Previously I have written about some of the things I enjoy about being mid-career (and middle aged), including: seeing my former students progress in their own careers but not being so deep into my own that I don’t still encounter my own advisors and teachers, and feeling like I’ve learned a lot but still have a lot more fun things to do with my research and teaching.
Something else that I really like is having colleagues with whom I have worked for a long time, including friends from grad school. Memories of my student years have largely receded into the mist, but the support and friendship of my fellow grad students is important to me to this day. This support network was essential to my sanity in graduate school – I sometimes wonder if I would even have gotten my degree if I hadn’t had this to counterbalance the negative weirdness of the faculty (see previous post on Anti-Mentors). Today, some of these fellow students are my colleagues.
When you’ve worked with a colleague for a decade or more, you have a long history of evolving ideas, you have lots of shared stories, and you have a working relationship that in many ways resembles a friendship. This can be a very fun and satisfying part of professional life.
Recently at a social function, one of my long-term colleagues was telling a group of other people about how I collaborate with friends from grad school and about some of my other long-term collaborations. He was saying it as if it is something unusual. I was surprised that he even thought this worth mentioning to a group of random people, but perhaps it is (and hence I am writing this short comment on it).
7 years ago