Are You Tired of the Academic Run-Around —– an Advisor Who’s Never In, a Grad Program That Doesn’t Care, Funding That’s Never Enough, a Job Market That’s in The Tank, and a Tenure System That’s a Total Mystery —– And No One to Give You an Honest Answer?

I am here to help.  I am Karen L. Kelsky, Ph.D.. I spent 15 years as an R1 tenured professor, department head, and university advisor, and almost ten years as an academic career coach. I tell you the truth: the truth about grad school, the job market, and tenure.  To the best of my ability.

I also tell you the truth about your applications and your record. If they are bad, I will tell you. And then we will get a plan to improve them.

On the ‘Pearls of Wisdom’ Blog (see the categories to the right), I offer the  hands-on information you need now to get through the hoops of academia.

I also work with you, one-on-one, with complete confidentiality, on the writing, speaking, and interview skills you need to move closer to your professional goals. I focus on your particular strengths and challenges, and outline the steps you need to take to be successful in each of your specific applications and projects.  Together we chart a path to make you competitive.  I can’t guarantee a particular outcome, but I can guarantee that I will deliver to you, to the best of my ability, bullshit-free advising on your grants, writing, the job market, and tenure, as well as coaching on professional and career dilemmas.

I am the available and career-savvy adviser you need, that you should already have, but probably don’t.

Interested?  Please get in touch with me by email to inquire or make a plan.  Gettenure@gmail.com

We have a particular commitment to supporting black women in the academy, as well as other scholars of color. This is a core company mission. If you are a member of these communities, and finances are an issue in working with us, please get in touch to discuss possible arrangements.

And I love coming to your campus or disciplinary meeting to speak!  Learn more about that here.  I speak regularly on campuses both private and public, large and small, and to graduate student and administrator organizations.

~~”After talking with her I aced my next telephone interview and was invited for an interview. I was offered 2 post-docs at a VERY prestigious university. Thank you Karen!”– 2009 Ph.D., Social Sciences


Curious to Know More?  

Read more by and about The Professor in these places:   The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education (again), “From Graduate School to Welfare” (yes, Chronicle of Higher Education) and Inside Higher Ed.  

Read  about her personal story here: Death of a Soul on Campus, on the blog Tech in Translation.

Read her Testimonials here.  

Read her (uncensored) bio here.  

Learn more about Dr. Karen’s academic background.   And read the Blog, Pearls of Wisdom.

Still curious to know more?   Keep reading.   

~~”My materials sucked last year, and I can say with confidence that they no longer suck. I will absolutely use your services again. There is hope for people who do wish to continue on the path to academe, part of which comes from investing in mentors like you that can guide us in this very difficult process.” 2013 Ph.D. who got R1 tenure track position.

My Approach

I have mentored students and junior faculty at all levels.  Clients have landed numerous prestigious national and international grants, and tenure track jobs in scholarly fields, and the junior faculty I mentored have all been successful in tenure and promotion.  Do as I say and your applications, writing projects, and tenure dossiers will be as competitive as they possibly can–within the scope of what your own record permits (and by the way, I’ll always tell you when and how your record is falling short, if you ask).   It is a grueling process, I’m not going to lie.

“It’s been a long time since anyone had been as critical about me as you have. In fact, I felt like a student again, and it wasn’t always comfortable. But that is how we grow, so I am glad to have been able to work with you.”

But the results are intense.   A client explains:

“I wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying working on getting doc to where it should be; it’s deeply satisfying. Exhausting but satisfying.  Over the past 3 years, I’ve read, listened, watched, worked with and really LEARNED how to change my writing overall. It’s great to have sustainable skills from consulting your resources and you directly. I want to be a better academic writer overall, not just a one-time improvement. I’ve been re-educated by you, thank goodness.”

Of course it goes without saying that nobody can promise jobs where jobs don’t exist in a disintegrating academic job market, or guarantee the success of any one particular job application or grant application, manuscript submission, etc.  The politics and hidden agendas of any selection process are known only to the selection committee members themselves (and sometimes not even to all of them!) 

But my methods will ensure that what you submit is effective, persuasive, and targeted to the competition. And more importantly, my methods take the mystery out of the hiring process.  As one client recently wrote,

“I had no idea how any of this worked until I found your work.”


My method?  All forms of academic writing and speaking—whether conference abstracts,  grant applications, job letters, conference presentations, job talks, or tenure statements — are highly formulaic.  But advisors almost never teach these formulas, and indeed the vast majority of academics don’t realize just how formulaic their successful writing is. I have created schemata to articulate your record in these proven ways that that can be adapted to every project.

The goal is not to produce “cookie-cutter” applications, but to discipline your writing to meet the unspoken and unacknowledged biases and expectations of evaluation committees who are impatient, overworked, and judgmental, and who generally give applications at most a few minutes of initial review.  One anthropologist client articulated it like this:

“Seeing the document improve through the different drafts is very gratifying, if also at times incredibly humbling. It’s also very cathartic to work through the frustration of feeling like this should be a familiar, natural genre that I should have already mastered, and yet it is neither taught nor discussed in most grad programs (certainly not mine). It makes such a difference to be able to actively improve the documents without it feeling like a stab in the dark, learning why different elements either improve or detract. You’re one of the few scholarly voices actually talking about this.”

All writing is intensively tailored both to your personal project, and to the specific job or competition at hand.

One outcome of the work is that you also better understand whether or not you’re ready for the job market, and how best to maximize your time to get ready. Another client email: 

“Through the process of us going back and forth I’ve actually come to the conclusion that I am not as job market ready for this fall as I thought/would have hoped. I’m honestly SO grateful for this realization; I would have continued to spend countless hours on things that are really not at this time, the best things for me to be spending time on. In your feedback for my cover letter you’ve posed some really great points, given helpful comments, and have overall helped me see the real ‘holes’ in the way I am packaging myself in my letter – basically, I need to be further along to have a good chance. All of this is to say thank you for helping me realize these things.”

Once your documents land you an interview, TPII also offers the intensive Academic Job Interview Intervention, Job Talk Intervention, and Campus Visit Intervention, 50-minute sessions by skype in which Intervention Coaches Kellee Weinhold or Petra Shenk put you through the paces of the likely interview and/or job talk. 

Finally, I delight in helping you negotiate your tenure track/NTT/postdoc offer. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients in every field, at every rank and type of institution in the country and internationally, and will assist you in evaluating your offer or offers, deciding on what to ask for, crafting the asks,  interpreting the responses, using leverage effectively, and avoiding bad feelings (or god forbid, the rescinded offer) to a mutually agreeable yes.

Moving on, I can assist you in your tenure case–specifically writing your research statement, teaching philosophy, and even in strategizing your external reviewers.  As a Department Head, I put a number of junior faculty through successful tenure cases in my department and learned a lot about how tenure cases are compiled and evaluated at the departmental, college, and campus level.

While — again! —  no one can guarantee a positive outcome in terms of a particular grant,  job, or tenure (there are variables in every selection process that no applicant can account for or predict), I guarantee that if you follow my advice, you will understand the logic behind the review process and make all parts of your application as effective as they can be.

Click on the “About the Professor” and “Why Should You Trust Me” pages above to learn more about my academic and personal background.