Sunday, March 27, 2011

I shoulda known better

I wrote:
I was as ignorant as a newborn babe when I first went on the job market three years ago (with a supremely lousy and unhelpful placement advisor), and this blog was an invaluable source of information.

To which Anonymous responded:
Mind sharing what things in particular you were ignorant of 3 years ago, that you now know, that you wish you had known? I can guess, but I'm still curious of the specifics. And what sort of help didn't your placement advisor give that you wish they had? Again, I can guess, but I'm still curious.
My ignorance was pretty comprehensive (I'm not kidding when I say "newborn babe." I knew practically nothing. Lockean blank slate.), and I'm not sure that this list will be especially edifying for many readers of this blog.

Things about the job market that I was ignorant of three years ago:
  • I did not know how much pedigree matters. (I did not go to a posh school)
  • I did not know how much publications matter. (I had no peer-reviewed papers, but I had book reviews and an encyclopedia entry and a few invited talks)
  • I did not know how to put together a proper job dossier
  • I did not know that there is a whole class of schools that I should not bother applying to
  • I did not know how little my years of teaching experience would count in the absence of pubs and pedigree
  • I didn't know (no one knew) that the market that first year (and every year after) would be historically bad in the wake of a national financial catastrophe

Things my placement advisor should have (but did not) tell me:
  • How to construct a cover letter, CV, teaching statement, research statement, evidence of teaching effectiveness (learning this a full year before I went on the market would have been helpful)
  • Which jobs to not bother applying to and why
  • That only applying to schools where I really, really wanted to work was foolish -- you have to apply for lots and lots and lots of jobs. (By my estimation, I got interviews for roughly ten percent of the jobs I applied for this year -- so 90% tossed me in the bin.)
  • That looking for a philosophy job is really expensive
  • Why my belief that I'd be able to find a job that first year was excessively optimistic
  • How really, really hard it is to get a TT job

All of this can be summed up as: My department has pretty piss poor placement advisement. It does very, very little to prepare students for the job market. It is very much DIY.

I learned, and I managed to find out a lot of these things from other sources:
1) I discovered that other, better schools have useful placement info and advice online for their grads
2) I got help and advice from friends and other profs in my dept (including some I didn't know personally). One in particular, who was a brand new hire, gave me very substantive help.
3) I got lots of information from this blog

I also got lucky, and my first year out, I got two interviews. One was for a job I was clearly underqualified for. The other was for a post doc, which I got. That was a hugely lucky break, and I strongly encourage everyone on the market to apply for post docs, especially if you have deficits (pedigree, scant publication record) to make up for. (And not just US post docs -- any postdoc that gives you time to write papers and get published is valuable.) Post docs are getting competitive too, just like the rest of the market, but getting one is like manna from heaven: time to devote to research and getting published, money to go to conferences.

What I wish I knew then, that I know now:
  • I wish someone at my grad school had sat me down, explained how important it is to get a paper published, and explained to me how to get a paper published. The most I ever got was "you should submit this paper somewhere." Maybe I should have been more inquisitive, and maybe I would have been if someone had said "your future career depends on it." (And maybe this is the difference between a really great grad program, and a merely good program.) Boys and girls, get published. Get published in the best journals you can, but get published. I've had five papers accepted in the last year, another five commentaries, and five conferences. It got me five interviews (Maybe my lucky number is five), two campus interviews, and one job.
  • I wish I had known that APA would be a complete waste of time and money for me. I had interviews, but never got a second look after any of them. I did much better with phone interviews, and flyouts with no first interviews. But that's just me. Other people obviously get jobs after APA interviews.
  • CV-building matters a lot. It took me 2 years after grad school to get enough publications, conferences, and other non-teaching experience to be taken seriously as a job candidate. I feel like it took me 3 job seasons to really refine my dossier -- to figure out what to put in there and what not, to write a good cover letter that sells my strengths, to write a really compelling research and teaching statement. (And having all that stuff in the can made it a lot easier for me to apply for jobs this year, and to apply for a lot more of them.) Some of that is because it just took me that long to have something to sell. Those people who can hit the ground running straight out of grad school, and land a TT job in their first season must be amazing philosophers.
One thing I hoped would help me, which did help me:
I have an interesting side career. It's not a lucrative side career (the employment prospects are even worse than philosophy), but it's one that has made me regionally famous, and I was able to build fun, interesting, and popular philosophy courses around it. It has been valuable for building my CV. My new department told me it was one of the things about me they were interested in. If you have interests (who doesn't?): literature, graphic novels, computer games, economics, sports, Fringe -- whatever -- exploit them! They add desirable interdiciplinarity to your CV, and a lot of philosophy departments, needing to justify their existence in these budget-slashing times, are looking for ways to appeal to a broader college audience by offering classes with interdisciplinary appeal.

That was long. Thanks for reading (or skimming) it to the end.

I'll turn it over to you, Smokers. What things do you wish you knew about looking for a job in philosophy? What things do you wish your placement advisor(s) had told you?

~zombie


75 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of data points in this post zombie. Be careful lest you want to be identified.

Good luck with the new job.

Anonymous said...

The two most helpful things about my grad program were these: (1) mock interviews (one that focused on teaching and one that focused on research) and (2) a new hire who gave me useful advice about designing a cv, writing a cover letter, etc. New hires are especially helpful here for the obvious reason that they've just been through the process themselves.

In spite of that help, I had no APA interviews and only one phone interview for a TT job. The next year I had a paper accepted at a good journal and had 4 APA interviews, one of which resulted in my current TT job. Getting published was probably what helped me most, especially if (like me) you don't come from a top program.

Anonymous said...

I was in a graduate program that did have a good placement officer, but the big problem was that you didn't get on his radar until you were working on the dissertation. While it was helpful to work with him (he gave advice on CVs, cover letters, the nuances of the market, etc.), it would have been more helpful if he started working with people earlier. Even just perhaps one meeting a year, where he went over what grad students should be doing each year to prepare for the market (in addition to completing the degree, which isn't always the same thing). For instance, some people never thought about publishing until working on the dissertation, and by then some were already on the market. Others picked up lots of sections of classes, and learned only later that there's no real different between teaching Intro 2 times or 10 times.

Anonymous said...

Question for those in the know: How much do APA main program presentations make up for lack of pubs on one's CV? I'm very curious about this because I went on the market for the first time this year with no pubs, but with two APAs, one of which is a symposium, and I landed four first round interviews, one at a very good school. I am at a modestly ranked Leiter school.

Asstro said...

Coupla quick observations:

1) I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment that you should publish, and publish hard. Don't listen to the dinosaurs in your department. Take it from us, the assistant junior folks. We've done this job thang most recently. We are good resources for you. We even lurk on these blogs, in my case five years after having started my tt job. (Yes, I was so traumatized by the market that I can't stop coming back for more.) Seriously, seek out the young faculty in your department, particularly those who seem to have made it despite the odds. (25-year-old hires straight outta Rutgers aren't going to feel your pain.) You want the people with a profile the most similar to yours to advise you.

2) Placement directors basically all suck. Even the good ones suck. It's just a fact about placement. They're kinda like acting coaches in this respect, or art advisors. They can tell you tens of times what to do and how bad it will be, but you will still be stunned to discover how bad it actually is.

3) APA main program presentations are a mixed bag. They can do some work for you in getting an interview, though not much. If you have one, you should put it in your cover letter and not wait for someone to notice it on your CV. On the other hand, you'd better be sure to master that schtick, because anyone who interviews you will likely make an effort to attend your performance. If you bomb at the APA, don't count on a fly-out.

Anonymous said...

That was one of the best posts I've read in a long time. Excellent stuff, excellent advice.

The biggest failure of my department's job preparation is not pushing their grad students to publish. I echo Zombie's point to publish in good journals, but you just need to publish something. The difference between 0 and 1 pub is HUGE.

Anonymous said...

My grad program had a great placement process. But the most helpful part, especially early on, came from other grad students. People who went on the market in a given year would do a run-down afterwards of what happened: what interviews were like, campus visits, negotiation; what worked well and what they thought they should have done differently. People also handed down sample dossier elements. I never would have known what a cover letter, or a teaching dossier, looked like otherwise.

Get an informal tradition going in your department of outgoing grads giving heads-up to students earlier in the program. That way, you really do know a year or three in advance what is coming down the pipeline, and can prepare. There are things I saved for my teaching dossier that I would not have thought to save otherwise.

philosorapters said...

Thanks for this post and all the comments. This had a lot of really great information in it. I realized while applying to grad school how little I, or any of my classmates, knew about the professional aspects of philosophy. I started a blog called PhilosoraptErs which charts my research into the professional aspects of philosophy.

The Smoker has a wealth of first person experience both by the authors and those who comment. I would greatly appreciate any research directions or materials you could pass on.

PhilosoraptErs Blog:
http://philosorapters.blogspot.com/

Follow on twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/PhilosoraptErs

Thanks again for this great post, I will post a link about it momentarily.

Sincerely,

William Parkhurst
PhilosoraptErs

Anonymous said...

Hi Zombie,

The information that leads people to you could lead people to me (i.e., we were in a similar situation, so at best there's a 50/50 chance that the person you take to be zombie is zombie if you follow the evidence of this post to try to determine z's identity).

Thanks for another useful post. I learned a ton information that was helpful in tracking down a job. I think it's largely responsible for the fact that I had two interviews this year at the Eastern (yes, that's a personal best). It all worked out in the end.

Anonymous said...

"Question for those in the know: How much do APA main program presentations make up for lack of pubs on one's CV? I'm very curious about this because I went on the market for the first time this year with no pubs, but with two APAs, one of which is a symposium, and I landed four first round interviews, one at a very good school. I am at a modestly ranked Leiter school."

I thought none. I had shitloads of APA presentations and didn't land an interview at the Eastern my first two years on the market. First APA interview at Eastern didn't happen until I had more papers than years on market and even then I had one interview.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice, Zombie. Solid, as always. But here's one that's got me stumped, maybe fellow smokers can help out.

I'm an American student at a pretty prestigious European university (Europe, not UK); got a small hand-full of publications in decent journals; and a large handful of conferences. Here's the thing, at my university, grad students aren't given the opportunity to teach. I went on the job market this year and landed a good postdoc, but at a research institute. So again, no chance for teaching experience.

A lot of the advice here is that teaching doesn't amount to much without publications - but how about the other way around? Has anybody out there dealt with a similar situation (from the application or SC side)?

Anonymous said...

What goes into "evidence of teaching effectiveness"? Anything besides student eval reports (or teaching awards, if you have one)?

Also, I still really have no idea of how to write a good cover letter. How do you learn this?

zombie said...

Anon 4:56: re: Evidence of teaching effectiveness:

My teaching portfolio includes:
Course syllabi (for courses I taught and, in some cases, courses I would like to teach)
A teaching statement (what my pedagogical philosophy is, what I've taught, how I teach, experience with student diversity, interdisciplinary experience, etc. This is BS, and everybody knows it's BS, I think. But they still ask for it. It matters most for jobs with a serious teaching emphasis. They want to know you're serious and sincere about teaching.) (You can find samples of these online.)
Student evals (I only included the data sheets, not comments.)

You should also have a letter from a teaching reference, so you need to get a professor to observe a class and write you a letter. This obviously goes out with your other letters, and isn't included in your dossier packet. Some jobs specifically ask for a teaching reference.

re: cover letters -- you can find samples of these online, and adapt them to your purposes. There are different schools of thought on the CL -- some think they should be one sentence: "Here's my dossier for your crummy job." Others think they should be a couple pages, and highlight your qualifications for the job, your teaching experience, and your interest in the job. I fall into the latter camp. Obviously, you need to tailor the letter to the specific position.

Bobcat said...

"I wish someone at my grad school had sat me down ... and explained to me how to get a paper published."

Could you elaborate on this "how to" part? I'm not quite sure what you mean. Is there some article or blog post that you recommend that goes into the ins and outs of this?

Anonymous said...

zombie mentioned web content to make up for a lack of in-house guidance:

I recommend Adian McGlynn's list of resources and, in particular, Brian Keeley's year-by-year guide, which advises grad students on what they can do during grad school to prepare themselves for the market.

Xenophon said...

One bit of advice you omitted in an otherwise very helpful post: getting a job depends hugely on what your AOS is. Most grad students pick specializations based on their person interests, profs they like, and/or a misinformed idea of what's in demand on the market. It's key to specialize in something you care about, but it's also very useful for early-stage grad students to make decisions informed by directions the job market is likely to take over the next 5-10 years. Join the APA and study job ads carefully. Also, look at the websites for a range of philosophy departments, including teaching schools. Look at the faculty who were recently hired, and what courses get taught at different schools. If you're at the dissertation stage, it's much harder to change course, but in year 2 or 3 you still can zig and zag a lot, if you want to get a job as a professor. If you love history of analytic, you can still pursue that while presenting yourself with an AOS in Ethics or M&E. If you love metaethics, you can still publish a couple of papers in biomedical ethics if you get an early start.

Anonymous said...

I'd second what Xenophon said, and emphasize that its not only about what you can claim as an AOS (about which you have some control, but, really, you're going to choose the AOS you're more interested in. You're not overly concerned with practicality. You're getting a PhD in philosophy, for fucks sake.) It's important to carefully choose a topic within your AOS, and it can be difficult to get employed if your dissertation concerns a topic on the periphery or passé. Don't expect an easy ride if your researching the practical syllogism or metaphor.

I think conference presentations matter a lot, but not in the same way that publications do. No one's going to be impressed to see that you got into the bloated APA. (Though a symposium there is something, I think.) Attending conferences matters because you meet other philosophers. I can't believe how important that turned out to be for me--both in terms of working with and eventually getting references from researchers in remote places, but also in terms of meeting people. During my several years on the market, I was interviewed by several people I knew already from conferences (though my job is at a school for which this is not true). Because many schools are most likely to hire someone to cover a specific AOS, it's obviously important to mingle outside your specific area of research as well.

Anonymous said...

One thing that is missing from all this, something that job candidates inevitably miss because they are neurotic anxiety filled messes: Interviews and campus visits are not tests in which you are meant to show off just how brilliant/fantastic/job-worthy you are. It is not all about you. Keep in mind that interviewers, departments (at least those not in power departments) are actually looking for a colleague, someone whom members can discuss work in progress with, have over for dinner, and in general help to make life better and not more of a headache than it already is. A simple trick: Ask the people you are having a meal with what they are working on. Try to ask a follow up.

Anonymous said...

I have one perhaps minor, but important, bone to pick with Zombie's advice on this point:

"Get published in the best journals you can, but get published."

This could be read as saying that any publication is better than no publications, but that is not true. Publications in truly crap journals can hurt rather than harm. This is especially the case if you publish crap work in a crap journal. Don't throw anything and everything at the wall just to see if it will stick.

zombie said...

Anon 3:56 -- I would suspect that your lack of teaching experience is going to limit your job prospects with schools that really emphasize teaching (like SLACs), but may not hurt you with research schools. You don't mention if your postdoc is at an American or a European institution, but if the former, you should talk to your mentor about whether there might be a teaching opportunity for you (I don't know enough about the Euro system to have an opinion about it).

zombie said...

Bobcat: Thom Brooks has written a very useful piece on publishing a philosophy paper:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1085245

Also see his blog for more advice:
http://the-brooks-blog.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-publish-journal-articles.html

ASBH has a guide called "Publishing without perishing" which is pitched to bioethicists, but contains generalizable information.

Here's the information that is hardest to figure out, and that having a good mentor helps with tremendously: What is the right journal for this particular paper?

Once you have selected a target journal, you can find a lot of information on their website (Author guidelines). But there's also stuff they don't tell you: how long their review process really takes, whether you'll get good/any comments on your paper (I had a paper sit at a journal for six months, and get rejected with NO comments at all. That was just lost time for me.) That's stuff only other authors can tell you.

As has been mentioned above, it is vitally important to get published. You don't want your paper sitting somewhere for months on end, because time is of the essence when you're on the job market. Having your paper "under review" at a top journal may not be better than having it "forthcoming" or published in a second tier journal.

And journals, like schools, have seasons. Don't expect a paper to get reviewed quickly if you submit it during the summer, or right before the end of academic terms. If you want a paper accepted before the next job season, submit it now.

zombie said...

url for the ASBH guide:

http://www.asbh.org/publications/content/index.html

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:56 asks:

"I'm an American student at a pretty prestigious European university (Europe, not UK); got a small hand-full of publications in decent journals; and a large handful of conferences. Here's the thing, at my university, grad students aren't given the opportunity to teach. I went on the job market this year and landed a good postdoc, but at a research institute. So again, no chance for teaching experience.

A lot of the advice here is that teaching doesn't amount to much without publications - but how about the other way around? Has anybody out there dealt with a similar situation (from the application or SC side)?"

I'd say that it is still possible to put together a good teaching dossier without actual experience, i.e. develop a well though out teaching philosophy, multiple compelling syllabi, descriptions of teaching training seminars or workshops you've attended, etc.

Then offer to guest lecture wherever and whenever you can. Have the people whose classes you guest lecture for write teaching letters, while also explaining that there are no opportunities for people in your position to teach a regular course at that institution.

In my (somewhat limited) experience, search committees are willing to overlook a lack of teaching experience if they think that the candidate will be a good teacher based on their dossier and job talk.

Anonymous said...

For some indication of manuscript review periods for some philosophy journals, go here:

http://www.wikihost.org/w/philjinfo/start#headline1

It's self-reporting, so take it for what it is worth.

Anonymous said...

interviewers, departments (at least those not in power departments) are actually looking for . . . someone whom members can discuss work in progress with, have over for dinner, and in general help to make life better and not more of a headache than it already is

This is good advice, but it's worth keeping in mind that there are more than two kinds of departments. My dept. is not a "power department," but it also isn't one in which we discuss work in progress. We're way too busy with teaching and administrative tasks to have time for that.

When we're interviewing, we don't think about whether someone would be a good dinner companion or whether we'd enjoy talking with someone about philosophy. We pretty much just think about whether someone can handle the heavy workload, teach good courses that are a good fit with our student population, and help recruit good majors.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a wee bit off topic, but I was hoping to get some advice. I'm a young faculty member with a renewable non-TT job, 2 publications (both discussion notes in good journals), and 9 papers presently under review. One of my papers -- my "main" paper -- is out at a very good journal (which received mixed reviews in an earlier blog on this site). Anyway, the paper has been at this journal for 2 months and is still listed as "editor assigned". This happened to me once before at another journal, where it turns out the paper got lost, leading to a 9-month review (it was rejected). Anyway, I emailed the editor about the issue -- to make sure the paper didn't get lost -- and I haven't heard back. What say you all? Should I withdraw and send it to another journal? Or should I give the journal the benefit of the doubt? (Again, sorry this is off topic, but the situation is driving me crazy!) As an aside, here's a better site for journal statistics than the one listed by Anon,March 28, 2011 10:43 AM: http://www.andrewcullison.com/journal-surveys/

Anonymous said...

1:46 - I had a very similar experience at Phil Studies (which may well be the journal you're talking about). In that case, what happened is that the editor decided to be the referee, and was listed as "editor assigned" the entire time it was there. I don't think I'm the only person who's had that experience, either. So if that's where your paper is (especially if it's on epistemology), maybe that's what's going on. (But if so, I expect you'll hear from the editor soon.)

Anonymous said...

I've had the same experience as anon @ 3:19, but the editor takes 6-9 months to get back to me with my rejection and comments.

I tried submitting something that wasn't epistemology to them to see what would happen. 2 months at the Editor Assigned stage. I thought I could get around the sighted review process by going outside of the editors area of research interests, but that might not work.

One trick you might try if you want to get something into that journal is identify the work that the editor doesn't like and attack it. See what happens. My impression is that the editor's views affect how the editor referees a paper. I can't bring myself to do it, but I'm old enough now that I don't need a paper to get accepted to put a roof over my head.

Anonymous said...

I've got a question about which schools to apply to. I just got my PhD from a so-crappy-it-isn't-even-ranked department, and the supervision and guidance was pathetic to the point of being nonexistent. My supervisor met with me twice during the whole dissertation process: once to sign the forms, and once again at the defense. Aside from that, I had to spend four years teaching myself the subject-area from scratch. You get the picture.

On the other hand, I do have quite extensive teaching experience and superb reviews. And the supervisor, worthless though he was throughout the dissertation process, did write me a good letter, as I found out.

Also, I have (not surprisingly) zero publications. I have, however, presented at a number of conferences (though never at the APA).

So, here's the question. Wait, it's really two questions!

First question: how do I figure out which schools to apply to? What I did this year was look up the faculty list of every school that was hiring. If 50% or more of them were from Leiter-ranked schools, I saved my time and postage and gave them the pass. Otherwise, I applied. Is that the right approach?

Second question: how on earth do I get out of this jam? Yes, I know: I have to publish stuff. But I'm still filling in the (significant) gaps in my learning. I completed my dissertation and passed the defense with no problems, but I'm still working my way through the main contemporary texts in the field (now that I know what they are), and I can see that if I were to publish something now, I'd just end up looking like a phony. So I'm hoping to do that when it's not such an obvious waste of time. In the meantime, I've had two interviews this season (one a preliminary telephone interview, one an on-campus interview) and can see that my combined odds of getting one of the two jobs is less than 50% at this point. I've applied to 70+ positions, but (as you can perhaps imagine) they don't seem that interested. And that includes, at this point, several one-year positions.

Should I face the fact that my career is as good as over at this point?

Anonymous said...

I've got a question about which schools to apply to. I just got my PhD from a so-crappy-it-isn't-even-ranked department, and the supervision and guidance was pathetic to the point of being nonexistent. My supervisor met with me twice during the whole dissertation process: once to sign the forms, and once again at the defense. Aside from that, I had to spend four years teaching myself the subject-area from scratch. You get the picture.

On the other hand, I do have quite extensive teaching experience and superb reviews. And the supervisor, worthless though he was throughout the dissertation process, did write me a good letter, as I found out.

Also, I have (not surprisingly) zero publications. I have, however, presented at a number of conferences (though never at the APA).

So, here's the question. Wait, it's really two questions!

First question: how do I figure out which schools to apply to? What I did this year was look up the faculty list of every school that was hiring. If 50% or more of them were from Leiter-ranked schools, I saved my time and postage and gave them the pass. Otherwise, I applied. Is that the right approach?

Second question: how on earth do I get out of this jam? Yes, I know: I have to publish stuff. But I'm still filling in the (significant) gaps in my learning. I completed my dissertation and passed the defense with no problems, but I'm still working my way through the main contemporary texts in the field (now that I know what they are), and I can see that if I were to publish something now, I'd just end up looking like a phony. So I'm hoping to do that when it's not such an obvious waste of time. In the meantime, I've had two interviews this season (one a preliminary telephone interview, one an on-campus interview) and can see that my combined odds of getting one of the two jobs is less than 50% at this point. I've applied to 70+ positions, but (as you can perhaps imagine) they don't seem that interested. And that includes, at this point, several one-year positions.

Should I face the fact that my career is as good as over at this point?

Anonymous said...

Hi Asstro,
I had a question about flagging APA presentations in your cover letter. I assume you meant something like a quick pass like "I have had the opportunity to present portions of my current research at a number of APA talks" etc. I never thought about flagging those kinds of things. But I think I suffer from self-esteem issues.

Anonymous said...

1:46 - I've had the same thing with Phil Studies; Stew Cohen tends to referee the epistemology papers first. But since it's only been 2 months, I'd say you'd need to wait a few more months before you start getting anxious. (I've had a 2,500 word epistemology paper there that was "Editor Assigned" for about 4 or 5 months, and has since been "Under review"; I take this to mean that it got past him to an external referee.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the advice. I'll wait a few months to see what happens with the paper...

zombie said...

Anon 6:26 -- did we go to the same school?

The rule of thumb is that you won't get a job at a school better than the one you graduated from. But... counterfactuals. (See Rusty Jones.)

However, this year, all of my interviews (except one) were with schools that are quite a bit better than the school I graduated from (including the one that hired me). So, I guess it's possible to move up in the world.

I tended to not apply to top schools, Ivies, and ivy wannabes, unless they were in my home state (or somewhere else I really, really wanted to live). I looked at the faculty of a department. If they ALL graduated from Ivies or top schools, I figure my odds are bad.

I think the general consensus is that it is possible to publish your way up. I can't tell you if your career is over at this point. The odds are bad for everyone in the current job market. What's your career goal? Is this your first year on the market? Can you hang in there for a few years, during which you can improve your situation? Do you want to?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response, Zombie (Anon 6:26 here). And congratulations, by the way!

I guess my situation is this: I love philosophy and would love to continue to have a career in the field. My girlfriend is attending a top PhD program, and we hope to make things work in the profession together (we met each other through philosophy). I'm a perfectionist, but I feel that, within a year or so, I will be able to start producing solid work for publication. Right now, as I say, I'm trying to make up for the aspects of the graduate-level training in my field that I missed due to my shoddy PhD program. But, self-critical though I am, I think it's not unreasonable for me to think I'm close to some kind of breakthrough. I have several promising and original ideas (or at least, my dissertation committee, which included a fairly prominent person in my area, agreed on that); but I really won't be able to do much with them until I have a much stronger grasp of the key texts in the area. So, all these things make me feel as though I should keep at it.

On the other hand, there are the reasons not to keep at it. For one thing, as I mentioned, I don't yet have any offers for next year -- not even a one year replacement position. Sure, I could probably scare up some adjunct work; but that hardly pays the bills. And moreover, I'm up to my ears in that kind of work experience (oddly enough, I started getting sessional work before I started my PhD, so I've been doing that for years). More recently, I actually had a better-than-adjunct position at a local SLAC, but just lost it (after three years) in a budget-crunch-related situation.

So, I'm worried that my reverting to adjunct work might look bad on a CV (if this guy is any good, why has he been an adjunct for so long, even after getting his PhD? And why is he working as an adjunct again now, after having had a more regular, better-paying position at that SLAC?). Am I right to worry about that?

Another worry I have at this point has to do with the time I'm at in my life. I had an entirely different life before coming to philosophy, so I'm now at an age at which I'd like to be settled in my career. I'm not hampered with children or anything like that; but if a philosophy career is not going to work out for me, this year or next year would be a good time for me to face that fact and start doing something else. I'm still young enough now that, if I get out, I'll be able to start fresh and do something else with success (though it would certainly be a distant second to teaching philosophy).

So: yes, I could tough it out for another year with sessional work (I'm guessing), if need be; and I could apply to another umpteen TT positions next year. But I won't have any publications out by next year's hiring season either, as I see it; and I therefore can't imagine why things will be any better than this year. And, _two_ years from now, I should be doing something else if I don't have much reason to believe that philosophy is going to work as a career.

Hence, the difficulty.

Also, I've just (yesterday) come closer to receiving a job offer that is somewhat interesting but has nothing to do with philosophy, and would involve my going overseas for a year (and hence, away from the philosophy conference scene). So, I'm kind of at a crossroads now.

louvanensis said...

As for the person who asked about coming to the States from Europe - I did it. I went to a well regarded continental university and had to beg to teach while I was there. In the end I taught - total for my time in my phd - 3 seminars (which were, basically, short courses). 2 of the 3 were directly related to my dissertation topic. I didn't have much teaching, relative to my competition. I did have a couple of solid publications.

My topic in the history of phil seems to be in demand and I tailored my application package toward teaching schools (because, ironically, those who came before me had success at SLAC's - old, continental European university seems to have cache among a certain sort of SLAC in the States and Canada). So I got some interviews (huzzah!). The schools flew me across the ocean for interviews (!). I spent my time on the campus visits trying to convince these SLAC's that I really really wanted to teach. No really. I think it took a bit of practice (it helps that I really do want to teach - that's why I got into this gig) because I don't think I was convincing on my first fly-out as I was on the second (I got a job on the second one - passed over for the first).

When I taught while on the flyout, I relied on how my undergraduate American SLAC professors taught (not the European way that I'd actually been trained in). It's possible, you just have to translate what you've learned there to a different context and placate the fears that some would have that you'll be stuffy, professorial and offputting. Some of my friends have done it too - seems to be that a VAP is the path to a TT position for us though (it's like they're testing us first to make sure we translate back well).

I found the Chronicle of Higher Ed's online 'Forum' to be helpful. Don't know if it still is though. I was able to ask any manner of question (from CV construction to course prep, etc.) and get an answer from someone 'in country'.

Best of luck. I wonder if we went to the same university...

Anonymous said...

This blog has gotten super boring, ever since the mods got jobs.

machine for brains said...

Anon 6:26 writes: What I did this year was look up the faculty list of every school that was hiring. If 50% or more of them were from Leiter-ranked schools, I saved my time and postage and gave them the pass. Otherwise, I applied. Is that the right approach?

My knee-jerk reaction to this was to think it was a terrible strategy. But honestly, I have no idea what generalizations about SC members' behavior are true. That's the take-away point.

As someone who's served on Search Committees, I can tell you what I did (or think I did) and what I observed in my (reasonably sensible) colleagues, for what little it is worth.

(1) I don't pay all that much attention to institutional pedigree. My colleagues didn't seem to either. I hail from a leiter top-20. (I'm pretty sure some of my colleagues do as well; probably the majority don't. I blush to admit I honestly don't know off-hand.)

(2) APA talks didn't mean squat. (After you've attended a few meetings, given a talk or two and commented a few others, you realize that--to put it bluntly--there's almost no quality control.) Use your time more wisely.

(3) Back when I was on the market (around the turn of the century) it was possible to get a job, a good one even, without publications if you were fresh out of graduate school. It was changing then, but my feeling is that now it's really hard. So I agree with what zombie and others have said above.

(4) I'm at a SLAC. If you haven't had some experience teaching and/or don't somehow show some enthusiasm for teaching, we really don't give you a second look.

(5) As a department, we prize teaching, but you can't get tenure without publications. Moreover, the publication record must look pretty good. As someone pointed out above, the difference between 0 and 1 pub is huge. That said, quantity is not as important as quality. Don't publish in crappy journals. They carry little weight when we are hiring and little weight when tenuring. 'Crappy' is obviously a slippery measure and means different things in different places. Phil Review is awesome. Phil Studies is great. Journal of Philosophical Research...not amazing, but sure, why not? If I've never heard of it though, it's worrisome.

(6) Gaps in your CV raise red flags. If there is time unaccounted for, we wonder. Red flags are never good because even when they signify very little, there are too many applications with which you are competing that raise no flags.

That's all I got.

Xenophon said...

There are a lot of crappy journals out there, and someone publishes in them. I know there's a natural tendency for everyone to say "no crappy journals for us," but the fact of the matter is that I see a lot of CVs where people just load up on that shit. I'm just saying . . .

zombie said...

Dear Anon 3:45,

Thank you for informing us of the quality control issues you have observed.

However, your inference is incorrect. The "mods" as you say, have had jobs all along. (I can't speak for the rockers.) I myself have worked almost continuously since I was 16, and started out bagging groceries at Safeway. It is for this reason that I remain extremely picky about how my groceries are packed, and would prefer to do it myself at the grocery store, using my reusable cloth bags. Kids these days, putting the avocados under the baked beans! Before that, I had a paper route for a few years, although I didn't make much money doing that. During college, I worked as a proctor, and in the library, and for a while in the cafeteria, although I am deathly afraid of In-Sink-erators, so my time in the dishroom was humid and hellish, especially since they saw fit to put the switch for the hand-grinder-of-death on the side of the counter, and one of my co-workers was somewhat hippy and awkward, and tended to bump into the switch whenever she walked by, which was more often than was comfortable for me. I have personal space issues in addition to my persnicketiness about groceries and having two hands. I had to quit that job before I lost a valued appendage. I had several jobs in grad school too, but those years are somewhat of a blur to me. I put about 800 miles on my car every week, but gas used to be cheap, and I got great gas mileage (43 mpg!) and driving on the interstate gave me time to think. At the moment, I am down to only two jobs, which, admittedly, is something of a luxury. I fear I may be verging on slackerdom. In short, my long employment history is a rich tapestry of work both menial and meaningful, but it has nothing to do with this blog being boring.

Rest assured, we shall investigate your claim very thoroughly and with great alacrity, and get to the bottom of it. Boringness is a serious matter, and we would not want any of our most valued readers to risk being bored to death. Think of the lawsuits! If the boringness of this blog's content has increased in recent weeks, severe measures shall be taken to correct this unacceptable turn of events. You can be certain that heads will roll.

Your humble servant,

zombie

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of the Journal of Philosophical Research until this thread. In general, my guide is that if I've not heard of most of the people who publish in recent issues, the journal is likely to be garbage. Is this overly-snobbish?

Incidentally, there was this pairwise ranking of journals hosted on allyourideas.org and linked to from Leiter. Anyone remember the address / results?

Anonymous said...

Off-topic, but I wanted to share this wonderfully-evocative PFO, received today in a "oh, yeah, I remember applying there" moment:

"Dear [You]

After a long and reflective search, I write with the news that the Department of Philosophy at [X College] will be unable to offer you the appointment for which you were an applicant.

Thank you very much for your interest in [X College]. I wish you the very best in your academic career.

Sincerely,

Chair."

I love the image a "reflective" search - I picture the whole department sitting in silent introspection, as they struggle inwardly with their souls, seeing if they will or will not be able to offer me the appointment - though they seem to have forgotten what that appointment was.

Verification word: Paddism - (n) the belief that padding out PFO letters with insincere expressions of regret will make the rejected applicant feel better.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of the Journal of Philosophical Research until this thread. In general, my guide is that if I've not heard of most of the people who publish in recent issues, the journal is likely to be garbage. Is this overly-snobbish?

Yes.

Asstro said...

@7:52:

When I wrote the comment, I had in mind pending APA presentations, but the same could apply to past APA presentations, or any conference really. For pending APA presentations, mention for sure in your cover letter that you'll be presenting X paper at the APA. Invite the SC to come see you give the paper. If they like your dossier, if they grant you an interview, you can bet your bippy that someone from the SC will show to see you in action. At least, we'd make sure to do that.

For past conference presentations, mention these in your cover letter. Say something like, "I've been extremely active and successful professionally as well, with two APA main program presentations, four professional organization conference presentations, etc..." Adjust to fit, obviously.

Andrew said...

"Incidentally, there was this pairwise ranking of journals hosted on allyourideas.org and linked to from Leiter. Anyone remember the address / results?"

There were two:

http://www.allourideas.org/philosophyjournalpoll/results

http://www.allourideas.org/philosophyjournals/results

Anonymous said...

Zombie's last post is really odd. I think the person complaining was referring to TT jobs. Zombie has an amazing ability to construct a strawman argument. While I don't totally agree, I can give a fairer account of this person's argument: it makes more sense to have mods who are themselves on the job market, since this makes the blog followers feel more excited about the direction of the blog, and more connected to the mods. Zombie might want to learn the charity principle before he starts his job this fall!

Anonymous said...

"long and reflective search" sounds to me like a polite way of describing something that really does happen sometimes: you write the ad, bring in three candidates, something goes wrong, and rather than trying to solve the immediate problem (we need to find a way to hire somebody before the dean yanks the TT line to fund a weekly ice cream social), the department starts wondering (in long and not very fruitful meetings) what it really does and should want. As in:

We're supposed to hire a philosopher, but what is a philosopher? What makes a philosopher a good philosopher? What makes a philosophy department a good philosophy department? If we make our department better, will the dean crave ice cream more? Or less? Should that matter? And so on.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi Anon 6:44,

1. Zombie is a woman. In English, it is customary not to use masculine pronouns such as 'he' and 'his' for women. And it is wise not to just presume that everyone is a man.

2. I thought Zombie's post was pretty normal. Not all jobs are tenure-track jobs. Although I did not get a tenure track job this time, I nevertheless have a job. And like Zombie, I have been working pretty consistently since I was a teenager.

3. Do you really think that Zombie was being unfair to anon 3:45? I think this principle of charity is brought up far too often. Somebody says something obnoxious, misinformed, and stupid in comments on a blog, and then you have to be "charitable" to the person in your response. It gets old.

By the same token, do you really think that Zombie had no idea that 3:45 was talking about tenure-track jobs? Maybe you should get some of this charity stuff. Maybe it would help you understand what point Zombie was making.

4. If the blog has been boring lately, it's not because "the mods" got jobs. "The mods" did not get jobs. Zombie is the only one of us who has a tenure-track job lined up.

5. I don't think of this as a blog specifically about the job market. I realize, of course, that some people do, but they're wrong. This is a young philosopher's blog. The focus has been on job-market stuff lately, because all of us have been on the market, and being on the job market is a big part of starting a career in philosophy. But there's been plenty of "visiting assistant professor" stuff over the years, and I am excited that one of us will be starting on the tenure-track in the fall. I am thrilled for Zombie, and I am excited that she will be writing about her experiences here. It's good for her, and it's good for the blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links to the results. I find it fascinating that the better journals aren't necessarily the journals where one is likely to find higher quality articles. Betterness sure is elusive.

who? said...

Whoa, you guys are totally mods. I never realized it. We should all go over to Philosophers Anonymous and brawl with those rockers. Zombie, can I ride over on the back of your Vespa? Mr. Z (or is it Dr. Zero?), you can just take the train.
Wait... are there four of you, or really just one with an unusual personality disorder...?

Ah... everything is becoming clear to me now.

Anonymous said...

I thInk zombie's only error was to engage with a troll
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Don't_feed_the_Troll

zombie said...

It's true. Sometimes I poke the trolls and then zoom away on my Vespa.

Small Fish said...

This was my first year one the market and now that it's just about over and, aside from the tiniest of nibbles, I came up empty I already feel like I have learned a lot about what I *should* have been doing all along and what, frankly, my committee and department *should* have been doing.

I disagree with Zombie re: the difference between a good and great department being the amount of coaching they give you on the market. I'm at a good department, a quite good one, and the level of advising that us job marketeers received is not really very good.

Yes, we had some meetings about the market and we did in fact have some helpful mock interviews but the structure of our department is such that there is very little professional guidance or development.

I get the feeling it's pretty common for grad students to feel like their departments don't really have much of an interest in training them to be viable job candidates. I certainly feel that way. It often feels like we're expected to simply figure these things out on our own.

Cover letters? What is that? How is it different from other kinds of cover letters? Should it be long and detailed or short and sweet? We didn't get good answers to this question in my department or really much of any advice on how to write good statements on research and teaching.

I now feel like I have a much better grasp of these things and what makes for a good or bad dossier but it's definitely too late in terms of this job season.

In terms of publishing I really think the expectation is that grad students, because we read so many good published articles, are just going to 'pick up' the ability to write good articles. Our faculty's one attempt at having an informational session on publishing laughably consisted of them telling us to 'pick a good seminar paper or dissertation chapter' and 'work it into a paper.' The rest of the time was spent telling us about what to do once it gets accepted....kind of not helpful.

So I suppose it's a good question (to cap off this rant) why it seems like most departments don't really have much of a support system in terms of helping their grad students become not just good thinkers and maybe even good dissertation writers but good professional academics? Why is so little professional development advice built into the graduate school structure (at least in my experience at the department's I've had contact with)? That just seems weird and counterproductive.

Anonymous said...

A question concerning the American job market I am currently finishing my philosophy PhD in a continental European (non UK) department, and I am also an EU citizen. The department is highly ranked within the country (within the top 3 for philosophy), but of course, it's not Leiter ranked. Does this count as bad pedigree, neutral pedigree or good pedigree on the US job market? Also, if it were to count as bad pedigree, could it be offset by the fact that I have a fair number of publications in decent journals?

Xenophon said...

I thought the troll was funny, and I thought Zombie's response was funny.

And I don't think the blog's been boring recently.

Anonymous said...

"A question concerning the American job market I am currently finishing my philosophy PhD in a continental European (non UK) department, and I am also an EU citizen. The department is highly ranked within the country (within the top 3 for philosophy), but of course, it's not Leiter ranked. Does this count as bad pedigree, neutral pedigree or good pedigree on the US job market? Also, if it were to count as bad pedigree, could it be offset by the fact that I have a fair number of publications in decent journals? "

It's hard to say without the details, but I imagine that:
(i) some will think that it's a lack of good pedigree simply because they don't know how it fits in the ranking;
(ii) the lack of good pedigree will fail to draw attention to your file and the lack of attention will mean that you're effectively cut in many situations;
(iii) this can all be mitigated if you take care to publish well and keep your publications on the first page near the top of your CV.

I think pedigree counts a lot in the job market here. Way too much, in my opinion. Yes, there will always be Rusty Jones. I don't think there are Rusty Joneses, however. Not many, at any rate.

Anonymous said...

I just landed a tt job at a SLAC. What now? Does anyone have advice in terms of what to expect for at least the first year--perhaps beyond that?

Perhaps this deserves its own thread, perhaps not.

[Note: Been reading your blog for the entire time I was on the market. Your site is a great resource that is true to life. Thanks.]

Word verification: cleamm (n) - how I feel about the fact that I got a job, as in a good, a fresh start for my career; but also strangely weirded out and still squirming out from the whole process and how horrible it was.

Anonymous said...

To the dude who just landed an SLAC position - congrats!

While every school is different, I'll take a stab at some general advice.

(1) Learn what it takes to get tenure there. Specifically, make sure you understand their research requirements since that appears to be the make it or don't make it criterion (at least it is at my teaching school).

(2) Keep doing what you have been doing in teaching. Presumably, you rock at teaching to land a job at a SLAC in this market.

(3) Keep doing your research. Look for grant opportunities that either give course release or extra stipends. Summer research stipends are nice. I'm currently on a grant that reduced my teaching load by half so that I can do research. Pure heaven right now. Whatever your research requirement is, don't try to play catch up when your fourth and fifth years come around (assuming tenure review at the beginning of year six). In fact, you could aim to surpass the research requirement quickly and think about going up for tenure a year early, if that option is available for you.

(4) At my school, the advice is to do the minimum of service for tenure, but no more. Service will not earn you tenure, but it can keep you from getting it if you are really deficient. But I don't know how your school runs.

(5) Have fun. Supposedly, this is what you have been working for all those years in grad school.

For fear of giving idiosyncratic advice, those are my thoughts. Good luck nonetheless!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and just to preempt someone slamming me for sexism, I use "dude" as gender-neutral :)

Asstro said...

"So I suppose it's a good question (to cap off this rant) why it seems like most departments don't really have much of a support system in terms of helping their grad students become not just good thinkers and maybe even good dissertation writers but good professional academics? Why is so little professional development advice built into the graduate school structure (at least in my experience at the department's I've had contact with)? That just seems weird and counterproductive."

Oh, I'll take a quick stab, but then i'm off to bed.

I think it's partly the case that faculty are overburdened, and so they don't have the time; but it's also the case that there are just so many damned questions about the job market, about being a professional philosopher, about publishing, that almost no amount of guidance or discussion could feasibly answer these questions.

In all likelihood, you'll also feel this way about your dissertation. My grad students, and most grad students, frequently lament the lack of guidance or help that they're getting with regard to their research. This is true even of students who arrange meetings once a month. (Damn if it isn't these students in particularly who lament not getting enough guidance.)

Usually everyone manages to sort it out over time. Writing a dissertation is sort of a trial by fire undertaking. Nobody can walk you through it. You have to figure it out for yourself.

That's somewhat true about the market too.

I'm not apologizing for bad advisors, mind you. I'm just saying that there's a sense in which this cuts both ways. Sometimes grad students need to accept that they just _can't_ get straight guidance through this process; that no amount of hand-holding will leave them feeling like they got enough guidance. There are too many variables.

How do you write and publish a paper? I don't know. You just write something good and decent. You use your judgment as to whether it meets the standards of your AOS. And then you send it off.

How do you write a dissertation? No idea. Just sit down and do it. Use your judgment as to the quality.

How do you get a job? Hard to say. Write a good cover letter. Stress your strengths, downplay your weaknesses, clarify your CV, write a good statement of philosophy, use your judgment, and send it off.

Probably not very helpful, but I need to hit the sack. Maybe more tomorrow.

Bobcat said...

I would like to start trolling your site. Can you offer me any tips?

Anonymous said...

"How do you write and publish a paper? I don't know. You just write something good and decent. You use your judgment as to whether it meets the standards of your AOS. And then you send it off."

Maybe you don't, but others might. Look at Wisconsin. Nearly everyone on the market has a solo paper or a co-authored paper with a faculty member. As an outsider, it seems that there is a system in place to teach students how to write for publication, and encourage them for publication, and making faculty members work with students on these matters.

I suspect the work gone in would have helped the dissertation writing too, and certainly the results help their students on the job market.

There are many variables, to be sure. But that doesn't mean some of the variables cannot be controlled or manipulated.

Asstro said...

Yeah, I was sleepy. I didn't put everything as succinctly as I would've liked.

I actually do know how to write a paper (for publication), and I walk my graduate students through their course papers as though they are writing their papers for publication. I think there's a fair bit of guidance that one can give...it's just that it's always open-ended guidance.

What I was trying to say is that sometimes this open-ended guidance simply isn't and will never feel like enough. That is often the case in dissertation writing situations, for instance. Students feel lost in the process, and rather than accepting that the nature of the process is just that sometimes one feels lost, they instinctively point the finger at their advisor, suggesting that the advisor is somehow at fault for not offering enough advice. But my point to them is that it's okay to feel lost. In writing a dissertation, you're almost supposed to feel lost.

Now then, readers of this blog will know that I offer a fair bit of advice and guidance, and have been doing so, for almost the entire duration of this blog. I've been a longtime reader of this blog, and I spend a stupid amount of time writing up tidbits on how to craft a cover letter, how to dress, how to deal with interview situations, and so on. I do that for the general good of the graduate philosophical community.

I also do what I can in my department to talk to each student, particularly in my AOS, who goes out on the market. I have meetings and drinks with many of them privately, if they're open to it. (Believe it or not, some simply don't want to get advice; or think that they don't need it.) I give them my tips, I read their dossier materials, I try to help them prepare mentally for the job interview situation, for the fly-out. That kind of guidance is invaluable....

And yet, we in my department are still having a follow-up meeting of graduate students later this month to discuss "things learned on the job market."

Why is that, you might ask? If they were so prepared, then there wouldn't be terribly many things they learned on the job market. There wouldn't be surprises.

But that's not true. The job market is an organic beast, a multivariable hydra. It's hard to know what to do, what to anticipate. One department may be looking for X in a candidate, and another department may be looking fro not-X. All one can do is hone one's game and get the experience of doing it oneself.

That's all I meant to say. I didn't mean to suggest, in any respect, that grad departments oughtn't to advise students more aggressively about how to tackle the market.

zombie said...

Anon 8:10: First of all, congratulations on your new job!

Those are reasonable questions for you to discuss with your department chair or other faculty in the department. They just spent a lot of time, money, and effort to hire you -- unless there is something seriously wrong with the culture of the department, they should want you to succeed.

At some point in the near future (if they haven't already), your dept will contact you about what you'll be teaching in the fall. They may assign you courses, or ask you to choose. This will give you an idea of what you should be prepping. You should ask for sample syllabi that other profs have used (some schools require that these be kept on file by the dept) to get an idea of how others have structured courses at the school.

And as noted, you should be thinking now about the tenure requirements and how you will meet them on schedule. You might also ask about what their expectations are for you re: advising students and committee work during your first year. These may be reduced, with more expected later.

What to expect? This is a great question to ask your new colleagues, especially any relatively recent hires who may have some insights into what it's like to be the newbie in the dept. And you'll want to be extra nice to the dept's admin assistant -- s/he'll know more than anyone about what's going on.

Anonymous said...

I'm in my first year teaching at a SLAC. Here are a few bits of advice that I've got:

(1) Inquire into mentoring - whether a formal program or informal mentoring - at your college. Having someone who has been there for a while and who can talk to you about institutional norms, about their coping strategies, about problems that arise in your first semesters on campus, and so forth can be invaluable. If possible, I'd suggest finding a couple of mentors - one in your department and, if possible, one (or more!) outside of it.

(2) Related to (1), but try to find someone who would be willing to sit in on a couple of your classes and offer you their insight about how they think it went, advice about how to improve or what you're doing well, and so forth. Teaching is hugely important at a SLAC and, at least for me, the expectations of students at my college were vastly different from the expectations of the students at the university where I got my PhD. Getting help from seasoned teachers at the college can be invaluable. Also invaluable has been talking to others about their own teaching strategies. It's pretty common practice here for faculty to sit in on each others' classes as a way of learning new teaching styles or seeing how others teach a particular sort of thing. I've done both (having someone sit in on my classes and sitting in on someone else's) and have learned a great deal.

(3) Find time to relax and don't feel guilty about taking that time off. The amount of work your first year will be pretty overwhelming, and it's necessary to have de-stressing times and activities. At my college, several senior colleagues have instructed me to take at least one day a week completely off from work-related stuff. And while I haven't be able to do that every week, I manage to hit it about 2 of 3 weeks. (It's this that I think I have to work most on in the next year.)

(4) Don't freak out if you don't do research in your first semester (or two). This is brand new and you're going to be spending a lot of time just adjusting to the new place, to your new city, to your students and teaching more than you have before (if not quantity than quality), to your new colleagues, to the large number of meetings and outside commitments that you all of a sudden have, and so forth. That's a lot to deal with. So don't worry if you don't get research done on top of all of that. Try to reintegrate research in the second semester, or in the summer and other breaks. (I should note that this is advice I've gotten from many different folks at my college, but perhaps this advice isn't generalizable to other institutions. Or perhaps it's specific to jobs that have teaching, rather than research, as their focus. So perhaps the advice should be to talk to a mentor or other person who is good at giving good advice to see what the institutional norms are when it comes to research in one's first year.)

... (Continued on next comment)

Anonymous said...

---(continued from previous comment)

(5) Don't expect perfection and don't think your colleagues are expecting perfection of you. This is new and while there is the expectation that you're working and trying to learn and develop as a teacher, no one expects you to get perfect evals. Or even near perfect evals. At least here, what is important is to show a 'narrative arc' of sorts. If a set of evals has a constant criticism, then the personnel committee is interested in seeing (1) that you notice the criticism and (2) that you have taken steps to address the criticism in future classes. In other words, they want to see that you're a conscientious teacher...not that you're a perfect one. Which isn't to say that evals aren't important. But the personnel committee is interested in putting those evals in context, and it's the whole picture that is important, not just the numbers or the student comments. So, to repeat, don't expect that you'll be perfect (because you won't be), but don't think that your colleagues are expecting perfection of you.

--
Sorry for the length of this! As is probably a bit obvious, I'm in reflection-mood when it comes to what I learned (and am still in the process of learning) my first year here at this SLAC.

Anonymous said...

Just a question for Zombie about pedigree. By pedigree do you mean highly ranked in Philosophy or as in prestigious universities in general - so, for example do Pitt and Arizona have pedigree?
I realize that the answer is a bit of both, but could you elaborate as to which of those factors you thought impeded candidates going on the market?
Thanks!
Congrats on your new job!

1st year PhD student.

Anonymous said...

Is one of the mods African American? Just curious.

zombie said...

1st Year PhD student: I think pedigree as it is generally understood to influence the job search includes both the discipline-specific rankings and the prestigious name. So yeah, I think Pitt and Arizona both have pedigree. Does one matter more than another? Depends on the school.

For an example of a school where pedigree trumps all, see Lou Marinoff's column on "Harvard of the Proletariat" CUNY's hiring process:

http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2009/08/31/marinoff

Since I like to give credit where it is due, at least Marinoff is honest about his priorities. Now those of us without a PhD from a prestigious school know better than to apply for a job at CUNY.

And an AAPT blog post here:
http://tinyurl.com/3av5qtk

Anonymous said...

City College != CUNY!!!! There are lots of schools in the CUNY system. It's important to emphasize that the CUNY Graduate Center is far, far different from City College.

Anonymous said...

Marinoff speaks:

http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2002/the-pc-tyranny/

Mr. Zero said...

Is one of the mods African American? Just curious.

Not that I know of.

CUNY Grad said...

To follow up on what Anon 6:51 AM said, City College (often abbreviated CCNY) is only one of many independent campuses in The City University of New York system (CUNY). The CUNY Graduate Center houses the Ph.D. program in philosophy, but the other campuses (e.g., Brooklyn College, Queens College, Hunter College, Lehman College, College of Staten Island, LaGuardia Community College, etc.) all have their own philosophy departments—none of which have anything to do with Marinoff or CCNY's hiring practices.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lou_Marinoff#Criticism_and_controversy LOLLLLLLL

on the other hand, he's still got tenure and rolling in the cash$$$, so we lose.

zombie said...

Right you are. CCNY is not CUNY. CUNY is a system of schools, of which CCNY is one of many. Marinoff is at CCNY. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the entire CUNY system, nor the many fine scholars working in those universities. For all I know, his views may not even accurately represent the views of other members of his own dept.

Mea culpa.