This week marks a new beginning for me. I don’t really write about myself that much on my blog, but I’d like to share a new direction my life is taking since it will definitely influence what my blog will look like in the future.
When I began teaching at the University of San Francisco in January 2015, I knew it was only temporary; my initial contract was for three semesters. With faculty on sabbatical and maternity leave, someone was needed to teach in the department until those faculty returned.
I was fortunate to have had two one-year extensions to that contract. But this past year, my contract was not renewed, despite support from the department and the Dean’s office. The decision not to renew was made at the Provost level.
I found this out early on last Fall semester. Of course that meant the inevitable job search — announcements of academic positions start being posted early in October. This process is never pleasant, and takes up a lot of time. For example, I spent over twenty hours on one particularly challenging, non-routine application.
While I had two phone interviews and one on-site interview, no offers were forthcoming. But in mid-February, I read an announcement asking for consultants to help develop and implement a series of online lectures. This is to aid in developing a flipped classroom, where students watch a set of brief videos on a mathematical topic before they come to class. Because the students already have been exposed to the basic ideas, the teacher can spend face-to-face class time developing these ideas and having students work on activities and projects. In other words, students enjoy a richer classroom experience because they come to class already armed with basic concepts.
By mid-March, I had signed a consulting contract. Yes, I was still teaching at USF, but the deadline for the project was August 31. So even if I did get an academic job, I would have the summer to work on the project. Also, I did have some time during the semester to begin the work.
None of the academic positions panned out, and it was nearing the end of April. I had some big decisions to make. A parallel thread was all the drama going on where I lived — I shared a floor of a house with five other housemates. I could write an entire post on this subject, but the upshot was that I was moving out at the end of May.
That might not sound like a big deal — but the housing situation in San Francisco is tremendously challenging. I just recently heard a statistic that 100,000 new jobs are created in SF each year, but only 12,000 units of housing are being developed.
Moreover, there is such a demand for housing, you really can’t start looking more than a month out. So I couldn’t start looking until May 1.
Plan A was to find an affordable (relative to San Francisco housing prices, that is), furnished (ideally) studio apartment near the Mission. I knew that because I was doing so much work at home, I’d need a place that got plenty of light, and where I would feel comfortable spending large chunks of time.
If that didn’t work out, it was on to Plan B. I’d drive across the country to live with dear friends Cory and Larry near Tampa. Because my consulting could all be done remotely, it didn’t matter where I was physically located. So I had a fairly large safety net beneath me.
On Thursday, May 3, I had lunch with my friend Wes, who has a tutoring business. I thought I’d pick his brain on how he got set up, since I thought supplementing consulting with tutoring would be complementary, and ensure I could afford to live in San Francisco.
Imagine my surprise when he offered me a job! I said I was interested, but that I wouldn’t be able to start until the Fall. Too much was going on.
Later on that day, I went to look at a studio apartment. Cynthia and I had a one-and-a-half hour meeting, and the place was great! I was ready to take the place right then, but…there was an application process, and lots of other people were looking at the place. So I went home and filled out the application right away.
The next morning I got a call — I could have the place if I wanted it! I could hardly believe my good fortune. I immediately said yes. An opportunity like this was not likely to come along again soon.
So my life was completely up in the air on April 30, and by May 4, I had another job offer and a place to live! I’m writing this blog post on the desk at my new place — after spending the last week moving both my apartment and my office. I drastically underestimated how much time that would take, which is why I’m making this post on Tuesday….
And further, later on in May, I had discussions about continuing my curriculum consulting into the fall. On top of that, my friend Craig asked me to do data analysis for his company which manages a hedge fund. So there seemed to be no shortage of work.
I didn’t think that I’d get to the end of a post so soon — there is still more to the story, which I’ll continue next week. But I thought it was important to share a little about what was going on. So many of my posts over the past three years revolved around the classroom/university experience, and I thought it would seem odd if I just stopped talking about these things.
Of course I still have a lot to say about any number of mathematical topics, and I may occasionally write about my Adventures in Consulting Land. Given my past year, it is difficult to know exactly what the future will bring….