Pearls of Wisdom–The Blog

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

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MORE ABOUT THE BOOK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ABOUT THE BLOG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#MakeupMonday: “Dressing Like a Congresswoman”

Twitter lost it when AOC and all the other magnificent women of color were sworn in to the House last week.

This Tweet in particular:

It prompted so much wonderful commentary.

Here is Maiysha Kai in The Root:

“Indeed, as we’ve previously reported (and endlessly experienced), women in general, and particularly women of color, are regularly policed for their appearances. Our hair, our nails, our wardrobes…all are considered criteria for our ability to do our jobs and be taken seriously. And while a hoop and a strong lip may not seem an act of rebellion worth remarking on, one need only look at the old white men’s club Ocasio-Cortez is entering to understand its impact.

Better yet, consider the cries of broken royal protocol on the single occasion now-duchess Meghan Markle wore a dark nail to a public appearance (a personal preference of the Queen, but far from a law). Or Serena Williams’ French Open catsuit, which prompted major debate on how even a world-class player should be allowed to dress on the tennis court. Or the longstanding military ban on dreadlocks and braided styles, which has only recently begun to be lifted. Or Michelle Obama’s post-White House fashion, which she’s admitted is a demonstration of her new sense of freedom.

While it’s easy to point to the institutions in which these women have chosen to function as justification for regulating their appearances, the deeper implication is that they are somehow fundamentally inappropriate in their aesthetic choices. The message is that women must be controlled, corrected, and dimmed to be deemed acceptable.

So, yes, it may be a small thing, but it is both refreshing and an act of rebellion to rock a red lip on the congressional floor—or a red nail to the bench of the Supreme Court. It is its own declaration of independence, and an assertion of the fact that we have the right to occupy those spaces, just as we are.”

“Zabrinadel” tweeted: “As a Latina who works in a law firm environment, I sometimes, with trepidation, wear my thick gold hoops and some bright lipstick to work. Seeing you wear both to freaking CONGRESS was really affirming. Helps me realize I can wear both CONFIDENTLY, without second guessing myself.”

Many other women wrote things like this:

Adriana Catano on Remezcla explained further: “For women of color, wearing hoops – especially those of the shoulder-grazing variety – has come with plenty of criticism. With some calling the dangly earrings unprofessional and others labeling them “ghetto,” wearing these spherical baubles has become an act of resistance for some. That’s why it’s not surprising that many women of color were moved when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sported a sizable pair for her inauguration into Congress. Wearing her signature red lip and a white suit – which she chose to pay tribute to suffragettes and Shirley Chisholm – AOC made a statement on Thursday and channeled Sonia Sotomayor.”

And then there was this commenter on the North Star FB page :

All of this relates so much to why I started the #MakeupMonday series. And the last year of guest posts by women of color about their makeup and fashion choices just drives home the point: there is nothing frivolous about how any of us choose to look. And makeup and accessories are markers of identity and power, particularly for many women of color. The explosion of “color” in the photos above is the very opposite of random, or meaningless; all those colors – on lips, in clothes, on skin – are replete with history and cultural meaning. I’m delighted to see it celebrated, and getting ever more normalized with our wonderful new representatives.

A Joyful Job Market Digest

Normally I put the Job Market Digest on Facebook only, but my wonderful new Executive Assistant, Rain Rue (please say hello to her!) took the trouble of gathering together the outcome emails that had been gathering in the inbox the past few months. So I am posting them here.

It’s nice to be able to share the joy, and I want to particularly draw your attention to what I call “Joy of editing” emails (they are near the end), because they show how the document work itself is meaningful, entirely separate from any particular outcome. And I really love the very last entry, about Kellee’s and my Facebook Lives. Those are labors of love for us. “Neither of you pulls any punches,” writes the poster, “but you’re both tough and gentle in different, but complementary, ways. I don’t know how this works, but it really does.” 

Kellee and I both dearly love to hear when we have made a difference. Please don’t hesitate to write and tell us, no matter what the context. We take just as much pride in those who decide to leave the academy, or make a radical change, as those who get the kinds of jobs I am listing here today.  Tenure track jobs are just one option among many #realac futures.

Multiple TT job offers, client, Poli Sci: “Hi Karen, I wanted to send a final update and tally on my job market experience. First, and most importantly, I’ve accepted a position as assistant professor of political science at [Private] University! I’m beyond excited and happy to have some finality this early in the cycle. In the end, I had 13 conference interviews, 7 phone interviews, 8 campus interviews (of which I attended 6), and 4 offers. Thank you so much for helping me craft strong job materials. I have no doubt that working with you gave me a real edge and will make sure to recommend your services to friends going on the market in the future.”

TT job offer, Music, ABD at an R1 in music; Teaching college: “Dr. Karen’s blog and book were so helpful as I went through my first round of TT job applications – her advice about the interview process and campus visit were spot on. I constantly recommend this book to people thinking about a career in academia as a clear, realistic perspective on succeeding in a field that is often frustratingly opaque.”

Negotiating client, Psychology: “After 8 years in a non-TT, grant-funded research position, I was contacted by two academic departments and encouraged to apply to open TT positions. I sought advice from former colleagues that had gone on the job market directly following post-doc about what I could reasonably expect in terms of salary, start-up, etc… In general, the feedback was that TT jobs are more valued than my current position and I should expect to take a pay cut, ask for less start-up than I was planning, accept whatever the university offers for moving expenses. When the first interview offer came through, I was asked to bring a detailed list of start-up needs. I reached out to Karen because the advice of my colleagues wasn’t sitting right with me; it didn’t feel right to uproot my family for less money and a start-up package that wouldn’t allow me to rebuild my productive research program in a new location. She was flexible and was able to provide her negotiation assistance service even though I wasn’t at the offer stage. Since I was being recruited, Karen advised me to ask for more money, more start-up funds, more research space, double the moving expenses than I was planning. Even though the chair only asked for start-up costs, Karen also advised me to be upfront about my salary requirements, space needs, and realistic moving expenses. When the offer came through, it was everything I had requested, allowing me to accept the position without any further negotiations.

TT job offer and negotiating client, Sociology, ABD, mid-tier R1, the offer regional teaching: “I’m a reader of the blog and the book, purchased several of the webinars, and an interview intervention (and now negotiating assistance) client.

I consulted TPII every step of the way throughout my job application process, everything from how to write a cover letter to what to wear on the campus visit. At each new step in the job search process I would turn to TPII– I can’t overstate how helpful it has been to have a reliable source of information and expertise to fill in what my advisors on campus were unable to provide. Reading the blogs, the book, and watching the webinars (and following the advice) helped me to get 7 phone/Skype interviews my first year on the market, and the interview intervention helped me turn 3 (and counting!) of those into campus visit invitations, and now an offer!”

Interview success, client: “Dear Karen and Kellee: I wanted to thank you for the document editing services, as well as the Skype interview intervention — I now have two campus visits lined up for January! Thank you for providing a much needed service. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.”

TT job offer, client, STEM field: “I just wanted to drop you a note and say thanks for your work editing my documents last year. I just accepted a great tenure-track position at a small research-focused university in eastern Canada

During my campus visit, three people brought up the quality of my documents. First, the department’s curator (and the only faculty member of colour) complimented my diversity statement for being thoughtful and on point. Next, the VP Academic called my teaching statement “outstanding”. Finally, the Dean of Science said my research statement was the most exciting and compelling statement he’d read in recent memory. His support translated into a start-up supplement of $50k from the provincial government.”

Interview request, client: “I thought you might like to know that I have a skype interview on Monday at a small private Liberal arts college —they got back to me on Thursday afternoon, so I am spending the weekend in rehearsal and suit shopping, and setting up lights … But this really is due to fabulous editing your end, so I wanted to say thank you!

TT job offer, client, Architecture: “Dear Karen & Kellee, I’m writing to share the news that today I accepted an TT AP offer from [Small college]! The proverbial jelly beans in the easter egg worked! 😉 But in all seriousness, I want to thank you both for your work with me both this time around, and back in 2015. I feel so grateful for your guidance on the documents and the process, and I feel like I have grown as a scholar and as a self-promoter in strategic ways thanks to your guidance. I also feel so lucky to have landed at [Small college]. It’s just the kind of academic environment I was hoping for and this conclusion feels especially sweet (and still a bit surreal) after working for it for so long.”

TT job offer, client, Australian institution: “…I knew this offer was generous to begin with so I was pleased with the additions to the new contract. Thank you for letting me know what to ask, as my contract (3 years) has gone up $5,000 per year. Plus the funded trip to Australia. I am sure when I have to re-negotiate after my mid-tenure review, I will be in contact to ask for what I deserve.”

Tenured job offer, reader: “Just wanted to thank you for the fantastic resources on your website.  I just accepted a lateral offer (full prof with tenure), and I’m so happy.  I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time, but throughout the process, I returned to your website to read and re-read your advice.  I particularly paid attention to what you said about preparing for the skype interview, your reminders about not babbling on during the skype and on-campus visits, your tips about reading up on current events, and just preparing the job talk like crazy.  I was really busy during the process with a teaching overload and job talk prep, so I might not have read up on current events, but with three weeks of reading (and somewhat skimming) the Economist, the NYT, the Atlantic monthly, the Chronicle of Higher Ed, and others, I was prepared to talk on the various topics that came up over dinner and during the campus visit.  With all this preparation, I felt fairly confident on the visit and was able to do my best. I highly recommend your website and resources to everyone on the academic market, because you state exactly what hiring committees want and expect, including their unstated expectations. Of course, these jobs are highly sought-after, and many people are qualified on paper. I think your advice makes a huge difference for those who are willing to listen and prepare according to what you say.” 

TT job offer, client, Kinesiology: “Thanks again for all the help during the job application process. I was able to secure a position at one of the top institutions in my field as an ABD and strongly believe the  guidance from TPII played a significant role in that. I look forward to working with you again.”

TT job offer, Reader and negotiation client, Art History: “I am at least a few months late on this but I had to write to thank you properly and share the happy ending of my job application season. I was on the job market last year, applied internationally and across disciplines, and had a good run. I got 6 campus visit invitations in total: 3 in the US (2 of which I had to miss because my visiting visa application was rejected under the travel ban, but the third one decided to do the campus visit via Skype), 1 in Canada, 1 in the UK, and 1 in Australia. Out of the four second round interviews that I managed to attend I received three offers for tenure-track/permanent positions. You might remember that I was working with you while negotiating with 2 of these. On top of these I got a year-long portable fellowship which I managed to keep at the institution where I was based as a post-doc, and two short-term fellowships for archival research in the UK.

Some days I forget how amazing all of this is. I have been having a hard few months after signing my contract, mentally and physically. I think all the anxiety from last year have been taking its toll on me. On good days I am excited about my new job and really look forward to getting to know a new country. I have been writing quite a lot this fall, whenever I was well. I try to remind myself of what happened, how and why it happened, and how it ended. This email is helping me with that. Looking back at how I started applying for jobs a couple of years ago, it is clear to me that without the guidance that you are providing through your work I would not be here. Thank you! I hope you are doing well. I read on your blog that you have been having a stressful year. I wish you and and your family health and happiness. I know it’s a constant battle.”

Tenured position, Ivy, STEM: “Dear Karen, I have not forgotten your tremendously valuable help last May and I wrote an endorsement – here it is: Karen helped me get not one, but two academic jobs. Before reading her blog, I had no luck with applications. For four years after receiving my Ph.D., I had applied to numerous positions without any luck. I got nothing, not even a reply, and that was because luck played no role in it. My cover letters were sheepish and unfocused. I have read them a few weeks ago, and they are a mess: I could hardly understand what my research was about. Thanks to her posts, my writing improved as my vision of the scholarship that I wanted to pursue became clearer. I got my first job after implementing her tips and I got shortlisted for all the jobs to which I applied in the following years. A few months ago I received an offer from [Ivy] University. Karen also helped me with the negotiations and that is some of the best money I have ever spent in my life. She managed to get me a pay rise and $20,000 more of research money in the first year. She helped me get many other benefits, too. Some students and colleagues confessed to me that they find Karen’s advice harsh and cynical. But I disagree: I find it honest and very much value her analysis of the academic market. I wished some of my past tutors and supervisors had offered similar guidance during my Ph.D. instead of letting me sleepwalk through it. And as a foreigner, I am particularly grateful for Prof. Kelsky’s crash course in cultural awareness. Many of the behaviors that I considered virtuous were, in fact, sabotaging my applications and I needed someone with the moral courage and experience of Karen to make me relativize them and see them for what they were. So many thanks, Karen. I hope many other people can find in your words the help that has been so fundamental in transforming my life.”

Lecturer position, client, Italian: “I just got an offer for a great Lecturer job in the Italian department of a good university and I just wanted to thank you for your help.”

The Joy of Editing, client, English: “Hi, Karen!  Please pardon my belated response and appreciation for all your clever stratagems!  The letter is so much more cohesive and succinct than my DIY version. Again, I know the T-T job market in English is at an all-time low, but whatever the outcome of these edits I’m proud I’ve gone through them. It’s good for my self esteem and has affirmed in a way that I have not felt for years the power of the revision stage of the writing process to create clarity in style and content–Dyad Alert, but I sincerely mean this and energizes me to hold my writing students to high standards.

TT job offer, client, Poli Sci: “The Professor is In–the book, the blog, the webinars, as well as the one-one-one assistance–helped me to feel confident that I was approaching the academic job market with my eyes open and with the tools I need. I relied on Karen Kelsky’s advice as I navigated each stage–from my application materials to the Skype interview to the campus visit and job talk and finally to negotiating an offer. Learning what to expect and what has worked for other candidates was beyond helpful to me during this process.”

Multiple TT job offers, client, US and UK, Psychology: “Dear Karen, I am sorry I didn’t reply to you before – at that time I just started getting interviews and things were hectic. Also, I had gotten right away a job offer (in the UK) and decided to not apply to any more jobs. I wanted to thank you deeply with all the help you gave me when I decided to go to the Job Market (aka Hunger Games). Thanks to you, I had all my documents prepared on time, and strong enough that I was competitive, and also felt more confident. I ended up applying to just a few jobs (because I got an offer right away from a University in the UK that I liked, and for the few jobs that I had applied for until then, I was invited for 3 interviews and got 2 job offers (the 3rd one I couldn’t afford to wait, as I had to make a decision for the other 2 sooner).”

Joy of Editing, client: “Karen, Thank you for your comments and edits on my four application documents. I learned so much ‘ticks’ in my writing (lists and dyads, especially), how to write confidently, and how to offer specific examples to “show” and not “tell.” I look forward to submitting my first application with an improved package.”

Interview Success, client, Russian: “Dear Karen, Thank you so very much for helping me with my teaching statement by getting rid of the extraneous details that buried my strengths.  Apologies for getting back to thank you only now. I had a Skype interview with University of XX for a Russian t-t position a couple of days ago, and I just got a request for a conference interview with [Ivy] for a Russian t-t job. Thanks so much again, and I will definitely report back.  I wish Kellee and you a lovely weekend!”

Joy of Editing, client: “have found while revising my docs that your advice is quite frank and down-to-earth and would appreciate your suggestions (if any) very much.

Joy of Editing, client: “I am writing to thank you for all of your help with my cover letter, C.V., and research statement. I never finished the cover letter with you–to be honest I was overwhelmed with application due dates plus my full-time job. I did follow your advice, especially around the gendered-nature of my writing…”

Joy of Editing, client: “Also, thank you for guiding me through the previous documents. I have learned so much from you. Your feedback has helped me become a better writer overall. Additionally, I have a much clearer idea of what I am doing in my dissertation and the article I am drafting. Thank you for taking me on as a client. I hope to be able to share with you some good news regarding the job market.”

Joy of Editing, client: “Hi Karen, Okay, this week has blown my mind.  Two things that were really one thing ultimately got to me: list/dyad addiction and a lack of inner conviction.When I went to do your directed research on the former, I ended up writing down for myself, “A mature job candidate will articulate a singular position, take a stand, and be prepared to defend it.  And that courage of conviction–manifested as the choice of one thing as the best thing–is what makes a scholarly reputation, and gets tenure track jobs” (emphasis mine). I happened upon the other post, “Finding Inner Conviction,” by accident, but it drove home that conviction is my underlying problem (hence the two things are really one).  I have been that young scholar who wants to please everyone and so does not commit to the one thing she really believes in. I have been a slave to my anxiety.No more! The dyads have been banished, Karen.  The only “ands” belong to titles, to one claim that takes the form of “between x and y” and to the single list I allowed in the final paragraph because it is verbatim from the department mission.  Perhaps you have no interest in hearing about any of this, but as someone who has felt she lacked that molecular conviction because the discipline didn’t really have the space in its traditional practices to accommodate her who can now be freed of this ressentiment, I have to thank you.  So thank you. Come what may, at least now I am telling the truth.”

TT job offer, client, Area Studies, Public Ivy: “I count this job as a truly remarkable opportunity and want to thank you for all the help. I heard that i was their first choice and that it was a unanimous vote from the search chair and I really do believe that it was because I meticulously followed your interview guidelines.  The official offer letter is still on its way and I will seek your help for the negotiating. I feel incredibly lucky as well considering that I have no US PhD — can’t thank you enough for advise in the book as well as your columns and the blog.”

Negotiating client: “Even after reading your book and many other sources on women negotiating in academia my hands were still literally shaking and my heart pounding as I sent the email with my initial negotiation requests for a TT position at a renowned R2 university. I kept staring at the email draft, almost convinced myself multiple times that I should ask for less, that I was being presumptuous, along with all the other similar stories we tell ourselves. I think I hit “send” anyway only because I promised you that I would ask for that amount.
Lo and behold, the world did not end, no one was angry, and they still wanted to hire me! I didn’t get the full 10% increase I asked for but did get an additional $4k in salary and an additional $50k for my start up package. Your responses to my email drafts were helpful and the resultant confidence I had in my correspondence was enough to talk me out of backing down several times. Contracting with you for negotiation assistance was definitely worth it for me financially and made a world of difference emotionally as I successfully navigated the negotiation process!”

TT job offer, client: “About 4 years ago you helped me to edit my job letter. I just wanted to thank you very much for all of your help! As a result of your suggestions,  I got a significant number of campus interviews at R1 institutions, which is no small feat in my tiny and highly competitive field. I finally landed a TT position at the University of XX. I just wanted to thank you very much for doing what you do, and I believe that I owe a significant part of my success to your services. I have recommended you to many colleagues and friends.

Article editing: “I wanted to let you know the article was accepted! What a trip from the first round of feedback!”

Multiple TT job offers, client: Poli Sci: “Hi Dr. Karen,I am writing because I wanted to let you know that I got a tenure-track position. I think I still had a couple of drafts left of the last document that I left hanging – my apologies for not following up with you sooner. Thank you so much for your efforts. I quite literally couldn’t have done this without you. I’ve just begun as tenure-track Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics at XX State, and will be Director of the XX Center in my third year. It’s a perfect job for me, in a nearly perfect location for my son and I. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I got zero bites my first year on the market and was pretty despondent. After working with you during my second year on the market I got two campus visits, two great offers, plus being shortlisted in the top 6 at [Elite]. The substance was there, but I couldn’t get it across until you and I began working together.Thank you again. I can now build the life my son and I need in large part as a result of your expertise and skill in this process. I won’t hesitate to send friends and colleagues your way.

UK Lecturer position, client: “I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to let you know that I had been offered a position of lecturer (fixed term appointment) at XX in London, and will start just a month from now. I wanted to thank you again for your support, and thought you might want to know what happened after we worked together (at least for your stats).

TT job offer, client: “Karen and Kellee, It was so great to see you both, and, again, I am just so grateful for you and what you do. As a 1st gen student, and the only one of my siblings to graduate from high school, being able to get my dream TT job has changed my life and given me the opportunity to now lay foundations so that I can help the futures of my family and community. You are not just helping create careers, but legacies. I will definitely stay in touch!”

Positive Cover Letter Feedback from a colleague: “In terms of the letter, I particularly admire and appreciate the tone. I did not have to struggle whatsoever to hear your voice and personality and yet it was totally professional; this is such a difficult balance. I think your letter will be read with interest not just by creative writing committee members, but by non-cw or English members, too. So often there’s that random “person from another department” on the committee who is like, “Dang, I’m an anthropology professor, I don’t know what this poetry stuff is,” but I think that person would be just as interested as a poetry prof would be.”And then later she calls the letter “pretty damn charismatic” and she also says “I get such a positive feeling from your cover letter and can say that it is much more polished and compelling than most of the letters I’ve read when on committees. “

Research position, Switzerland: “I just though I would give you some quick feedback. You worked with me in 2017 on a grant application and my application package. Unfortunately I did not get the grant but I did end up accepting a head of lab tenured faculty position at XX which is a research institute within the XX domain. So even though it is not a professor position I get to run my own full size lab, have good resources for research and no teaching obligations. I still do a small amount of teaching as a lecturer at XX, however, but this is mainly because I enjoy it and to keep me connected to the students. Thank you for all the help with my application documents and to understand the application process itself! It was really helpful.”

Negotiation client: “Hi Karen, Just a quick update. After initially declining XX College’s offer, we had a number of additional conversations exploring possibilities for a joint appointment. I ultimately concluded that it just wouldn’t be feasible given my travel constraints. So I formally accepted [Elite’s] counteroffer, and am very happy with the terms I received thanks to your sagacious guidance.”

Webinar viewer: “I am a post-doc in the [Ivy]. I am watching your NCFDD webinar from last week, and I wanted to reach out and say thank you. A colleague recommended your book to me in graduate school, and I have read it so often that the binding is falling apart. It has made a huge impact on my work, and following your advice prepared me to successfully apply both for a major national graduate school fellowship, as well as my current position.Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge about the academic job market with those of us who struggling to enter it. I look forward to next week’s webinar!”

Art of the Article and Facebook Live: “I am currently enrolled in The Art of the Article. I had worked with Karen on my CV three years ago. I also worked with Kellee in a campus visit intervention two years ago. Your resources have been, and continue to be, invaluable. I recently discovered your Facebook Live videos. I like it particularly when you each stick to your own points of view when they diverge, because each POV has been very important for me. For instance, in last week’s Facebook live, Karen matter-of-factly sets forth things such as (paraphrased) “But you DO need an article. Do it.” She’s right, of course. On the other hand, Kellee is very calm and reassuring, (also paraphrased) “You’re here. You don’t have an article. We will work with where you are and you will get there.” Both stances are necessary–it’s like Ann Swidler’s concepts of holding paradoxical logics and working with both to continue moving forward. Karen tells what has to be done and lights a fire of I NEED TO DO THIS NOW!, and Kellee eliminates all the beating oneself up over the “shoulds” in order to get rid of the baggage that’s preventing the work on what needs to be done. Neither of you pulls any punches, but you’re both tough and gentle in different, but complementary, ways. I don’t know how this works, but it really does.”

Call it Real-Ac

At the start of every talk that I give on the academic and post-academic job market, I state that in a decades long reality in which only 5-35% of PhDs (depending on field) will get tenure track jobs, the so-called “non-academic” job should NOT be called “Alt-Ac” or “Post-Ac” or “Non-Ac” — all of which continue to center the academic job as norm — and that the tenure track job should be considered the non-normative “alternative.”

(My audiences’ faces inevitably freeze at this moment. Denial continues strong in our Ph.D. programs.)

I urge my listeners not to attach to these academia-valorizing terms, and to quickly move past them toward visions of work that are not “not-academic” but pro-actively and positively oriented toward new realms and ideas.

But the frustration continues that our language for the normative work trajectory of the majority of Ph.D.s has remained so impoverished.

Until last Friday, when Kellee, during a conversation about this issue during our weekly Facebook Live, exclaimed, “let’s just call it ‘Reality Ac!!'”

And listener Kelly Zacha Merritt chimed right in — “call it Real-Ac!”

Readers, I was shook.

I knew in that instant that that was the term I’d been looking for. It’s the term that centers reality instead of delusion. “Real” in this case does not oppose academia, the way “non” and “alt” and “post” do. It simply modifies it – pushing academia itself away from its self-serving delusions of tenure track normativity into an embrace of the variability and unpredictability of academic endeavors in a world where the majority of people with Ph.D. bring their insights and training to other fields. It allows for the truth that people with Ph.D.s stay “academics” even if they are not in “academia” – ie, that “academia” as a category exists in the REALITY that scholars work everywhere, whether by choice or not. And that academia is often a route to the reality of poverty, debt, and struggle at least as often as it is to university employment, job security, and productivity.

I’m going to use this term exclusively from now on in my talks and blogging, and I’m going to make it a hashtag.

#REALAC

I hope you’ll join me in using it. And thank you to wordsmiths Kellee and Kelly, who together coined it.

#MakeupMonday: Unapologetically “Too Ethnic” for STEM (And On a Budget)

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

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer. I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus was a Twitter follower asking for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career. Today’s post is by Dr. Adriana L. Romero-Olivares – part II in a 2-part series (the first was last Friday).

Dr. Adriana L. Romero-Olivares is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of New Hampshire. Her research examines the ecosystem-scale consequences of the adaptation of soil fungi to climate change. She uses a combination of traditional microbiological techniques and field work, coupled with molecular biology and biogeochemical analytical tools. Ultimately, she’s interested in advancing knowledge on fungal ecology and apply her discoveries to protect our environment for future generations. Follow @fungi_lover

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I am an ecologist and in the field of Ecology, wearing makeup may be frowned upon. Firstly, because when you love wildlife and spending time outside, there is no room for makeup, perfume or any other nonsense that distracts you from the holiness of nature. Secondly, no one will take you seriously in academia if you put too much effort into your looks. Well, I happen to be an ecologist, who loves nature, fungi, and my job as a scientist. Also, I love makeup, perfume, accessories, and wearing all of them at the same time. I am also Mexican, so a lot of my style is influenced by my culture; think about the color “rosa mexicano”, “azul Frida Kahlo”, the colors of the traditional “zarapes”, and the colorfulness of the Day of the Dead.

I am a postdoctoral research associate at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). In New Hampshire, the Hispanic/Latinx population is very small. With my bright lips, colorful clothing, and overall look, it is difficult for people not to notice me. I’m an avid knitter and I have a few festive pieces I’ve made for myself, such as the flower top in the picture below. I often get compliments on my appearance, although sometimes just long stares. In general, people are curious about my presence in the state of New Hampshire and UNH. Sometimes, their “curiosity” will evolve into cringe-worthy comments that can go from straight insulting to eye-rolling.

It took me a few years to embrace my style and to be unapologetic about my looks when going to work. For a long time, I did my best to not stand out, as my dad always told me, “don’t look too ethnic, try to blend in”. Newsflash, I will never blend in because in New Hampshire, I am usually the only brown person wherever I go. I have no control on how people perceive me, so I might as well wear whatever makes me feel happy and comfortable.

I have a few makeup essentials I wear every day. Since I’ve been living just above the poverty level in the USA (i.e. grad school/postdoc/school debt), I’m good at finding beauty products on a budget, and I usually invest in only one or two “expensive” products that are really worth my money; the rest of the products I use are affordable, even for grad students and postdocs. I have two perfumes I love, Indian Coconut Nectar and Himalayan Patchouli Berry from Pacifica ($22 each), they make me feel pleasant and joyful all year round.

The “expensive” items I always have are a Lancôme mascara (définicils) ($27.50) and eye liner (artliner) ($30.50). I like these because they last all day long; they’re both water proof so I don’t have to worry about awkward stains under my eyes, especially on a tough day in academia that may involve tears. My foundation is budget friendly; I use Simply age-less ($10) by cover girl and I go for golden tan-257. My blush of choice at the moment is Lychee+Gold ($14) by Seraphine  Botanicals and my bronzer is Amazonian Clay Bronzer by Tarte ($30). I want to point out that I got these from Ipsy so I only paid $10 dlls for the monthly subscription and not the full retail price. I have a lot of good makeup from Ipsy, including a super amazing pencil eyeliner, Wonderwand by Ciate ($18). As for eyeshadows, I have one palette, Naked2 by Urban Decay, which I got last year for $25 dlls during a sale (Black Friday maybe?). However, I’ve thinking about getting Born to run or Elements by Urban Decay (Black Friday this year, maybe?) to take it up a notch.

And now the fun part, lipstick. Lipsticks can be tricky because of the warm undertone of my lips. Depending on how my planner looks like for the day, I will go for lip dyes or regular lipsticks. If I’ll have a long day and I don’t want to worry about getting lipstick on my teeth or retouching my lips, then I definitely go for the best budget friendly lip dye, outlast by cover girl ($9); I have three favorite shades, brazen raisin-542, hottie pink-548, and blossom berry-555. I tried super stay 24 by Maybelline, and although some shades are ok, most colors don’t show well with my undertone; sometimes I can’t even tell I’m wearing lipstick. I recently discovered Pure Lust matte tint+velvet from Cailyn (Personable-43) ($19), and I can’t stress enough how amazing it is; personally, these are in the expensive side for me, but I am planning to budget to get more shades in the future. Another amazing Ipsy goodie was the Nars Cruella Velvet Matte lip pencil. I finished the one from Ipsy and got a full size recently, is not cheap, but it lasts a long time ($27). There’s two Maybelline lipstick shades that I love and have been using for a few years, 1) blissful berry-410 color sensational ($4.99) and 2) plum me-806 color sensational matte (which is sadly, discontinued). I love a rich dark red shade from Revlon, Black Cherry-477 ($8.90), and a matte “rosa mexicano” by Milani, aka orchid-64 ($5.99). I will sometimes use Victoria Secret’s Velvet Matte Cream Liquid Lip as a final touch (i.e. in combination with another lipstick) for extra vibrancy. I usually get them on sale (3 for $25).

Finally, last year I gave a workshop at the National Conference for College Women Leaders (NCCWSL) by the American Association of University Women, and one of their sponsors was Realher, “makeup made to inspire and empower women”. I got some freebies and I was hooked. I especially like their matte liquid lipsticks ($18), which have the best names; my personal favorites are “I am a queen” (bright pink) and “I deserve the best” (deep mauve). Finally, the highlight of my makeup collection so far: a limited edition of Selena’s “Como la flor”  by Mac which I got as a gift from my husband. I love Selena. I love the color. I love the lipstick. As a closing remark, the only downside I can think of using “too much lipstick”, especially matte lipsticks, is that they can dry and chap your lips. I struggle with that sometimes, especially during winter. My solution is to use eos lipbalm ($3.50) every night before going to bed, and once a week I exfoliate with ChapStick total hydration lip scrub ($4.50).

Overall, using shades and colors that bring out my “ethnicity” empowers my everyday life. I even wear colorful clothing during field work! The way I look, and the time and effort I put into my style, has nothing to do with the quality of my work or my ability to do great science. When I look at the mirror, I tell myself: “this is what a scientist look like, stereotypes are boring, dull, and inaccurate, I’m Latina and I’m proud”.

The Power of Privilege: a Mexican Ecologist in Academia in the USA? – Guest Post

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

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer. I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus was a Twitter follower asking for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career. Today’s post is by Dr. Adriana L. Romero-Olivares.

Dr. Adriana L. Romero-Olivares is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of New Hampshire. Her research examines the ecosystem-scale consequences of the adaptation of soil fungi to climate change. She uses a combination of traditional microbiological techniques and field work, coupled with molecular biology and biogeochemical analytical tools. Ultimately, she’s interested in advancing knowledge on fungal ecology and apply her discoveries to protect our environment for future generations. Follow @fungi_lover

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Ecology and the appreciation of nature is highly associated to privilege, this is one of the main problems of the lack of diversity in academia in ecology in the USA. As a Mexican, born and raised in Mexico, I was lucky. I had the privilege of having access to higher education regardless of my background or my race. I had the privilege to be encouraged by high-school teachers to pursue a career in sciences. I had the privilege to go to a public university and get whatever degree I wanted almost for free (annual tuition was $800 Mexican pesos, at the time approximately $80 USD). I had the privilege to not be segregated by school districts. I had the privilege to always have role models throughout college that had similar life experiences to mine and who look like me. I had the privilege to have mentors who amplify my voice. I had the privilege to be granted opportunities. Now, I’ve been in the USA for six years and I understand the privilege behind pursuing a career in ecology and the power mentors and role models have had in my professional development. In the USA , there is a lot of interest and efforts going into recruiting POC into STEM, ecology included, but not enough is being done to retain them. The education privileges that I had as a Mexican woman in Mexico pursuing a STEM degree, should be the same for every POC in the USA. Here’s my story.

I came to the US in 2012 as an international student to pursue a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Southern California. I was born and raised in the north of Mexico in the state of Sonora, so traveling with a tourist visa across the border to the USA is something that I’ve done throughout my entire life. I used my tourist visa mostly to travel to Nogales, AZ to buy shoes and clothes. I am very tall compared to the average Mexican woman, so getting clothes in Mexico was complicated; but finding shoes my size, and jeans that were not “unintentional capris” was easy in the USA. Overall, growing up in the Mexico-USA border area, I knew a lot of people who migrated to the USA, including family members. I was jealous. The way I saw it, living in the USA was great. You didn’t have to wear a uniform to go to school, you could buy clothes that fit most sizes (including tall people like me), affordable Crayolas, plastic boxes for your pens and pencils, Lisa Frank stuff, and many other things that my 10-year-old self considered priorities in the early 1990’s.    

But at the same time, I would hear negative comments from friends and family about their experience living in the USA; most comments were along the lines of racism. Although Mexico is no stranger to racism, overall, the opportunities for Mexicans regardless of color are ‘somewhat’ well distributed, especially for lower- to upper-middle class people (although there is still a lot to be done regarding equal opportunities for indigenous people). For example, I come from a working class family in Mexico. I’m first generation college-graduate, I grew up in a big city in a neighborhood with gang activity, I’m brown, I’m a woman, and I have a BS in Biology, an MS in Molecular Ecology, and a PhD in Biological Sciences. I can’t help but wonder, given my background, what are the chances I would’ve accomplish all this if I grew up in the USA?  Many POC in the USA grow up in similar conditions to the ones I grew up in Mexico, but I have not met one of them yet who is a professor in Ecology.

I learned English at a very young age. I had a scholarship to attend a private elementary school where I learned to read, write, and speak English. Most kids in the school were rich and white. I was neither, and was discriminated for both, but the one that hurt me the most was the discrimination associated to something inherently mine that I couldn’t change: being brown.

This is a wide spread problem in Mexico that’s finally coming out and finally being acknowledged (learn more about this here). After elementary school, I moved on to the public education system for middle school and high school. Here, I felt like home, without discrimination and with a sense of belonging, I thrived. I got very good grades, I participated in district- and state-wide competitions on Chemistry and Biology. I joined the History club and the Philosophy club and was encouraged by several teachers in high school to study a career in sciences, and I did. I was supported, encouraged, and not discriminated against based on my sex or race at a crucial age, which is key to recruit girls in STEM according to this study. In addition, worrying about paying for college was not a concern because university tuitions are fairly affordable to middle class families in Mexico compared to the USA.

In college, most of my professors were men but there were a few women. I experienced some sexual harassment from a few male professors -which is sadly very common in universities in Mexico- but I was lucky; the harassment was not unbearable and it was overshadowed by an outstanding group of great supportive professors, both men and women. Overall, I did really well during my college degree and graduated with honors. I did my master’s in a small but amazing department with mostly women professors, and again, I did really well. I was encouraged to apply to a PhD in the USA with a full scholarship from the Mexican government, and despite my extremely low GRE scores, I got in. Once again, the strong support and encouragement of role models, including many of them who looked like me,  helped me tremendously on my road to pursuing a PhD in Ecology.

Fast forward a few months, I’m sitting in ecology group a few weeks into my PhD program in the USA. Today’s topic: “addressing lack of diversity in ecology”. I was taking notes because this was so new to me. Diversity? What do they mean? I start to hear about a lack of women in science, and a lack of people of color in science, and all of a sudden I feel very self-aware; there’s only 2 non-whites in the room, myself and another grad student. I got flashbacks from elementary school, except this time there’s no discrimination; in fact, the opposite, there’s an interest in inclusiveness. The other person of color was my office mate back then, so when we went back to our office she told me she felt really uncomfortable having a bunch of white people discuss the lack of people of color in sciences, but she was happy this was being finally addressed. And then she asked me, “how did you feel, especially being the only Hispanic in the room?”. I was so confused, I don’t even recall what I said. A few weeks later I read a proposal where I was used in the section of broader impacts: “a Hispanic PhD student in my lab…” I was again really puzzled about what was so important about my ethnicity in the sciences and ecology in the USA.   

There was a disconnection between how I felt versus how I was perceived. I did not feel Hispanic –  whatever that meant – I was Mexican. At first, I did not feel that the lack of women and people of color in sciences and ecology was a problem. I came from Mexico, where all my professors were Mexican, some light brown, some dark brown, some white, some blonde, some women, yes, most men. Granted, there was a lack of women in science in general, but the race portion was very difficult for me to grasp. Sadly, it didn’t take long for me to start experiencing micro-aggressions: “oh, you’re a ‘real’ Mexican”, “you’re so well-spoken for a Mexican”, “were you really born and raised in Mexico?”, “you’re so tall for a Mexican” (I have to agree with this one though), and my favorite, “you must be very smart, I never heard of a Mexican pursuing a PhD”. I do want to point out that none of these aggressions happened with colleagues nor in any academic event, but some of them happened in university settings or in university-related events. I know they all came from a place of ignorance, but still they were offensive and mostly, unbearably annoying.   

So yes, it took no time for me to be fully aware of what it is like to be Hispanic in the USA, and not only Hispanic: a brown, Mexican woman. What a load to carry. I thought of all the people I knew that had migrated to the USA, and what I once thought was an amazing and an incredible opportunity, was still amazing and incredible, but came with certain obstacles that I needed to address. So even though I felt a disconnect with being classified as “Hispanic”, I chose to embrace it.

Due to my very long name (including two last names), my accent, and how I look, as soon as I started to TA, there were always students at the end of class that would approach me and asked me where I was from. Most of these students were Hispanics too and they had questions. A lot. They wanted to know how I got into grad school, what my family thought about me pursuing a career in sciences, how it was like to be the only person with a college degree in my family, what my parents do for living, how was I brought up, did my parents encouraged me to study sciences (short answer: no), and a list of endless questions associated to my experience as a Hispanic pursuing a career in ecology.

I noticed immediately that these students and I were culturally the same, and they could tell too. They needed to connect with someone with similar life experiences to feel that pursuing a career in sciences, perhaps in ecology, was possible. I started to do outreach in local communities of southern California, in areas mostly populated by Mexicans and other Hispanics, and I found that I had a great impact in these kids. What usually surprises them the most is not that I’m a woman, it’s not that I’m an ecologist with a PhD, it’s not the fact that I do amazing science, it’s not that I work with microbes, it’s the fact that on top of all of that, I’m Mexican. Very often I hear, “you’re the first Mexican I’ve ever met with a PhD”; it’s bittersweet. I’m happy they finally get to meet a Mexican woman with a PhD, but I’m sad that I’m the only one they’ve ever met. Recruiting is important, but retaining is crucial. Let’s create a scientific environment where people of color are as visible as anyone else.

What Is Free? Elitism and University Careers Advising

I wrote last week about my good times at the American Academy of Religion conference. And it was indeed a very good time. But there was one incident that I can’t stop thinking about, and I want to share it here. Because, it gets at the elitism that creeps into some efforts to assist with Ph.D. professionalization.

As I mentioned, one member of my panel at the AAR was a representative of ImaginePh.D., a newly launched career-guidance tool that is the brainchild of the Graduate Careers Consortium.  The Graduate Careers Consortium is an organization of graduate level careers advising staff at universities around the country.  When I first learned of the GCC in about 2013, I immediately got in touch. How great, I thought—an organization that is entirely devoted to Ph.D. career advising! I’d love to join! But when I inquired, I was told, “sorry, no, no people running businesses allowed at present.”  “Really?” I responded. “That seems a shame!” “Yes,” said the director of the time, “we’ll be raising this for further discussion, so please check back.”

I promptly forgot, until I think last year, when encountering a column written by GCC members in Inside Higher Ed,  I decided to check back in.

“No,” I was told, in no uncertain terms this time, “no businesses.”

Huh, ok.

Fast forward to my AAR panel. When it finished, I turned to the representative, and said, “you are here from the Graduate Careers Consortium, right?  That’s the group that won’t allow people like me to join, yes?”

“Yes,” she said.

“I think they need to change that policy,” I said.

“They will,” she replied tartly, “NEVER change that policy.”

“Why not??” I asked.

“Because GCC members provide services,” she responded with great self-righteousness, “for FREE!.  And they do not want to include any members who provide services that have to be paid for.”

Huh, ok.

“You do know that careers centers services aren’t free, yes?”

“Oh no, she said, with wide eyes,” they are COMPLETELY FREE to the students!  No student has to pay ANYTHING for the help.”

Errrr… ok…

Let’s just unpack this a bit, shall we?

What, exactly, is being called free in this scenario? First off, students have already purchased access, or membership to the career services office at their institution, through some form of financial transaction through their tuition or labor or both. At many institutions, post-docs are excluded, adjunct or visiting faculty are excluded, as are students on leave.

And the thousands upon thousands of Ph.D.s who lack the institutional affiliation—well, they are out in the cold.

Career services are not even like (public) university libraries, where one can go in and read a book or a magazine.

The do not serve the larger academic community. They serve only the students who pay into that institution, and nobody else. Money = access.

And the five or six figure debt that the majotiy of currently enrolled graduate students accrue for this “free” service? Well, let’s quietly sweep that under the rug here, just like their academic departments do.

Let’s go further.  University career services departments are subsidized by the exploitative financial structure of the institution as a whole. Their staff salaries are paid by virtue of students who TA and adjuncts who teach at poverty wages and academic departments staffed almost entirely by the contingent. And their lights are kept on by virtue of the endowments that yield the bulk of operating costs for virtually all higher education institutions. And where does endowment money come from? Oh, right, corporate profits.

Universities are parasites on corporate profits, as salaried faculty and staff are parasites on tuition paying and TA-ing students and on precariously employed adjuncts and contingent faculty.

But never forget, they are “free.”

Now let’s examine the way that “free” here is weaponized as a synonym for “virtuous.”  As if, the purveyors of this advising are operating in a sphere entirely free of self-interest.

Do these advisors work for free? Are they volunteers? Do they do this work out of the goodness of their hearts?

Would they continue if the paychecks stopped arriving?

I didn’t think so.

As a current student, you…

Why is salaried work, paid through institutions that operate based on labor exploitation and endowment earnings,  somehow less self-interested than work that is openly charged for?

More broadly, how exactly is the system of labor exploitation and debt peonage that underwrites the contemporary neoliberal university imagined as a place of ethical “purity”? What self-serving mystifications, what delusions of elite status make this possible?

Answer: the very same self-serving mystifications, and delusions of elite status that characterize the faculty and advisors in Ph.D programs, who persistently, even in 2018, refuse to consider the Ph.D. as vocational training for a wage-paying job, and insist on keeping their graduate students in a state of enforced ignorance and dependency on ivory tower illusions of scholarly “purity” – ie, the illusion that academic work is somehow separate from concerns of money, financial gain, and profit.

University faculty and staff believe that because an intermediary institution takes corporate gains and doles them out into monthly paychecks into their personal bank accounts – obscuring the exploitative and predatory financial foundations that make those salaries possible –  they are somehow independent from capitalist relations.  The resulting state of denial then allows faculty and career advisors to abnegate their responsibilities for the actual job training that Ph.D. students desperately need to confront the catastrophe of the academic job market, minimize debt, and prevent financial disaster.

GCC members would, I assume, not encourage their Ph.D. job seeking clients to work for free (or would they?)  But they then in their organizational practices characterize only certain forms of getting paid as proper, and other forms as unseemly, or debased.

This attitude ignores (or deliberately mischaracterizes) the impact of mission-driven post-ac businesses like my own and many others (Beyond The Professoriate, ScholarStudio, Beyond The Tenure Track, JobsOnToast to name just a few) that have generated countless pages of free information available to anyone with a computer and internet. This information is literally available to all, no affiliation needed.

But we are the ethically suspect.

(Speaking just for myself now, it is indeed my independent small business model that is what allows me to openly critique the depredations of the Ph.D. training apparatus as well as the abuses of the academic system. I can only name and shame institutions and individuals, expose the scandals of Ph.D. Debt and Sexual Harassment in the Academy, call out the self-serving politics of graduate training, and generally speak truth because I enjoy an independent income stream, and am bound by no institutional obligations that would limit my speech.)

“You do realize that post-ac businesses like mine and many others provide loads of targeted professional and career information for free?” I asked.

Her, with finality: “We’re. Not. Going. To. Include. Businesses.”

Me, emphatically: “Well, I think that is a wrongheaded policy.”

Her, tightly: “Well, [avoiding eye contact, gathering up her papers] “I’ll be sure to pass that message along.”

And there it ended.

Relating this conversation later to another postac business owner, I learned that the GCC does allow businesses into its conferences – but only in a segregated category, as “vendors.” In other words, a professional organization that purports to prepare PhDs for nonacademic professional careers others the world of businesses in its own professional practice.

Only in the minds of salaried staff and faculty  – and those graduate student still fondly invested in the “life of the mind” goods they are shilling – are university teaching and advising services “free.”  Only for those whose identities depend on elitist proclamations of the “anti-capitalist difference” of the academy is academic wage work innocent of the profit motive.

But more importantly, the rhetoric of “free service” weaponized by the GCC reinforces the self-serving academic delusions that have left Ph.D. students so vulnerable to the existing economy in which they must survive.  This is the attitude that quietly communicates to desperate Ph.D.s that some career options are ignoble and wrong. It is the attitude that works to sustain their investment in the self-destructive dead-end of adjuncting because adjuncting on food stamps is “noble” while running a business is corrupt. This attitude is pervasive, it is bullshit, and it keeps people trapped in an exploitative cycle of precarious labor. It is time to expose the lie behind what the university and organizations like the GCC call “free.” Graduate students deserve better.

A Tale of Two Conferences

I am just back from a back-to-back conference trip, first to the American Anthropological Association conference in San Jose, and then on to Denver for the American Academy of Religion. At each conference I spoke on the postacademic transition. I encountered quite a contrast.

My event at AAA was one of just a tiny number of professionalization events. Searching “career” in the conference app, in fact, led to only four open events. The AAR, by contrast, had 16 that I could quickly identify in the program – and there seemed to be more.

At the AAA, the crowd for my event, which was meant to be a discussion-based workshop with one other postacademic speaker and me, was very small, even though the wonderful and dedicated organizer worked hard to promote it.

[Addendum: neither my co-presenter nor I were listed on the conference program. Why? Because we had not registered. Why had we not registered? Because why would two postac scholars pay the $3xx it costs to register for the AAA?  And when our dedicated organizer approached the AAA to ask if they’d cover our registration fees, the AAA refused!

Meanwhile, I WAS listed on the AAR program. Why? Because the AAR voluntarily offered me registration as part of the invitation. And that, my friends, should have cued me into the two diverging experiences from the start.]

The tenured white man who introduced the panel appeared not to have the remotest idea who my co-presenter or I were, and laughingly wondered aloud if The Professor Is In were some kind of “pressure group or something.”

When we two presenters finished our talks—both very pragmatic and filled with examples of specific avenues for Ph.D. job seekers outside the tenure track job market — the first audience member to speak up was an apparently tenured senior white male.  In great consternation he fairly shouted at us: “all this talk of autonomy and empowerment… Foucault would be turning over in his grave!” He went on, almost sputtering, “surely we need to stay IN the structure and SAVE it! Surely THAT should be the priority?”

I of course did not come all the way to smoky San Jose to spend my time talking to tenured white men about how to save the academy.  I responded, “I am not interested in the structure and feel no obligation to save it, and neither should its victims, because it’s the STRUCTURE that is producing the victims: it is what leads thousands upon thousands of Ph.D.s to be launched into a catastrophic job market, and end up with six figure debt, the dead-end life of adjuncting, and qualifying for welfare and food stamps. I have no interest in the “structure,” and it’s not what I wish to spend my time here today discussing.”

He looked startled.

As the meme (quoted by my friend Adeline Koh recently on Facebook) puts it: “if you hire people into a broken culture, you don’t fix the culture, you break the people.”

The conversation went on from there, with a good part of the audience visibly unhappy at the concept my co-presenter and I were putting forward that an anthropology Ph.D. could or would choose to exert agency over their own fate. “All this talk of ‘improvisation’ and ‘entrepreneurship’,” said one young woman unhappily, “it’s upsetting and scary! How can you expect us to embrace that?” To which I responded, “Yes. It is scary. It is fucking scary. And the cause of it is the macroeconomic neoliberal shifts that have entirely defunded higher ed and the entire concept of a public good OR a secure job, in any field. My goal here is to try and point out options for individuals to survive and even thrive in these defunded, impoverished conditions, by telling you the truth about them, trying to pierce through the denial and mythologizing of your departments and advisors about them, and present some options for you to consider.”

“Ok, you’ve ALMOST convinced me,” announced the first tenured white male commenter as discussion drew to a close (I was not attempting to convince him). The introducer in turn gestured to me and exclaimed—“Surely universities would want to hire YOU in a position on their payroll to help their students with this! Is that not possible??” Not bothering to mention that I did not leave the academy and start a highly successful business that takes me all over the world and employs a whole team of people to entertain the idea of working for a paycheck in some university careers office, I responded, “Well, I’m not going to do that, but sure, somebody should.”

He looked startled.

Why would I not want to be on a university payroll, his look seemed to ask. He was, after all, the man who referred to himself several times during the event as “being one of the lucky few,” ie, those with tenured positions.

As a postacademic colleague remarked later, upon hearing my story, these are the people who are continually reminding everyone who will listen that it is they who  have The. Best. Job. (“T.B.J.” in her disgusted parlance).

It was this introducer, indeed, who spoke glowingly of the large Executive Session that had been held that very morning on “Precarity” in the academic job market.  “This double session, anointed by the highest AAA admin, surely reveals just how SERIOUSLY the AAA is taking these issues!” he enthused. Having not been aware of this session, I searched it right away on my phone, while listening to the discussion sputter along.  Ah. There it was. A big fancy Executive Session on Precarity. That was made up of 14 presenters of whom – and no, I’m not making this up — eight were TENURED OR TENURE-TRACK PROFESSORS. Indeed, some of the same professors who caused this mishigas that I blogged about a few months ago “Epistemological Crisis?”  read one title (love the question mark);  “Provincializing Precarity,” read another.

These securely employed academics are literally still adding CV-lines on the backs of adjuncts.

I don’t even have words.

All I could say, as I left the workshop, was a text to an anthropologist friend: “I’m done. I’m never coming back to the AAA again. They are lost.”

Discouraged, I packed my bags and journeyed on to the AAR in Denver.  This was my first time at the AAR, and I didn’t know what to expect. I did know that my invitation was to an event that clearly had the official imprimatur of the association as a whole and that the AAR admin appeared quite invested in this and a host of other postacademic and professionalization events that filled the schedule. Indeed the first event I was able to attend at the meetings was a lunch for contingent faculty with the incoming President of AAR, whose purpose was to provide a venue for them to freely express to her the things they most want her to know and to do on their behalf.  I was stunned by the care with which she listened, and the total absence of what I have come to call “tenured bullshit.”

This impression was intensified when I wandered through registration and the book exhibit and saw that there was a whole official initiative called “#AARSolidarity” meant to foreground the position of contingent faculty in Religious Studies departments.

There were pins, and postcards, and badge tags to wear to demonstrate awareness of the issue. And more than that, there were placards set conspicuously in the main hallways, making the issue truly unavoidable to all participants.

Then I attended my events. I did two of them. One was a panel discussion with four other postacademic Ph.Ds: Dr. Amy Defibaugh, Assistant Director of Academic Affairs at Temple University, Dr. Sarah Peterson representing the ImaginePhD initiative from the Graduate Careers Consortium,  Dr. Jenny Whitcher, founder of the Juniper Formation non-profit, and Dr. Emily Swafford, who is the Director of Academic and Professional Affairs at the AHA.  The conversation on this panel was absolutely fantastic – every member of the panel was deeply and imaginatively invested in the true scale of both challenges and opportunities that the postacademic job seeker encounters. Every speaker brought the intellectual sophistication of their Ph.D. training to very specific suggestions for job seekers. There was not a moment of empty rhetoric or mournful performativity (or performative mournfulness). The speakers were smart, focused, funny, empathetic… and the Q&A session could not have been more dynamic and engaged.

I was delighted with the audience of approximately 40; imagine my surprise when the organizers rued the “small numbers.”  The AHA speaker was particularly incisive, explaining the many initiatives spearheaded by that association to assist History Ph.D.s in the postacademic transition. One of the most valuable of these to me is their investment in the idea that just because you work outside the academy, you have not lost your identity as a scholar or a Historian. One of their motivating queries is: “how am I a historian in this job?” – helping Ph.D.s to reclaim the scholarly identity that may have been brutalized by the unsuccessful struggle to find a tenure track position.

It is true, as one postac historian colleague pointed out to me, that this move is potentially quite problematic: it can be interpreted as a discipline and association attempting to disappear the pain, loss, and crisis of Ph.D. career reinvention and under-report the true level of historian un- or under-employment. However, I do think based on my own life trajectory that it can be valuable to discover that one brings ones disciplinary training into other career realms. It took me about five years of running The Professor Is In to realize (and only because a client said it) that I was indeed an anthropologist of the academic career. At the panel, discussing the tension between jettisoning an over-rigid investment in a singular academic identity, and re-embracing a flexible sense of scholarly identity later, I blurted out, “It’s like a Hegelian dialectic!” to which a co-panelist said, amidst general amusement, “See, and you still get to talk this way!”

Fresh from the AAA, seeing the AHA determination to actually consider Ph.D. unemployment a crisis was heartening. As was the willingness of an AAR event to share initiatives from another discipline.

Similarly, my own individual event that followed right after (a one hour Hacking the Post-Academic Career talk followed by Q and A) drew a crowd of approximately 60 responsive, attentive audience members, who stayed engaged even when I mortifyingly lost track of time and spoke almost 20 minutes too long (breaking my single most sacrosanct professional rule!) and staying for energetic conversation that pushed us well past ending time.

The previous day, shortly after I arrived at the conference, a TPII reader who came up to introduce herself smiled mischievously and said, “I know you have sometimes called yourself an ethnographer of academic conferences! I’m dying to hear what you think of the AAR!”  At that moment I had not yet had time to make any observations, but writing this on the flight home, I can say this: I am struck yet again by the contrast in disciplinary associations’ and tenured faculty members’ willingness to engage in the scandal and crisis of contingency in any meaningful way. The AAA is truly an embarrassment, and it saddens me, since it is my home discipline. But other associations are doing better.  To be sure, I don’t want to idealize, and I know that insiders can see things that I can’t.  My postac historian friend is entirely disgusted with what she sees as the AHA insistence on co-opting History Ph.D.s’ struggle to survive in order to rationalize the continued existence of History Ph.D. programs. And there was conflict at the AAR around the issue of #MeTooPhD, and graduate student members issued a statement about their feelings of exclusion and silencing.

But, as a few folks I spoke with at the AAR panel remarked, the foundational “ethical” orientation of many of the scholars who belong to AAR may be playing a role in sensitizing the association to its obligations to its least powerful constituencies and to the devastations of adjunctification in the academy. Some of its administrators, at least, are not turning a blind eye, and are not coating the issue in self-serving academic jargon and elite and elitist events. Anthropology, by contrast, apparently seems determined to continue to package “precarity” as the latest academic buzz-word, and leave the actually precarious out in the cold.

Productivity Tuesday: Unstuck is Not About Making You a “Better” Worker

Testimonials from Unstuck participants:

It is no exaggeration to state that Unstuck has changed my academic life. I was ready to leave academia as toxic working practices were taking over, and I had imported self-doubt and anxiety into my writing practice. I believed that writing was, and would always be, a miserable experience for me. Unstuck changed all that: I treat writing as an automatic part of my job (like service and teaching) and no longer attach unnecessary emotional baggage to it, or the inevitable rejections and set backs that are part of academic life. Unstuck has enabled me to reclaim writing as a pleasure that fits within the 9-5 contractual obligations and not within holidays, weekends and in place of my actual life. The core benefits of Unstuck has been a rewiring of my writing brain, and a recognition of where I have not always been my own best advocate (setting down those rocks, and staying in my own lane). I now have a regular writing practice (5 days per week); i produce more work than I ever have in my 13 year career (since Unstuck in 8 months I have submitted 3 journal articles and a book chapter). Most of all, I am happier in my job. It was the worth every penny!

I cannot recommend this course enough — even my husband (a non academic who runs his own business) has gotten a lot out of listening to the coaching videos with me, so your influence has been spread far and wide

Associate Professor


I’m an assistant professor on the tenure track. I participated in “Unstuck” over a year ago and I continue to practice things I learned from the meetings and activities.

I particularly benefited from what I learned about time management. I used to work on projects in long, unpleasant jags that would be too unfocused and haphazard to move a piece forward in a clear, strategic way. I don’t do that anymore, and have gotten better at putting in short, focused effort on projects so I can to move forward coherently and with purpose. In the past, I didn’t trust myself to get things done unless I worked on them in a compulsive and unsustainable way. I now know from experience that if I break a task into achievable pieces, it is inevitable that I will finish the job.

As a result of revising parts of my approach to time and work, I am much more efficient than I used to be. At the same time I have a work-life balance that is sustainable. This year I wrote four grant proposals, published two articles, designed a new course, began a new research project, passed my second-year review, and began work on a book proposal. I also started a new hobby, made it to the gym regularly, and invested time in my recently minted marriage. I work hard, but I do not feel overwhelmed all the time.

Most significantly, I found “Unstuck” to be a great counterpoint to the tendencies that I absorbed in graduate school – overwork, insecurity, and unhealthy identification with work products instead of process. Kellee really understands the psychological and emotional dynamics that make academics unproductive, and she has solid and practical suggestions for replacing them in your own work process. Additionally, she has a well-founded critique of how academic institutions encroach on the time and happiness of grad students and faculty, and her productivity coaching is not just about being more productive and successful. An important goal of “Unstuck” is becoming a mature and self-respecting person with good boundaries – not just a better worker.

Assistant Professor


I just wanted to drop you a line to honor how incredibly helpful the Unstuck program has been. I can hardly believe that in the last 16 months I have:
1. Taken a sprawling dissertation and brought it to the point where I am now looking at the copy-editing notes from the publisher;
2. Going over final edits for a chapter in an edited volume, the proposal for which I wrote in mid May 2018;
3. Preparing to attend an international conference to present a scholarly paper (a first for me, and this is a top-tier venue), the seeds of which have been germination for almost 2 years, but which really took off over this past summer;
4. Awaiting decision on grant application for said international travel, which, short though it was, required a somewhat substantial narrative.
This is just incredible productivity considering I carry a 3/3 load in an environment that is not particularly supportive of scholarship (although it makes high demands).
Assistant Professor

I read about UnStuck at a critical stage of my PhD program. The timing of the UnStuck course coincided the approval of a second extension for my PhD program. I was exhausted. Over the previous six years I juggled responsibilities as a part time PhD student, a full-time non-tenure track faculty, and a Faculty administrator. My original plan was to complete the PhD in 3 years. Get in. Get out. That didn’t happen. I felt like I failed. Even though I was determined to focus on writing, even when teaching or other responsibilities were no longer in the way, other burning issues emerged (anything but writing). I had to admit it to myself: I was stuck.

I decided to register for the first UnStuck course beginning in May 2017. The course provided structure, inspiration, and support. Over the first few weeks, I identified practices that were preventing me from meeting my goals, such as binge writing and not scheduling time off. After 2 weeks in the course I began to enjoy writing again. I was writing each day and accomplishing other tasks. I was meeting regularly with a small group as well as interacting with the larger group taking the course. The feelings of failure and isolation diminished.

By July, I wrote the final three chapters and submitted a full draft of my dissertation. I completed my PhD a few months later. The UnStuck course created an environment I needed to achieve this goal and feel very,
very good about it. For me it was all about community. I revisit the course often and remain in contact with members of my small group. My approach to writing continues to evolve.

Thank you Kellee!

Former ABD, now PhD




Stop Struggling Alone

Unstuck: The Art of Productivity is a 12-step, self-guided course that walks you step-by-step through acquiring the tools and practices of a productive academic writing practice. Membership includes access to daily blog posts, checklists, coaching videos and live webinars with Productivity Coach Kellee Weinhold as well as interaction with a writing community. Each part of the course is designed to help you identify your negative habits and rewire your brain for regular and enjoyable writing! (NOTE: The content is “dripped” M-F over 12 weeks, but your access to the course and the community does not expire)

New sessions start the first Monday of every month.

Read more about the program HERE

Know enough already? Choose a payment method below

Unstuck begins the first Monday of every month.

Register for January 7th cohort

UNSTUCK: The Art Of Productivity First Monday

* PLEASE NOTE: Failure to pay the agreed upon installments will result in cancellation of all access to the program. The online course system does not allow for partial access!

#MakeupMonday: How Can You Code Switch Your Face? Managing Hyperpigmentation in the “Natural” Sciences

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

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer. I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus was a Twitter follower asking for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career. Today’s post is by Dr. Bala Chaudhary

 

Dr. Bala Chaudhary is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Studies at DePaul University. Her research examines plant-soil-microbe interactions using a combination of experimental, macroecological, and data synthesis approaches to study multi-scale questions in microbial community ecology. Follow @balachaudhary

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Confession: I am ecologist and a daily makeup wearer.

This largely stems from the fact that, as a woman of color with hyperpigmentation (HP), I feel more comfortable and confident wearing makeup to even my skin tone. I also have become tired of hearing comments like:

“Are you ok? You look tired!” or

“Jeez you don’t look so good!” or

“Why do you paint those dark spots on your face?” (My personal favorite)

These are all comments, by the way, from fellow ecologists that would likely claim that makeup is a waste of time and money, a tool of the patriarchy, and that no woman that wears makeup could be taken seriously in ecology. The current president of the Ecological Society of America recently shared via twitter a story of a faculty search where a woman in, “somewhat formal dress suit and makeup, hair is nicely ‘done’…is scorned by faculty and grad students as too feminine, couldn’t possibly work in field.” This is a familiar story and I applaud leaders in our field for bringing such issues to light that may seem minor, but have real consequences with respect to jobs, salaries, and promotion.

Me at my wedding

One year later at grad school

To adapt to the cultural norms of ecology, I both consciously and unconsciously engage in a fair amount of code-switching, the act of changing the way you speak or act depending on the audience. I am a child of Indian immigrants and grew up in suburban Minnesota, so code-switching is second nature. Imagine cross-country ski races preceded by bhangra dance practice. As a result, in ecology grad school, code-switching was a cinch. I bought chaco sandals, hid my diamond wedding ring, and even attempted an embarrassing period of trying to grow dreadlocks. If code-switching sounds fake or disingenuous to you, I suggest using your excellent research skills to learn more about this very real sociolinguistic phenomenon and the reasons why people code-switch, because this is a make-up blog.

But, how can you code switch your face? My au naturale beauty regime is failing me as approach mid-life and I find myself spending more and more time investigating ways to apply makeup to make it look like I’m not wearing makeup. I’ve learned a few tips along the way that I’d like to share to hopefully save y’all some time and also help bring to light issues surrounding appearance norms in ecology. When I share my experiences of code-switching, makeup wearing, and beauty norms in ecology with white female and minority students, I see how strongly it resonates with them (some even visibly relax). I share these stories to encourage students in my lab to speak and act in a way that feels true to their identity instead of the perceived norms of our field.

Many women of color develop hyperpigmentation (HP) as a result of many different factors: age, genetics, sun exposure, acne, dryness, hormones, stress, etc. It’s totally normal! If you choose, a few extra beauty regime habits can help even out your skin tone and keep you looking fresh. There are two aspects to managing HP: prevention and coverage.

Prevention of HP requires understanding the cause of your HP. For me, it’s a lovely combination of sun, dryness, and hormones. Eczema patches leave behind dark spots. I also developed dark patches on my eyelids, around my nose and around my mouth during pregnancy. Note that this was NOT the same as melasma or the “mask of pregnancy”, a menacing phrase I always hated. Therefore, the prevention aspect of my HP involves sunscreen, excessive moisturizing, and waiting for my hormones to calm down post birth/nursing. Yay waiting! If you’d like to see a dermatologist about your HP, I’m just going to be frank here and suggest you find a WOC doctor. In my experience, if you can’t find a WOC doctor you’ll find just as good info on the internet. I would also consult a WOC dermatologist before any more intense medical skin treatments (e.g. peels) as, depending on your HP, patterning these can lead to raccoon eyes.

I use Origins Mega-Bright SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer on my face and neck and Mega-Bright Dark Circle Minimizer on my eyes since I have very dry fragile eye skin. I also use Cetaphil Cream on my body which locks in the moisture and helps your face. My dermatologist said I should be going through a tub a month! I don’t come anywhere near that but I try. Drinking water and sleeping with a humidifier helps too.

For coverage and to even our my skin tone, I use Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in tan. In the summer, when my skin is darker, I use the oil-free version which has a darker tone. To find the right skin tone match, I go to Sephora on a slow day, stalk a POC employee (are you listening Sephora HR!?), and ask them to help me find the right tinted moisturizer shade to provide HP coverage without making it look like I’m wearing heavy makeup. I put a nickel size amount on my palm and apply with a Multitasker complexion #45 brush. Since the goal is even skin tone, no other applicators works as well for me. Start with your darkest spots and blend throughout. Afterwards, it’s a bit dewey for my taste, so I dust with NARS Setting Powder using a Sephora #59 powder brush. I have learned from Karen the magic of setting spray and use NYX Matte Finish Fini Mat because you can get it at Target and it recently worked wonders after an overnight transatlantic flight! The final step for me is a long-wear lip color and I use Sephora cream lip stain, though the quest for a shade that looks like I’m not wearing anything continues.

I have no connections to any of the above products or businesses and would be curious to hear what has worked for other WOC in ecology or other WOC with HP!

 

A Personal Note From Karen

I want to offer a personal note. I’ve had an extraordinarily difficult year. My teenage son has struggled with mental health challenges that have required constant attention as well as constant travel, along with a profound reevaluation of my family system and my own history of mental illness. My 90 year old mother was in a serious car accident. Other family members have been dealing with major health issues. The stress of all this, and the continual travel (I was traveling 21 out of 31 days in October) have – along with the escalating grief, strain and fear of being a queer Jew with biracial children in the national nightmare of 2018 – damaged my mental health and immune system, and I’ve spent the year struggling with both almost continual illness (in the past two months, for example, I’ve had both Epstein-Barr and coxsackie virus), weekly migraines, low grade depression, and constant state of overwhelm. The travel and illness have kept me from the dancing that is my front-line mental health defense, which has exacerbated the struggle.

Some of you may have noticed a decline in my rate of blogging and social media activity, and disruption in my editing schedule. I want to acknowledge that. If you’ve had encountered any frustrations in engaging with The Professor Is In this year, please accept my apologies.

I decided to just share this openly, because I know how many of you are struggling as well (because you tell us)  and because I strongly believe in de-stigmatizing mental health struggles. Secrecy and shame are major elements of the toxicity of the academy. I am a real person and The Professor Is In is not a faceless corporation and after eight years of existence I feel like it is ok to say: sometimes this is really, really hard.

The fact that I can write this, however, is a good sign–it means I am able to see and articulate my circumstances, instead of just drowning in them. That means I’m coming back up. Writing this today, on the literal eve of the midterms, may be tempting fate, of course. But this time around we at least know the enemy and its strength, so whatever happens, it won’t be the sickening (literally sickening) shock of 2016.

Blogging is still challenging, however. Writing takes a level of focus that has been hard to muster.  It has been hard to stay focused on the conventions of the academic job search when so much that we’ve taken as “conventional” has evaporated or been exposed as a sham. At the same time, speaking directly to audiences, either at talks around the country or virtually online, has been much  more meaningful for me this year.

And so, right now, I am relying on webinars where I can talk through the topics and also respond to live questions. I’ve scheduled three webinars for the next three weeks. The first one is tomorrow. To make the webinars more useful to everyone, I give all registrants open access to the recordings afterward, whether or not you attend the live events. That schedule is below. Please use WEBZONE10 as a discount code for these, which provides 10% off.

And I also want to invite you, if you haven’t been coming already, to our weekly FB Live on Fridays at 11 AM EST, where Kellee and I talk through the stresses of staying active under the psychic assault of the present moment.

And my series of guest posts continues.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you all, in the comments, as to how you’re all doing. How has this past year been for you? Has it caused any reevaluation of your life? Your goals? Your relationship to academia? Please share.

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Interview Intervention Webinar

In this 90-minute webinar Karen Kelsky shows you how to interview effectively for an academic job. She covers the major questions asked most often, and their unspoken agendas.  She discusses the most common errors made by candidates, and how to organize and deliver concise, content-rich, non-desperate responses.

She will provide templates for responses to basic questions about your dissertation/current research, publishing, teaching, and fit, and abundant examples of both bad and good answers from actual client interviews.

In addition, we confront illegal/inappropriate questions, micro-aggressions, and the all important issue of overcoming Imposter Syndrome, and communicating confidence through verbal and non-verbal modes. And she spares a few words for how to dress, the best shoes for cold weather, and ideas for briefcases!

The material applies to skype, phone, and conference interviews, and the campus visit (although note that we have a whole separate webinar and recording available that is devoted to the campus visit!)

This webinar covers the same content, and addresses the same questions, as the live Skype Interview Intervention service ($250); it is an immediately available and cost-effective way to learn what to expect and how to prepare for all forms of academic job interview. Some clients do the webinar as preparation for a live Skype Intervention, if there are slots available.

As always there will be plenty of time for Q and A at the end.

You have access to a recording of the event afterward.

Tuesday 11/6 at 6 PM EST

Cost: $50

After completing payment by clicking below, you will be redirected to the dedicated Go-To-Meeting Webinar Registration page, where you will fill out a registration form and be given instructions and an access code to sign in on your chosen day.

Add to Cart

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Campus Visit Webinar

In this 90 minute webinar I walk you through the basic expectations and potential pitfalls of the dreaded Campus Visit (sometimes called a Fly-Out). We will cover all of the core elements, including:

  • The three key criteria at play in a campus visit

  • The single biggest pitfall for candidates

  • The basic organization of a campus visit

  • The initial arrangements and scheduling

  • Preparing for the visit

  • Meetings with faculty, Head, Dean, and graduate students

  • The formal interview with the Search Committee

  • The job talk and Q and A

  • The teaching demo

  • Handling meals gracefully

  • Maintaining your stamina

  • Evaluating campus climate

  • What to wear, especially in cold weather

As always there will be time for Q and A at the end. You will have access to a recording of the webinar 24 hours after the event.

Campus visits are hard!  A little advance knowledge will save a world of hurt!

Tuesday 11/13 at 6 PM EST

Cost:   $50

After completing payment by clicking below, you will be redirected to the dedicated Go-To-Meeting Webinar Registration page, where you will fill out a registration form and be given instructions and an access code to sign in on your chosen day. 

Add to Cart
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Job Talk Webinar

In this webinar we will delve into the challenges of the all-important job talk.

I will explain the role of the job talk in the campus visit (it’s the single most important element) , and what it is meant to show about you as a candidate (it’s not what you think).

Kellee and I together created this webinar because I edit hundreds of job talks a year at TPII, and she hears them in her live skype Campus Visit Interventions, and the first drafts we see are routinely truly awful. (And when we were faculty members, in truth, most job talks we heard from candidates were pretty bad.) This is not because your research is poor!  It’s because nobody has ever explained to you WHAT a job talk is supposed to accomplish and HOW a job talk is supposed to be organized.

We now understand that most candidates have no idea about the proper ethos and organization of the job talk. They don’t get the “point” of the job talk, what it’s meant to achieve, and then how to achieve that through specific substance and organization.

So I will explain the most common pitfalls of the job talk, which are legion, including:

Excessive lit review (this isn’t your comprehensive exam!)
Forgetting to explain the topic before the analysis
Imbalance of theory and data
Overambitious scope
No clear argument
Overwhelming, illegible powerpoint slides

And I provide a proven template for job talk structure that will ensure yours showcases your research, engages the audience, and establishes your scholarly profile AND collegiality.

Finally, I will discuss the treacherous Q and A after the talk–what kinds of questions to expect, how to handle the audience, and most importantly, how to handle challenging, critical, or inappropriate questions.

Includes 30 minutes of Q and A.

All participants get access to the recording of this webinar.

Tuesday 11/20 at  6 PM EST/23:00 GMT. 

Cost:   $50

Add to Cart