Pearls of Wisdom–The Blog


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

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

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

A brief glossary of terms used in blog posts:

  • VAP – Visiting Assistant Professor
  • NTT – Non-Tenure Track
  • TT – Tenure Track
  • SLAC – Small Liberal Arts College
  • HBCU – Historically Black College or University
  • PWI – Predominantly White Institution
  • ABD – All But Dissertation (the stage where courses and exams are done and only the diss needs to be written and defended)
  • URM – Underrepresented Minority
  • EID – Equity Inclusion and Diversity

#Dispatches Special Contribution: Advice From a Dean and Expert in Media and Performance

In our Dispatches series, we crowdsource responses to questions we see about the academic job market and career.

This week, the question continues: How do I manage my new 100% online professional life?

We continue weekly Dispatches From the Front questions for your crowdsource responses. Scroll to the bottom for next week’s question – WHICH REMAINS: ADVICE FOR ONLINE CAMPUS VISITS— and the link to share your wisdom and advice.


Today’s advice is generously provided by Dr. Sarah Bay-Cheng, Dean, School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, York University.

Sarah Bay-Cheng is Dean of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD) at York University in Toronto, Canada. Prior to York University, she served as Chair and Professor of Theatre and Dance at Bowdoin College and as the founding Director of Graduate Studies in Theatre & Performance at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. Her research focuses on the intersections among performance and media including histories of cinema, European and US avant-gardes, and digital media in contemporary performance.


There are plenty of recommendations online for how to physically set up for the video interview. In my experience, the most useful recommendations align with what theatre and film people have known for decades (or longer) about what makes the most effective visual communication in frames (either proscenium stages or screen frames).

  1. Here are my top recommendations for the physical set up:

·    Adjust your camera and screen to roughly eye level, so that you’re looking at the screen straight ahead and not up or down. If possible, adjust the settings so that the person speaking is close to where you have your web cam. You want to be able to look at their face and take in their expressions while keeping your gaze close to the camera so that your expressions as you listen are visible.

·    Make sure that you are have enough (soft, if possible) light on your face so that the dimensions of your face are visible and that you’re clearly positioned within the screen.

·    Keep in mind the framing and remember the rule of thirds. You want your eyes to be roughly centred and one-third from the top of the frame.

·    Aim for a simple and neutral background so that the person looking at you can focus on you.

·    Remember you’re acting for the camera. Practice, record and adjust your efforts accordingly.

There are other recommendations you’ll find, such as including plants in the background, among others. These seem less important to me. I can’t say that I’ve never paid attention to the background, but now as I am (like most of us) in constant Zoom meetings, my eyes are getting tired mostly from people in low-or back-lit rooms, or who are looking down at their laptops. As one of my directing teachers once said to me about a badly lit play I was directing, “If I can’t see, I can’t hear.” As much as possible, make it easy to be clearly seen on screen and people will hear more of what you have to say.

2) Lighting to reduce fatigue

Also, remember that we’re all working with an information deficit here. Mediated conversations deprive us of a lot of the information we take for granted in face-to-face conversations, such as subtle facial expressions, physical gestures, and the real-time feedback we typically receive when we’re speaking and listening in person. I think (and perhaps others with actual research data will correct me) that this information deficit is part of what makes tele-video meetings more tiring than other meetings. Many of us are accustomed to multi-tasking on screens and this impulse can be a tough habit to break. Make sure you’re clearly visible and making eye contact as much as possible to replicate the experience of talking in person. A good camera and microphone can be helpful, but with some attention to details, you can make a basic set up look its best. Here’s a pretty good primer for lighting set ups that can be done with a few well-positioned house lamps.

3) How to interact with the camera.

First, remember that you’re acting for a camera, not a person. There’s a story that Rose O’Donnell tells about acting on the set of A League of Their Own with Geena Davis. After doing a take, O’Donnell was unimpressed that Davis was underplaying the scene, so that they’d have to shoot it again. When O’Donnell she saw the dailies, she realized that really it was she who was overperforming. O’Donnell looked foolish on film because she was treating the film set like a theatrical stage. After years doing theatre and stage comedy, O’Donnell was used to projecting her voice and gestures to be visible for the audience members in the rear. On film, performers don’t need to project to the back of the house. They just need to play to the camera and let the camera and screen do the work. Similarly, in a video chat, the screen will amplify you, so you don’t have to do as much work to read on the other side of the camera. Be careful of overdoing it.

That said, you don’t want to do nothing. As I noted before, there’s a gap in the information when communicating by screen. A lot of what I and probably other search committees and interviewers are looking for in campus interviews are all of the intangibles that aren’t evident in the cv and written materials. So, you want to communicate who you are as a whole candidate through a little camera. It’s a distinct skill that is hard to do well and takes time to develop, so I recommend at least a little practice. Record a few elevator pitches about your work and play them back to see which ones look better or worse. Play around with the extremes, so you know what’s too much and what’s not getting through on screen. Practice focusing on the person speaking on screen and how you perform listening. I realize this probably sounds silly, but being attentive on screen is it’s own skill. And, as everyone is now experiencing, talking through screens can be tiring. Coupled with the stress and strain of everything else that’s happening right now, it can be hard to focus. Practicing listening on screen can help maintain focus.

4) Advice for Search Committees

At the same time, I expect that many of us who are able to continue with “campus” interviews are adjusting the schedule to accommodate this new reality. At the same time that candidates can refine their techniques for on-screen communication, I think it’s important that those of us on search committees and administrators like myself also pay attention to how we’re framing ourselves and our online conversations. One of the small advantages of the current situation is that we may be able to avoid the asymmetrical video interview in which a few people are in a room together interviewing a single person by video. So here’s a plea to my fellow interviewers and administrators to schedule shorter, more focused conversations and recognize that long on-screen interviews may be even more draining than the in-person visits (which are plenty exhausting on their own).

5) Let’s all be generous

In the current moment, we need to recognize that none of us are at our best and I’m willing to make allowances for the anxiety of the moment, home-schooling in the background, stressed partners off-screen, and more. I’m glad that we are able to continue with our own interviews and searches for the moment, so I’m committed to doing what I can to make the experience as good as possible for everyone.

Next Question Remains: How do I prepare for a campus visit that has switched to all-online due to COVID19? And Search Comm members: if you’ve made the switch, what do you expect-slash-want to see from candidates?

Share Your Wisdom Here.

What Goes on Inside a Brown Woman’s Head When She Experiences Racism… WOC Guest Post

[This post was finalized prior to the COVID-19 outbreak]

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

PLEASE submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration! Especially related to COVID19 issues, challenges, solutions.

I want to hear from you! Email me proposals or drafts at I pay $150 for accepted posts. More information can be found here.

Today’s post is by Dr. Shahla Khan. Shahla Khan is a Ph.D. Fellow at Business School Lausanne in Corporate Political Correctness. She is also an author, blogger, and YouTuber when she isn’t teaching or researching. Life forced her to convert to feminism and she never looked back since. She tweets from @ShahlaSparkle. 


My blog has a heart chat section where I invite my readers to share their stories, experiences, questions and opinions with me. It’s like a millennial version of Agony Aunt.

One reader, an Indian woman of 30, recently wrote to me in a massively disturbed state of mind. So here’s what happened.

She and her husband work in a highly prestigious university in New Zealand. He works as a professor and she works as the IT assistance worker on the helpline.

In a team of 6, she is the only non white person.

Yesterday it happened to be that for sometime she was the only assistant on the helpline. She received a call from a woman who works in the university. Here’s how the conversation went-

“Hello, this is (her name) speaking from the IT help centre at the (university of name). How may I help you today?”

The lady on the other side responded: “oh I think I misdialed.”

And she hung up.

She then called again and again my reader the Indian woman picked up.

The lady repeated her lines and said she may have misdialed again.

This happened third time. Don’t pull your hair out yet, she called the fourth time and by then a white woman had returned to her desk and this Indian woman let her take the call.

From the computer system it was visible that the call came from the same person.

She then revealed her issue to the white woman and her issue was resolved.

My Indian reader was frantic.

Her first questions to me were not what most people would expect. She asked me “am I not worth working there? Am I not good enough to handle a forgotten password situation even though Iam a software engineer?”

I asked her again if she had even moved past the “may I help you” line in the 3 times she picked the call.

She said no.

I asked her why would she assume then that she wasn’t good enough at her job because she didn’t even get a chance to do the job!

She then asked about what we call ‘tone policing brown women’. She asked if her way of speaking was intimidating or lifeless or too loud?

It isn’t.

I then asked her about the general environment and work culture and she said things along these lines have happened before. Hence she is super cautious around her work to the extent of being called an OCD by the same white colleagues. She isn’t like that at home. But at work she is always walking on eggshells.

I informed her then that she didn’t want to hear  “it was plain and simple racism my dear”. It’s not about how competent she is at her job which was her initial worry. Or that her voice was intimidating or lifeless. She is actually a highly qualified software engineer but she is working at the IT help centre because her husband is a professor in that university and they thought it would be convenient for them to work at the same place.

So as usual the wife quits her highly paid job as an engineer and joins her husband at his place of work.

She was deeply hurt by this experience and she said she didn’t even know how to take this and what to do.

I advised her to visit the university website and look at their policy on racism. Whatever it suggests in terms of reporting or taking action, do so.

And guess what she said next. Yeah, the same thing that kept Ariana Grande shut her mouth at Aretha Franklin’s funeral when a pastor sexually assaulted her in front of a million people. She feared she would be ‘making a scene’ and be labelled as a ‘troublemaker’.

People often believe that women in general and specially women of colour are unnecessarily nagging and ranting about trivial issues. This creates a sense of hostility and social abandonment towards those who raise a voice. Others usually are silenced by this social pressure of being likeable and blending in. They give in to the fear of being labelled and oftentimes losing their jobs.

My current area of research is political correctness in the corporate world so I have been trying to understand why political correctness gets so much flack. A professor at a prestigious European university has written extensively against PC culture in his papers from the 2000s. So I decided to write to him and check if his views on political correctness and affirmative actions had changed in the last decade. 

He is now retired but he responded and gladly announced that he is now no more obliged to self censure and mind his language. In his papers he has consistently made generalizations about Muslim travellers should be racially profiled as terrorists or women when get liberated only think about themselves and do not participate in eaither home making or in the economy, sciences or advancement of human life in anyway. Those generalizations are fine but the generalization he has most trouble with is ‘white people’ or to be specific ‘straight white old men’, which is a demographic mostly used in the context of identifying systemic oppressions, institutionalised racism etc. 

He claims that race specific or gender specific movements harm genders and races. Any time a woman wants a job because of her gender or a person wants a job because of their race, it only makes them look bad. In one of his emails to me, he told me about two women of color that worked for him as secretaries. One Mexican and another from somewhere in the war zones of the Middle East. He said that both of them specifically told him that they don’t want to align to their cultural values and do not want their race or culture to be identified at work. 

While I absolutely believe that this professor was telling the truth and so were his secretaries, he failed to learn the reason ‘why’ those women of color who got a chance to work as secretaries for a white older man in a grand European university, were distancing themselves from their races so fiercely. That’s because they want to do their best to assimilate in the European culture so that they don’t face racism, so no one sees them as an outsider, the flag bearer of race issues, the troublemaker, and so on. 

Millions don’t utter a word when they encounter racism or assault. Whatever the reasons may be but this fear of being tagged is the worst fear and the first thing that a woman’s mind thinks of when she encounters racism.

Schools Announcing a Hiring Freeze

I put this on FB today; I was asked to share it off FB for those who have left that platform for their mental health. I can get behind that, so here is a special post. It will not include updates, which I’m doing on the FB post, and are also arriving in comments from readers there.


The list of schools that I have been told have reported hiring freezes is below, and continues in the comment thread. *I cannot vouch for the accuracy or specifics of this information for every institution listed.* Please note hiring freezes can take different forms; many will be honoring any verbal offers already extended, but not all.

U of Nevada
Virginia Tech
Western Michigan U.
Bradley (in IL)
Villanova University
Indiana U
U of Waterloo
U of Oklahoma
U of Utah
Florida state
U Montana
U Kentucky
U of Dayton
Colorado school of mines
Central Washington
Wisconsin Madison
Texas Womens U
U of Louisville
Northern Michigan
Los Rios Community College
Miami U
Western Michigan
Ohio State
Penn State
Syracuse U
Simon Fraser
Kansas State
Federal science agencies in Canada
Rochester Institute of Technology
Notre Dame
U Colorado-Denver
Appalachian State
High Point U
Washington State
U Alabama, Birmingham
University of Maine at Farmington
Cal State System

Ivory Towers in the Rearview Mirror: Winnie Chang

We continue with our new column, featuring interviews with PhDs who have charted a course unrelated to the tenure track, putting academia squarely in the rearview mirror.

Our hope is that seeing and hearing from a wide range of PhDs who are celebrating their careers rather than settling for them will inspire every grad student, ABD and PhD to add the road OFTEN traveled to their list of options.

We are excited to hear and share your stories. If you have a PhD and are working outside of the academy and would like to share your experience with TPII readers, we’d love to hear from you!

Today we are pleased to feature Dr. Winnie Chang

I earned a PhD in History in 2012 at UCLA.

Currently, I am a full-time freelance translator

When I started the PhD, I wanted to be a college professor. But, I had a very hazy idea of what being a professor was like, thinking of it more as an extension of being a grad student — teaching, researching and writing.

So when I finished, I still wanted to teach at the college level, but was extremely demoralized during the one year I was on the job market.

When I realized that I was wrong about what a tenure track career really looked like, I could see that my original career goals were misaligned with what I actually like doing, which is working from home in pajamas.

I grew up bilingual and my language skills were honed during my PhD coursework and dissertation. I also freelanced sporadically during grad school. Once I realized how big the translation industry was, I decided to do this full-time without being tethered to any one company.

In making the career shift, I had the support of my husband and my closer grad school friends. Also, I didn’t really have to change much in terms of skills and approach. Translation work involves a lot of basic research and good reading/writing skills, which strongly overlap with grad school skills. In addition, working with focus and having cultivated a strong work ethic while being in isolation was another thing that helped with the easy transition.

With that said, my main advisor has not responded to my email when I told him I was leaving academia… 8 years ago.

To anyone thinking about leaving the tenure track, remember: 1) You have marketable skills and you can have job security through skill rather than attachment to one institution. 2) Don’t be complicit in your own suffering and your PhD is never wasted. 3) The money’s better!

In our Dispatches series, we crowdsource responses to questions we see about the academic job market and career.

This week, the question is: Help, my campus visit has switched suddenly online. Advice needed: either from candidates who have survived one, or faculty hosts who can share insights and suggestions.

Despite shaking the bushes just s hard as we could, we only got three substantive responses, and then–sadly–a whole new set of anxious queries. And if tht doesn’t reflect our current moment, I don’t know what does. They are all shared below. Because of time constraints, I’m simply pasting them, without my usual framing and visuals. Things are going nuts here at TPII and I’m triaging a lot at once.

We continue weekly Dispatches From the Front questions for your crowdsource responses. Scroll to the bottom for next week’s question – WHICH IS GOING TO REMAIN THE SAME, AS WE STILL NEED THE ADVICE — and the link to share your wisdom and advice.

And one explanatory note: we ask respondents to provide any personal identifying information in their own words that THEY consider pertinent to contextualize their responses. Some of them go to …. interesting places. We only lightly edit them, and I think it’s worth contemplating what people feel is important to share about their identities.


I’m really pleased that this week are starting to collect really substantive, actionable advice for onlihne campus visits. Let me first offer my own advice:

GET A RING LIGHT IF YOU CAN. This is just one option; there are others. They range from 8″ to 18″ and between $35 and about $80 for a setup. They are fantastic soft, easy lighting that removes the nec. of a complicated frustrating struggle with your house lights and windows, and also have the effect of hiding wrinkles, blemishes and circles. You can also hang sheets over your windows to adjust for the ambient light” [Karen K., The Professor Is In]


Put your computer on a box or a large book so that you don’t show up in the video with a double chin. Make sure you have your phone nearby for when the internet connection is unreliable. Have another jacket/blazer that’s less formal in case you need to change. Ask everybody interviewing you if they are/can still conduct the interview even though they have scheduled it so. Always be the professional in the room by not getting into negative conversations about your current job or the hiring institution. Have a glass of water nearby. Wear contacts if you can, avoid glasses because of the glare. Most important, keep a notebook and literally take notes so you can plan questions to ask afterward.

Online interview is not much different from in-person interview is that it is about the fit. Make sure you are honest about who you are, and ask questions that show your genuine interests in building your career at the hiring institution. They are very excited to see you too. Don’t let the nervousness spoil your meetings. If you are younger, know that your energy is a strength, but also recognize that your colleagues are a resource.” [Asst Prof, Hum, Female, Brown]


Next, don’t panic! Everyone is in the same boat, and it’s possible to come out of this just fine! Like this person:

“My first interview with a Canadian university was online (on Zoom) and I had to do a Teaching Demo and a Research Talk. I had an amazing experience and I was noticed the next morning I was moving up to the second round. Again, an online interview, but with another Research Talk, a presentation of my research plan for the next 5 years and a period of questions. Again, an amazing experience. I finally ended up in second position in this search and didn’t get the job, but here’s my thoughts on why both interviews felt amazing.

First, the set-up needs to be well-thought. I bought an HD webcam with a microphone. I was connected directly on the internet (no wi-fi, it’s unstable). I used 2 screens for both interviews: 1 for my shared visual content and 1 to see the Search committee. It allowed me to see their reactions and to interact with them easily (especially during my Teaching Demo). I did my interviews in a small meeting room I rent at a local co-working space. Finally, the university asked me to do a test with one of its IT professionals on the day before to make sure everything was working well. The same IT guy was there at the beginning of both interviews.

Second, the classic advice “PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!” is more important than ever. For most of us, it feels unnatural to look directly at the camera, so that needs to be practiced first (e.g. talking with friends & family on skype). I started practicing my talks like they were in-person, but the moment I felt good about them, I practiced them with an empty Zoom meeting. At first, it’s really weird to talk for so long while being seated and it’s hard to be energetic. However, with practice, it became natural.

One last note about doing an online Teaching demo…Don’t hesitate to interact with the Search Committee. Most candidates won’t do it in an online setting, so you will stand out for doing it. Have a back-up plan just in case the Search committee stay in silence. In my case, I organized a debate in the middle of my Teaching Demo. I asked two professors to give me their best argument for using a specific marketing strategy, and the other two for their best argument against it. It went really well. I actually had to stop the debate to finalize my Teaching demo in time. FYI, I had never teach online before these interviews. So, it’s absolutely possible to do it and have fun! Best of luck to each of you!” [Grad student, Marketing; PhD Candidate (ABD), 30, Canadian, female, married]


And this person! People are doing it and surviving (and even thriving!)

“I recently did a campus interview online. We used Zoom, and I met with search committee in a conference room setting. Instead of visiting a classroom, a group of students met with me for a Q&A in the same conference room setting. My job talk was presented to a large group the same way – Zoom allowed me to see the audience, and they could also see me talking alongside my slides. Interviews with various administrators were done individually in their offices. Obviously, a campus tour wasn’t possible but the search committee provided me with many videos from their mobile phones! Honestly, it went far better than I thought it would. The interview was spread out over a couple days and there was a sense of continuity (i.e., seeing the same conference room over and over). I haven’t heard back from the hiring institution yet, but I think in uncertain times like these a remote campus interview is the best we can do.” [Tenured Prof, Hum; White female]


As in any interview setting, PRACTICE is essential, especially with new technology. Try talking to your friends over zoom, answering Qs, and deliver bits of your talk. You’ll get used to the digital setting in a low-stress practice environment!

My advice is to practice talking (over skype / zoom / video) with people that you like, before the “visit”. One of the biggest challenges with video interviews is people appear stiff, it’s harder to emote, and so it’ll be harder for people to get a sense of what you are like. However, some of this stiffness disappears with practice, so I’d suggest you take time and do practice video interviews with people you know and like, to practice having a more present, relaxed online vibe.” [Asst Prof, Hum; WW]


And, for more reassurance, see this note from a search committee member:

“I’m on a search committee that had to switch mid-way to virtual visits, which resulted in half of our candidates being interviewed remotely. I was very impressed with how the candidates who interviewed remotely handled the change. In fact, the search committee commented on how there ended up being virtually no difference between the in-person and remote visits and we will likely make an offer to one of the remote candidates. What impressed us from these remote visits was the candidates’ ability to think on their feet and have fluid conversations during virtual 1-on-1’s and the virtual chalk talk. They also seemed very relaxed during their presentations, which they gave via screen-sharing and sitting down. Although giving a presentation to a computer loses a lot of that audience connection you typically have, I think candidates should really take advantage of the fact that they can be way more comfortable just presenting to a computer screen and try to make the presentation more conversational that way. My advice is to embrace the changes, try to keep things as conversational as possible to project your unique personality, and don’t worry about how a remote visit is different that an in-person one. In the end, that committee will probably be more worried about being able to attract YOU to a place you’ve never visited rather than judging you poorly based on the fact that you can’t travel to visit them.” [Asst Prof, STEM; 30s, Female, Married]


One last note:

“All searches should be moved online, if they have not already. For an online interview, committees should give a clear directive as to what they will expect (job talk, teaching demo, just chats, etc). Until candidates get any further directions, they should continue to prep as if it is an in person interview.” [Postdoc Hum; White, female, married]


And like last week, some Questions; if you have responses, please put them in comments:

My campus interview has moved online. Luckily (?) it is just three separate interviews with administrators (chancellor, dean, and HR), and then a 30-minute teaching demo via zoom (on a topic totally outside of my field) with a “real” class. They don’t know whether I’ll be able to interact with the students in any other capacity than through the chat function. My campus is using Google Meet, so I have very low familiarity with Zoom. Advice on how to be interactive/dynamic and actually SHOW my teaching philosophy? Until last week, I’ve not taught online before! 

I’m not sure how to phrase the question, but I do very badly in online interviews primarily because of my autism. I do much better in face-to-face situations. I’m not sure if I should disclose my neurodiversity, or if there are things I could ask for in a digital campus visit that would help mitigate issues. I feel like if I should get a campus interview, my problems with digital communication would tank any chances of getting an offer.

What can you do if you are stuck abroad, and cannot source a good camera or microphone for the virtual interview. I have been trying for a week now, but to no avail. Will a sitting down job talk be terrible? Should I mention this in the interview?


Thank you to all our respondents!

Next Question Remains: How do I prepare for a campus visit that has switched to all-online due to Coronavirus? And Search Comm members: if you’ve made the switch, what do you expect-slash-want to see from candidates?

Share Your Wisdom Here.

How To Do Makeup For Zoom and Other Online Campus Visits and Teaching


OK, as promised here it is! I re-recorded the video today to replace the first one that had multiple trucks rumbling by and my family chattering loudly and animatedly in Japanese in the next room at several points.

There is no expectation that you do all these steps. I just wanted to cover the broadest range of topics. Product list below. Also read the Caveats–in particular, I DO NOT CARE if you wear makeup or not. This post is in response to requests and is meant for those who are seeking this information. Makeup and skin care has been my hobby for 5 years and I have learned a ton about products, techniques and tools, especially for online platforms. Take whatever is useful to you.

As you can see, the results are pretty awesome while still being really natural!



I don’t care if you wear make up and I don’t care what you look like.

This is only for people who have asked, so don’t come at me with your judgment if you don’t want to do it.

This is based on what I have learned over five years of experimentation on what works for ME, not anyone else!

I am not an Instagram make up artist. People who are make up artists may have much more sophisticated advice, and you should Google them for reference; in the end everything I learned through trial and error.

Be aware that drug stores as well as Sephora and Ulta all accept returns of USED products. In the end, there is no substitution for trying products out over the course of several days and seeing how your skin reacts to them, especially if you have allergies.

Things also hinge strongly on lighting. I will share information as I have it on lighting, but that’s not my expertise and there’s much excellent advice out there online about it from others.

—->>>>>The SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING about looking decent on screen is camera angle! Make sure your camera views you from ABOVE and NOT BELOW. That will instantly correct for double chins.<——–

Anyway, the video walks you through the following – slowly and with lots of talking. And scroll to the bottom to find a brief video of my makeup table and lighting setup.

And one last makeup note: you may be surprised to see that I do not wear eyeliner! I do not! I stopped in my late 40s. Eyeliner, despite being one of the looks of the moment and gorgeous on younger women, is very very bad for older eyes. It’s too harsh, it emphasizes wrinkles around the eye, and it shrinks the size of the eye. If you are older, you can achieve far better results using a shadow around your eye, including below the eye. It is softer and more forgiving and will open up your eye rather than circling it in a sloppy (because of the wrinkles issue) dark rim.


  • Skin care and general thoughts: 1:00-7:30
  • Primers and color correctors: 7:30-15:00
  • Ambivalence about makeup! 15:00-15:30
  • Concealer: 15:30-18:30
  • Foundation 18:30-24:30
  • Undereye concealer: 24:30-26:30
  • Setting powder 26:00-28:30
  • Eye shadow 28:30-37:00
  • Contouring 37:00-43:00
  • Highlighting 43:00-44:30
  • Blush 44:30-47:30
  • Lash Primer and Mascara 47:30-54:00
  • Brows 54:00-59:00
  • Lipcolor 59:00-1:00:45
  • Finishing spray 1:00:45-1:01:00

Makeup Table and Lighting Setup


  • SK-II Pitera Water
  • Sabbatical Beauty Asian Powerhouse Serum
  • Sabbatical Beauty Marine Serum
  • Sabbatical Beauty Dorian Grey Serum
  • Lancer Beauty Oil
  • Dr. Perricone Cold Plasma + Eye Cream
  • Sabbatical Beauty Donkey Milk Cream
  • Charlotte Tilbury Glow Primer
  • Tarte Blurring Primer
  • Becca Under Eye Corrector in Medium/Dark
  • Bobbi Brown Eye Primer
  • Clinique Shadow Palette in Greys
  • Clinique Lash Primer
  • Wander Mile High Mascara
  • Tarte Busy Gal Brow Gel
  • Glossier Brow Flick
  • Benefit Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer
  • RMS Un-Cover Foundation in 22.5
  • It Cosmetics Bye-Bye Undereye Concealer
  • Cover F/X Perfecting Powder Translucent
  • Kevin Aucoin Contour Kit
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Advice for the Online Campus Visit – Guest Post

by Dr. Annabel Ipsen, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Colorado State University. Thank you, Dr. Ipsen, for sharing these insights so quickly!

Anyone who has insights on the new normal of interviews and campus visits by Zoom/skype, PLEASE contribute a guest post, anonymously or not! People need help! I pay $150 for accepted posts.

Did the pandemic covid-19 highjack your campus visit? Many academic job seekers are in a similar position, with universities canceling interviews or asking candidates to do virtual campus visits instead. The silver lining, a fabulous job talk story? No waiting for travel reimbursements? But more seriously, most people have little knowledge about how to prepare for these types of interviews and few candidates or search committees have experience with this format. While virtual campus visits are uncommon, they do happen. In fact, when I got the exciting call for a campus visit for my current job, I was in the hospital. Since I was unable to travel in the timeframe they needed, we agreed to a virtual visit. It was not an easy process, but I have some tips to make it smoother for you.

[Karen Edit: THE FOLLOWING ADVICE PREDATED COVID-19; OBVIOUSLY YOU CANNOT WORK OUTSIDE YOUR HOUSE. SEE MY ADDENDUM BELOW FOR MORE ON CREATING A HOME SPACE]* First, schedule a formal interview venue. Try to avoid doing the interview at your house unless you have an appropriate room for the interview and the equipment needed. If you work at a university and have access to a conference room, reserve it for your interview. If your university is closed or you do not have access to an appropriate space, ask the committee to reserve a space for you. In many communities, there are conference rooms in libraries/universities/hotels. You should not have to scramble to figure this out on your own. Paying for a conference space is cheaper than a “regular” campus visit. While committees might not offer this option to you, it’s likely because they simply have not thought of it. It is important that you are comfortable with the choice and some people may prefer to do the interview at their home for health or personal reasons.

My interview was during finals week and every single conference room at my institution was booked. I was frantic. Ultimately, two colleagues and I each reserved the maximum blocks of time for the last available library study room. This was not ideal for several reasons and I wish that I had asked the committee to reserve an outside conference space for me. My job talk went off without a hitch, but the room next to mine was full of 20 boisterous undergraduates. I had to say to the committee and all of those watching, “could you hold on for just one minute? I can’t quite hear you,” as I scrambled out of the room to quiet the undergraduates next door. Currently many universities have limited campus access; finding an interview space can take up a lot of your preparation time.]

Second, ask the committee what technologies you need and download them as soon as possible. Are they using BlueJeans, skype, zoom? What is plan A, what is plan B? Are these programs accessible at the venue? If the free version will not work for your interview and your institution does not have access, the committee should provide you with access. Make sure you look at the program and are familiar with the basics. Ask how they will see you and how you will see them. Will it just be with the search committee? Will it be recorded for others to watch? Will you need to take your laptop? If possible, it’s nice to have two screens (or a split screen) to see your slides and the committee and for them to see your slides and you. That way you aren’t looking at a group of people on your tiny computer screen and trying to figure out who just asked you a question.

Third, once you decide on a venue, set up a time to do a test run a day or two before the interview. If possible, ask that a technology expert be present and ask that someone on the committee’s end be available 20 minutes later to test the program you’re using and the sound and video on both ends. Everyone wants to make sure the technology works before the day in question and the only way to do that is to test it beforehand. Make sure you know how to mute the microphone and camera and how to move the camera. This will become important during a long day of interviews. Sometimes you may stand (job talk), sometimes you may sit (one-on-ones with faculty), and sometimes you may loudly eat carrots. If you need a podium, make sure you set that up too.

Fourth, ask for the schedule in advance. Make sure you know what each activity entails. Will I be having phone or video calls with each professor? Will I meet students virtually? Make sure there are breaks for lunch and bathroom visits. Get to the venue early. Reserve it at least 30 minutes before the first event. If the lighting is low, bring a small lamp. Bring a lunch/snacks – easy to eat items that don’t require a refrigerator. Bring water, your beverage of choice, a toothbrush, a headset, hand sanitizer/wipes, an extra shirt, and a mirror. Keep the “extras” out of sight.

Fifth, before the interview, do at least one run through of the full job talk with a friend/colleague/mentor. Ask for comments on the lighting, if you’re making eye contact, make sure they can hear you, test your camera and your microphone in various scenarios. 

Sixth, communication is vital. Make sure you have the search chair’s phone number to facilitate the logistics and/or if the technology fails and you need to be put on speaker phone (highly unlikely). Everyone wants to see candidates put their best foot forward. People will understand the extra conversations to figure out the best set up for your campus visit. A one-size-fits-all-set-up will not work for most people. Be kind, flexible, and thoughtful. Communicate what you need and be willing to compromise.

Finally, prioritize your health. Practice social distancing, get enough rest, disconnect from the constant flow of apocalyptic news, eat well, and wash your hands. Take walks outside or meditate to keep some perspective and don’t forget to sanitize the interview venue. Good luck, you’ve got this!

*Karen Edit: You need a home office space. Don’t fret–everyone is in the same boat in COVID-19 and allowances will be made. Set up a small stand or desk in front of an approprtiate wall or bookshelf if possible. Check the backdrop that it’s clean and clear—hang a sheet or wall-hanging if nec! Remember it can be a jerry-rigged temporary set up! You CAN of course use your laptop camera and mic. If you have a better quality camera/mic that’s going to help, but it’s not essential. The main issue is to ensure quiet as best you can (optimally work behind a closed door if you have kids at home), and to get your camera angle to view you from level or slightly above (the most flattering angle) and then to work on lighting. You can do a ton with lighting by moving your desk lamps around and draping sheets of different colors in front of windows and over lights. It’s all trial and error so just experiment. If you CAN order a RING LIGHT please do; it’s the best and easiest lighting option. Here’s one example of what I mean, but you can get a cheaper option of just the light without any of these accessories as well.


[This post and related podcast episode were finalized prior to the COVID-19 outbreak]

I am delighted to offer another guest post in my series of contributed posts by black women and other women of color. These go up on Wednesday. This one is particularly special because it is by Dr. Joycelyn Moody, who is the co-founder, along with Dr. Roxanne Donovan, of WellAcademic – and we just had the chance to talk to Dr. Donovan on our podcast episode that just dropped yesterday! So please do read this post and listen to that episode in tandem!

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

Today’s post is by Joycelyn Moody, PhD. Dr. Moody is WellAcademic Co-founder; experienced coach, mentor and workshop leader; and Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature and Professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. 


My university is going to remote learning in response to Covid-19, like many/most of yours. I have five workdays to change my face-to-face, highly interactive graduate seminar to an online-only format. Having never taught an online class in any way, shape, or form, the shift is going to require mindboggling effort and time, even as I take advice to lower my standards. 

This additional teaching labor sits alongside my complicated feelings about the isolation required to meet social distancing calls to mitigate rapid spread of Covid-19. Frankly, I’m gonna miss seeing my grad students and my gym trainer, not to mention the few precious friends I meet for talk and hugs. 

As I grapple with these messy emotions around disconnection, I find my mind drifting back to a certain mountain, to the Elohee Retreat Center, the location of WellAcademic’s Women of Color Faculty Retreats. Even with my beloved partner Lorraine beside me during this coronavirus craziness, I can’t help time traveling to remind myself of the healing, transformative, compassionate sisterlove I’ve invariably experienced among the women I’ve met there. I’m clinging to Roxanne’s brilliant teachings and ancient wisdom. My memories are holding me through this difficult moment. More than simply nostalgic for my sisters, I feel resilient, fortified by them even now. I know my memories will sustain me through the challenges to come. 

I share below part of what I wrote after our first WellAcademic retreat because the hope the words held for me seem needed now more than ever. They illustrate the bonds and lessons that are possible in environments where our full humanity is recognized and valued. 


Twenty-five women of color faculty and I accepted Roxanne’s call to Elohee’s Bald Mountain for insight and renewal, for sisterhood and rejuvenation. Having participated in numerous workshops with my astounding business partner before, I knew the other participants and I would inevitably have an extraordinary experience. Whatever the others expected, my own expectations were truly exceeded. The difference lay in the fact of community: while Roxanne was our indisputable fulcrum, magic lay in our collectivity.
I doubt many of us anticipated the powerful experience we’d create together. 
Almost each retreat participant arrived with trepidation about WellAcademic’s deliberate timing at institutional midterms. Most divulged the challenge of permitting herself to break away for her own revitalization just when others feel free to demand more from us—make-up midterms at students’ convenience, belated committee meetings on chairs’ timetables, and so on. Even retreat participants “on leave” arrived almost panting, as if we’d run the distances from Cincinnati, Madison, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Miami, doubled over by the demands we make on ourselves and we face (or face down) from others who claim power over us.
Perhaps these two short lists capture our transition.
What I expected:

  • Loving reunion with Roxanne Donovan, one of my closest friends and also my business partner
  • Committed service to the 14 women I’d pledged to coach individually
  • Natural beauty transitioning from summer into fall
  • Nutritious, delicious food
  • Solitude: no WiFi, a break from schoolwork, a break from infuriating global news
  • Reunion with my Kennesaw State sisters
  • A chance to meet Roxanne’s only biological sister
  • And more than this.

What I gained/Hadn’t imagined receiving:

  • A community of minoritized academic sisters expressing the same sense of success, insight, stimulation, curiosity, seclusion, need, grief, fatigue, and hope I feel from day to day
  • Deep fortification— cellular memories, science-based exercises, journaling, workbook sheets, photography, clean mountain water and air
  • A bed I first mistook for clouds
  • In-person meeting with the retreat participant with whom I shared the same coach when I was first a client
  • One sister, aged 50, lifting her arms over her head to illustrate reclaiming victory over her physical body after setting her own terms as a Black feminist professor and administrator
  • Two shooting stars with Roxanne, coming five minutes apart after the “Firelight Sister Circle,” on a tiny swing uphill of Eucalyptus cabin
  • And much, more than this, besides.

Ivory Towers in the Rearview Mirror: Dr. Christopher Cornthwaite

We continue with our new column, featuring interviews with PhDs who have charted a course unrelated to the tenure track, putting academia squarely in the rearview mirror.

Our hope is that seeing and hearing from a wide range of PhDs who are celebrating their careers rather than settling for them will inspire every grad student, ABD and PhD to add the road OFTEN traveled to their list of options.

We are excited to hear and share your stories. If you have a PhD and are working outside of the academy and would like to share your experience with TPII readers, we’d love to hear from you!

Today we are pleased to feature Dr. Christopher Cornthwaite.

I received my PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Toronto. I started with the goal of becoming a tenure-track professor. But I was clueless about the realities of the academic job market. My department lied to me about their hiring record, so I didn’t know–although this was also my own fault. For some reason it never occurred to me to google whether or not PhDs get academic jobs. 

I actually loved the degree itself. I loved diving deep into a research question and feeling like I’d discovered something when I found an answer that made sense. And academia offered me two other things I really wanted: first, flexibility to work from home to be there with my two young kids, and second, getting research grants to travel the world (yes, the kids came too!).

The reality of the academic job market slowly hit me. Like most students, I thought I would be the exception to the rule and would get a tenure-track job. As I was buried in an avalanche of rejection letters, the realization slowly hit me. I’m not going to get a tenure-track job. I can chase this through visiting positions, post docs, or adjuncting, but I still likely won’t (I didn’t know anyone from my program who ever had). Finally, I had to shift my focus to getting ANY job outside of academia that could feed my family and pay my debt.

Throughout the PhD process, my main source of mental and spiritual support was my spouse–no one else. The lack of institutional support for my career choices post-PhD was a weird thing. Nobody talked about non-academic work, outside of a few mandatory seminars that gave us some ideas. Because of these seminars, the department boasted that they were preparing students for all career tracks. But nobody ever had a serious conversation with me about non-academic jobs, and the few times I asked I regretted it.

Ironically, at the time of my doctoral thesis defense, I was already working outside of academia making over 70k a year. I had moved to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, as my PhD neared its end. I didn’t know anybody and had no plan. But I figured that if I could get a non-academic job anywhere, it would be in Ottawa. I networked like crazy and, after a lot of disappointments and dead ends, got offered a job at a think tank running economic development projects. I left there to start my own consulting business and then got hired by the Canadian government to work on international refugee initiatives. I left this position a few months ago and am currently working hard to start my own research and design company along with my spouse.

To anyone who is thinking about leaving academia post PhD, I have so much say. In fact, I started a blog to talk about my journeys outside: Roostervane. But in a nutshell, I just want people to know they can have great non-academic careers, and that they are worth so much more than crappy adjunct positions. Many PhDs thrive outside of academia, doing amazing things. I know so many PhDs who are having more impact outside than they could have had inside! So, if you want to or need to leave, you do have options. It takes a lot of hard work, and you’ll need to take the initiative to reinvent yourself, but it’s totally possible!

#Dispatches: Help, My Campus Visit has Gone Online!

In our Dispatches series, we crowdsource responses to questions we see about the academic job market and career.

This week, the question is: Help, my campus visit has switched suddenly online. Advice needed: either from candidates who have survived one, or faculty hosts who can share insights and suggestions.

Despite shaking the bushes just s hard as we could, we only got three substantive responses, and then–sadly–a whole new set of anxious queries. And if tht doesn’t reflect our current moment, I don’t know what does. They are all shared below. Because of time constraints, I’m simply pasting them, without my usual framing and visuals. Things are going nuts here at TPII and I’m triaging a lot at once.

We continue weekly Dispatches From the Front questions for your crowdsource responses. Scroll to the bottom for next week’s question – WHICH IS GOING TO REMAIN THE SAME, AS WE STILL NEED THE ADVICE — and the link to share your wisdom and advice.

And one explanatory note: we ask respondents to provide any personal identifying information in their own words that THEY consider pertinent to contextualize their responses. Some of them go to …. interesting places. We only lightly edit them, and I think it’s worth contemplating what people feel is important to share about their identities.


We made the switch, recommend extra breaks (10 min each hour); and longer breaks, 15 and 30 min in addition (e.g., before talk); we had someone monitoring individual meetings (muted) for keeping people on time; I called candidate afternoon before to go over schedule and plan; make norms explicit to candidate as well as faculty and students (wait till end of talk for Q; write Q in chat box, or raise hand (pick 1); have a couple of facilitators to read out questions to candidate); figure out a way to signal to candidate when they have 10 min and 5 min left (text; chat; something, but they won’t get the visual cues you get in a ftf). Get PPT slides from candidate as a back up; give them your cell phone number; be patient. Recognize that we’re making this up on the fly so a lot of patience, good will, etc. is needed. [60, latina, chair of search committee for senior (full) position]


I’m chairing a TT search now. It’s gonna be wild. But I’d say if you can, get an HD webcam and good quality microphone. Figure out a space you can configure to look like an office or classroom. Job talks are going to be weird but try to find ways to inject some energy and personality. Don’t plan on participation because Zoom doesn’t do too well with lots of voices. Don’t talk about the situation a lot – try to acknowledge and move on. Be as much like you would on campus as possible. Also – if you get an offer, ask if you can visit campus. Don’t want to move somewhere sight unseen if possible. The advice is going to be all over the place. None of us have any clue what we are doing but you’re going to have to pretend like you do. [Tenured,SS; White queer man]


I’ve never served on a search committee, but I have some experience with online job interviews as I’ve had two for positions abroad (in Australia both times). I’m not sure how applicable my advice can be, as neither tried to replicate an American-style campus visit. Both were approximately one-hour long and involved a panel interview and mini research presentation and teaching demos, plus time for my questions. I think the key is to be clear with what you are actually looking for and making that clear to candidates. For example, will they be teaching actual students or will the search committee be serving as students? When it’s the latter, I did a mixture of teaching demo with meta-level discussion of how the lesson is structured. I realize shifting to Zoom or Skype is a massive change for search committee at US institutions but our colleagues abroad seem perfectly satisfied with making long-term hires after these abbreviated processes so it can be done. [NTT Hum, White, female, visiting NTT faculty at an R1 institution]


We are just in the beginning stages of moving our searches online. We have completed initial skype interviews and our next step would have been the campus visit. We have not determined the parameters of the online experience, but it will likely include a job talk and I am hoping it will include a chance for the candidates to meet other members of the faculty. As a member of the search committee, I am looking for the candidate to frame their research in the context of our foundations program. They will be teaching lower level courses and we are looking for an interest in that type of experience as well as a proficiency in the language and tools necessary to teach foundations level visual arts courses. I am advocating for a clear schedule with breaks for candidates in our online visits. What else would make this experience easier for the candidate? [Asst Prof, Arts/Music/Theater; Search committee member, 41 yr old, married white woman working at a small 2 yr Institute (not a community college)]

And the Questions:

Q: I only have questions. I do well in in-person interviews; how do I convey that same energy online? Also, is it reasonable for them to expect me to move my life to a new city without seeing it first? [Tenured, Hum, 40s, white, female, straight, married]

Q: How do I not seem awkward during my pre-recorded talk when 1) I’m awful being recorded and 2) I can’t read the audience? [Grad student, STEM]

Q: Do committees expect me to use a visual aid for a virtual research talk and if so how do I do that? Should I prep to give a normal looking talk- standing at the front of the room w a PowerPoint, or sit at my desk and talk to the camera? [I am a 31yo white, cis, married woman in the communication field. I am a 6th year PhD student and visiting instructor who is on the job market and facing an upcoming campus interview for a trans disciplinary team science Post-doc position that was recently moved online]

Q is: My interview is on campus next week in a COVID hot spot where classes already canceled. I am expected to meet with individuals and groups all day and share many meals. Any thoughts on social distancing? My advice is: Be flexible and gracious. Acknowledge unprecedented situation. [Nonac STEM 39 white female married straight]

Q: Seeking guidance and support. Sorry, I’m not in the position to give advice. This sucks. What should job candidates do if given the choice between in-person (risk) or online interview during COVID19 measures? [Graed student, SS; I’m a PhD Candidate POC, early 30s — im supposed to travel next week for a campus visit. Search Chair expressed they prefer for me to do the interview in person. At first, I thought it would be fine, but I am now increasingly concerned as COVID19 are expected to grow exponentially over the course of the next week. I don’t think its fair the candidates before me got a full chance at an in person interview, but risking my health and the health of others for that chance is not okay. Traveling into large transportation hubs is not wise…]


Thank you to all our respondents!

Next Question Remains: How do I prepare for a campus visit that has switched to all-online due to Coronavirus? And Search Comm members: if you’ve made the switch, what do you expect-slash-want to see from candidates?

Share Your Wisdom Here.