tbs chipotle Tabasco (or something similar with a smoky spicy favour)
  • Some liquid smoke – depending on the brand I have found this stuff really varies in strength, what I have at the moment (Angel Foods Liquid Hickory) is really strong and I only added a bit (1/4 tsp?). Don’t go crazy with the liquid smoke, you only need a bit or it can take on an overwhelming smokiness.
  • Give this all a good stir, cover, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 10 or 15 minutes.
  • Let this all simmer for about an hour, with the lid off, stirring regularly (and making sure it doesn’t stick on the bottom).
  • Sift a few tablespoons of flour into the mix if it’s too wet – it needs to hold together enough to stay on a bun.
  • Serve on a nice bun. We topped ours with rocket, and a cabbage/carrot coleslaw. 

 

I really enjoyed the Sloppy Joes, it brought me right back to childhood birthday parties! Warwick ate two so he must have liked them as well.

Sorry it didn’t occur to me at the time to take a photo.  I also wonder if it would work as well in a slow cooker… something to try for next time.

 

Graduation, research, and more

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Since my last post lots has been happening.

I graduated in May!

I am now absolutely officially Dr. Nicole!

 

grad selfie

 

My mum came to visit, we spent some time up at the in-law’s farm, and we had fun sightseeing in the Coromandel.

Then, she went home, and I went back to work for a busy week before heading to Samoa to spend 4 weeks doing research on information behaviour.

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It was so beautiful and I had such an amazing time.

I really enjoyed meeting some of the Peace Corps Samoa volunteers.  It brought me right back to my days in Benin, despite that being about 10 years ago!

Since returning it’s been full on with teaching and research.  Trimester 2 has just started and I am teaching User Education & Reference Skills, a course I really enjoy.  I managed to finish off an article and have submitted it to Information Research for publication.  Fingers crossed it turns into a A ranked output!!  I am also finishing up work on another article I hope to get submitted by the end of August.  Then, I can really dive into analysis of my Samoan data.

However, whilst writing up the current paper that looks at my research methodology I have managed to get side tracked thinking about a lot of subjective factors that can really influence the successful outcomes of research projects.  In particular I have been considering the role of a researcher’s personality and “emotional intelligence” in interviewing, as well as research ethics and working with different cultures.  It’s really quite fascinating but could also be an entire paper on its own, so how do I squeeze it into my methodology paper?  Despite these challenges I think it’s important to consider the role these kinds of factors play.  I can’t recommend a research methodology for others to use if the methodology doesn’t work if you don’t have the same personality as me, right?

So, some things I am considering while trying to stay focussed.

And tonight I am looking forward to seeing Florian Habicht’s documentary about Pulp as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival.  I think they are even going to Skype in Jarvis Cocker after the film!

SO exciting!!!

Oh and I can I recommend What We Do In The Shadows for those of you able to get hold of a copy?

 

 

Wax prints pt. 2

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Here are some images of my latest sewing creations:

wax02My three pairs of trousers made from Burda 7486.  I have another pair in a black stretch denim as well.   I quite like this pattern.  From left to right:

Birds and birdcages

Diamonds (bling print)

The rightmost-print is not actually African wax – it’s just an ethnic-y style cotton print I got at a jumble sale.

Some other creations:

wax04Shorts, these are made from Vogue 2532.  Not my favourite pattern – the way the shorts are constructed with the pockets in the side seam means the pockets bulge out unattractively.  I have not re-used this pattern since.

wax06This is a self drafted pattern, using this awesome umbrella print!  Unfortunately after sewing it together I realised that I have two big blue umbrellas right over my nipples.

 

wax08wax09Here is another self-drafted dress.  This one is basically one large piece with kimono-style-ish wide sleeves.  It does have a slit along the side too so I can ride my bike in it.  I love this print and this dress – it’s probably not showcased very well here on the washing line but it’s very flattering and probably my favourite creation so far this year.

Well, until I finished my jacket:

 

wax jacket1Yes, it is the same print as one of my pairs of trousers above.  I could wear an entire bling wax print suit! This was made using variation A of Burda 7135.

It took me about 18 hours to complete, and using a figure of $25 an hour as my typical hourly wage, plus materials, this jacket is worth about $500 NZD.   But I say it’s priceless!  Anyway I managed to learn a few new things while I was at it.  I’m planning to make another one soon – that way I will be able to practise the new skills again before I have forgotten them and hopefully get better at stuff like a notched collar and welt pockets.

wax12

 

I put the buttonholes/buttons on the wrong side (it buttons like a man’s coat).  But they’re cute buttons right?!

wax14

 

 

These pockets are a hot mess! wax15

I managed to melt the acetate lining when ironing the sleeve cuff… also there’s supposed to be some kind of “vent” in the sleeve that I haven’t yet figured out how it’s supposed to work.

wax01

It may be hard to tell from this photo but my collar and lapels are really sloppy looking.  This is even after completely taking the entire collar apart and re-sewing all 8 pieces, clipping, trimming, etc. etc. very painstakingly and delicately! I still can’t figure out why it looks so sloppy – I tried really hard to line everything up neatly.  I think the problem is that I still haven’t figured out which seams cause which effects on the finished garment – and what needs to be lined up with what.  I’m a “global learner” according to some tests my students have to take, and I think that means if I can’t see the “big picture” I struggle.  So, hopefully doing a lapel and notched collar for a 3rd time (or maybe 4th if my next jacket needs it to be done twice like this one did) I will have a better idea of how it all works.

wax10

 

Also the collar is a bit floppy – I will definitely use some interfacing for some of the pieces in my next version.  I don’t know why the pattern itself doesn’t recommend interfacing those pieces?

Any, it looks fabulous regardless, and I am happy to wear it even if it is a  bit sloppy looking.  Luckily the print is so busy it’s hard to notice all the flaws!

 

Wax prints

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Did you know that Easter is a really big deal here in New Zealand I had a mandatory 5 day holiday from work?

Also all the shops are closed on Good Friday & Easter Sunday (except in Wanaka, WTF?!).  I decided to have a sewing stay-cation, since we are going away in May anyway, and I really just wanted to have a nice, quiet, relaxing few days away from work.

On a side note, there’s been a lot of discussion about Easter trading laws here in New Zealand (you can get a haircut but not buy hairspray, you can drink a beer with your meal, but not buy a beer?) but the one thing no one seems to mention is the religious background of this holiday and it’s appropriateness for a multi-cultural society.  I don’t mind restrictions on trade – it’s nice to have a few days where shops must be shut, and I think the unions have been hugely influential and ensuring that workers have the right to time off on public holidays, which I applaud, but why does it have to be Christian doctrine dictating which days those are?

Why not have “Autumnal splendour day” or something instead of “Easter”?  Because, just in case you were not aware, it is not spring time here.

Anyway back to my sewing stay-cation:

Lately I am obsessed with West African wax prints, perhaps getting nostalgic for my days in Athieme, Benin?

I found a good supplier – Africanpremier.com, with some pretty amazing prints, like the ones below:

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UT8qO9bXgVXXXagOFbXw

 

The minimum purchase is “une piece”, which is enough to make a “complet” (6 meters).  Some examples of fabulous African ladies in their “complet”:

 

Senegalese+daily+wear

As much as I would love to rock some serious African style here in Wellington, I prefer to mix and match my wax prints with typical Western-wear.

I have made about 4 pairs of trousers using  Burda 7486

 

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The top is hideous! But trousers version “C”  are great for making cotton pants with a zipper fly, so I don’t feel like a disgusting slob who wears elastic waist pants to work.  They have just enough ease for non-knit fabrics so you don’t feel like you are going to bust a seam but you have a skinny-leg style.  So far I have made 4 pairs of wax print trousers with this pattern – which are great with a solid colour shirt and even appropriate for the office.  That being said I am an academic so dress standards are fairly lose around my workplace.

(Photos coming soon)

I have also made a number of dresses – mostly not using any kind of pattern, but based on another dress I have.  However I did recently take a “make patterns from your existing wardrobe” course and have drafted a pattern for my new favourite simple shift dress.

(Photos coming soon)

Since I have so much wax print fabric at the moment I decided to be ambitious and try to make a blazer.  I had a black blazer that I loved ($10 from Ross on my last trip home!) but I managed to lose it (and my favourite green rain jacket) after not securing it properly to my bike rack on a nice sunny afternoon, somewhere between my office and the Waterloo station in Lower Hutt.

I reviewed a number of options but decided that princess seams would be the most flattering – so I picked Burda 7135:

7135

I’m went with version “A” – the shorter one, and didn’t realise I would be giving myself multiple headaches with all the new techniques I am trying to figure out with this one.

Burda Style has some good Blazer patterns – mostly sourced from the Burda Style Magazine, but they are only available as “print-at-home” patterns which I find to be a bit of a pain, so I went with what I could find at the shop.

Quite a challenging project, but hopefully will be worth the effort when finished.  It took me 3 hours just to lay out the pattern pieces and cut out the main fabric & lining.

My biggest difficulties thus far have been the welt pockets, the sleeves and the collar, all of which involve techniques new to me.

My welts look like a disaster, but luckily they are covered by these little pocket flaps so hopefully won’t mar the finished product.

The sleeves have been holding me up recently – I have never sewn anything with 2 sleeve pieces (the upper sleeve and an under-sleeve).  My pattern copying instructor said that having an under sleeve pattern piece cut on a different grain to the upper sleeve allows for more movement and ease – often used in jackets.  I finally figured out last night (after setting them in, thinking some thing was wrong, unpicking my sewing, swapping them around, then undoing it again thinking I had it right the first time) that I had sewn one of the sleeves inside out (it’s hard to tell with the print I am using) – so I had 2 left sleeves, hence all the confusion, and sewing/unpicking and thinking something was wrong.  So I have properly set in the sleeves as of this morning, and now the only thing left to do it put in the lining and hem it.

However, before I put the lining in, I need to fix the collar and lapels.  They are a hot mess!

I’m not crazy about the lower notched lapel extending more than the upper lapel (see image above).  But, it’s cut out and sewn up so I will leave it for the moment, and concentrate on getting them to look semi-good for the moment.  I think I need to re-sew some edged and clip some corners, maybe do some understitching which I have heard is helpful for collars.

I was really feeling like a sewing failure after all the sleeve issues, but I tried to remind myself this was a first for me, and a learning process.

Essentially this jacket, when finished, will end up being more of a muslin for me anyway, as I think I will need to make some serious sizing adjustments.  However, if the end result is a fabulously well-tailored, fitted blazer in an amazing beautiful African print, that is a one-of-a-kind awesome part of my wardrobe that I can wear to conferences and present papers in and feel like a sexy librarian academic superstar, then it will all be worth it!

Also I enjoy sewing, despite all the headaches it gives me!