preparing for the job market
i attended a special pre-conference workshop at AERA this past spring. it was my first time at AERA, and definitely an interesting experience, i’m glad i went, and i’m glad i found out i don’t need to go to it it the future. (maybe i’ll write another post on what makes for a good or bad conference for me.) anyway, at the workshop there were several speakers giving practical advice, including ken tobin on preparing for the job market. some of his advice i’d heard elsewhere, but some was new. here’s a summary. i like the mix of very practical/small things here, and very big ones.
while on your interview/before you take the job:
- prepare your list of questions ahead of time. make sure you include: the REAL teaching load (including all extras like thesis supervision); ask for contact information for people with children (the response to this question will tell you a lot about the atmosphere of the department); and power relations in the department.
- prepare a budget for startup costs, parallel to what science hires do. you should be able to get $30K if you need it!
- understand the possibilities for movement from the 1st job.
- visit the IRB faculty or chair while on interview.
- have a polished CV
- what support does the university provide for you to get tenure? how about a semester sabbatical in year 4 or 5, or a buy out?
- ask about developing new courses
- at the interview ask if you can speak to someone from X department (to start getting cross-departmental collaborations going).
- how many people actually teach the nominal load?
as a new faculty member/on the job:
- study the careers of your new colleagues: did they have trouble with getting tenure? look at ISI – who’s citing them? where and how are they publishing? be skeptical of their advice. beware of grants that derail or delay publication. ask them “who’s the ideal person you see coming in?”
- don’t nod too much or volunteer too much when you’re new on the job! don’t worry that you’ll be cut out of department life: the administrative work will always be there later. ask a mentor to tell you when you’re volunteering too much.*
- assume that you’ll need to leave for another school at some point in your career, and keep your CV and research in shape.
- get mentors from a variety of locations.
- learn which committees put you in contact with people making tenure decisions (eg, search committees).
- aim for 3 articles a year.
- ask about the weight of book chapters and co-authorships with grad students
- identify among your colleagues: the jaded one, the happy camper, the unofficial tenure requirements (get a ballpark # of pubs)
- make a safe space for friends and colleagues to tell you when you’re being an ass and what you need to improve.
- hit each review ahead of the game.
*i already know that this will be my achilles’ heel.