Unless you’ve been to grad school (and had a research focus) you don’t realize what exactly a professor does. When I left industry, the majority of the people thought I was leaving to go teach. And while, yes, I did partially leave because I want to teach, one of the largest factors (and the majority of my current time spent) is the research. As a professor, I do research and make time for teaching and service. And when I was leaving industry, the majority of people still couldn’t grasp that I was leaving to go do awesome research. They all thought (and most still do) that I was leaving because I couldn’t handle the rigor of a lab and wanted to just teach students. Most of these people were people that did only an undergrad so they mostly only saw the teaching side of their profs. Or they went to schools that were more teaching focused.
So when I meet people and mention that I’m an ass prof at University of Phindustry I only get comments about teaching. Now I don’t give a shit what they think, but I do research and build awesome devices; it’s tough when people focus in on just one part. And it’s especially tough when they think I have a cushy gig because they think that my entire job consists of me teaching two classes a year. Now, when I was an undergrad I understood very well that the profs do research, but when I was in high school I did not know that, so I understand that there is this disconnect in what’s done in the tower. But even when I tell people about the rigors of research and even when there are articles published about my research a lot of people still don’t understand that I’m more than a teacher.
Now, I do love teaching (some classes), and I do love mentoring students (most students), so this isn’t a complaint. And I like to think I don’t give a shit if they think that I am a hard worker or not. After all, random people I meet at a party aren’t on my tenure committee, so their opinion about my work ethic doesn’t matter. I’m conflicted.