That is a photo of my offer letter from MIT / edX. As a life story, I find this pretty hilarious because…
I applied to MIT early admissions while I was in high school. I got my letter denying me early admissions and moved into the general applicant pool on the Friday of winter break, ruining my winter break. I got my letter putting me on the wait list on the Friday before spring break, ruining my spring break. I got my final rejection letter from MIT after I had already enrolled at Johns Hopkins. Awesome timing.
When I was graduating from JHU, I applied to many graduate programs, one of them MIT. I got my rejection letter from MIT on the day of the JHU general commencement. As I walked in my apartment in full cap and gown with my parents in tow, my roommate was waving around the open rejection letter from MIT screaming gleefully, “they fucked you again man, they fucked you!” No joke.
It was like someone there flagged my name and made sure to send bad news on important days. Crazy accurate, those MIT-ers.
There was an open faculty position as I was starting my faculty job search. I didn’t bother.
In the end, after having stopped looking toward MIT for anything, MIT came looking for me. I didn’t even know I’d be an MIT employee until after the interviews.
This week, I joined edX as Director of Product. As much as I am excited by this opportunity, I am sad to let go of the place I’ve called home for so long. For the better part of a decade, I’ve worked with the world’s finest people building a new engineering college. I cannot express how much the people, the place, and the work, has meant to me.
I never set out on my sabbatical thinking that I would end up leaving the one place where I have felt the most at home. But just as Olin found me when I was looking for faculty positions, edX did the same as I was exploring the world (sort of) outside traditional academia.
I hope to take the innumerable lessons I’ve learned at Olin forward in my work at edX, and wish that my colleagues will continue to expect the most of me and the work that I do in education. I will not be far away, and as I will begin with a two year leave of absence from the College, I shall still receive your emails and your meeting requests.
One thing I do regrettably leave behind is frequent interactions with students. Olin students, you are a remarkable bunch. I have never met a more inspiring group of young learners than the many I’ve shared a classroom, a research lab, a lunch table, and a residence hall lounge with. You have suffered through endless hours of my ill-prepared and shoddily-conceived experimental courses, and for that, I thank you. You have catalyzed my journey, because, as any educator will tell you, it is the students that make all of these endeavors worthwhile.
I am easily the luckiest person I know, having two “once in a lifetime” opportunities happen in a single career. So, here’s to the next one…
I was just cross-posting from Instagram. You can find me with the username markchang on Instagram. Or through ink361’s web interface (and others).
As I was finishing up my PhD at the University of Washington Electrical Engineering department in 2003-2004, I applied for a bunch of faculty positions around the United States and Canada. Something like 30+ tenure-track positions. Of those, 26 bothered to write me back with a rejection letter (several didn’t).
Cleaning out my filing cabinet tonight, I came across this folder full of job application materials. In reading through all 26 rejection letters again, the emotions I felt over eight years ago got replayed as if the pause button were simply released.
Most of us have been there. Rejection ain’t a pretty thing. But one thing I didn’t prepare for when blasting out my application packets far and wide was the near constant stream of stabbing rejections I would receive from February through June of 2004. That was a painful spring.
I was lucky, though. Even though most were “no”, I received several offers, and got the job I wanted most. And yes, I’m still here, at Olin College.
Instead of recycling these painful memories, I scanned all the letters and have posted them for everyone to see. You might be in a similar place right now. You might have a friend going through deep, soul-sucking rejection. You might be crafting your own rejection letters.
At least you can read through them and admire the variety of ways institutions and individuals “let down” someone they aren’t interested in. My advice? Be gentle. It’s likely not the first, and definitely not the last rejection they’ll receive. Might as well be nice.
26 Rejections (PDF), aka “Mark’s Winter of Discontent,” or “a tale of faculty woe.”
Just one of many:
Normally, I’d let this sort of pseudo-intellectual grandstanding get forgotten under a deluge of cute cat and dog videos, an hour or two browsing Reddit and Hacker News, and another few hours Twittering and Facebooking about my life of extreme leisure. But surprisingly, Mr. Levy’s comments really bothered me.
It isn’t because he has an opinion that doesn’t sit well with me. Rather, I think it’s because he claims to be from an academic background, yet demonstrates an inadequate grasp of the work of the professoriate, and not even a passing command of The Google Search.
No Google chops? Not acceptable. Don’t worry David, Let Me Google That For You.
Right there, in my browser at least, is a link to the AAUP’s landing page regarding faculty work and workload. Gee, that wasn’t too hard, was it? In their latest report, “The Work of Faculty: Expectations, Priorities, and Rewards” (that’s a JSTOR PDF), they lay out the results of several studies designed to count how many hours us lazy professors work each week. So, what’s the final answer?
48-52 hours per week.
Youch. Them’s some lazy tweed-coated professors!
Since you can find other academics blogging up a storm in response to Mr. Levy’s article, I won’t bother you with my opinions on the workload realities of teaching, conducting research, service to the institution, the myth of winter and summer vacations, and just plain old giving a crap about your job.
Instead, let’s scroll down together in that PDF we opened above and find out where the proportional rising costs of operating a college or university are coming from. I wonder if the report talks about that…
Oh look at that! Starting on p. 42! Seems that the cost of administration was outpacing every other expenditure increase across all types of institutions. So, in a sense, spending on Presidents, Directors, and Chancellors increased as a percentage of total expenditures, while spending on instruction decreased.
Son, that’s called irony.
Like @mxcl says, the Readability UI is so nice. Coupled with free mobile apps, good browser integration, I’m moving on from ReadItLater. Sorry guys, the UI is so sexy.
Here’s a gist to get you going. Not for the faint of heart, ‘cause you gotta bust out Ruby on the command line.
[Update Feb 9 midnight]
Inspired by this post (which you should all read), I looked at the apps on my own iPhone for information leakage by other apps. I figured this would be common practice, and lo and behold, when booting up Hipster, it seems like parts of my iPhone address book were being uploaded to Hipster. Here’s the breakdown, done in the style of Arun Thampi (the author of the first post).
Creating an Account
Hipster starts with a POST to api.hipster.com/v1/people
Worth noting, this is not over HTTPS, and it sends your info, including password and iPhone UID in plaintext. Ugh.
Okay, not terrible.
Several other transactions happen here, giving us acknowledgment of your login and creation of an account and user ID, and the public “Popular” feed is returned.
Sadly, the badness happens when you go to add your friends from the More > Find Friends menu option.
The Hipster app, in an unsecured HTTP GET request, sends a big chunk of your iPhone address book in the form of an email param that includes a comma-separated list of email addresses. WAT. Here it is, with the big block of email addresses redacted.
Okay, that’s enormous. Let’s just get the important bits. The HTTP GET goes to:
Boy. Thanks, Hipster.
As was addressed in the other post, this is offensive for a few reasons:
Thanks to the original article on Path. While it is up for debate how much of a negative impact this has on an individual’s privacy, I feel these two examples (which were easy to come by) point toward a state of lax privacy attitudes among some of the leading edge of socially-minded consumer applications.
Time to clean up a bit, right?
Comments below, or hit me up on Twitter, @mchang
Zero email policy: Too much time on too little relevance. http://bit.ly/sUAk5z
Hugh Pickens writes writes”Thierry Breton, CEO of Atos, Europe’s Largest IT Company, wants a ‘zero email’ policy to be in place in 18 months, arguing that only 10 per cent of the 200 electronic messages his employees receive per day on average turn out to be useful, and that staff spend between 5-20 hours handling emails every week. ‘The email is no longer the appropriate (communication) tool,’ says Breton. ‘The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face (in the future). It is time to think differently.’ Instead Breton wants staff at Atos to use chat-type collaborative services inspired by social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter as surveys show that the younger generation have already all but scrapped email, with only 11 per cent of 11 to 19 year-olds using it. For his part Breton hasn’t sent a work email in three years. ‘If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message. Emails cannot replace the spoken word.’”