OMT Online Meetups are an initiative launched recently by the OMT Executive Committee to help PhD students and junior scholars talk with and get advice from more senior scholars.
Here’s a faculty perspective about the meetups from Robert Eberhart:
I love OMT meet-ups.
Let’s face it, research is generally a lonely, lone-wolf activity. Few of us were among the popular crowd and advanced study is often tantamount to at least some social isolation. But we are social creatures who cannot know all that we need. So, as many have said, the virtues of communion with our comrades is both energizing and productive as we pursue writing the ultimate interesting paper. Yes, its great to meet people we don’t yet know, hear from different paradigms, and embark on new friendships. After all, the sooner we make new friends, the sooner we’ll have old friends. We need the feedback, we need the laughter, we need the fun.
Yet I think the OMT meet-ups do more – they create trust, and we really need trust in this profession.
Trust is so important as we do this work of research. It takes a reasonable amount of trust in your colleagues that you won’t be ridiculed (especially after the fact) for asking a question in a seminar. It takes trust to share important insights with colleagues and trust that you will be credited. We need to trust that the silence we receive is because our colleagues are busy, not shunning us. We trust that we will be adjudicated fairly in hiring and tenure decisions, and we trust that our universities will have our best interests at least in mind when building buildings, deciding pay, and assigning teaching.
That is a unique benefit of OMT meetups for me. I had a long career in business and it’s quite different there. In a company, usually we are all in it together going after a common objective. It is easy to form bonds of trust because we depend on each other so much. In academic settings those bonds are looser while our objectives can be so very individualistic. Under these conditions, the ability to meet informally over a discussion, drink, or meal is almost a necessary condition for the development of collegial research and for just having the fun we need to keep us motivated.
At OMT meetups over great food and wine or lemonade, I’ve had some ideas, made friends that I can call on, solidified writing partnerships, and had fun. Frequently – and it is too bad – we all make light of relaxed social events that are both small and friendly. Sometimes we unfortunately confuse them with networking opportunities which are, for me, so uncomfortable and so much work. It is the social lubricants such as food, drink, and fun in smaller and intimate OMT meet-ups that make them less hierarchical, more friendly, and, yes, develop trust. OMT meet-ups are important.
I have come to trust those that I meet in OMT, and even love many of them. With trust, I can seek advice, offer help, and simply enjoy my work more.
Go to them! Organize one! I trust that you will.
Robert N. Eberhart
Visiting Assistant Professor
Graduate School of Business.