Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Survivor: Campus Visit

If you're prepping for your first fly-outs, you may have questions. Here's some logistical advice from past years:
  • The campus visit is a strange beast, a one or two day gauntlet of job interviews and social calls, with some harrowing, high pressure philosophy thrown in. You'll meet with various deans, and lots of faculty, and students. You'll be continuously shuttled from one thing to the next, with very little down time in between. You'll be dined (not often wined -- many university policies don't permit putting alcohol on the tab) more often than you can bear. The worst of the meals is breakfast -- to my mind, if you want to know what kind of colleague someone might be, don't evaluate them before they've had caffeine. (Advice: if your hotel room has a coffee maker, use it, even if it makes lousy coffee, just for the medicinal benefits.) You might give a talk, you might be asked to do a teaching demo. Or both.
  •  The campus visit is also an opportunity to learn about the school. You can get a sense of the campus culture, and of the department. Don't think like someone who is desperate to get a job, any job, but rather like someone who might be sold on this particular job. Hopefully, the people you're interacting with are of a mind to sell you. Ask questions about the students, about campus life, about what it's like to live there. You will need to exhibit at least minimal chit-chat skills, because you'll be doing lots of it while people are walking you around campus, driving you to the airport or restaurants, etc. A five minute walk becomes much longer when filled with awkward silence. 
  • Take granola bars and portable snacks, especially if you have dietary restrictions. The days are really long, and being hungry makes you cranky. 
  • Have at least two pairs of good pants, especially if you're going to a wintry clime where the odds of getting mud/snow/salt on your pants are high (which is everywhere this year). Take a carry-on so nothing gets lost in transit. 
  • Be polite. Practice a firm but not debilitating handshake -- you'll be shaking lots of hands. (Seriously, I hate it when people crush my hand!) Be very nice to the department secretary/admin assistant. They know where the bodies are kept.
  • If you require accommodation for particular needs (a lactating mom might need time to go pump, or you might have dietary restrictions, or need time for religious observance, or whatever), you're better off saying something in advance than trying to sneak off to TCB. You don't really want to do anything during your visit that will give someone a reason to think you're up to something suspicious (drugs! booze! World of Warcraft!). Better to have the awkward conversation ahead of time than to find yourself trying to compensate for unexplained behavior. Obviously, some departments will be more friendly/understanding about special needs than others, but it's worth remembering that if you're hired, you'll be working with these people for a while, so maybe it's better to know in advance if they don't play well with others.
  • Some departments ask their candidates to pay for their flight and accommodations and seek reimbursement. It's kinda lousy, but it happens. (At least you get to book your own flight, which can be easier. I had a fly-out once where the layover involved landing at one airport and flying out of another airport, in NYC, which was not feasible, according to the helpful clerk who changed the flight for me.) Some places require that you submit paper tickets for reimbursement, so you might want to get those instead of using your phone.
  • Take small bills so you can grab a drink or something from a vending machine.
  • Take copies of your dossier, including course syllabi, just in case. They might tell you in advance what courses you'd be expected to teach if hired, and you can think about those and work up spec syllabi if you have time.
  • Ask in advance for a detailed schedule of what you'll be doing, when, and with whom. Get as much info as you can about the teaching demo (will it be a class, an audience, will it be in a classroom, will there be tech available), the job talk, etc. 
  • When talking to deans and administrators and such, keep in mind that many of them are really academics, and would like you to know that. I found they often wanted to "talk shop" with me about philosophy, in addition to talking about the nuts and bolts of the school. Which is to say, speak to them as you would speak to potential colleagues.
  • I think the general consensus about issues like spousal accommodation is that talkng about those should wait until you have an offer. I suppose that might include not inquiring about policies until then as well, although some schools will volunteer that kind of info as part of their "sales pitch"
  • You'll sometimes meet with someone from HR to talk about benefits, so you might think about questions for them.
  • I went to a meeting with a job candidate recently and observed that he sometimes deflected questions about "how would you teach X" by asking questions about whether doing Y would be of interest to the department or the students. He also asked specific questions of faculty, like "How do you integrate Z into courses?" or "Is there support for doing A?" It made him sound thoughtful and interested, rather than like someone just answering standard questions with standard answers and trying to please. (He was offered the job, too.)
  • Before you go, look up the people you'll be meeting in the department, but also the deans and administrators. You never know when some little bit of trivial knowledge (hey, we both grew up in Omaha!) might be fodder for a good convo, or at least make you memorable (in a good way)
  • Anything critical like your job talk or teaching demo slides should be copied onto a USB stick, copied to the Cloud, copied to Google Drive, tattooed on your hand, emailed to yourself, etc. If you're using a Mac, convert stuff to a PC friendly format. I'm paranoid about that kind of thing, but I've had TSA drop my laptop on the floor. Print your lecture notes, etc.
  • Be ready to improvise should technology fail during a talk or teaching demo. (Hence, have printed notes.)
tl;dr: be prepared.

Oh yeah, enjoy. You're one of a very select few.

Anything else?


Monday, January 27, 2014

A Networking and Mentoring Workshop 
for Graduate Student Women in Philosophy

This looks excellent. You should apply if you are a graduate student or advanced undergraduate. You should encourage your students to apply if you are finished with graduate school:
Call for Submissions 
A Networking and Mentoring Workshop 
for Graduate Student Women in Philosophy 
Co-Directors: Elisabeth Camp, Elizabeth Harman, and Jill North 
Female PhD and DPhil students and prospective students in philosophy are invited to submit papers on any topic in philosophy to participate in a workshop at Princeton University, August 21-24, 2014.  
Thirty-five students will be selected to participate. Seven students will have their papers discussed; fourteen students will serve as commentators, and fourteen as chairs. In addition to the seven philosophy sessions, there will be five sessions at which professional advice is offered by twelve faculty mentors.  
The workshop will provide meals and shared rooms for three nights at the Nassau Inn for all participants. The workshop will reimburse up to $400 of travel costs. Participants traveling with children will be provided with a single room rather than a shared room. The workshop will also provide information about how to find babysitters in the Princeton area. 
We are committed to accommodating all participants with disabilities.  
Karen Bennett, Cornell University
Elisabeth Camp, Rutgers University
Ruth Chang, Rutgers University
Elizabeth Harman, Princeton University
Jennifer Lackey, Northwestern University
Sarah-Jane Leslie, Princeton University
Ishani Maitra, University of Michigan
Jill North, Cornell University
Debra Satz, Stanford University
Jennifer Uleman, Purchase College, State University of New York
Katja Vogt, Columbia University
Susan Wolf, University of North Carolina

Advice Topics:
Getting the most out of graduate school
Writing a dissertation
Presenting and participating at conferences
Preparing for the job market
Starting a tenure-track job
Balancing work with the rest of life

Papers on any topic in philosophy are welcome. Submissions must be no longer than 7,000 words, including notes and references, and must be prepared for anonymous review. The submission deadline is March 1, 2014. We will notify all applicants of our decision by the end of May 2014.  
The online submission form is linked from the workshop webpage:
This is the first in a series of three workshops that will occur biennially. These three workshops will reach more than 100 graduate student women across five years.  
Apply! Tell your students. Exciting!

-- Jaded, Ph.D. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The PhD Debt Project

An anonymous reader brings this to our attention. It's an interesting project, to be sure, if only to satisfy morbid curiosity. I find some of the figures kind of unbelievable, but have no particular reason to doubt their veracity. Five and six figure debt (and in one case, nearly half a mil for a philosophy PhD) is astonishing.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't make me turn this car around

As has been noted elsewhere and repeatedly (and yearly), updates to the Phylo wiki seem to be both erratic and inconsistent, with listings sometimes moving back and forth between categories. This may just be SOP for wikis, what with trolls and mischief-makers being about. But, if you're fucking around with the wiki, please stop ruining it for everyone. If you're legitimately and honestly updating the wiki, please continue because you're awesome. If you're not updating the wiki (and you are legit and honest and have legit and honest updates), please do so.

That said, anyone else feel like they don't want to be the first one to post an update?

Does it seem like the PFOs are going out early this year, or is it just me?