Who is Dr. Karen?

Dr. Karen

“Karen Kelsky is a sort of macabre ‘Ms. Mentor’ for the 21st century” ~ Matthew Pratt Guterl

Karen Kelsky is the Founder and President of The Professor Is In, which provides advice and consulting services on the academic job search and all elements of the academic and post-academic career. She speaks nationally and internationally on topics related to Ph.D. professionalization, and is a weekly columnist at Chronicle Vitae.  Her latest book is The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job (Random House 2015).

Karen is a former tenured professor and Department Head with 15 years of experience teaching at the University of Oregon and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.   Her Ph.D. is in Cultural Anthropology, with a focus on Japan, from the University of Hawai’i.  Her B.A. is from the University of Michigan.  Her first book, an academic monograph, Women on the Verge: Japanese Women, Western Dreams, was published in 2001 by Duke University Press.  She trained 5 of her own Ph.D. students who have gone on to successful careers in academia and related fields.  She worked as a committee member with numerous Ph.D.s and Masters students, and hundreds of undergraduate students.

Karen held her first Academic Job Market Workshop while still a Ph.D. student at the University of Hawai’i, after she was offered her first tenure-track job.    It took her two years to land that job, and she wanted to pass on the hard-earned lessons of those years to her fellow graduate students.  That was the origin of The Professor Is In, which launched in 2010.

Karen was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a city she still loves.  She spent two years after leaving her tenured position working in the federally-funded McNair Program at the University of Oregon, where her job was to advise qualified UO undergraduate students to prepare for and succeed in Ph.D. programs.  With the success of The Professor Is In, though, she is now devoting all of her time to the business.  She lives in Eugene, Oregon with her partner, two children, and rabbit Penelope.  She loves to dance, read, and travel.  In her previous life she made and sold jewelry from Japanese paper and fabric in her business Paper Demon Jewelry. That is on hiatus now, as she’s occupied managing thousands of clients at The Professor Is In, writing a weekly advice column for Chronicle Vitae, and speaking nationally and internationally to university audiences and scholarly associations about the academic job market and Ph.D. professionalization.

Learn more by reading The Professor’s Testimonials.   Read examples of her advice to students and junior faculty on the page “Pearls of Wisdom: The Blog” And get in touch—she’s always happy to hear from you.  

Contact her at:  gettenure@gmail.com.


Who is Dr. Karen? — 33 Comments

  1. Hi Karen,

    Great blog- I found it through your article in the Chronicle today. Good stuff. Just thought I would share one of my books with you, Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles- it may be a good resource for your and your students. Easy to follow tools of the trade and tricks that many of my mentees have said work. http://lyceumbooks.com/PracticalTips4Pub2E.htm

    Best of luck to you in your consulting business- totally needed.


    Rich Furman

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  4. Just wanted to let you know that there is an “i” missing in the word “qualified” in the third line of your last paragraph! And thanks for your blog, I have found it incredibly helpful as I begin my first academic job search.

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  15. Karen, I have greatly benefited from your website and I am just finishing my first year on the tenure track! My challenge right now is figuring out how to organize my office and my computer files. The part-time teaching and TA-ing I have done before has not prepared me to teach the same classes again and again. My professors had multiple stacking file cabinets overflowing with xeroxed articles, but I have a new computer that will soon be filled up with PDFs. My inbox is shameful. I am not sure what I should keep and what I should simply remember how to find. Help!!

  16. Hi Professor,

    I was just curious if you’d be willing to provide some suggestions for gaining leadership for students in their PhD (that are eventually interested in administrative positions in academia).

    Thank you,

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  20. Hi Karen! I read your post about your difficulties with graduate school in Germany. I am looking into some graduate programs in Chemistry. Do you think this experience would be different for my major or would you still advise against it?

    Thank you!

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