Today, I am interviewing Dr. Rasheda L. Weaver for the “How I Work” series. Dr. Weaver is an Assistant Professor of Community Entrepreneurship in the department of Community Development and Applied Economics at the University of Vermont (UVM). She is also the Co-Director of UVM’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community. She conducted the first large-scale study of the social, economic, and legal activities of social enterprise (businesses that have a social and/or environmental mission) in the United States. Her research analyzes how entrepreneurship may be utilized as a strategy for poverty alleviation and community economic development. In her free time, Dr. Weaver is an avid salsa dancer and loves to make spicy Caribbean food for her husband and son.
Current Job: Assistant Professor of Community Entrepreneurship
Current Location: University of Vermont
Current mobile device: Samsung Android
Current computer: Mac Desktop and MacBook Air
Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I am in my first year as an Assistant Professor in the University of Vermont’s Department of Community Development and Applied Economics. Since arriving, I was also offered and accepted the position of Co-Faculty Director for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community.
What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
My Macbook Air is essential to my workflow because I travel a good deal and I try to stay out of the office when I am not teaching to focus on research days.
What does your workspace setup look like?
I alternate between work, office, and a café. I work in the office on teaching days and 1 day for research meetings, but I usually spend two days working from home or a café. I also have mini-writing retreats during the semester where I just work in a coffee shop near a scenic area or walking trail and take hiking/site-seeing breaks during my writing sessions.
My Office Desk (The week before classes when I am syllabus prepping)
What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Consistency, compassion, self-awareness.
I am consistent in that I get my work done. I may not write every day at the same time, but I try to ensure I write or work on my research every day. There is never a day throughout the work week where I do not do something involved with my research.
In regards to compassion, I focus on excellence as opposed to perfection. Excellence to me involves: 1) completing a task (e.g. writing and submitting a journal manuscript, completing a lecture) and 2) reflecting on the task over time. I usually do not complete any research, teaching, or service task without just getting it done and then putting it aside for a few days to reflect on it, make changes, and then sent it out to the world. Essentially, I accomplish every responsibility I have immediately/ as soon as possible, put it aside to see if it reflects my vision for it, and then move on to the next thing. I try not to dwell on any one project/task because that often leads to time wasted.
How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
My Publication Pipeline (shown below) helps me stay productive. It is on a bulletin board that I see every day. I left the names of each article out of the photo for anonymous peer-review purposes.
My Tenure-Track Portfolio keeps track of my work for promotions, reviews, and positive self-affirmation.
Also, on Fridays I make a list of all the things I have to do the following week (e.g. attending meetings, manuscript writing, teaching). I then create an agenda for each task and stick to it! I upload my class agendas to Blackboard, send agendas for my meetings, and set writing goals. This way, everyone that works with me knows what to expect and I have already prepped for my meetings for the week. It saves so much time and energy.
Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
Not really, though I probably should. I feel like I should make better use of Evernote and some reference management tool, but I have not come around to doing it yet. I would like recommendations of any time-saving and organizational software.
Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
Positivity, friendliness, a strong sense of self-confidence and self-awareness, and pretty cool dancing skills. My dad is a dancehall DJ and my aunt used to sing with Bob Marley. I’m a positive and free spirit. I get along with almost every person I meet.
What do you listen to when you work?
I love Pop and R&B, as well as reggae and salsa, but it depends. When I am writing, I usually listen to Whitney Houston, Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz, or Alicia Keys. Essentially, I like music that speaks to my soul, but not so much that it will make me want to dance while writing. However, before any kind of presentation including a regular day in class, a conference, or a keynote presentation, I like to listen to Beyoncé, Katy Perry, or something upbeat and empowering. These types of songs help me unwind so I can be the free-spirited and open-minded person that I naturally am. After a conference, I usually try to attend a local salsa or reggae club as a treat. Dancing is one of my favorite things to do and I’m of Jamaican and Cuban descent so this kind of music helps me let go, be myself, and just have a good time after all the great work I just did.
What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
I just read Trevor Noah’s book “Born A Crime” and I love it!
I usually read when I traveling using audiobooks.
I also love, love, love Thoughtfully Magazine. It’s all about self-care and positivity. The issue in the picture below is particularly amazing.
Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
I’m an extrovert, however every now and then I need alone time to be creative and to focus. I’m very friendly, fun, and outgoing. This influences my work in that I see the classroom as a fun experience. My students often describe me as “energetic” and say that I make learning fun and cool. I do not aim for this, I just always focus on being myself because not being myself would make me nervous (food for thought). In regards to alone time, I like to get up early to write by myself and I often work alone. I sometimes like to work in groups (e.g. writing groups) as long as we stick to working for the most part. Because I am so outgoing, I can get distracted, but if I notice that I will usually just leave and come back to a group once my work is done.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I try to get to sleep by 10p.m. and wake up around 5a.m. or 6a.m. depending on whether or not my toddler son wakes me up at night haha. This gives me time to wake up early for 20 minutes of yoga and meditation, 30 minutes of writing, and time to prepare breakfast and lunch (I make salads and smoothies for lunch in the morning plus prepare my son’s lunch) before my husband and son wake up.
What’s your work routine like?
I teach 2 days per week and I only focus on teaching on those days. I prep for class, teach class, and then write notes for the next class. I usually try not to meet with anyone on these days. I come to campus an additional day each week for research and other meetings.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
“Being a professor is like being an entrepreneur.” In our research, we must be innovative and productive to generate knowledge that is of value.
“In order to be “here” for students, you need to be “here.”” In other words, if I spend all my time focused on teaching and advising, I will not be productive enough in my research to be “here” at the university for my students in the future.