Pearls of Wisdom–The Blog

~~ “You tell the truth, you tell it well. In the crowded and fetid swamp that is the job market, that is oxygen.” – a reader

The_Professor_Is_In.inddLove the blog? Now get it in handy book form!

Buy it at all these places!

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It also makes a great gift for all those struggling grad students in your life!

For bulk orders for use in classes, seminars, and workshops, please call Crown Publishing  (Random House) Customer Service at 1-800-733-3000.

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MORE ABOUT THE BOOK

The definitive career guide for grad students, adjuncts, post-docs and anyone else eager to get tenure or turn their Ph.D.  into their ideal job.

Karen Kelsky has made it her mission to help readers join the select few who get the most out of their Ph.D. As a former tenured professor and department head who oversaw numerous academic job searches, she knows from experience exactly what gets an academic applicant a job. And as the creator of the popular and widely respected advice site The Professor is In, she has helped countless Ph.D.’s turn themselves into stronger applicants and land their dream careers.

Now, for the first time ever, Karen has poured all her best advice into a single handy guide that addresses the most important issues facing any Ph.D., including:

-When, where, and what to publish
-Writing a foolproof grant application
-Cultivating references and crafting the perfect CV
-Acing the job talk and campus interview
-Avoiding the adjunct trap
-Making the leap to nonacademic work, when the time is right

The Professor Is In addresses all of these issues, and many more.

If you would like your academic career to begin in delusion and end in disillusionment, then by all means, ignore Karen Kelsky. If, however, you want unvarnished straight talk about the academic job market—and how to navigate it—then heed her, and heed her now.” —Rebecca Schuman, education columnist for Slate.

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ABOUT THE BLOG

I post once a week, usually on Friday, on topics related to the academic job market, academic life and politics, general professionalization skills related to writing, publishing, conferencing, networking, and scholarly comportment, and the tenure process.

I also put up posts on the Post-Ac/Non-Ac job search by my Panel of Post-Ac Experts, on Monday or Tuesday.

Let me know if there’s a topic you want to see me post on!  I am always happy to put Special Requests into the queue. Comment here, or email me at: gettenure@gmail.com.

You can  always get to a particular Category by clicking it in the Categories column to the right.———>

Please note that as of January 2013  the rate of comments to this blog has exceeded my ability to respond individually to each one. I’m sorry that not all comments will get a personal response by Dr. Karen.  If you have a really pressing question, do consider getting in touch to get on my calendar to work together.  I strive to make services affordable to all.

Here’s a short glossary to help you follow the discussions in the blog:

  • TT– tenure track
  • VAP–visiting assistant professor (position)
  • ABD–all but dissertation (status)
  • SLAC–small liberal arts college
  • R1–top ranked research-intensive institution with Ph.D.-granting departments, such as University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan, etc.
  • R2–research institution with primarily MA-granting departments

What Happens After You’ve Gotten All the A’s – Guest Post

Dr. Tyia Grange Isaacson, LCSW, PhD is a clinician in private practice working in Berkeley, CA and globally via telehealth. She has a specialty of working with PhD students.  Tyia is sharing a series of guest blog posts highlighting some common challenges graduate students face, how these challenges can exacerbate mental health concerns and what to do about it.

By Dr. Tyia Grange Isaacson.

    Almost immediately in elementary school you are noticed.  The teacher sees how school comes easily for you and how you understand what is being taught more quickly than the others.  Your parents notice too and tell you they are proud of you. You learn that being good at school is valued and by extension you are valued.

    In my work with graduate students at the top programs of their chosen fields, I find that there are some common afflictions student face.  Growing up, students who are the best in the class are without peers and can feel isolated. The emotional pain of being alone registers in our brains the exact same way as physical pain.  As they say, it can be lonely at the top.

Yet, you continue to work hard at school.  You follow the prescribed course completing everything your teacher tells you to do.  You preform well. You know you preform well because you receive feedback—good grades and affirming comments.  Without you noticing your sense of self has solidified around achieving validation from your academic performance.  

After high school there is no question you will stay in school and go to college.  You are good at school. School is all you know. Naturally then, after college you go on to graduate school.  You started school when you were three. You are now turning twenty-eight and the last quarter of a century has been spent chasing after what it means to be a good student.  This is your identity. But what happens after you finish everything on your very last syllabus? What happens after you have gotten all the A’s? Now you are suddenly and rudely pushed out of the nest with no flight plan to study and ace. On your own you must fly or fall.    How do you maintain your sense of worth when the metric by which you have always been able to measure and confirm your self value has suddenly and irrevocably been taken away?

You are often unsure of what to think or feel.  You have trouble making decisions. You have spent your life being so terribly busy and tired from completing all of your assignments that   you never had time to look up from your school book long enough to truly figure out what you want. You wonder how you can be so utterly lost when you have been told you are doing so well.  You conclude something must be terribly wrong with you.

The patients in my practice experience distress getting in touch with their own thoughts and feelings especially in the face authority figures with strong opinions.  This occurs in part because a student relies upon her professors and advisors for her survival. She can only advance in her program with their approval and support. The relationship mimics a parent child relationship where a young child is wholly dependent upon her parent.  In certain family systems, especially those with high achievers, children are subconsciously or overtly encouraged to please their parents. Often, the separation between a child’s achievements and a parent’s ego is blurry. In other words, a parent’ co-opts the child’s success and the parent’s identity and self-worth is supported by their child’s achievements.  For such children, displeasing a parent feels threatening to a child’s sense of security and a pattern develops.

You don’t feel good when someone you need expresses an idea that is contrary to yours.  At all costs, you want to avoid disappointing this person. Even though you know it doesn’t make sense to disappoint yourself before disappointing this person you can’t stop yourself.  You know that it is ok to disagree with your advisor. You know that it is your life and you deserve to be happy and do what you want to do.  Your nervous system does not know this.  At your meeting with your advisor she tells you her opinion.  Her opinion is not your opinion and you feel a sinking in your stomach.  Quickly, your heart races. You should tell her what you think. Yet maybe your answer is the wrong answer.  Maybe you will not “get an A” if you risk your answer which is different than your advisor. Your advisor is the authority and she must know the right answer.  You can’t risk failing. You loose your voice and blink back your tears. You nod and smile. She sees you smiling and smiles back at you.

PhD students in therapy with me work to identify the early threads of their distress often starting in their families of origin.  They begin to notice when these early patterned responses impact them in their current life. Instead of relying (as they always have) on their minds, patients link their feelings to responses in their nervous systems.  Identifying thoughts and nervous system responses become a compass to help patients indicate when they need to slow down and try to do something different. Change and growth occurs when a patient can break up an intrenched patterned and respond in a different way instead of automatically responding as they have in the past.  

There is often a lot of internal backlash and noise in patient’s heads about the danger of breaking old patterns of responding.   Sometimes there is an entrenched fear that doing something different will be catastrophic. Despite a strong desire to change students frequently feel stuck.  Paradox can be useful when patients feel stuck For example, patients may work towards the goal of trying and get an “A” in working less or pleasing others less.

When one of my patients has trouble believing in herself and her right to her own thoughts and feelings I encourage her to imagine that she is someone else.  Someone she cares about and perhaps feels protective towards. My patient can easily imagine her best friend’s right to think and feel and respond as she wishes.   The work becomes believing that even without someone telling her so, without the external validation, she too has worth. It is the work of forming a self-identity that is reinforced internally.   Patients in graduate school are used to working hard. It is a different kind of hard work then getting all A’s and it is infinitely more rewarding.

#MakeupMonday: A Makeup Brush Brings History to Life

Our Airbnb in Durham, UK includes a rather extraordinary historical element that the renovators were required to preserve in this historic Georgian building. Can you spot it?

The building dates from 1708. It was a private home, and then a gentleman’s club for over a century. It’s a listed Grade II building, so historical features are required to be preserved. The range is one of only six Durham-made ranges of the era known to exist in situ. I suppose this means it can’t be dusted?

So why am I telling you all this on MakeupMonday?

Because…. I OF COURSE dug through the ashes in all the range’s many ovens! What else could I do?

And lo, I found some paper!

And of course I had to investigate!

So I pulled it out, and set to the task of cleaning.

But it was delicate. Oh so delicate.

So what to do? Naturally, get out one of my extra travel makeup brushes, and set to work!

blowing off some soot

Et voila! A 1948 official communication! From the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries!

But to whom? There seemed to be one printed address on the top layer of paper (which included the words Elvet St. – our address), but this quickly brushed off to reveal some handwritten words beneath.

But what does it say? It’s hard to make it out!

It seems to read:

….side (or …sicle?)

Rise slowly

Cockfield

Bp A….

To the internet I go. And quickly discover: there is indeed a Rise Slowly Farm in… Cockfield Village, on Raby Moor, just outside of Durham, near the market town of…. Bishop Aukland!

So there we go! Without being able to read the name, I don’t know what else to glean, but how fun to get this far.

Curiosity sent me back to the ashes and soot, and i spotted another crumbled and tightly wadded scrap of paper. I unfolded it gently. Here it is:

Isn’t it wonderful? Do you place it in the mid-1940s, with those amazing shoulders?

Without my handy makeup brush, none of this would have happened!

How To Get Your Department to Pay for Productivity Support

This is part of a previous post on how to get your department to fund your participation in Unstuck: The Art of Productivity and The Art of the Academic Article, but you can use it to ask for any kind of professional development or program improvement support.

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Your department might pay for your enrollment in this course, and the only you will find out is to ask. Don’t be afraid. Department heads get requests for funding all of the time. There is nothing shameful about it. In fact, learning how to ask is great practice for the rest of your career.

The best way to loosen the departmental purse strings is to show the money is going to solve a problem the department head considers worth solving.

So what problem does the course solve?

  • Maybe your department is worried about your pace of publication.
  • Maybe your department is focused on raising its profile.
  • Maybe your department has a stated desire to support underrepresented faculty.

You also have to show the stakes of not solving the problem.

  • You may not progress to tenure
  • The department’s output might lag.
  • You and the department might miss out on involvement in high profile projects and collaborations.
  • You may miss out on funding opportunities.

Stating the problem and stakes is not enough. You also have to show why this particular thing you are asking to be funded will solve the problem.

  • Why this course?
  • Why these people?

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Here is an example email that you can use to approach your dean, department head or PI to make the request that the course be funded.

NOTE: PLEASE! DO NOT USE THESE EXAMPLES VERBATIM! WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF READERS AND CLIENTS, MANY IN THE SAME DEPARTMENTS. REPHRASE THE MODELS BELOW IN YOUR OWN WORDS!

Dear <administrator>

I have an opportunity to enroll in a program designed for academics to produce a full draft of journal article in 10 weeks and I am requesting departmental support. The course is being offered by The Professor is In and Up In Consulting, two career services organizations with well-documented success in assisting academics in all phases of their careers.

The benefit of The Art of the Academic Article, over other programs, is not only the extensive experience of the two coaches offering guidance but also the ongoing access to the online material. I will be able to use the course material for not just this article, but all future ones as well.

As we have discussed, I have XX articles in progress that are necessary/would improve my third year review/tenure review/post doc production/chances of success on the job market. This course would assure that I produce xx articles in the next year. It also increases my chances of publication in the mostly highly ranked journals because it includes instruction on positioning both in terms of discipline and journal rank.


OR


As we have discussed, one of the critical components of raising the profile of our department is to increase faculty publications and the quality of those publications. This course would assure that I produce xx articles in the next year. It also increases my chances of publication in the mostly highly ranked journals because it includes instruction on positioning both in terms of discipline and journal rank.

It is no secret that balancing research, service and teaching is a challenge for all junior faculty here at xx. With this course, I will have the resources to achieve the balance required for success. With your support, I will be able to avoid common problems like false starts, writer’s block, and perfectionism, while assuring I choose the best journals to target, and submit a draft to a strong journal in an efficient time frame.

The next session of the course starts June 3rd. Please let me know if you are willing to support this effort and I will purchase and submit the receipt for reimbursement/contact accounting to complete the registration/ xxx

Navigating Grad School with BPD – WOC Guest Post

I am delighted to offer another guest post in my series of contributed posts by black women and other women of color.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer and can be about your experiences of racism/microaggressions in grad school or the career, about your post-academic musings, hard-won advice for other students/faculty of color coming up, intersectional practices in teaching or research that you have found valuable, and also of course, MAKEUP and clothes, or even tech gear you’ve found that helps in your work. More information can be found here.

Today’s post is by a writer who wishes to remain anonymous for now. She is a doctoral student in a Ph.D. program in the Southwest.

Being a PhD student is difficult for everyone: the long hours of coursework/research, the chronic worry about money, the isolation, constant rejection,  high debt load and the horrible academic job market. Being a woman and queer afro-latinx PhD student in a predominately white institution adds another layer of difficulty: dealing with microagressions or outright racist language, having one’s qualifications constantly questioned (the implication being I am only in a PhD program because the program needed some non-white faces), and having to navigate the tension between advocating for a just and more equaitable institution and being accused of “incivility” and making white students/professors/peers uncomfortable. Having a severe and persistent mental health issue makes graduate school feel impossible.  

While many colleges are at least starting to have serious discussions regarding suicide and mental health many of the conversations center around depression and anxiety. Which makes sense, depression and anxiety are common issues impacting college and graduate students. However, there are other serious mental health challenges that can make graduate school even tougher than it already is, and the silence reinforces a sense of isolation. As a result, I have decided to speak out about my own struggles, albeit in a limited and anonymous way: I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

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Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/329325791473159467/

The National Institute of Mental Health describes BPD as, “a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior.” Some of the symptoms that I struggle with are

  • An intense fear of abandonment (though in my case, this is actually one of the least severe symptoms although for many others it is one of the most pronounced).
  • Chronic suicidal thoughts (though this has been improving)
  • Pattern of intense and unstable relationships
  • Intense anger
  • Intense, rapid mood swings with episodes lasting a few hours to a few day

Obviously, like any mental illness the severity exists on a spectrum. On one end, there are those who are constantly in and out of hospitals, who are unable to hold down a job, and have few if no stable friendships or relationships. On the other end you have those who, because of treatment, rarely have a significant episode and are able to hold down a job and have friends. While I’m towards the higher functioning end of the spectrum, having BPD still poses significant challenges.

Isolation

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Image from: https://makeameme.org/meme/im-so-lonely-kxq4uf

PhD programs tend be isolating.  At least, mine is. My peers in general are kind and supportive and I am still in the course work stage, so I do get to interact with others on a regular basis throughout the week. But hanging out outside of classes is extremely difficult. Most students have families of their own to take care of, others live quite a bit of distance from the university, so they arrive for classes and to TA and leave, and for others its simply just too logistically challenging to find a schedule that works for multiple people. Especially in April, which is hell month: classes are still going on, but major projects are rapidly becoming due.

BPD adds an extra layer of complication: intense emotions and behavior. I’ve spent years working on managing my emotions. Unless I tell you I have it or we are close friends, it is not always obvious I struggle with BPD. I pride myself on that since managing my behavior is must, not just in academia but in any potential career. It doesn’t matter if you have a mental illness or not, you are expected to control how you act.

But while I have, for the most part, successfully managed to eliminate the more negative and extreme behaviors that result from my difficulties in regulating my intense emotions, this has come at a cost. I get so fearful that I will lose control emotionally, that I go the opposite direction and try to hide any display of emotion. As a result, I don’t let others know when I am lonely, when I am depressed, when I am overcome with anxiety about my future. The closest I get to talking about my difficulties is when I commiserate with other students about how stressed we are. But even if I were to be honest about my struggles with my closest peers, then what? Just reading about the possible symptoms is enough to freak anyone out and a quick google search often brings up forum after forum where suffers of BPD are portrayed as abusive and manipulative. Which, no doubt some are. But the google results rarely demonstrate the range of experiences and severity of BPD.

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Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, no I won’t act on them.

Image from: https://me.me/i/do-you-still-have-suicidal-thoughts-anxiety-depression-memes-and-i-e3fb23ad756f440caaf85cf41c0b0fa7

One of the more frightening symptoms of BPD is the chronic suicidal thoughts and behavior but again these exist on a spectrum. For some this means constant suicide attempts, for others, like me, I struggle with constant suicidal thoughts, but I do not act on them. Instead I suffer in silence. In silence because when I have mentioned my struggles in the past people understandably tend to over-react. Should they call the cops? (Please, NO. Not unless I am a direct threat to others. As a black woman calling the cops can be dangerous). Do I need to be hospitalized? (No, and unless I am directly harming myself, I will most likely not be admitted). Plus, those with BPD have been accused of using suicide as a method of manipulation. As a result, it is better I keep my thoughts and struggles to myself unless I am a danger. In most cases, I’m not. I’m just miserable. But who can I talk to without being a burden? Therapists, of course. But therapists are not friends.

Angry Black Woman

Intense, incontrollable anger is another symptom. Sometimes it is pretty clear when my anger is a result of my BPD. Getting angry because someone looked at me “wrong” or getting angry at something small and stupid, is a clear sign that I am overreacting and I am stressed and I need a time out. But as a black woman, I am constantly angry at the injustice I see all around me. What else am I supposed to feel when society makes it clear that the lives of black and brown people are worth very little?  When cops can shoot at us dozen of times and get away with murder because they “feared for their lives” simply by being in our presence? When I am surrounded by conversations on “civility” which ignore the fact that black and brown people have in fact been acting “civil” for centuries as if our lives depend on it, because it does.

Yet when we push back and demand that institutions take seriously their role in perpetrating racism and when we demand that we be treated as humans of equal worth, we are labeled as “uncivil.” Yet, BPD makes me ask: am I overreacting? Is that person really being racist towards me or am I just trying to paint myself as a victim? Moreover, am I simply just reinforcing the angry black woman stereotype? Am I making things worse?

Colleges and Universities have started to recognize that mental health cannot be neglected. More and more of their students are starting their studies already struggling with severe issues or they develop severe issues. Depression and anxiety need to be talked about. So do the myriad other illness that impact students. For me, I suffer from BPD. I am not some crazy, manipulative monster but someone trying her best everyday to finish my program and to make a positive difference.

#MakeupMonday: Travel, Cont’d

We are still “on tour,” now in Edinburgh. We speak tomorrow at University of Edinburgh School of Engineering, and the next day I speak at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. Then a few days seeing the sights of Northumberland, as we head down for a date at Durham.

So just a quick update today. Last week’s post failed to mention one other refinement of my travel kit: a paper-thin plastic mirror I got for about $1 at the Daiso in Berkeley. It slips into my makeup case, weighs almost nothing, but can be set up against the back of my laptop to make a nice sizeable mirror wherever i need it, which in dark, cramped Airbnbs or hotel rooms, is usually out at the kitchen table or at the work desk, or some ad hoc setup in front of a window. It’s about 6″ x 3″, not magnified, so serves well in tandem with my smaller lighted magnifying travel mirror.

Airbnb kitchen table makeup hack
Look how skinny!

So, Daiso $1 plastic mirror: highly recommend.

The Power of Writing Groups for Women of Color – WOC Guest Post

~I am delighted to offer another guest post in my series of contributed posts by black women and other women of color.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer and can be about your experiences of racism/microaggressions in grad school or the career, your post-academic musings, hard-won advice for other students/faculty of color coming up, intersectional practices in teaching or research that you have found valuable, and also of course, makeup and clothes, or even tech gear you’ve found that helps in your work. More information can be found here.

Today’s post is by Andrea Hernandez Holm, PhD. Dr. Hernandez Holm is the Program Coordinator for the Writing Skills Improvement Program at the University of Arizona. She is a writing specialist and provides tutoring, teaching, and editing to writers both inside and outside of the university. Andrea facilitates the People of Color Writing Groups, a project that has been supported by the UA Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the UA Commission on the Status of Women. The most rewarding part of her job is the time she spends working directly with students and clients, supporting their development as writers and helping them to claim their voices. Andrea has over 20 years of experience as a teacher, tutor, editor, and writing consultant. She is also a published researcher, essayist, and poet. Her research focuses on the ways that identities intersect with writing, particularly among women in the Borderlands.~

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Writing is dangerous because we are afraid of what the writing reveals: the fears, the anger, the strengths of a woman under triple or quadruple oppression. Yet in that very act lies our survival because a woman who writes has power. A woman with power is feared.

What did it mean for a black woman to be an artist in our grandmother’s time? It is a question with an answer cruel enough to stop the blood.—Alice Walker. I have never seen so much power in the ability to move and transform others as from that of the writing of women on color. (Gloria Anzaldúa)

One morning, a student in a writing group I facilitate asked if she could close the meeting by reading a selection from Gloria Anzaldúa’s essay “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers.” Anzaldua is a foundational theorist in Chicanx and Mexican American Studies, widely recognized for her contributions surrounding identity, including her discussions about the power of language and writing for women. I am familiar with her work, but guessed it would be new to the other members of the group, who study in areas within Education, Natural Resources, and Latin American Studies. But as the student read the excerpt above, I noticed gentle smiles forming and heads bobbing in agreement. It was clear that Anzaldúa’s words resonated with them.

Among the women of color graduate students I have worked with in my role as a writing specialist at my university, many have been searching for a space to process issues that are subsequently affecting their writing. Through course papers, theses, and dissertation projects, they are developing their voices as scholars while making space in the academy for the important issues they research. Yet, most do not experience writing as empowering. They struggle with concerns that their writing isn’t “good enough” and that their voices don’t matter.

These concerns are grounded in experiences that include being told their writing is not university material, their use of language is non-academic, their topics are not rigorous, and on. While many students struggle under similar circumstances, it is important that we recognize that these issues are often compounded for people of color by micro- and macro-aggressions related to race. Under this type of pressure, persistence toward degree completion is often a daily struggle.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, people of color are the fastest growing student populations in higher education, but have a low percentage completion. In the 2013-14 academic year, among the doctoral degrees earned, 6% were by Hispanic students; 7% were by African American students; and 11% by Asian American students, compared to 62% by White students. And in Beyond the Asterisk: Understanding Native Students in Higher Education (2013), scholars point out that statistical information about Native American students in higher education is often absent from research altogether.

As a first-generation college graduate and one of an estimated 3% of Hispanic-identified women to earn a doctorate, I share many of these experiences and understand how they can weigh a person down, slow their progress, and sometimes even stop it all together. Folks in academia have asked when I learned English. I have been asked if I have connections in the South (i.e. Mexico) to get quality marijuana. I have been called a hot and/or hot-tempered Latina innumerable time. In addition to being generally humiliating, these types of encounters have pushed me to consider leaving academia. It has been through the support of community, most often women of color, that I have persisted.

In “Writing as Mentoring and Empowerment,” Flint, Manas, and Serra argue that writing groups can serve as a strategy to respond to institutional challenges by creating a space where women of color can develop writing fluency, process experiences, and grow cross-discipline and cross-cultural relationships with other women in the academy. I wondered if our writing support program could facilitate such a group. In our existing individual and small group tutoring sessions, our goal was to improve facility in academic English (i.e. grammar, style, organization, and content development). I proposed to add the level of community building specifically for women of color.

When I advertised the organization of one group for master’s students in 2016, I was shocked at the outpouring of interest. Over twenty master’s and doctoral students responded within the first week for a group with four seats. Since then, we have developed 12 multidisciplinary, multi-cultural groups, and the requests to join a group for people of color is consistent. Our groups offer facilitated non-evaluative peer tutoring, but we also intentionally make space for students to build relationships, share their experiences, and lend their support to one another.

I ask students to complete evaluations at the end of each academic semester and from their feedback, garner that the groups have been effective in helping to increase writing skills and confidence. Several students have successfully completed their academic programs, and no students have left the academy. However, for me, the greatest successes show themselves during our group meetings, where I witness students offering one another feedback, concrete advice, and resources for both their writing and their general experiences on campus. It’s beyond commiserating about obstacles– they are forming a network of support and resources that help them to process what is happening and to move forward.

Not long ago, I found one of those “You should be writing” memes on the internet. In it, Gloria Anzaldúa stands confidently, seeming to look out of the frame and directly at me. I hear her say, “A woman who writes has power.” I printed it and taped it to my office door, under my nameplate and next to my placard declaring that I am a First Generation university graduate. I see it every time I enter my office and I smile. It is a reminder for me and my students that our words are important and our voices matter.

#MakeupMonday: My Travel Set-Up and An Amazing Dress

Kel and I are in Dublin and I continue to be deeply unsettled (what day even is it??) and wiped out after two loooong days on the University College Dublin campus (they work us hard over here, lol. But they were absolutely wonderful. Great, engaged audiences, and some profound, vulnerable feminist talk, especially with the assistant professor group).

So today I just share my lovely travel setup. I love it. I have spent years perfecting it. It’s so good. And read to the end for an amazing travel dress!

As you can see, I have a lighted mini makeup mirror (1x and 10x) a complete set of brushes in small travel sizes, a set of mini glass bottles of my skin care regimen, plus travel sizes of all my hair care products. AND, lest you miss it, a Pink. Sparkle. Travel. Size. Hair Straightener (found on clearance for $18 at Sally Beauty).

Not shown is the bag I use to transport all this, which is in itself the product of endless experimentation. With the right bag, I can carry my full size eyeshadow and contour palette – which I can’t live without – because everything else is so miniaturized!

Note the adorable fold-up organizers: $6.38 for a pack of two on Amazon! I pack them flat at the bottom of my suitcase (in a little Ipsy bag I had around) and set them up at each new stop to keep my brushes and products perfectly organized! They weigh nothing and bring huge value. The palettes and flat items like travel size blush and highlighter stack neatly beside them.

Here you see tiny glass vials that I fill with my Sabbatical Beauty Asian Powerhouse Marine, and Dorian Gray serums, my Sabbatical Beauty Sleeping Beauty oil, my Volition Snow Mushroom serum, my Lancer Omega Hydrating Oil. Also stored here are small jars of my Sabbatical Beauty Donkey Milk cream and Perricone Cold Plasma Eye Cream. The plastic container is a small food storage container I found in a pack of four at Safeway and immediately realized was the perfect size to stack my glass vials sideways in two layers (I secure with a rubber band). The travel size Big Sexy Hair Spray and Play and Root Boost are packed separately but placed in the plastic holder to keep the vials from tipping over.

I carry my primers (face and eye) in repurposed Sabbatical Beauty travel size jars (about 1 inch in size), and got travel options for my Hourglass blush and Ofra highlighter (glasses for scale!)

Here I am looking cute for today’s events at University College Dublin! (One older woman in the audience came over to me during the break to exclaim – “I love your work, etcv. etc., and…. oh my god you LOOK AMAZING, THIS WHOLE ENSEMBLE {waves broadly at my shoes, outfit, face, and hair} I LOVE IT!” “Thank you SO much!,” i responded, “I work really, really hard at it!” “Do you?” She replied, and nodded solemnly.) Other travel items in plastic bags–eyebrow gel, sample foundation, etc.)

See my handy Beauty Bakerie Syruptitious in the mirror! But I didn’t wear it! I’m continuing my experiments in bold lips here on tour, and yesterday wore my new love, Maybelline Artist. Which I loved (and my outfit was SO CUTE–matching polka dots with a subtle stripe jacket). But I did have the vague sense that the bold color didn’t “play” quite as well on the UCD campus as it did in Eugene. Why, I have no idea…. It just seemed a bit … overdone.

Today I wore Rimmel Provocalips in Kiss Fatal. It worked better on campus. It lasted great through a 6 hour day:


And finally, a huge shout-out to this Pact Organic Featherweight Sweatshirt Dress. This beauty is $45, totally organic, amazingly soft, and made by a lovely company with sustainable practices in Boulder! You can wear it as a tunic, or belt it for a minidress, or layer as above with a deconstructed jacket and tights and boots for a sharp “event” outfit! It’s the ULTIMATE travel dress!


When a Cup of Coffee Means More Than a Cup of Coffee: Mentoring as a Woman of Color – WOC Guest Post


I am delighted to offer another guest post in my series of contributed posts by black women and other women of color.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer and can be about your experiences of racism/microaggressions in grad school or the career, your post-academic musings, hard-won advice for other students/faculty of color coming up, intersectional practices in teaching or research that you have found valuable, and also of course, makeup and clothes, or even tech gear you’ve found that helps in your work. More information can be found here.

Today’s post’s author is an assistant professor of education at a research-intensive public university on the West Coast. She is Asian-American, a first-generation college student, and a mother of three. Prior to graduate school, she taught in public middle and high schools for 10 years. Her research focuses on improving K-12 teaching and learning through examining how policy changes affect teachers’ classroom practices. Her life outside the university includes hiking, gardening, cooking and baking, spending time with her children, and reading for pleasure.

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I am writing this post anonymously because my professional world is very small and the incident I am about to share involves people I will continue to cross paths with in the future. The incident happened a few years ago when I was in graduate school, and although time has passed, my feelings about the situation remain unchanged. In fact, I feel more strongly than before that one of my roles as a woman of color in the academy is to stand up for myself and other People of Color, especially in a field where White scholars continue to build prestige for themselves by seeming to care about and conducting scholarship on “disadvantaged” and “underrepresented” People of Color, including children, while they go home at the end of the day to their White families and suburban lives. I feel that it is unpopular and likely career-ending for me as a junior scholar to even hint at the hypocrisy of these White colleagues, for they are lauded as pillars of our professional community for focusing their scholarship on Black and Brown folks. Never mind that they can talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, as the saying goes. They can write all they want about how the “voices” of these poor people need to be heard, but they will never understand the lived reality of being a Person of Color in a racist, sexist, classist, and homophobic society. I do not claim to represent all People of Color—all I can do is share my own experiences and reflect on why I feel the way I do.

The incident was a turning point for me. I had been a full-time graduate student in a well-regarded doctoral program for a few years, and I admit that I had a little flutter of pride in my chest every time somebody asked me out for a cup of coffee to chat about graduate-school related things. I was somebody! I knew things and could impart my wisdom to less experienced others over a latte served in a cute turquoise mug in a cozy café somewhere in our middle-of-nowhere college town. I admit that I also asked out others for coffee—it seemed like the thing to do. After all, graduate school was challenging enough with its written and unwritten rules, and it seemed better to be helpful and generous than competitive.

Looking back, I think I was proud to serve as a mentor because it made me feel like I was being successful in academia. As a woman of color, I was always aware of the racial makeup of a room of people, whether it was a classroom, research group meeting, or dinner party. White privilege and dominance in academia means that I am constantly evaluating my performance and worth compared to White colleagues. Thus, being asked out for a cup of coffee and some advice, especially by White colleagues, seemed to validate my place in the academy.

So, a few years ago, I was serving as an unofficial mentor to a White woman. Unlike me, she was tall and slender, blonde and blue-eyed. For whatever reason, she had sought me out, and we would meet occasionally for coffee to talk about things like navigating courses and program requirements, working with faculty, and securing summer funding. I initially disliked her, partly because of her too cheery disposition and apparent need to be liked by everybody. Despite my initial dislike, we eventually became friends and would hang out and talk about personal things. We had many mutual friends so it was difficult to not invite her to things without feeling like a complete asshole.

One day, she posted something on social media that made me so upset that I almost vomited. She shared a video made by a popular White, apparently middle- or upper-middle-class family that used Black culture as a source of parody. I was upset because I had become increasingly aware of the White privilege that she and others had in our program and profession. Moreover, these White colleagues were self-proclaimed “social justice warriors” who patted themselves on the back for caring about Black and Brown people, for saving the environment and eating only local and “happy” free-range chicken (never mind that free-range organic chicken costs more and is therefore unaffordable for poor folks), for wearing pink pussyhats and marching for women’s rights (never mind that feminism in this country often means only White feminism), and so on.

I usually scrolled through my social media feed, liking a post here or there but rarely commenting. This time, however, I couldn’t let it slide. I had to say something but even thinking about what to say or how to say it made me sick to my stomach. Literally. I didn’t know how she would react to my calling her out. So instead of commenting on the post, I sent her a private message.

And her response?

She thought that the video was okay to share because it was funny. Later, I could see that others had called her out publicly, but I hadn’t. So, what did it mean that we were friends yet I felt sick to my stomach when I had to call her out on racist shit? Was I being overly sensitive?

Afterwards, she tried to reconcile with me and asked multiple times to meet for coffee. But, a line had been crossed for me—the fact was that she hadn’t listened to me. She had disregarded my concern and instead offered her defense that the video couldn’t be taken seriously as racist because it was funny. It was just a joke! And this reasoning came from a person who claimed to care about People of Color, who used words like equity and diversity in her scholarship.

The hypocrisy was stunning.

And I was kicking myself for not trusting my initial instincts about her.

Our mutual friends urged me to make up with her because she was a nice girl, and she didn’t really mean it, and she had learned her lesson and was trying to be a better person, right? They made me feel like I was being the unreasonable one. Forgive and forget, they had advised, let’s just all be friends and go back to the way things were.

I rejected this reasoning. Why?

Because I realized that she could never know how sick and anxious it made me to even think about confronting her. Because I realized that, as a White woman and scholar doing so-called social justice work in a White supremacist society and academy, she benefited from an association with me in a way that I would never benefit from an association with her. In other words, she could claim to have Black and Brown and Red and Yellow friends as evidence of “being woke” yet admitting that we’re all racist because we’ve all been raised in a racist society is the first step towards a more just society. She could use People of Color to her professional benefit and not even understand that that’s what she’s doing. In her mind, she’s just a nice person who cares about diversity, and who wouldn’t want to be friends with a nice person?

But let’s call it what it is—White woman savior complex, which positions White women as helpers of those less fortunate than themselves. At the end of the day, however, White women are the ones who ultimately benefit from this positioning by affirming to each other how “good” and “nice” they are. They are promoted by other White women (and men), and the existing social hierarchy continues to be reproduced, generation after generation.

So, if you ask me out for a cup of coffee, and I say no, please understand that it’s not you. It’s me. I’ve learned to value myself and my knowledge and experiences, and I get to choose what I want to share and with whom I want to share it with. And if you’re a White woman (or man), and I’m a little guarded, then please understand that we live in a world where you have an advantage over me simply because of your skin color.

I refuse to be used. Not today!

“Transferable Skills” Are A Lie – #RealAc Guest Post by Adrienne Posner

Adrienne Posner is one of our most requested #Realac (#Postac) coaches. She shares thoughts on the transition here.

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In my last two posts, I talked a bit about my grad school experience and then about how I decided to quit academia for good. This post is about actually applying for and getting a job outside of academia. More particularly it’s about what many people call “transferable skills,” those mysterious experiences, aptitudes and competencies that many people, mostly academics considering leaving academia, so often reference but can so rarely really define.

I want to start by saying point blank that “transferable skills” are not a real thing. Period.

What academics mean when they use this phrase – that there is some special academic experience that needs to be carefully explained in order have it all make sense to someone outside of academia – is actually a myth. If you are considering leaving academia, I believe it’s a myth that may be hurting your ability to see yourself in a job outside of academia. If you are currently looking for a non-academic job, it is likely negatively impacting your job search.

And yet, this myth, however damaging, is extremely pervasive. Perhaps this is because the academy encourages extreme specialization: academics spend their lives becoming masters of a tiny corner of their already specific field. The result is that academics often feel pretty special. Even if they are not personally invested in the idea of the “ivory tower,” even if they are the first to balk at the usually offhanded or even accidental but nevertheless manifest elitism of the academy, it’s still pretty difficult to not feel like academia isn’t somewhat of a city on a hill, special because highly specialized. Of course there is some truth to all of this: when you are one of the world’s leading experts in anything, it’s normal to see yourself as unique and privileged. It’s because, truly and without judgment, you are.

But the result is that, when academics, for whatever reason, decide to leave the academy, there is often a lot of hand wringing and angst about how to present their experiences in a way that is “translatable” to others, as if recruiters or hiring managers in other industries literally spoke another language.

In working with clients, I have realized that there are two seemingly opposing reasons for this belief, but in reality they usually occur simultaneously: 1) the belief that, because academic work is so highly specialized, it simply won’t make sense to others and will have to be explained, 2) the fear that, because academic work is so highly specialized, it has nothing to do with the “real world” in which “work” happens, and that therefore academics are likely unqualified. In other words, the anxiety about leaving academia is all too often equal parts fear of leaving a safe harbor in which specific interests and passions are truly appreciated, and fear of leaving a safe harbor in which, because those interests and passions are so specific, those that have them couldn’t possibly succeed in “real life.” In a nutshell, the anxiety lies in not being able to decide if your work is unique and therefore special, or unique and therefore irrelevant.

But there’s good news: skills are skills no matter where they are picked up in the same way that knowledge is knowledge no matter where it is acquired; this means that your experiences don’t need to be laboriously “translated” in order to be intelligible to others.

Perhaps equally important to remember: individuals are not collections of skills that can be picked up from one job and plopped down in another. People are qualified and successful for a wide variety of reasons, and their individual skills and experiences are just one part of the algorithm. After all, the main thing a good recruiter is looking for when they pick up a resume is concrete evidence that the candidate meets the minimum qualifications, and ideally some of the preferred qualifications, for the job posting. They are generally less concerned with exactly where this experience occurred and are instead motivated to contact candidates that can succinctly and clearly demonstrate that they have already been successfully exercising the skills that are needed for the particular job in question.

What this means in real life is that academics should frankly have a leg up in a non-academic job market. Many academics have spent the greater part of their adult lives working enormously hard to hone their abilities and to build up the competencies that allow them to be successful in a highly demanding career. As a result, they tend to be focused, persistent, naturally curious, highly driven critical thinkers who express themselves well in writing, have outstanding organizational skills, and often have better than average communication and “soft skills.” Additionally, due to the lack of funding for humanities and social science PhDs, they also very often have a lot of eclectic and compelling work and life experiences that can all add up to make a very interesting, well-rounded individual.

Academic work builds competence in areas that are highly valuable to employers. Let me be specific:

If you’ve ever completed a thesis, dissertation or a book project, you definitely have more than adequate project management skills.

*If you’ve ever designed a syllabus or written exams or developed homework and other assignments for your students, you have experience with learning and instructional design.

*If you’ve ever taught a class or mentored or tutored a student, you can demonstrate leadership and solid communication skills.

*If you’ve ever administered a test of your own design or taken stock of student performance and then adjusted your teaching style accordingly, you have experience using data to inform critical decisions.

*If you’ve ever conducted a study and analyzed the data to make decisions about or to inform the direction of a research project, you have skills central to business analytics.

*If you’ve ever written a grant or an application for funding and been successful in securing that funding, you have demonstrated skill in drafting business proposals.

These are not “transferable skills” so much as they are just collections of competencies that, when contextualized properly, will make it clear to a recruiter that you have a high predictability of success in another role that requires similar competencies.

Once you stop investing in the cycle of doubt that the myth of “transferable” skills can precipitate, it is easier to take stock of what you like to do and what you are good at. Once you know your own skill set, you can look for jobs that exercise that skill set.

The trick from there is simple: start seeing the resume not as an explanatory list of all your experiences and accomplishments, but as an opportunity to contextualize your skills, to show how what you’ve already done demonstrates your ability to successfully do the job to which you are applying.

Once you are no longer laboring under the illusion that you have to somehow explain or justify yourself, once you’ve moved past the nagging feeling that you have to translate your academic work to someone who may not understand or appreciate it, you’ll find yourself more able to comfortably and confidently talk about yourself and to see yourself as a capable and even desirable candidate on the job market.

#MakeupMonday: Still With the New Colors

The last MakeupMonday post got the most extraordinary response on FB – the most of any post to date! And I’m delighted by the positive FB messages in response to the would-be makeup-shamer who commented on the blog this week.

Today I’m packing to leave for our 5 week speaking tour in Europe so no time! So I’ll just share a few further lipcolor updates. I posted a few of these as UPDATES on last week’s post but here they are again. Remember: this is all an effort to match Marc Jacobs Kiss Pop in Headliner, which has no staying power (and sorry for the bizarre captions–i can’t make them work right!):

L: Maybelline Artist
L: Smashbox Jam On It
Smashbox–no staying power, Grrrrrrr
Loving the Smashbox Fig (with Lipstick Queen lip liner)
Only the lipliner is left–after but a small meal! WUT.
Stunning color match with Pat McGrath Sorry Not Sorry (suggested by an FB reader!)
Bad pic, but: BLOTCHY, no staying power, once again lipliner weirdly sticking out…

I have a gorgeous Givenchy in Framboise Velours, delivered up in a Temptalia color dupe-search (thank you for the tip FB reader!) that so far is also not lasting through a single cup of coffee…

But another FB reader suggested I try Mac Prep and Prime Lip to see if I can coax more wear out of any of these, so that’s plan B (actually plan Q I think, at this point). I’ll experiment with it and the Marc Jacobs, Pat McGrath, and Givenchy…

I would be lying if I didn’t say I am just a BIT frustrated! As I said to Kel, who charges $38 for a lipstick that won’t even stay on through a single meal? (Kel responded, “……………….. did……….you say…… 38? dollars?…………….”)

Only careful experimentation will yield desired results

But in the midst of all this I did notice one thing. I have LONG thought that makeup appeals to me for many the same reasons that academic research does. There is something deeply satisfying about it, and I’ve struggled to articulate what.

#Science

As I was sitting at my mirror rubbing off one lipcolor and applying the next, it occurred to me: it’s about problem solving! You have blotchy skin? Makeup can help! But has to be the right one! You have a drooping eyelid? (I do) Makeup can help! But you have to research just what and how. You want a lipcolor that actually lasts 8 hours—-well, some do and some don’t! And guess how you find out? Experimentation! Careful methodology! Manipulating conditions to test for particular outcomes! And good documentation!

#SCIENCE

Of course the expense of all this experimentation could be problematic, but the great thing is, both Ulta and Sephora take used items back as long as you sign up for membership (which is free). I return items constantly.

So there you have it. Of course it’s also perfectly fine to wear no makeup at all, and to loathe the thought of it. Nobody has to feel obliged to use it, or judged because they either wear makeup, or don’t.

But for those of us who do, I leave you with this thought: We don’t enjoy makeup in SPITE of being academics. We enjoy makeup BECAUSE we are academics.

We have a winner from last week’s Stash/Samples Giveaway. Emma is an archaeology grad student! I’m not going to run any more giveaways until I get back from the 6 week speaking tour in Europe! Keep reading, and we’ll start those up again in June!