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Having a Career and a Life. Finding Balance. Kristin Yvonne Rozier NASA Langley Research Center & Rice Univ. Chandra Krintz Associate Professor, Univ. of California Santa Barbara CRA-W Cohort Workshop March 13-14, 2008. Thanks to Kathleen Fisher for helping to improve these slides.

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Finding balance

Having a Career and a Life

Finding Balance

Kristin Yvonne Rozier

NASA Langley Research Center & Rice Univ.

Chandra Krintz

Associate Professor, Univ. of California Santa Barbara

CRA-W Cohort Workshop

March 13-14, 2008

Thanks to Kathleen Fisher for helping to improve these slides

Some of the things i do
Some of the things I do

  • Advise a group of 5-10 BS, MS, and PhD students

    • Research: Full system performance adaptation

  • Teach 1 course per quarter (3 courses per year)

  • Write many, many grant proposals

  • Committees in department

    • Lead on CS undergraduate curriculum revamp

  • Committees in community (conferences)

    • SIGPLAN Executive Committee Vice Chair!

  • Outreach, mentoring (CRA-W Cohort!)





Some of the things i do1
Some of the things I do

  • Outreach to Girls Inc. (thanks to tenure!!)

    • Teaching 6-10 year olds how to program using a game controller

      • Microsoft Research Boku (XBox game that runs on a PC)

    • And helping non-profits in my community w/ computers

    • Getting students involved -- feel good about themselves and gain perspective on what their degree (in CS or CE) means

Stress similarities grad students
Stress Similarities: Grad Students

  • Different each year

    • Y1: getting comfortable, class/tests, TAing

      • Topic search, advisor search

    • Y2-4: In the thick of it

    • Y5+: last mile

      • Paper deadlines

      • Identifying letter writers

      • Writing the thesis

      • Applying for jobs

  • Finding an advisor

  • Comprehensive exams

  • Paper deadlines

  • Encountering rejection

  • Going to conferences

  • Internships

  • Finding a thesis topic

  • Figuring out what comes next

Stress similarities post phd academic
Stress Similarities - Post-PhD, Academic

  • Different each year

    • Y1: getting comfortable, teaching real classes

    • Y2-3: attracting students, seeking funding

    • Every year

      • Paper/proposal deadlines + acceptances/rejections

      • Departmental and research community service

      • Identifying viable research projects

      • Attracting / working with students

      • Travel

      • Improving teaching quality

      • Multi-tasking / effective context switching

    • Y5: last mile before tenure

      • Identifying letter writers, giving talks

Stress similarities post phd research lab
Stress Similarities - Post-PhD, Research Lab

  • Different each year

    • Y1: getting comfortable, finding a research project

    • Y2-3: figuring out how to do good research and positively impact the sponsoring company

    • Every year

      • Paper deadlines + acceptances/rejections

      • Organizational and research community service

      • Identifying viable new research projects

      • Attracting / working with students and colleagues

      • Travel

    • Y3+: advancing in company/lab

  • Coping with company downturns: layoffs, equipment shortages, lack of travel funds, etc.


  • Demands come in waves

    • Too many at once cause stress

    • Size and number matters

  • Many of us are very goal-oriented

  • We all have insecurities

  • We humans cannot maintain an insane pace continuously (time management)

    • Not sustainable

    • Leads to burnout / poor productivity

    • Will wear you out

  • There is always moreto do

  • Family obligations and relationships

Managing waves of demands
Managing Waves of Demands

  • A continuous, incremental process

    • You must work at it; there is no free lunch!

    • Make changes incrementally

  • Riding the waves

    • Prioritize demands

    • Work hard during high-demand periods

    • Take a break, re-energize during low-demand

    • Recognize/work on the transition between the two

Managing goals and expectations
Managing Goals and Expectations

  • Set by yourself or others

    • Note when they are self-inflicted!

  • Understand completely what is required given a goal

    • Know why you want to achieve it

    • Evaluate your progress

    • Talk about it with your mentor(s) and others

  • Learn how to enjoy the process

    • Focus on the present

    • Appreciate your achievements before moving on

  • Work to ensure that goals are achievable

Managing insecurities
Managing Insecurities

  • Being insecure contributes

    to being out of balance

  • Seek out a good mentor (may/may not be your advisor)

  • Don't set yourself up to fail

  • Be proud of and celebrate your accomplishments

    • Don’t belittle achievements -- just because it was you who achieved them

    • Keep a “good file” of positive feedback

  • Realize that we all (you, me, him, her, us, them) have insecurities

    • Think them through, talk them over with those you trust

Chandra s insecurities
Chandra’s Insecurities

  • I am an imposter!

    • How did I get here? I know nothing. I’ll never have another research idea.

    • Manifestation: OK, just work more/harder...

  • I care deeply about what others think of me

    • I have panic attacks before entering areas where lots of people are (for fear I’m going to mess up in some way)

    • I take things very personally

      • Rejection, not being included, the success of others

    • Manifestation: OK, just work more/harder...

Time management did you see janie s session yesterday
Time ManagementDid you see Janie's session yesterday?

  • There's always more to do

    • Learn how to estimate accurately the time required

      • Don't take on too much or feel pressured to say yes

        • Worse to take on something and only contribute minimally or do an average/poor/late job at it than to say no

    • Renegotiate unmanageable commitments

      • Be honest with those you are working with

      • Identify a solution that works for all

    • Taking on a new task can be an opportunity to let go of an old one.

    • Work with people who are good at getting things done.

    • Identify your guiding principles

Chandra s guiding principles
Chandra’s Guiding Principles

  • Time for Rich and Zoe, larger family (sister, brother)

  • Do great research and share it with others

    • Through publication and communication

    • Through service in my community

    • For the support ($$), success, and options for my students

  • Work on interesting and high impact research problems

    • Programming language implementations

  • Make a difference in students’ lives

    • At any level, age

    • Let them know that what they are doing (working on their education) is exceptional

    • Teaching/Curriculum

  • Have time to be healthy

Be organized
Be Organized

  • Keep a calendar that you always have with you

    • Electronic (back it up) or paper

    • Keep it up to date

      • Meetings as well as work things (email, paper reading, writing, coding, seminars, etc)

    • Schedule in both work and play

    • Block out time for only research

    • Know when you work efficiently: Don’t squander that time!

  • Avoid churn: pick a task and do it.

  • When “on a roll”, keep the momentum. Conversely, if something is a grind, don’t push too hard.

  • Handle email efficiently.

  • Keep a research/idea book or wiki.

Finding balance1
Finding Balance

  • Most importantly -- take care of you!

    • Figure out what makes you happy/unhappy

    • Look up every once in a while to take stock

  • Apply money to the problem if possible

  • Exercise!

  • Eat well

  • Sleep enough

    • Identify your optimal number of hours

  • Help and receive help from others

  • Don't isolate yourself

    • Seek out family, friends, others

  • Have a life as well as work

  • Set realistic goals to achieving balance

Finding balance non work chandra
Finding Balance (non-work): Chandra

  • Sleep (8+hrs, yes, 8)

  • Exercise

  • Seeking out colleagues and making time to be social

    • Just going for coffee or lunch

  • Outreach to the community

    • Girls Inc., local high schools, DAWG, soup kitchens

    • Help with technology (simple things), sharing how fun computer science can be!, walking dogs

  • Listening to music (from my past)

  • Driving my car / going on roadtrips

  • Golf

  • Zoe

Something i found recently
Something I found recently…





  • How to find balance: Work Like A DOG!

from Martha Beck's article in

Oprah Magazine Mar08

Something i found recently1
Something I found recently…

  • How to find balance: Work Like A DOG!

from Martha Beck's article in

Oprah Magazine Mar08

Ideas for questions
Ideas for Questions

  • Balance as a graduate student

  • Balance and the tenure process or high-tech industry

  • Dual-career couple

    • Working at it

    • Finding jobs that are equally satisfying

  • Managing relationships

  • Having children

  • Deciding on your future and considering balance

  • Other time management questions