Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Soliciting Smoker Advice

A Smoker writes in with a question:
How should applicants approach the Smoker, particularly women? Should we be actively trying to seek out hiring committee members for positions we interviewed for? Is there a way to do this that doesn't seem pandering?
I'd offer some advice if I thought I had anything to special to say. But, I don't really. So, what say y'all?

(And don't forget to give those people who will be attending the APA in Atlanta some hot tips below on what to do in Atlanta in whatever spare time you manage to have.)

-- Jaded, Ph.D.


Anonymous said...

How about go to all the conference events you can. Meet some people. Ask them to go to a meal with you, or coffee, or a drink. Network. Spend you time getting to know people in the profession.

Go talk to editors, look at the book exhibit.

You are NOT there to see the ATL or to have a vacation. You are there on a professional mission. To get a job and other assorted things, like get ideas, be energized, meet people.

If you are there a day late, then check out some ATL shit.

Anonymous said...

First see what they say in your interview. If the SC says that they will be at the Smoker, then you should make an effort to go see them at the Smoker. If they say nothing about the Smoker, and if they also are not listed as having a table at the Smoker, then you need not make any effort to seek them out at the Smoker.

I found the Smoker to be very awkward. When an interviewing department gets a table, the table is typically filled with the SC members *and* other people who interviewed with the department. So you wait for an open seat, and then you go sit down with the SC and your competition. It is totally absurd. But anyway, just sit and play nice and try to be a good conversationalist. If there was a question in the interview that you think you have a better answer to that you were not able to express in the interview, go ahead and bring it up. Otherwise, my advice is to keep the conversation non-philosophical unless they go there. They saw what you can do philosophically in the interview. The Smoker is where you show that what an awesome and well-rounded colleague you will be (sarcasm font).

DO NOT try to sabotage your competition in any way whatsoever. Someone tried to do this to me last year. It is a bush-league move befitting of a douchebag.

Good luck.

Asstro said...

Echoing 4:26 here:

Treat this as a professional opportunity. The Smoker isn't the only thing happening at the APA. There are lots of people engaged in the business of philosophy. Spend a fair bit of time at the book exhibits. Talk to some of the editors there about their presses. Try to get a sense of what journals are out and about. Go to talks that are related to your AOS and your AOC. Go see famous philosophers. Ask interesting and intelligent questions. Visit with old friends. Make new ones. Where possible, talk about your experiences on the market. Ask others what they're up to. Get a sense of the lay of the land. Try to find out who is on the market and in competition with you.

Also, as 5:17 says, don't try to upstage or embarrass the competition. Be civil. Be helpful. It's true that some of these folks are competing with you for jobs, and in this respect pose a direct threat to your well-being, but when you eventually do get a job, they'll be your colleagues and peers. In my experience it is almost always in your interest, and in the interest of the discipline, to help one another and not to be dickish to one another. Most of the folks who were my competition on the market are now friends of mine. We all help each other... offering advice, refereeing papers, collaborating on edited volumes, etc. In many cases I met these folks _through_ the market competition and now work with them closely, some more than others. Remember this. If you get a job in philosophy, you are in this for the long term.

Anonymous said...

Don't be afraid to introduce yourself if there is good reason to do so: those name tags are there for a networking reason. Many years ago in an elevator I had occasion to see a nametag of someone in my field I respected, and introduced myself. That philosopher recognized me as well from a minor publication and we chatted. Years later that has blossomed into a lifelong friendship that yielded not just someone I like and respect, but someone with whom I have published as co-author in a major journal. All from an elevator ride at an APA. Keep your eyes, minds, and yes, hearts open to possibilities.

Anonymous said...

I've served on SCs for a respectable SLAC. We no longer reserve tables at the smoker. (As someone in another thread pointed out, be sure to call it the 'reception'). Nevertheless, I've often attended and mentioned to candidates that I would be there. In my own experience, job candidates' "performance" at the smoker never positively contributed to the outcome of the search. Moreover, it did not influence the SC's decision at all when we did not see candidates at the smoker. (In our last hire, all of the candidates we ended up inviting to campus did not attend the smoker.)

5:17's advice above is really important: Do not attempt to undermine, or in any way show up another candidate. Most institutions weight heavily what they perceive as your potential to be a good colleague. (I'll put aside the issue of whether that practice is legitimate.) If we catch even the slightest whiff of dickishness, it's an instant deal-killer.

On the thread "How To Do Interviews..." anon 6:41 suggests that candidates skip the smoker. If a SC seems to expect to see you there, then go, say hello, look really delighted to see them, tell them how great it was to interview with them, make some polite but brief conversation, and then leave. But otherwise, I'm inclined to agree that skipping the whole event might be best.

Anonymous said...

I found the smoker actually quite enjoyable. The one school I had an APA interview for last year (the others had Skype) did not have a table (I'm still very grateful that they did not). I attended the smoker anyway, and talked to many other people from other schools, saw some old friends, and made some new professional contacts. A senior philosopher, who did not know me before, was willing to read a paper of mine after we discussed its topic during the E-APA.
So even if they don't have a table, it may be more useful to go to the smoker or meet up with some philosophers elsewhere (the smoker can be quite loud and busy) than to out to explore Atlanta on your own - I wouldlike to echo other advice that one should make most of the fact that the E-APA is a place with an awful lot of philosophers packed in one location. Try to build new contacts. For instance, go and talk to someone whose work you admire.
Try to make appointments with people you only knew electronically. Seeing face-to-face is an important part of networking. Also, it's advisable to be friendly and collegial to other job seekers, even competitors. Philosophy is a small world, so you may run into them again from time to time.

Anonymous said...

Tell the old SC members that they are fossils. Then challenge them to a drinking game. If you win, then you get the job and they retire to open up spots for yet more young Turks. If they win (doubtful), you're back to the job hunt, but they've made fools of themselves by getting sloppy drunk in front of some big-name philosophers. Old people can rarely hold their liquor. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I did the APA rounds in 2009 and 2011 and every APA interview I had ended with some comment from the SC about the smoker - usually saying they have a table there and I'm welcome to drop by, a couple of times saying explicitly that they didn't want anyone to feel pressured into chatting at the smoker, and it wouldn't be held against me if I didn't. (I found the latter awkward as hell, because I was at the smoker and couldn't work out whether I should go and chat or not, but I'm very sure they meant it kindly.) There was one day of interviews after which I didn't attend the smoker because I had to fly home; I explained as much in the interview and no one seemed to hold it against me (I didn't get fewer fly-outs on that day).

I don't know whether this suggests you should or shouldn't go, but I was usually able to tell whether I'd got a fly-out or not from the smoker - departments that flew me out always looked happy to see me and eager to talk to me when I came by (and sometimes explicitly told me I'd interviewed well). That was a nice ego boost in the midst of a depressing event, but of course it swings the other way too, and it's hardly a reliable indicator!

Anonymous said...

Much of the advice here is really great. I encourage you to feel comfortable introducing yourself as a fellow professional, and taking advantage of all of the opportunities to meet editors and more senior philosophers.

I wanted to share some information on body language that I have found genuinely helpful (I tested this out at the APA last year and felt a lot better than usual at the smoker and at interview as a result):

Some of the best experiences I have had of networking involved me attending late-night sessions. Because of the smaller group size, I was better able to ask questions and get into a really good discussion with the presenters. Don't be afraid to ask difficult or challenging questions, or to dive in early on in the question period.

At the Smoker, I find I become very tense, mostly because I don't like being in really big groups of people. If you choose to attend (and it is not compulsory!), the key is to relax a little (again with the power posing!), while staying professional. If you see committee members, say hello and thanks for a good discussion at interview, perhaps ask a question that encourages them to say pleasant, happy things about their school (which they like to do), answer any questions they have in a friendly yet still professional way, then excuse yourself politely. Chat with other candidates about their research, their teaching, any interesting service work they have done, etc. Other posters are absolutely correct that they are your future colleagues, and this is one good time to meet them.

And good luck!

Ben said...

Never having been to the APA, I have no advice to offer, but no one seems to have addressed the "particularly women" part of the question. Does the advice differ for women and, if so, how and why?

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to seeing all the power posing tonight

Frank said...

So how was the smoker last night? Full of nerves and arrogance as usual?