Winding down; gearing up

I’m on the cusp of transition: My 18-month term at SCI and the Scholars’ Lab ends today, and in a couple weeks I’ll begin my new role with the Modern Language Association as managing editor for MLA Commons (with a vacation in between, happily!).

Transitions are always a good time for reflection, and there are a few reasons why this one is particularly important for me. Taking the position with SCI was a bit of a risk, albeit a calculated one: I left a full-time job with excellent benefits (and no end date) in favor of a short-term position where I’d be the only person working remotely. Of course, the Scholars’ Lab and SCI are good horses to bet on; I had long admired their work and the people involved, and suspected that in addition to being an outstanding opportunity to work on complex problems and innovative solutions in the world of humanities higher education, the role would also help me to grow a great deal and eventually transition into a long-term career path that would excite me.

Really, though, I had no idea how much I would learn, how much the role would push me, and how impassioned I would become about the questions that we worked on. I’ve posted before about some of the skills I’ve developed during my stint here, from basic tech skills (UNIX, GitHub, HTML, CSS, a little JavaScript and Ruby—this is a lot, considering that even working with a remote server was new to me), to survey development and data analysis, to learning how to talk to the press and engage with the public in more meaningful ways. I always cared deeply about the challenges that graduate students face when thinking about their future, but this position has helped me to develop a much more nuanced understanding of the issues, challenges, and opportunities in the current higher education climate.

It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to my time at the Scholars’ Lab. Aside from the rewarding professional nature of the job, it has also been a ton of fun. I’ll miss my colleagues, even if I saw them mostly in IRC and Skype. I’ll also miss the grad students; it was a delight to see their brilliant work and careful thinking develop through the course of their time in the Praxis Program. And I’ll miss the silliness, too. [ADDENDUM: More heartwarming silliness!]

And yet, I am so incredibly excited to be stepping into my new role at the MLA. I’ll again be working with people I admire and respect, this time on a new platform within a longstanding organization—at a crossroads of experimentation and stability. I’m looking forward to working on the next stages of MLA Commons, and am particularly enthusiastic about the move toward interdisciplinary collaboration that will come of the development of a new Humanities Commons. I’m also looking forward to finding new ways to keep working on graduate education reform, particularly with an eye toward broader career paths for humanities scholars.

So watch for more here as I dive into new waters!