#MakeupMonday: Beyoncé’s Makeup Artist, Sir John

What can I say about #Beychella that hasn’t been said?   As the New York Times review proclaimed, Beyoncé is Bigger Than Coachella:

Let’s just cut to the chase: There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon, than Beyoncé’s headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Saturday night.

It was rich with history, potently political and visually grand. By turns uproarious, rowdy, and lush. A gobsmacking marvel of choreography and musical direction.

And not unimportantly, it obliterated the ideology of the relaxed festival, the idea that musicians exist to perform in service of a greater vibe. That is one of the more tragic side effects of the spread of festival culture over the last two decades. Beyoncé was having none of it. The Coachella main stage, on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club here, was her platform, yes, but her show was in countless ways a rebuke.

And concluded: “History is her stage.”

Kellee and I watched the re-play straight through on Sunday morning, utterly transfixed. We couldn’t take our eyes of the screen, and the day’s obligations just went by the wayside. It was a revelation.

Those (unlike me) who are experts in the grand, historic scope of her exaltation of black history and culture and music can truly grasp the accomplishment.  Myles Johnson writes in another NYT review:

But she didn’t just kill the performance; she also rewrote the book on black respectability politics. She could have decided to play to the majority-white audience with a show that made it easier to forget cultural differences. Or she could be herself. Beyoncé chose the latter.

In putting on a show that celebrated the diversity of black people, she conveyed that no matter how much fame or money she has, she will refuse to divorce herself from black culture, even the parts that are underappreciated, disrespected or misunderstood by white people. Beyoncé was performing her music, but she was also saying that the performance of respectability — the policing of black people’s behavior and appearance to better appeal to white people — is an oppression we don’t need in our lives.

Black musicians in particular have long been told how they should look and perform to sustain their success and be marketable to a larger audience. That often meant that black artists distanced themselves from the things associated with black culture, especially the things that might be coded as not-respectable.

Craig Jenkins of The Vulture writes, “We’ll Revisit Beyonce’s Coachella Performance For the Rest of Our Lives,”

It was apparent that Beyoncé was playing for keeps in her Saturday Coachella set just seconds in, when she arrived, bejeweled in an Egyptian queen’s garb, to lead a New Orleans–style second line down the walkway to the festival’s main stage, which was outfitted with a seating rig shaped like university stadium bleachers and a lighting rig shaped like a pyramid, while a marching band gave Parliament’s “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” a maudlin, ragtime twist. Had she simply continued marching past the stage to a jet and flown home, we would still have been left with a powerful statement about black unity.

Before a single note was sung, Beyoncé’s entrance threaded the majesty of ancient African royalty through bittersweet bayou jazz funerals, ’70s funk’s Afrofuturism, modern-day trap insouciance, and a dab of gospel by way of her band’s tease of the new Knowles-Carter classic “Family Feud,” whose sample was lifted from the Clark Sisters’ devotional warm-up “Ha Ya (Eternal Life).” “Beychella” illustrated through dance, dress, and brash musicology that pride and perseverance are the through line adjoining the last few thousands of years of black history.

If you didn’t get a chance to see it, do what you must to see it now.

<–Side note: As my Sunday homage to Queen Bey, I wore a highly uncharacteristic nude lip like the one she wore for most of the show.  It’s Honey Matte Lip Whip, by Black Woman-owened makeup brand (which I mention repeatedly on here!) BeautyBakerie.  Buy this product!  It stays on for 24 hours without BUDGING!

Anyway, for #MakeupMonday, I want to share some insights from Beyoncé’s makeup artist, Sir John. Note that Sir John was fired from his first big job, at Mac.  And now, a decade later—he does makeup for Beyoncé. And Serena Williams.

Which for our purposes here at TPII shows that the job you think you MUST have, isn’t necessarily your best job.

Anyway, this interview is from Beauty Editor, and it’s really great!  And, for a few insights about Beyonce’s makeup look in the performance (very few! Clearly the makeup specifics were not about to be shared!) read this piece.

What are the products in your kit that you can’t do a job without?

Sir John:  For me, concealers are life or death, because sometimes, in a pinch, you can use concealer instead of foundation. If I don’t have any time, or if my kit is farther away from me than I have time to run and grab, I’ll moisturize the skin and use my fingers and concealer to give coverage where I need it and blend out where I don’t.

Beautyblenders are these sponges we have. Any of the sponges nowadays are like the Holy Grail. They’re like an extra hand, or your magic eraser. I like to go over [the skin] with the sponge to make sure there are no fingerprints, so that things are blended smoothly. So this is like your airbrusher.

Beautyblender Makeup Sponge

Pointed cotton buds are my jam, too. They’ll clean up a winged eye. You can put your line on really quickly, and then just take a couple seconds with a cotton bud and even out your wings and fix everything.

Who makes the best makeup brushes?

MAC has great brushes; they’ve always had great brushes. I also love Artis. I use them for the face; I love those babies. And Sigma has really nice brushes. Brushes are key—they’re very, very important.

Artis Fluenta Oval 7 Brush
 Which brush do you apply foundation with?

I’ll apply foundation with my fingers. My body heat is going to change the texture. I’m dabbling, I’m stippling, I’m layering. Doing that, it gets this organic quality that makes everything a second skin.

What kind of look do you do if you only have five minutes?

If I have only five minutes, which is so often… I hate to say this, but sometimes hair gets so long and styling gets five or 10 fittings. And then they look at makeup, “You only have 10 minutes.” It’s like, do you know how long this guy had colour in her hair? [laughs]

If I had only a small amount of time, what I would do is a statement lip. You can’t look at a statement lip and say, “Oh, it’s just because she didn’t have time.” No, this could be intentionally the statement she wanted to make for the day. Eyes take a little bit longer, because you want symmetry and there’s a layering that happens. So I’d do a statement lip, and a lip liner to make the lip last longer.

What are some of your favourite L’Oréal products? (Sir John is a spokesman for L’Oreal)

The Infallible Silkissime Eyeliners. They’re eye kohls. I love these babies because they’re completely waterproof and they do not move. They go on so easily into the waterlines and once they dry, it’s like cement. I use them all the time; they are one of my desert island products. There’s a forest green—I love green—and I love this greige colour we have, it’s really new and fresh. Also, I like to use half and half. I’ll put a darker colour eyeliner on the top and a lighter colour on the bottom.

 

Pro-Glow Foundation is my jam because it gives a very luminous glow to the skin. It’s sheer but light-reflective.

I love the concealer palette we have. Every makeup artist loves a palette because they can pack lighter, and no one is ever one colour. I mix them every single day. You can cover a tattoo, you can cover a pimple, you can cover dark circles. Also, throughout the week, you’re probably picking up more sun and getting more colour every day so your skin is going to change. Every person should always have foundation and concealer in multiple colours.

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Total Cover Concealing and Contour Kit

 

 And a few useful final pointers from Sir John:

How do you cover up imperfections?

First of all, I want to say that there’s no such thing as an imperfect face. I love differences in people. I love a birthmark, or a gap in your tooth. That kind of thing adds swag to your look. When you’re such a cookie-cutter, when you look like everyone else, where’s that individuality?

Okay, so no one loves a pimple. But it’s temporary. Or sometimes, I’ve seen like, hair growth. Not on any of the girls you know! [laughs] It could be hormone things or maybe a pregnancy mark.

So I’m going to give you more coverage where you need it, but I’ll do sheer everywhere else. Women think, “If I need coverage, I need coverage everywhere.” But I want them to get in the habit of doing spot coverage. Minimize your coverage to where you need it. You probably only need maximum coverage on about five percent of your face. Everywhere else, I’ll blend it away so it looks believable, sheer and breathable. I want to see pores and freckles. That’s what you want; freckles are important. If your skin is natural, you can go heavier with the eyes and lips.

How do you deal with darkness around the eyes?

Use a hydrating concealer on top of your eye cream. Look for concealers that are creamy, not dry. You don’t want anything too oily, either. So I’ll use an eye cream that has maybe some kind of de-puffing effect. While it’s slightly damp, I’ll take [the concealer on] my ring finger and I’ll start to tap it in, tap it in, tap it in. It adheres beautifully once it’s dry.

And a final point:

What would people find the most surprising about your job?  

Can I be honest with you? If you don’t listen to anything else I say today, listen to this. So many people work in makeup and beauty and hair. Everyone can do makeup really well. Everyone can do hair really well. But I’m not in the business of makeup, I’m in the business of people. It’s less about how amazing I am with a brush, and more about how I have interpersonal relationships with people and how I make them feel. If you make people feel great, they’ll want to keep you around. They’ll fight for you, you know?

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*My regular intro:

Welcome to #MakeupMonday, my weekly series on makeup; academic and postacademic job market and productivity posts will continue on Tuesday and Friday as usual.

Here is my weekly reminder:  I will not engage with makeup-shaming here or on any Facebook or Twitter comment threads. I support your right to not wear makeup, and anyone who dislikes makeup, disapproves of makeup, or wants to argue that no academic woman should be judged on the basis of makeup (which nobody is claiming anyway), I suggest you come back for my other posts on other topics.

For previous posts, see the following:

 

 

Hustle to Get Paid – #Postac Guest Post

Part II in a Three Part Series on the Post-ac Transition in Creative Fields, by TPII Post-ac coach, Dr. Ricky Graham

I am a guitarist, music producer and former academic from Northern Ireland. I received my PhD from Ulster University in 2012 and I am now the CEO of audio technology company, Delta Sound Labs, in the United States. My work in the music industry spans guitar and computer music performance, production, composing for TV, film and video games and education. My company focuses on the development of hardware and software for creatives, with a specific interest in modular synthesis and audio effects plugins and has recently engaged in projects at the Technicolor Experience Center in Los Angeles and Stax Music Academy in Memphis. I maintain a personal website for personal music projects and research at http://rickygraham.com and my company website is located at http://deltasoundlabs.com.

Twitter: @rickygraham

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In my last post, I discussed part of my rationale for leaving the academy and how I dealt with the initial anxiety surrounding that decision. In posts two and three, I will discuss what I am doing now in the form of independent engagements and the challenges in starting my own music technology company. This post will focus on independent engagements, specifically on what forms of creative work are out there, how I have acquired this work, and the measures I have taken to ensure that I get paid.

On arriving in Memphis from Hoboken, I searched for local artists, musicians, and venues active in music technology and related fields. My initial search did not yield a great deal so I established a meetup group (via Meetup.com) under the general moniker of Music, Art + Technology in an attempt to connect with like-minded creatives in the area. To start, I kept the scope of the group fairly broad to draw people from all kinds of artistic backgrounds. After a few meetings, I was able to identify key areas of interest for people and get a sense of how often folks were willing to get together. We now have over 300 members and meet once a month to hangout and play music with a focus on electronics and related music tech products. My startup, Delta Sound Labs, sponsors the monthly meetup. Yes, that’s a tax deduction right there. I’ll talk more about starting a business in my third and final blog post of this series.

So, why is this community thing so important? It’s an incredibly valuable platform to let people know who you are and what you do on a local level. The meetup platform is a good way to do this quickly. It builds social capital and this yields opportunities for creative collaboration and independent contracts. It places you firmly on the local horizon. It’s also a great way to establish working relationships with venues. Simply by needing a place to host a meetup, you put yourself in a position where you have to find local businesses that are willing to host you, ideally for free, and in return your host receives the custom of your members. I tried out a series of venues before settling with our current host. While some venues weren’t exactly a good fit due to their location, size, or general environment (meeting in a cafe or music venue was simply too noisy and distracting), the positive outcome of this teething phase was that this was a great way to meet local business owners and see how they run their operations day-to-day, and how they engage with (and whether or not they value) creative communities. While we may not use those venues for this particular purpose, the contacts are now in place for future engagements.

If I have one mantra that I have carried over from academe and from working within a fairly large department, it is that you need people to take you where you want to go. You can’t do it all by yourself. Find a place that allows community to flourish, in a comfortable environment where you can talk, present your ideas, and collaborate with one another. Give the community time to grow, too. It took about three to four meetups to get the scope and attendance where I wanted it to be. You can do it anywhere. So, do it. Be resourceful and build your network.

 

Instructional Courses

Memphis Slim House, the venue for our meetup (and the original house of legendary American blues pianist, singer, and composer, Memphis Slim), eventually became the venue for a series of other job opportunities. My years of curriculum development in the academy prepared me to design and propose courses to music schools and art institutions. Recently, I designed a series of public courses to help musicians get to grips with their music production software (from more of a utility standpoint) but also to help artists and producers (mainly rap and hip-hop in this part of the world) get their ideas out of their head and into production. This has also led to studio session work with Memphis Slim members as an audio engineer, simply by running the course in the same physical space as Slim House’s recording studio. Again, this is a good example of why it is so important to find out where people do the things that you’re offering as a service and to make yourself available to them. The success of your self-employment will ultimately be determined by the types of communities in which you invest your time and expertise, as well as being visible within the community. I think it’s also important to note that I am personally fortunate to find the Stax and Slim House communities to be so welcoming and I am incredibly grateful for their hospitality and willingness to help me relaunch.

 

Expanding Opportunities Through Industry Certifications

Probably one of the most worthwhile software certifications that I’ve obtained in my time as a music technologist is from Ableton, a German company that specializes in music production software. This certification has led to work as an engineer and consultant for studio recording sessions and as an educator within the music community in Memphis, namely at Stax Music Academy (constituent of Stax Records and Museum consortium). This grew into the aforementioned music production course and other studio sessions with local musicians. More recently, I was contacted to run Live tracks for an artist’s international music tour for three weeks for excellent pay. It is also unsurprising that the skill sets necessary for studio and instructional opportunities have been honed through years of teaching music technology at various colleges. Your teaching skills are transferable without too much retailoring or further education. With that said, I didn’t just start making money as soon as I obtained the certification. Depending on the company, you can acquire immediate visibility with these kinds of software certifications (for example, through their company web presence) but it did take time to build a consultant profile and a client base. You definitely have to be willing to put in the time. I started with cheaper, discounted rates for my first round of clients and then built towards an hourly rate that I believe my time is worth.

Additionally, Live extends into the world of software development through its recent acquisition of visual programming language, Max, developed by David Zicarelli and Co. at Cycling ’74. This part of my skill set has led to music software development work for composers and artists, whether it be for use in the studio or for an art installation. I’m currently working on a series of devices for a composer based in Mexico. In short, there are a ton of certifications out there related to your practice that can help put you on the map and help you get work, whether it be Apple, Pro Tools, or Live. Ask people that hold a certification if it helps get them more work. You just need to look and reach out to folk.

 

Make a General Service Agreement

Aside from paid work generated through my business, Delta Sound Labs, independent contract work is fast becoming a stable source of income. To do this effectively, it is super important to work out a Service Agreement with your client(s) that outline the agreed work, start date and payment plan. You can grab a basic boilerplate template from the web but always have a lawyer look over the syntax when you’re done to make sure all parties are protected and you’re not digging a colossal hole for yourself. Having this service agreement template on hand is a huge time saver. It immediately weeds out the clients who are willing to pay versus those who are looking for a freebie. Sending this agreement immediately puts an end to time wasters and it will help you get paid. Make sure you get paid a percentage up front. I charge 50% of each project price tag upfront and I don’t do a lick of work until that money is in my bank account. Your time is incredibly valuable when you work for yourself. Don’t let people waste it. I will discuss contracts as they relate to my business in the next blog post.

Bottom Line

You have to be prepared to hustle. You can’t expect for freelance work to just fall on your plate. You’ve got to really go out and look for it and create a presence in the community so that people know who you are and importantly what you can do for them.

 

#MakeupMonday: The Best Under Eye Product

Alert #MakeupMonday readers know that my makeup-related activity intensifies around visits to my daughter at Berkeley. I just visited her last week, and so of course we visited Ulta and Sephora at Bay Street in Emeryville, and while I went mostly just as the financier of Miyako’s bulk replacement of foundation, blush, and contour stick (all Clinique!), naturally I couldn’t be in the space without swatching everything in sight, and I walked away with one truly amazing new product, about whose existence I had not previously been aware.

The product is: Under Eye Brightening Corrector.  The brand is my beloved Becca.

Now I wouldn’t blame you if you read this far and thought, “oh my god, she is such a sucker, some people will just fall for any and all marketing. Who needs something called a ‘corrector’?  As if regular concealer isn’t enough?”

And old me (as in, the me of last week) would not have blamed you.  Years back I bought a Smashbox undereye brightening primer that did precisely nothing (as is the case for all Smashbox products on my skin), and I was pretty much over the whole concept.

But Becca actually makes relatively few products. And the products they make have been so uniformly phenomenal on my skin (except for their blush, which as I discussed in another post, is too shimmery), that when I saw the product, I decided to swatch it on my hand.

And….wow.  I could see right there that it was remarkable.  It is slightly tinted, faintly sticky but in a good way, and has — like all Becca products — this subtle glow that is nothing at all like a shimmer, but just like an ever so delicate light-source.  It slid right over the wrinkles in my skin, and left a perfectly smooth, brightened surface.

“Oh, dammit…..I….I…..loooove……Beccaaaaa…..sooo……muuuuuch….” I moaned to Miyako. “But,  I don’t neeeeed another product! {sniff, sniff}”

Miyako:  “well, but if it’s for EVERYDAY wear…?”

Me:  “you’re right! I WILL wear it every day! I’m sure!”

And so, I bought it.

With Becca Corrector

The next day, I used it for the first time. I got on the flight home, and the young woman sitting next to me turned to me and said, abruptly, “oh my gosh you have such pretty eyes!”

Hmm, I thought. That’s not something I hear every day.

Then I came home and walked into the kitchen and Kellee said, “Wow! What did you do different on your eyes?”

And so, I am left to conclude that Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector is the real deal.

 

 

Without Becca Corrector (clicking on photos helps to see detail)

I brush it on with a small brush (which helps manage the tacky texture) and then blend it with a tiny beauty blender, after primer and before foundation.  Unlike concealers, it doesn’t aim to “cover up” your natural skin color. Rather, it just – somehow – boosts and brightens it.  This is how Becca puts it: “Backlight technology reflects light to draw attention away from lines and wrinkles, creating a lifting effect,” and I’d say, that is true.  Here’s what one reviewer at Sephora said:

So glad a Becca rep was at my local sephora and tried this on me!! It covered/neutralized my dark circles (along with concealer in store) made my eyes refreshed, and more awake looking! I am not a huge under eye concealer kind of girl because i hate the cakey look that I always seem to get no matter what, so I have been putting this on just under my make up forever HD foundation and it works amazing! Love this product!!!

I don’t have dark circles too much anymore, now that I practice regular skincare, but I DO have noticeably crepey, wrinkly skin in that area, with a conspicuous disparity between my under eye area and the rest of my skin. So, I am always looking for something to help that area.  But I loathe concealers, because they cake up and look pale and unnatural.

But this Becca Corrector–well, like it claims, it doesn’t settle into wrinkles.  And like all Becca products it uses light to achieve magical effects.

It is without question one of the best anti-aging products I’ve ever found.

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*My regular intro:

Welcome to #MakeupMonday, my weekly series on makeup; academic and postacademic job market and productivity posts will continue on Tuesday and Friday as usual.

Here is my weekly reminder:  I will not engage with makeup-shaming here or on any Facebook or Twitter comment threads. I support your right to not wear makeup, and anyone who dislikes makeup, disapproves of makeup, or wants to argue that no academic woman should be judged on the basis of makeup (which nobody is claiming anyway), I suggest you come back for my other posts on other topics.

For previous posts, see the following:

 

Academic Gatekeeping 101: A Master Class – Post by Rebecca Schuman

[Update 4/2/18 8 PM Pacific:  The tenured scholar demanded a correction over on Rebecca Schuman’s blog about the nature of the journal referenced in this post, and requested I follow suit; the nature of this demand is spelled out by the scholar in a comment to this post below. Adjudicating the ins and outs of all of this is more than I have the time or inclination for, and, having turned this post over to Rebecca in the first place, I will continue in the original vein and post her correction text as well. I encourage anyone who wants to investigate any of the claims made here to knock yourselves out. Let me know if you have anything to add!

This is the correction written by Rebecca Schuman earlier this evening on her blog: One of the individuals portrayed (anonymously) in this post has requested that I issue a correction about the (spoiler alert) nature of the exchange at the bottom of the post, wherein I attest that this person, a senior scholar, offers a junior scholar a publication advantage based on that junior scholar’s obsequious behavior.

The senior scholar disputes the nature of this exchange, and I readily admit that I misunderstood the category of the publication in question to be a peer-reviewed journal when in fact it is not. (It is, however, still edited by academics, and publishes work of an academic nature; whether that work will bolster someone’s CV and in what way remain up for debate.)

While the more casual nature of the publication surely adds nuance to the situation, I still believe it illustrates the sort of exchange I witnessed in academia on a regular basis, where networking (often involving various degrees of sucking up) results in a leg up on the publication process. I myself benefitted from this at the MLA convention of 2011, wherein the editor of a prominent German journal liked the cut of my jib (and/or the cut of my dress) and solicited a publication, which was later accepted. At any rate, I apologize for the original inaccuracy of that aspect of the post, but I still believe the exchange in question to be a master class in gatekeeping. In addition, the scholar in question also requests that I include the original Tweet that started the whole ruckus; I have not, but Karen Kelsky has at over at her blog, where this post is republished. 

You can learn more about this individual’s concerns in the comment she has included below this post, which I have left intact.

As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for bearing with me while *I* hold a master class in what it looks like to receive professional criticism professionally, and issue corrections in a correspondingly professional manner. Ahem.]

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A thing happened on Twitter yesterday (yes, on Easter), that was painful and sad and confirmed every one of your worst fears about the smug indifference of the tenured to the collapse of the academic labor market and the suffering of its victims.  It begins with this smart tweet by Lili Loofbourow (@millicentsomer):

Which brought  — why? — the ire of an petulant academic quote-unquote radical who feels the youngsters have gotten way too uppity and need to shut up and take what they are given.

Rebecca Schuman (@pankisseskafka; author of the memoir Schadenfreude: A Love Story) wrote a post about this dustup today on her own blog (that has since been taken down as Rebecca decided to retire that site in order to declare independence from the world of academic snark), and I have her permission to re-post it here.

Read it and weep.

It’s the whitest thing to happen on academic Twitter this week.

Anyway, Rebecca feels that it’s important for you all, our collective readers, not to run over to Twitter and pile on the Kool Aid-addled junior folks who figure into this sad tale.  I opined that it’s not our job to dictate the behavior of our readers.  But in any case, she is nicer than I am and she asked, so I’m obliging: she would prefer you not do a Twitter pile-on.  The story is of course still unfolding. One of the junior-stans is objecting to his characterization, naturally.

Because this is what it is, and we are who we are, I’m putting this post up in place of #MakeupMonday this week.

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Academic Gatekeeping 101: A Master Class – Post by Rebecca Schuman

 

*cracks knuckles*

*dusts off blog*

Oh hey, what’s up. So. For those of you SchuFriends who have nothing better to do than follow me on Twitter (where you go during the few breaks you take from reading my book, of which you have of course purchased multiple copies in affordable paperback), you might have noticed yesterday that I had a “thread,” as the children call them, that picked up a little steam. Going Twitter-viral makes me feel so dirty, because I get nothing out of it. Twitter gets a lot out of it, though. Anyway. During the course of the kerfuffle, which I’ll explain a bit below, I noticed something that was remarkably telling about certain academic hierarchical movements and structures, and I wanted to share it with you, my eight readers, off Twitter.

So, I will be describing this situation without naming anyone or linking to anyone’s Twitter. This is for two reasons, the first being that why should Twitter get even more money from the collective pain of struggling academics? And the second being that the critique I have to make involves a couple of junior scholars and “calling them out” directly would be punching down, which I do not wish to do and do not wish for any of you to do.

That said, you are all smart people and you will be able to figure out exactly what I’m talking about with one cursory skim you-know-where, and if you do, I implore you: Please do not descend on anyone’s mentions in a dogpile. At no time in the history of Twitter has someone been on the receiving end of a dogpile and thought: Hey, these people virtually punching me in the face have a point, I’m going to change my ways. This is true even if everyone does have a point, and the individual in question does need to change their ways. Getting dogpiled on Twitter just makes you dig in harder. Just a word of warning.

OK, so, here’s what happened. A few days before Easter (aka the Weekend I Took My Daughter to Chicago On a Train Alone, like a Genius), a smart young journalist wrote a viral Tweet about 1-year VAP positions, specifically asking those institutions who advertise them to be mindful of the profound sacrifices they require. That is all. All she said was: “Hey, don’t act like you’re doing anyone a favor, because you’re not.” This is categorically true, and anyone who disagrees is a dick. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Over a thousand people agreed with this journalist, including myself, and this missive got many “retweets,” as the children call them. As such, it garnered the attention of an outspoken senior scholar in the historical disciplines whose outspokenness has targeted under- and unemployed junior scholars on multiple previous occasions.

This individual jumped into the journalist’s mentions with a few smug comments, one of which was, and I’m going to quote directly so as not to be accused of making up context:

Explain: one year jobs have been around for over fifty years. Practically everyone I know started their career in one. What is the big deal? What forces someone on the East Coast to apply to a 1-year job in LA that they don’t want? The harm in this case seems entirely invented.

Another one was:

Just pack a couple suitcases and get a sublet for heavens sake. There has been no time in the history of academia when jobs have been created around the corner so no one has to move.

That was the one I felt, for some reason, like I needed to get my panties in a bunch about. So I did. My panties, they were bunched. I employed the Twitter “power move” (questionable, in my case), of the “quote Tweet” with some commentary—even though to be honest at this point this was, itself, probably an act of punching down since (although I am an unemployed scholar and this individual is a senior scholar) I have more published monographs, and people like me better, burrrrrrn.

I guess because of the holiday of whatever, a lot of other people saw the “thread” and got their panties similarly bunched, and many mentions were descended upon and a thing ensued.

NOW this was all just background. Are you ready? Good, because I have real work to do and I should not be blogging.

Okay. So, the senior scholar in question gets very testy on the Twitter when she is criticized, and her ratio (that is the number of critical comments vs. the number of positive RTs or “likes”) was not looking good, and so, like many of us would in this situation, she RT’d, or “retweeted,” a stan, or a “stoogy fan” (that’s not actually what stan stands for, it comes from “stalker fan” and I *think* it originated in an Eminem song but don’t @ me because I’m not sure).

Anyway, nowadays the term “stan” is used for anyone who transparently comes to the defense of (or “stans for”) someone, “celebrity” or no, and this senior scholar RT’d a stan who, again, I will quote directly so that I don’t take anything out of context, but will neither link or name, because I am trying to be a better human being. The stan in question is a tenure-track junior professor in the same discipline as the senior scholar, and here’s what he had to say:

re: today’s academic Twitter war, I’m very much in agreement w/ [SENIOR SCHOLAR]. Maybe a dept offering a low-paying 1 yr VAP w/o moving exp. could barely get even that from admin, & expects regional applicants though they have 2 advertise nationally

OK, so, I don’t want to adjudicate this too much, but since this individual’s Twitter bio says he likes “logic and precision,” I will point out that this argument is illogical and imprecise, since the original journalist’s critique was not about disingenuously-advertised locals-only postings at all, but rather about the vast majority of VAPs, which do aim for a national reach, and for which people do very often have to uproot their lives and move.

So this is a red-herring argument that means nothing and adds nothing to the conversation, other than to say “Hey, I am stanning for this person.” Great. I’m very proud of you. Good stan. (Downthread there is a very interesting argument about how ‘gauche’ it is to ask if someone assumes caregiving responsibilities for one’s own children, which is only ‘gauche’ if you come from the academic-male-centered world where talking about things like caregiving responsibilities is considered taboo and icky, but this is neither here nor there.)

NOW. Here’s where it gets interesting. The senior scholar’s stan also has a stan, who jumps into his mentions to vouch for his character. OK. No prob. I get it. Defend your friends. I don’t think the senior scholar’s stan is a bad person, nor is this other stan, and although I disagree with their stanning choices, I support their right to make them, and to have friends.

BUT THEN. The original senior scholar jumps back into the stan-a-thon and compliments the stan’s stan’s handle.

AND THEN. The stan’s stan gushes all over the senior scholar and invites her to peep their profile and CV.

AND THEN.

THE SENIOR SCHOLAR.

PUBLICLY INVITES.

THE STAN’S STAN.

TO CONTRIBUTE.

TO THE PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATION…

…THE SENIOR SCHOLAR EDITS.

This has been your morning’s master class in Academic Gatekeeping 101.

Please be civil with this information, now that you have it.

Good day.

 

Distortions, Dramas, and Myths: Or, How to Tell The Truth About Your Writing

Consider this…

The things you tell yourself about your writing are not truth. They are stories.

And the wonderful thing about stories, is that you can rewrite them.

The entire reason I started Professor Is In in 2011 was to demystify the academy and what it takes to be successful in it.

Like the front page of this website says, “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.”

But, exposing the hidden truths of the job market is a very different task than helping individuals connect with their inner motivations.  The former is mostly divorced from content: It’s focused on packaging, and academics’ perennially bad habits of (and instincts for) self-presentation.  The latter, though, is about the work itself. And I, Karen, have not the slightest clue how to motivate anyone to do their own work. For me, the solution is, and always has been: “Just Write!”  It’s the same bad advice that friends and advisors have been giving writers forever. It’s about as helpful as when my ex-husband used to tell me, in the face of my (then) crippling fear of flying, “Just calm down.”  OBVIOUSLY, If I could calm down, I’d be calm.

OBVIOUSLY If you could write, you’d write.

Enter Kellee.

As the TPII Interview Intervention guru, Kellee Weinhold talks to people to via video. As she coaches them through key questions for interviews, she is literally face to face with their vulnerabilities. With Imposter Syndrome, with feelings of scholarly inadequacy, and with real-life struggles to succeed.

Three years ago, she made a proposal: If we are going to keep our commitment to pull back the curtain and expose the toxicity of the academy, we need to create a program that will help our clients with their struggles around productivity.

We need to tell the truth:  our entire academic system is constantly telling you that nothing is ever enough, that you should always be doing more. Maintaining a productive writing life in the face of that is exhausting. In other words, we need to tell clients who are struggling that there is nothing wrong with them.

After two years of small groups and beta testers, Kellee launched her online coaching program Unstuck: The Art of Productivity. And lo, that program has changed thousands (actually thousands!) of lives.

Unstuck is incredible, and Kellee is a genius. I am totally serious.

Her instincts for seeing just where things go wrong, and how to fix them, in the realm of academic productivity and motivation, are unparalleled.

“I chose a project in July that was competing with two others and is still in progress, my book proposal. I learned from Kellee that it’s incredibly difficult and frustrating to try to keep three projects in the air at the same time.

That said, I finished 2 of the 3, a book review and the critical introduction to a special issue of a journal I have co-edited. I’m really proud of the second. And did this all while adjusting to being the new chair of my department (44 faculty members total).

In the seven months before I joined Unstuck, I fretted a lot. And didn’t submit anything other than a conference abstract or two.

I now take weekends completely off and don’t look at work stuff after I get home. I also write everyday, sometimes only morning pages, but that’s writing.”

I, Karen, am the first to admit, I find the Unstuck methods astonishing and mystifying. I am often in the room (just off camera) when Kellee does her Unstuck coaching.  I listen to her, and I listen to the coaching groups and clients, and afterward I say,

“Why in the world does this work???”

Kellee just laughs at me. She says: “This program is not for people like you. People like you are annoying.”

Because, I am one of the small number of people who basically just sit down and write. I decide to write a thing, I outline it, write it, edit it, and submit it, without much drama or delay.  It’s possible some of your advisors are too.

I know we do NOT HELP with your struggle.  Because, we are the exception, not the norm.

Unfortunately, we are also the dominant narrative, the toxic myth. The whole enterprise is built on the idea that “other people” are happily writing, submitting, and growing their CV with nary a self doubt or anxious thought.

But here is the truth:  the TRUTH is that most people in the academy struggle mightily to overcome the 1) emotional, 2) psychological, and 3) logistical barriers to a productive writing life.

And while I may not be the target audience for Unstuck, I am a witness to its effectiveness for writers.

People do the Unstuck program, and suddenly, they start writing.

And they keep writing. And they open up documents that have been hidden away in a closet of shame for months or years. And they finish them. And press “submit.”  And complete and submit their dissertations. And complete and submit their articles. And complete and submit their books.

“I joined Unstuck last summer. Since then, I have submitted my book manuscript for review and submitted an article manuscript for review. Prior to that I was in a book revising funk for about a year. still tying up loose ends with the book and article but inching towards writing new material too. Most of all I have moved into the slow and steady wins the race philosophy thanks to Unstuck – without the feeling of panic or impending doom I once felt.”

And ALL THIS WHILE KEEPING EVENINGS AND WEEKENDS FREE FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND REST.

This is not a joke.  Unstuck means productivity with your evenings and weekends free.

“I finally submitted my full dissertation to my committee! So grateful for all the support and the methods I learned with unstuck. I finally learned how to de dramatize writing and how to create a realistic – and surprisingly accurate – timeline to complete projects! Just one task at a time…”

What I can say with complete confidence is Unstuck starts from the same core principle as all of The Professor Is In: telling the truth.

In this case, the truth you learn to tell is about your own motivations and the stories that get in its way.

  • Do you really want to write the thing? Why?
  • Will you ever have the “5-hour blocks of unbroken writing time” that you continue to claim you will have (in the face of all evidence)?
  • What unconscious negative thoughts do you associate with sitting down to write? What level of shame? Are you willing to let them go?
  • How can you actually prioritize writing instead of just say you do?
  • Where have you lied to yourself about your own productivity over the years, and how little do you now trust yourself?

Telling the truth about these things is transformative. So transformative that one participant wrote a whole blog post about it!

“In the last couple of months, I completed my book revisions and wrote two articles. And submitted all of them. And as I wrote, I became happier with what I was writing and could relax and enjoy the meandering process of deep thinking through writing that inevitably takes me to unexpected places. And also, as I wrote, particularly through the book revisions in my response to the readers’ comments, I found a stronger and more confident voice. I learnt a whole bunch of ways to keep the feelings of overwhelm under control, which feels particularly timely, as I’m on my first year of a full-time job.

So thank you Kellee and everyone in this group for all the advice, sharing, and support. This has been transformative.”

And that is perhaps the most important gift of this course: Unstuck provides a supportive, caring community; so instead of the isolation and despondency that characterizes so much of academic life, participants are surrounded by fellow academics at every rank who are facing similar challenges AND encouraging one another through the process. That community is particularly valuable for those who struggle to balance their writing with family stressors, excessive service, and a deep-seated inability to say no.

To my eye, watching all this from the sidelines, Unstuck is just very, very… human, and perfectly reflects its creator:  warm, supportive, creative, and responsive.

It doesn’t rest on cookie-cutter advice; it gives each individual the tools to reach their own inner motivations.  This is, in my mind, its most meaningful attribute, and I think it is for clients too:

“Kellee, thanks for making me feel respected/valued as an individual and not just one among many clients. I love that you’re genuine in all your responses to individual questions and not just providing generic advice like some other academic productivity companies.”

The details:

The Unstuck program is a series of 12 modules of 5 units each (60 in total) that use videos, small targeted assignments, worksheets, and a variety of provocations and inspirations  – along with membership in a Facebook community of supportive fellow-travelers – to guide you in confronting your own fears about and barriers to writing.

Through these means, Unstuck helps you identify your places of blockage honestly, and it shows your how to lay down new cognitive “tracks” related to writing.  It helps you set realistic, attainable goals, and acknowledge and celebrate small achievements. And it gives you solutions to the inevitable setbacks and anxieties.

Here is a sample unit (Day 1, step 1):

“Welcome to Day 1, Step 1…”

You can also check out the free webinar Kellee did last week, teaching some of the key strategies of Unstuck.

So, if you’re ready to face your writing demons, and jump start your writing life, please consider signing up for Unstuck. It’s a very good thing.

 

#MakeupMonday: The Most Important Makeup Product – Guest Post

Guest Post by TPII Editor and Post-ac Coach Dr. Laura Graham

Laura Graham is on the editing and post-ac consulting team at The Professor Is In. She is passionate about social justice, animal rescue, and skin cancer awareness. She is a skin cancer survivor and advocate for increased awareness of the dangers of UV radiation exposure.

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Spring has sprung here in Memphis, TN, and apart from the fun experience of fighting off allergies from pollen overload, I am spring cleaning my makeup bag – in particular, my sunblock. You read that correctly – sunblock is makeup! I would argue that it is the most important makeup item in my kit. So, today I want to share some of my favorite sunblock brands and why it’s so important to make this a regular part of your skin care regimen.

Just after my 30th birthday in 2014, I began to notice what looked like a pimple on my back near my bra-line. I didn’t give it a lot of thought until several months later in May (Skin Cancer Awareness Month!) when I was flipping through a magazine that had a feature on how to spot the ABCDE’s of skin cancer. I was flipping through the photos of basal cell carcinomas when it suddenly dawned on me that my “pimple” that hadn’t gone away for over 8 months wasn’t a pimple at all, but could be a BCC skin cancer. I picked up the phone immediately and called the dermatologist’s to make an appointment. A few days later, my fears were confirmed when the biopsy revealed that I had a BCC skin cancer and the doctor wanted to cauterize it immediately to prevent the tumor from spreading.

This news was shocking. I was a 30 year old caucasian female with olive skin and dark hair who spent most of my 20s in Ireland where there is no sun. Not exactly in a high risk group for skin cancer. My dermatologist was surprised, too, and asked if I had ever used tanning beds. And then the source of my skin cancer was revealed. I had, in fact, used tanning beds regularly as a teenager. As it turns out, teenagers are at an increased risk for harmful exposure to UV radiation and tanning beds are one of the culprits for this increase in skin cancers among young people. I was devastated to learn that having just one BCC diagnosis increases your risk by 50% of developing more BCCs over the course of your life. And that’s exactly what happened.

In 2016, another pimple appeared on my face between my eyebrows.

One week before Moh’s surgery

If you look closely in this photo, you might be able to see it. If not, you’re not the only one. A team of dermatologists thought this new lesion was probably a cyst. It wasn’t. And this time, I had to undergo Moh’s surgery to have the cyst removed. The result of this painful surgery can be seen in the photos below.

 

 

 

 

 

One day after surgery: Several stitches and 2 black eyes

 

 

And can I just say that at the age of 32, the last thing I wanted was a large surgical scar right in the middle of my face. Especially while I was on the job market. Just a month after the surgery, I flew to Dublin, Ireland for a campus visit interview at Trinity College Dublin. Thankfully the search committee could see past the hideous scar on my face and hired me.

One week after removal of sutures

 

 

Since 2016, I have had 6 laser treatments (costing over $3000) on my surgical scar to reduce its size and improve the appearance. The photo below shows what fraxel laser treatment does to the skin after a treatment.

 

 

 

 

Post fraxel laser treatment

 

However, in 2017, I had a third BCC diagnosis. This time on my upper eyelid. I won’t even get into how painful that was to remove. Thankfully, I found a plastic surgeon opthamologist (yes, that’s a thing) in Memphis, TN that was able to remove the tumor with only a tiny scar on my lid and two forever lost eyelashes.

 

 

 

 

BCC tumor removal from eyelid and one black eye

 

While I can’t do anything to repair past sun damage that will inevitably lead to more BCC skin cancers (not to mention increased risk for melanomas, requiring biannual trips to the dermatologist) I can prevent future sun damage. Since 2014, I have increasingly improved my defenses to dangerous UV radiation by wearing hats and sunglasses while outside to protect my scalp, ears, and eyelids (areas not easily covered by sunblock creams). Did I mention that the vast majority of BCC skin cancers occur on the head? When I go to the beach, I now have a beach tent and umbrella, as well as SPF bathing suit and SPF sunglasses. And finally, I use a daily skin care regimen that includes high SPF sunblock.

 

So what do I use?

After many bottles of cheaper drug store creams and moisturizers that ranged from truly terrible to somewhat tolerable, I discovered a few brands that work really well for me and don’t leave my skin greasy, with white streaks, or break out my skin (I had adult acne until very recently). So here are my go-to facial sunblock moisturizers that I wear every

Elta MD Broad Spectrum SPF 46 Facial Sunscreen ~$25 per 1.7 oz

I absolutely love this product. I buy it tinted because it suits my complexion and  looks like foundation. I regret that it doesn’t come in any other tinted tones besides what is clearly marketed for caucasian skin, but it does also come in untinted. I also really like that it feels like a moisturizer and leaves a nice glow on my skin. It is not greasy, it doesn’t clog my pores. Like all SPF products, it is recommended that you reapply every few hours. I’m not an expert on SPF ingredients, but this product uses zinc oxide which is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation to protect against UVA and UVB radiation. If you’re not sure what ingredients to look for in your SPF, have a look at the Skin Cancer Foundation’s recommendations for sunblock. For me, this product is pretty close to perfect.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Daily SPF 50 Primer ~ $40 per 40 ml

This is a pricier product with a different secondary purpose. For those of you who love primer (I know I do), this sunblock acts like a primer to fill in any lines or crevices in the face before you put on your makeup. I use Benefit’s Porefessional Primer on my scar before applying sunblock because it fills in the dimple pretty well. This sunblock is a mattifying product, so no glossy shine with this one like Elta MD. This product is oil free and non-comedogenic, so it isn’t greasy and won’t break out your skin. I like using this as a primer on days when I plan to wear foundation. La Roche-Posay also has other facial sunblocks that are tinted and similar to the Elta MD sunblock. What I don’t like about this product, besides its hefty price tag is that it doesn’t contain zinc oxide. But again, I’m not an expert on sunblock ingredients (maybe some of our readers are experts and can share their insights in the comments).

Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Matte Tint Sunscreen   ~ $36 per 1.7 oz

I love Coola sunblock products. They are silky smooth and usually smell like the cucumber water that you get at fancy spas. And maybe why it’s so pricey. What I love about this product is that it goes on smooth, isn’t oily, and contains shea butter, which is just fabulous for skin and hair. You can also get this sunblock in a variety of fragrances, including cucumber, citrus mimosa, or unscented. Much like EltaMD, you can get a tinted version that’s suitable for caucasian skin tones. This product uses titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are excellent ingredients for broad spectrum sunscreen. The only thing I don’t like about this product is that it doesn’t come in an SPF higher than 30, which is really the minimum SPF you want to wear to protect your skin. So, I have to reapply more frequently. It also isn’t very sweat resistant, which isn’t great for Memphis summers where it can get down-right swampy.

A recent “makeup free” selfie for International Women’s Day

Wearing sunblock on a daily basis has completely changed my relationship with my skin and face. When I was younger, I never wore much makeup. I had great olive toned skin that didn’t need foundation or highlighters. As I’ve entered my thirties and developed multiple skin cancers, I am so much more mindful of the importance of taking care of my skin. I actively seek out products that will protect my skin barrier against harmful UV radiation and other dangerous substances. And surprisingly, despite my multiple skin cancer scars, I appreciate the natural beauty of my skin. I no longer look in the mirror and wish I could change what I see. I purposefully make a mental note of what I like about my skin and face. So in a way, my skin cancer diagnoses have been a lesson in self-love and self-care.

I’d love to hear from our readers. What products are you using to protect yourself from sun damage? What experiences have you had with skin cancer?

 

Sad Thursdays: The Student Perspective on Academic Hiring Practices (in Anthropological Archaeology)

I am delighted to host this guest post, contributed by the following group of graduate student authors from the Anthropology department at the University of Georgia: K.C. Jones, Travis Jones, Matthew Colvin, Justin Cramb, Katharine Napora, Katherine Reinberger, and Brandon T. Ritchison.  These students are part of an initiative in the department led by Professors Jeff Speakman and Victor Thompson, to tell the unvarnished truth about the academic job market. Professor Speakman actually contacted me last year to let me know about their professionalization work in the department, which I support wholeheartedly.  Together they conducted a study that showed the inequities of hiring: the vast majority of TT jobs go to Ph.D.s from just a handful of institutions.  Here is the abstract of the paper summarizing their study:

Over the past 30 years, the number of US doctoral anthropology graduates has increased by about 70%, but there has not been a corresponding increase in the availability of new faculty positions. Consequently, doctoral degree-holding archaeologists face more competition than ever before when applying for faculty positions. Here we examine where US and Canadian anthropological archaeology faculty originate and where they ultimately end up teaching. Using data derived from the 2014–2015 AnthroGuide, we rank doctoral programs whose graduates in archaeology have been most successful in the academic job market; identify long-term and ongoing trends in doctoral programs; and discuss gender division in academic archaeology in the US and Canada. We conclude that success in obtaining a faculty position upon graduation is predicated in large part on where one attends graduate school.

The faculty-student collaboration has led to two publications: the first, a faculty perspective on academic hiring practices in anthropological archaeology, and the second, a co-authored paper by the graduate students, published in American Antiquity, “Choosing a Path to the Ancient World in a Modern Market: The Reality of Faculty Jobs in Archaeology.”

Today’s guest post is a reflective commentary by the authors of the latter paper, which was recently selected by the Society for American Archaeology as their paper of the month.  It will be free to download for the month of March via Cambridge University Press. I encourage you all to check it out.  I’m pleased to give these pieces a wider platform. Although it would put me out of a job, I’d love to see ALL departments in ALL fields work this proactively to expose students to the truth of academic hiring.

Back row (left to right): Travis Jones, Justin Cramb, and Matthew Colvin
Front row (left to right): KC Jones, Katharine Napora, Brandon Ritchison, and Katherine Reinberger
Backdrop: Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS) Accelerated Mass Spectrometry Laboratory at the University of Georgia.

 

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In Fall 2016, a group of grad students (us) and professors from the University of Georgia co-authored a study exploring the realities of the academic job market in anthropological archaeology. This study evolved out of professional development seminar discussions on the “myths” vs. realities of the TT job hunt. We often (lovingly, we promise) called our meetings the “doom and gloom” seminar, or, “sad Thursdays.” This lab group broke with the ivory tower tradition of providing empty, yet comforting assurances to grad students- a divergence no doubt familiar to fellow readers of this blog. Our lab group instructors, Drs. Speakman and Thompson, instead opted for transparency on our chances of finding an academic job. Our goal was to wade through the anecdotes- the good, bad, and ugly- and quantify our own chances of landing one of those coveted TT positions. These results probably wouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with Dr. Karen’s writings on humanities graduate education or her CHE column, but we were still desperately hanging on to the stubborn notion that “a TT job miracle will happen for me when I need it most.

Using data from NSF and the American Anthropological Association’s 2014-2015 AnthroGuide, our results indicate that from 1995 to 2014, fewer than 20% of PhDs got TT positions at US and Canadian institutions. Among those fortunate few, over half (56%) received their doctorates from just twenty institutions out of the 100+ included in the study. Most of these twenty universities have controlled majority market share (which we have defined as the percentage of tenured/tenure-track positions in US and Canadian anthropology and archaeology departments that are attained by graduates of a specific program over a 20-year period) in the archaeological faculty job market since 1995 (or earlier). This is by no means a phenomenon unique to the social sciences. The truth is that universities are turning out far too many PhDs for the market to handle. The neoliberal platitude about “pulling on one’s own bootstraps,” arguing that hard work, and hard work alone, will get you that academic job doesn’t actually resemble the reality quantified in our study.

One of the questions driving our research was: Do program name and reputation contribute to employment success? (TL;DR- yes, yes it does) By why is this, exactly? Upon closer inspection of the data, many of the Tier I programs (the top ten universities placing graduates students into tenure-track positions) have healthy endowments that provide internal funding for graduate student research. We would argue that, in part, the success of these programs stems from the opportunities afforded by better access to funding and research facilities, and the opportunities that arise from the institutional reputation that is perpetuated through access to reliable funding—a self-perpetuating cycle of prestige. And, with such a small number of institutions holding the majority share of tenure-track faculty positions, it is also likely that alumni of these universities attain a disproportionate share of grant dollars provided by national funding agencies. With grant monies and faculty positions, top schools are afforded dominant roles in the theoretical trajectories of the entire discipline.

With this information available to prospective graduate students, how should one choose a graduate program if they’re committed to the tenure-track career path? Besides coming to the table with more than a little luck, we suggest that “success in landing a faculty position begins the moment one applies for graduate school” (Speakman et. al 2018: 10). Taking our data at face value, it suggests that if one aspires to an academic position, they should consider universities that dominate the academic market (again, no surprises here). However, some programs with lower market share may produce fewer doctorates, but may have higher relative success in placing those graduates into TT positions (and as students in a Tier III program, we’re reallllllly hanging onto this). We also can’t ignore individual grad student agency! Attaining a tenure-track position still largely depends on the person and their productivity while in grad school. A degree from a top program isn’t worth much if you don’t have the chops to get some papers out before you graduate and nail a job talk, but we can’t overlook the obvious advantages that result from holding a doctorate from one of these programs.

Our data also show that there are several “rising” programs in the lower tiers that have been successfully increasing their relative market share over the course of our study period. We would argue that some of these programs are finding success because they offer alternative models focused on specialized training (e.g., in the archaeological sciences, maritime archaeology, public archaeology, etc.) that provide diversified alternative skill sets for graduates entering the job market.

This study isn’t intended to cast aspersions on non-academic career paths or programs. Our goal is quite the contrary–we would encourage all departments to develop courses that focus on alternatives to academic careers. Modern graduate training should emphasize the value of “non-academic” skills and alternatives to academic training. As grad students in the social sciences, we’ve been conditioned to anticipate the precarities of the academic job market. But, more often than not, these warnings never translate into actual advice for obtaining gainful employment in the academy. We have found that the information needed to prepare ourselves for our eventual (likely painful) job search came through the mentorship of faculty who decided not to turn a blind eye to the declining state of the job market following their own successful passage through the gauntlet (although we note that only one of our two instructors is TT/tenured). Just as importantly as dedicated mentorship, programs should invest in mentally preparing students to accept that non-academic careers are equally as rewarding as the tenure-track. We hope that our work helps not only us, but the multitudes of current and future students who, with the right perspective and strategy can land the jobs and careers they most want, academic or otherwise.

 

They’re Not Quitting! Reclaiming a Genre – a #Postac Guest Post

KK:  I encountered Ian Saxine’s writing on Facebook and invited him to submit a guest post.  I am delighted that he has.  I encourage you to read and share this.

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by Ian Saxine, Ph.D.

Ian Saxine is a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Alfred University. He received his PhD from Northwestern University, and has also been a VAP at Bates College and St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he taught a range of courses, particularly in colonial and Native American history. He’s finishing his first book project, Properties of Empire, out in 2019, exploring the relationship between Indigenous power and the colonial quest for landed property on the Maine frontier.

He loves history—his hobbies include reading about historical eras outside of his specialty—but is tired of moving.

He tweets sparingly: @MainelyHistory

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This is not a hot take on Erin Bartram’s much read—and even more needed—essay, “Sublimated Grief of the Left Behind.” That essay stands wonderfully and poignantly on its own. I read it right before lecturing, and my students asked me who died.  I suspect I’m not the only educator who had that experience.

Instead, this is a reflection on many of the responses to the piece, which I’d argue is revealing in a different way. I broke one of life’s most important rules and read the comments, as well as other responses in other forums like Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Ed. And much of the response was thoughtful. What surprised me, though, even more than the fact that so many non-horrifying comments appeared on a thoughtful blog, was how so many writers from Inside Higher Ed on down have persisted in calling the piece “quit lit.”

In fairness, the label is often accompanied by a the qualifier “a new kind of” or something of that nature, but nevertheless the fact remains that many (presumably academic) readers keep resorting to that category for Bartram’s piece.

But why do we (and by “we” I mean academics, and, speaking for myself, historians still on the visiting track, a year behind Bartram in the great junior academic life cycle) insist on labeling this genre of writing quit lit? Especially Bartram’s, since she says herself, she’s not quitting. Bartram wants to keep teaching and researching, but nobody will pay her a living wage to do it. Or if someone will, they want her to move to an unincorporated census tract in western Nebraska to teach a 4/4 load for 9 months, and then they’re cutting her off.

So why again do we insist on calling this quit lit? (And now by “we” I especially mean historians?) Why can’t we come up with a better short hand for: there are no jobs available that will pay Bartram and many more like her a living wage because they have been replaced by poorly paid adjunct positions. They stopped paying her? I’m wedded to nothing, but we can do better than “quit lit.”

Historians are far from the only scholars in this position, but we have the least excuse for the linguistic weasel words. Throughout graduate school we bang on about how words matter, and you don’t use the passive voice because it obscures agency, and you don’t say things like “racial tensions” to describe Jim Crow when “state-backed white supremacy” are more accurate. Then we spend our waking hours telling undergraduates the same thing. We also know what is happening. We teach and read and write about the series of decisions we as a society have made since the Second World War that have undermined labor and privatized so much of American life.

When I’m being charitable, I ask myself if we call this “quitting” because we think we’re being nice to someone. “They didn’t leave you, you broke up with them!” Or, maybe, this is a way of telling ourselves we still have “agency.” (Historians love agency.) Bartram therefore made a choice to leave, rather than being forced out because no one will pay her money to do what she does best.

When I’m being uncharitable, which is often the case these days, I suspect that framing work—and experiences—like Bartram’s as “quitting” is a way of deflecting responsibility. If Bartram quit, she just gave up. If she had only hung on for another year, or two, or three, she’d land that tenure track job. Then no one has to talk about how there are many, many terribly paying teaching jobs out there, and that this isn’t just about too many people and not enough chairs when the music stops.

Least charitably of all, labeling Bartram’s piece as “quit lit” lets tenured scholars sitting atop an exploitative system off the hook for helping eliminate the possibility of her having a decently paying career to begin with. Yes, yes, I know, #notalltenuredscholars.

I don’t have solutions to offer. (Historians are terrible at solutions.) But it seems to me that our collective mindset in which we insist on saying someone like Erin Bartram “quit” or “gave up” is one in which we’ve given up hope that we can make things better.

I don’t judge Bartram for her decision to not play the exhausting and degrading game that is the visiting track for any longer. We all have to make that call when the time comes. But maybe if we stop calling her experience “quit lit,” and what she’s doing “quitting,” and instead call it what it is: driven out, then maybe we’ll make it easier for the people who are able and choose to stay and fight, to actually achieve something.

Bartram herself mentioned she worked to unionize her colleagues. And “collective bargaining” is not a term that I was able to find on the website of the American Historical Association, of which I am still a member in good standing. But maybe if the AHA and other scholarly organizations faced the reality openly said on a regular basis that people like Bartram are not merely choosing to “follow diverse career paths,” in the words of Jim Grossman, our president, but are rather being replaced by minimum-wage level workers, that might pave the way for a more widespread mobilization of contingent faculty labor.

It’s 2018. Lots of good people are upset and getting up to do something about grotesque excesses of a new Gilded Age in American life. The least we can do is admit, whenever we discuss it, that Bartram’s (and mine, and your) situation is a part of that.

When you think about it, calling Bartram’s piece “quit lit” is actually about encouraging more people to stop trying to fix the problems in front of us.  Personally, I’m not ready for that yet.

 

Negotiating As Therapy

Negotiating Assistance is some of my favorite work. I love it when clients prevail and get jobs, but mostly what I love is to help them over that final hump of asking for what they deserve, and putting a monetary price tag on their own value.  This is really deep work for them and me, both, and I feel this way more and more the longer that I do it.

As the years of Negotiating Assistance have gone by, I’ve come to identify patterns of client reactions to the negotiating process.  Some leap in gleefully with both feet, and quickly grasp the principles of confident and forthright (while still collegial) negotiating communications that I espouse. When those clients write their negotiating email drafts, I inevitably respond, “wow, well done! You’re good at this!”

But most times I do not.  Most clients write excessively anxious, weak, over-diffident email drafts, and also insist to me, in varying levels of anxiety and distress, “I can’t ask for that; that’s too much; I’m going too far; I need to stop here; I’m afraid to alienate them; I give up.”

To all of which I reply, “I will tell you what is too much. And these things, which I’ve just approved, are not.  I will tell you when you need to give up; that time has not yet come.”

Basics of Negotiating

To reiterate some basics: in nearly all cases, negotiating is expected and embraced.  It builds rather than harms collegial relationships, and lays a powerful foundation for a hire’s success in the department.* The things I approve/endorse are always finely, delicately, painstakingly calibrated to the rank and type of institution, the field, the geographical location, and the nature of the job. I won’t repeat my negotiating advice here, as it’s available in many other places (see here, here, here and here, as well as the three chapters on the subject in my book, and the excellent webinar recording: How to Negotiate An Academic Job Offer), but basically all negotiations are individual and local, and as long as you understand the parameters of the possible for any given context, you can reliably expect (within certain limitations) to increase your offer.

However, I’ve come to understand that clients’ unwillingness to negotiate reflects not just the standard academic resistance to attaching monetary value to scholarly work, but deeper issues that touch core issues of self-worth, sense of identity, and feelings of legitimacy as a scholar.  Negotiating also touches on and sometimes triggers enduring anxieties of gender, race and class.  Anyone coming from a marginalized subject position in the academy will struggle more to feel entitled to insist on gains in negotiations.  And as time has passed, I’ve come to think of my work with Negotiating clients as a kind of therapy.  Let me explain.

 

Women Struggle, Especially Women of Color

It goes without saying that women struggle to negotiate the most.  Women, socialized by a lifetime of being “less than,” virtually never easily ask for the things to which they are entitled, without a great deal of encouragement and support through our work together.  The process of working with me becomes a process of confronting the highly gendered fear of being seen as an improper woman, and an unacceptable human who has overstepped the bounds of “correct” behavior.  This is magnified, of course, for women of color. As one black woman client wrote,

As you know, I was negotiating with a school with very little wiggle room. I feel that I was walking on eggshells much of the time, trying to avoid annoying them with the ‘wrong’ request.

Another black woman client said:

“I could literally hear myself thinking, “They’re offering me something great, something that a lot of other people would like to have. I should take it.” Learning to say no, to ask again, and to ask for more, wasn’t just about getting my career off to the right start. It also required addressing an old habit: taking whatever’s handed to me without complaint.”

I know that cultural elements can also intervene, in a range of ways, with clients from some regions socialized to extreme diffidence, and others trained to push hard. Both extremes are problematic in a US negotiating context.

First generation scholars struggle as well:

“I am the first person in my family to get a PhD and am the first to enter into academe. My mother was a first generation college student and my father did not complete high school. I’m sure there are plenty of other young academics in similar boats, but what I found striking about negotiating was that I didn’t have anyone in my close, immediate circle to whom I could turn to for advice about the process’s ins and outs. People close to me could offer moral support, but when it came to advising me about what I might ask for, how to navigate this dance, I needed support from people who ranged from professional consultants (like you!) to a range of advisers in my department. It took me back to many, many academic and professional experiences where I have had to not just navigate the system, but learn it from the ground up.”

This pattern is based on what I call women’s codependent over-investment in emotional labor and relationship work. An international client shared her anxieties:

I feel that, if I am happy about the offer, not negotiating could be beneficial. That will not only avoid the risk of the rescinded offer but will make it easier for me to start a good relationship with the chair…. I want to prioritize making a good impression or not making a greedy impression to those who will work with me, rather than increasing the money.” (bolding added)

When I encounter this kind of emotional issue, I confront it  head on. To the client above, I wrote back: “It’s not greedy to ask for the support you need for your work!”

 

You Can Ask

And so, with all negotiating clients, once we’ve worked together for some days, and laid a foundation of trust,  I directly address the emotional or psychological barriers that I see emerging that are stopping them from asking for everything to which I *know* they are entitled.  In other words, I don’t just adjust and edit their too-modest asks and anxieties about the process. I actually stop and remark on what I see as the emotional or psychological underpinnings of the asks and the anxieties.

To many clients I write versions of this:

This level of codependency and diffidence will set a bad precedent for the rest of your career at XX; the negotiating exchange sets the tone of your time to come as a colleague, so take care how you engage.

While sometimes it feels odd to make such blunt and psychologizing responses to people I don’t actually know except through email, I also feel a strong ethical obligation to do so, because I know that I’m catching some of the purest and most unadulterated expressions of the Imposter Syndrome, etc. that is so universally destructive to women, particularly women of color, in the academic career. So to ignore the signs now is to miss a critical chance to intervene.

One of the black women clients quoted above remarked:

“I do think the process triggered quite a bit of imposter syndrome. I might even go as far as saying the most I’ve encountered thus far. As far as the school I negotiated with goes, there is a feeling that my failure to ask for specific things will mark me as ignorant of things that any competent professional in the field would know, and this triggered a fear of my being seen as an easy target to take advantage of that may haunt me for years (I’m still dealing with that).”

 

It Will Be Hard

I’m not saying the process of confronting this is easy.  Some hiring departments, intentionally or not, employ high-pressure methods and rushed timelines that fuel new hire anxiety, which is especially brutalizing to codependent women hires:

“the very short timeline they gave me (which limited or prevented my ability to negotiate with other schools) had left me questioning my decisions. In this way, I feel like the process actually introduced new feelings of insecurity about the offer that I accepted and the things that I asked for”

In these cases I always respond:

Don’t allow them to hassle you for a quick response!  Allowing yourself to feel frazzled and rushed is part of the gendered codependent pattern. It’s good practice for the rest of your career  to be aware of that.”

One WOC client shared her experience (bolding added):

“After conferring with you, I wrote the initial negotiating email and it was the hardest 10 lines I’ve written.   I kept erasing and re-wording and making sure I was using nice language, and being grateful. As an immigrant and a person of color, being grateful and sounding reverential had been chiseled into of me.

“Although I had read all the stuff on how not to act like a woman in the negotiation process, that’s exactly what I was doing, and I knew it. No matter how much I told myself not to, it was hard for me to change my tone. You pushed me to include ‘in recognition of my xx publications, yyy grant awards, zzz, I request a salary of…”‘You told me to ask for more research funds and a higher signing bonus.   ‘You are entitled to ask for more!’ you to wrote me. On some level, I knew what you were saying was true. But on a deeper level, I was scared out of my mind and didn’t actually believe it.”

My women clients frequently tell me that they feel physically ill after just composing the kind of negotiating email mentioned here, let alone after pushing “send” on it.  The client above continued:

“After the email was finalized, I finally submitted it to the university. As the minutes ticked by, I wanted to write to them ‘Just kidding! You don’t need to offer me more. I’ll sign!’

It took everything in me not to email them again. I kept checking my email every two minutes. They didn’t reply until the next day, and I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. ‘They’re going to think I’m ungrateful,’ I kept thinking. They’re going to think I’m greedy.’”

But here was the result:

“They not only upped my research funds, gave me a large signing bonus, for not one but two years, and upped my salary by more than 10%, but they wanted to make sure I was okay with this new offer. In short, they expected to be negotiating with me. This was completely normal.”

 

Sometimes Your Offer Is Disappointing

To be sure, on occasion my therapeutic interventions can go in the other direction as well. Sometimes clients will go into high dudgeon about receiving “too little,” and tell me they feel wounded and offended.  In one case, a client complained about needing “another win” to make a small college offer acceptable.  This was my response:

“I don’t really get this “need another win” language.  This is a normal negotiation for this level of school.  You have already “won” the lottery by getting a tt job.  There is some money for you as startup, and other money available once you get there.  It’s your own attitude that is making this a problem, not the offer.  Sorry to be blunt, but, seriously, you need to get a grip.”

Believe me, I know how hard it is to properly evaluate things in a chaotic academic job market where any offer at all can feel like a lifeline from drowning, but where most advisors are unable to provide anything resembling realistic advice.

It was a horrible year in the job market, worse than I’d seen in the past few years that I had been applying to things. I was afraid of pushing for more, and I was already being offered more than I thought I would ever be getting.

“The competitiveness of the job market, and seeing lots of highly qualified friends and colleagues have no options, fed the guilt I had about turning great offers down.”

 

Clueless Advisors Don’t Help

 

I take my role particularly seriously with my clients, because I know that their departmental peers and advisors are not always helpful.

I knew, given everything I’ve read, that you don’t accept an initial offer, no matter how good it can be. I began searching online for tips on how not to fall into the gender wage gap by negotiating a higher salary. But nothing I read gave me a real sense of how to do this in the academic world. I knew I was supposed to negotiate, I just didn’t know how. I reached out to my former graduate school advisors, and as wonderful as they are, they didn’t offer any specifics on how to negotiate per se.”

Some advisors are actually dangerously ignorant about the appropriate scope for any given negotiation at small schools with entirely different financial parameters than the R1s at which they work and train Ph.D.s:

“The other side of this comes from my advisors, who, in response to the time issue told me ‘they don’t want you badly enough’ (which I don’t/didn’t at all think was true [KK: I can vouch this was entirely untrue]). They also showed visible disappointment after hearing how much I was able to negotiate salary-wise.”

Honestly, how dare any advisor show DISAPPOINTMENT about any advisee’s tenure track offer, regardless of the terms?  But they do. Because they are ignorant and entitled.

Indeed, advisors can cause real harm with their irresponsible advice.  One client with an offer at a tiny regional college told me she didn’t need to negotiate for various things because her advisors had told her to either turn down the job or only accept it with the expectation of moving to a “better, R1 job” after one year, making the idea of progressing to tenure at such a school “meaningless” to her. I replied:

“Your advisers are behaving unethically. Of course you should accept this job! There is no question of that. But in terms of expecting to move on: the vast, vast majority of PhD‘s get only one job offer in their lifetime. Getting any job offer is winning the lottery. You cannot ever assume that you will be able to move. You should not make any decision based on that assumption. Your advisers are wrong to encourage you to do that. That is elitist and out of touch advising and it gives advisees like you an unrealistic sense of your own mobility and career prospects. This has nothing to do with your individual record or potential productivity, it is simply a reflection of a job market in almost total collapse.”

To which the client first responded:  “I’m just processing all of your points, and because it’s a little jolting (emotionally)….”

Before coming back a day later:  “I appreciate everything you’ve explained. It teaches me more about how to read what’s happening in this professional context (which is sometimes totally illegible to me)….”

As we all know, Ph.D. advisors tend to be particularly poor at coping with their advisees’ emotional challenges.  Advising  can be especially fraught for people of color, where success might be attributed by white advisors and peers to affirmative action:

“Early in the year, one of my colleagues said they were reading the jobs Wiki. I shared that I wasn’t. I didn’t want the ulcer I assumed it would cause. But, I did ask him what folks said, what he learned. His reply: That most of the positions in our field were going to women of color. As a woman of color, it made me uncomfortable and glad I didn’t read the Wiki. I could still remember the sting of a peer saying, after I landed a fellowship in the department, “Ah, so you’re the new affirmative action hire.” He patted me on the back. “Just kidding.” Not really, and also that wasn’t the first time someone had commented on my race in regards to a new job or position. It was impossible to leave these feelings behind in the negotiation process. I knew that what was negotiating a great job, for me, was for some an example of how I was hired primarily to diversify a department’s ranks.”

 

 

Negotiations Set the Tone For Your Job

For all the reasons I’ve noted, negotiating is the point in the job market process where a new hire’s identity becomes absolutely central to the process, in ways that can trigger emotional responses that may not be entirely rational, or even conscious.

And so the work of negotiating can touch on deep questions of motivation and self-worth.  Even those with confidence can find it daunting, but the process for those who lack confidence, and/or come from a place of gender, race, class, or other anxieties can be absolutely debilitating.

But the stakes of doing so are immense:

“Ever since that experience, I learned, just by being coached about how to write an email like this that put a monetary value on my work, that my work was valuable. I always thought about my work as valuable in some sort of intellectual way. But never in a monetary way.”

“In college one of my friends told me, “No is a love word.” This was a complete revelation to me. I was used to saying yes to every challenge put before me and over-performing and over-compensating to make other people happy. The benefit of being able to pull this off is that, on one hand, I did great academic work and a lot of it. On the other, I didn’t know how to set a boundary and my sense of professional self-worth was wrapped up in how much I got done and what other people in my field thought of me. In negotiating, one of the emotional challenges was realizing it’s OK to say no”

And so, when I help clients negotiate, once we’ve laid a solid groundwork of trust in one another and in the offer process (ie, that I trust the institution is invested in good faith negotiation), I foreground emotional issues that I see arise, treating the work as a kind of therapy.

As I said, these emotional issues impact your entire career  moving forward, and the negotiation is far from the last time you’ll need to ask for what you want. In fact, it may well just be the first in a lifetime of other moments. As the client above wrote,

“Ever since this experience with you, I now ask for honorariums when I’m invited to give a talk, and ask to be paid to write when a non-academic publication asks for my analysis. Theoretically, I always knew that I had to do this, but I never knew how, nor did I have the confidence to do so. Sometimes, all it takes is someone giving you the words to demand that your work be valued. And reminding you ‘you are entitled to ask for more!’”

 

Conclusion

So, if you work with me, be prepared!  I may get all up into your feelings at some point in our work!  I want to hear from you if you sense impulses within yourself that are holding you back from insisting on your value, and stating your needs. (In fact, I’m linking this very blog post as one of the required readings of Negotiating Assistance work moving forward.)

No matter what, negotiations are often transformative: they allow you to understand your value on the market–for better or worse!  Usually, you find you can ask for much more than you imagined; occasionally, you do have to be told you can expect less. But either way, knowledge, in this case, is truly power.

As another client with whom I worked put it so beautifully:

“I do think the process is incredibly transformative… there’s a deeper emotional shift that radiates into other dimensions of life…personal, familial, creative. We spend so much of our time in academia feeling afraid of being crushed by the institutional machine. This is a rare moment where the playing field levels. We gain insight into the inner workings and as a result are able to focus our energies on other, more interesting of life’s mysteries.”

 

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*There are such things as rescinded offers. I encounter 1-2 per year, usually.  In general the warning signs are visible, and we can take steps to avoid this terrible outcome.

 

Leaving the Academy: A View From a Creative Field (A Postac Guest Post)

Dr. Richard Graham is our newest post-ac coach.  He has a Ph.D. in Music Technology, and is dedicated in particular to helping those in creative fields make the transition to industry. He will be contributing a three-part series of posts to the blog. This is his first.

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Richard’s Bio: I am a guitarist, music producer and former academic from Northern Ireland. I received my PhD from Ulster University in 2012 and I am now the CEO of music technology, Delta Sound Labs, in the United States. My work in the music industry spans guitar and computer-based performance, music production, synchronizations for TV, film and video games and music education outside of higher-level institutions. My company focuses on the development of hardware and software for creatives, with a specific interest in modular synthesis and audio effects plugins and has recently engaged in projects at the Technicolor Experience Center in Los Angeles and Stax Music Academy in Memphis. I maintain a personal website for personal music projects and research at http://rickygraham.com and my company website is located at http://deltasoundlabs.com.

Twitter: @rickygraham

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Leaving academia was, unsurprisingly, difficult. It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. It happened gradually over a number of years.

I was fortunate enough to walk out of a PhD straight into a tenure-track job with a decent salary and benefits. The first few years were incredibly tough, but as time went on, things improved. I received more support for research, as well as pre-tenure course releases to permit adequate time to publish and present my creative work. I built a pretty solid tenure portfolio and had some great references lined up for my tenure case. I had the full support of my fellow faculty members and the Dean. Everything was set for success.

Concurrently, my wife Laura, also a professor, and I were experiencing the two-body problem. We had three house payments in two continents and spent three months apart from one another due to working on separate continents. It was a pretty ridiculous situation to be in after five years of attempting to find work in the same city, which shouldn’t have been unrealistic given our job locations (New York and Boston). We’d had enough and decided to reset in her home state of Tennessee to be closer to her family. So far, notwithstanding some transitional teething issues, this was the right choice for us. The cost of living is much better and we are near her family. We even have lunch together on a regular basis. The quality of life has drastically improved by tearing off the bandaid and forcing simplification without too many guarantees.

Was this easy? No. The sunken-cost of time invested was difficult to set aside. My final year on the tenure-track was easily the best of the bunch. I was teaching an enjoyable graduate course online and presenting my work at institutions all over Europe. My work environment had steadily improved over the years and that only made the departure process more difficult. The turning point for me was when I sat down and really thought about what making tenure would really mean for me. Did I actually want to be a tenured professor? Did I want to succeed at something and see it through to the end? Sure, but not at the expense of my happiness and family. At that point, my teaching load and research support was finally sufficient, but if I were to make tenure, I would propel towards increased administrative and teaching duties with less time for creative projects and less research support as I would no longer be considered a priority. I didn’t care about the title or stature. I wanted my time back and I wanted to feel less pressure in my life.

The cost of living was also a factor. There was simply no longevity in a salary that wasn’t commensurate with the cost of living. We could barely afford to rent in the same town as my university, never mind entertain the idea of a mortgage payment. Each year we watched as our lease renewal included a more than $100 a month increase in rent. Even if I had successfully achieved tenure, the jump in salary would still be insufficient to offset the exponential rise in the cost of living. That was no one’s fault but my own, of course. I accepted the salary without knowing how best to negotiate for higher pay. I knew nothing of the area going into the job, the cost of living, or prospects for property investment in the city to which we would be moving. It was all very exciting at the time for a 26 year old ABD doctoral candidate, but the result was a total mess.

With that said, plenty of what I achieved as a tenure-track professor is immediately transferable to multiple creative industries. Leaving academia doesn’t mean that years invested are lost. Simply put, it’s a matter of reframing and relaunching. The good news for the majority of creatives is that a lot of what you’re doing already as part of your creative practice is probably situated pretty close to where it needs to be for the post-academy life. Practical teaching and research experience is easily reframed as a consulting service, whether that be music production or software development. I have discovered that my experiences designing and producing mixed-media installations and music performances that I completed as part of my tenure dossier are highly sought after by small media companies. This is particularly the case with spatial audio for gaming and mixed-reality platforms. The market is rife with those who want to do it but don’t know how to do it. The bottom line: there’s plenty of work to be had as a consultant for those coming from the arts. More generally across all academic specializations, experience in running conferences, creating and managing curricula, and serving on a variety of committees are directly mappable to multiple kinds of project management scenarios in my related industry. I will delve into more specific examples further in the next blog post.

My wife Laura has made the courageous decision to leave academia, too, and pursue a law degree – something she always wanted to do –  and I have started a music technology company. I have more time to do what I want. Life is simpler with fewer commitments and my mental and physical well-being have improved as a result. Do I miss academia? Generally, no. I miss the faculty I would call friends and my students. Now I am able to prioritize family and career goals better aligned with my interests without constraint.

Over the next two entries, I will present my real-world experiences from my own transition from the academy to creative industry including how I have reframed my skill sets to better suit industry job opportunities, specifically contract work, obtaining additional certifications, and private instruction. I will also discuss how I have approached the development of my music technology startup, Delta Sound Labs, the challenges I have faced so far, and future plans for the business and my post-ac life.