Monday, January 4, 2016

Eastern APA Thread

Once I moved farther away, realized that my current department is likely to renew my short-term contract (sometimes part-time, sometimes full-time) on a consistent basis, and that any job I apply to would offer Skype interviews, I stopped thinking about the meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association.

Occasionally, I reflect hostilely about past failures at the E-APAs. Droning on during an interview in the big reception hall with a small department and having an interviewer ignore me while they scoped out attractive people in the room; not being able to answer when a teaching-focused department asked how I would teach an intro course; wearing slightly ill-fitting dress clothes handed down to me by an ex-partner's recently-deceased relative; never attending talks; navigating the snow-ravaged wasteland that was the Boston 2010 APA (which actually wasn't that much worse than the windswept 2009 Times Square APA).

Of course, it wasn't all bad. A fellow job candidate whom I had never met gave me some inside intel on an interview with a religious school once, which was nice of them.  I also got to get drunk on expensive beer with far-flung friends, enemies, and frenemies, some of whom ended up getting good jobs in good places because of the E-APA.

But, this Wednesday, January 6th, represents the first time in a long time that the meeting of the E-APA will be held post-Winter-holiday season. It will also probably be one of the first few E-APAs to not be organized primarily around the job market. 

Let that sink in. Who said there's no progress?

Now, think about answering these questions in the comments below:
  • How's the big interviewing reception hall? 
    • Empty? 
    • Slightly full? 
      • If so, why are departments still interviewing at the E-APA? 
  • Are the suites nice?
    • If so, why are departments still interviewing at the E-APA?
  • How's the Smoker? 
  • How're the talks? 
  • Do people visibly look less stressed out than they used to? 
  • Are you happy you went?


Anonymous said...

I haven't interviewed at the APA before this year, so I'm not sure if I'm addressing the first question correctly. But I'm under the impression that all the interviews will be held in separate rooms. Apparently, the hotel just had free rooms available. I'm guessing this is not just the hotel being generous but also due to the paucity of interviewing universities. So I think there isn't a "big interviewing reception hall".

Anonymous said...

there was at least one big reception hall for interviews which was virtually vacant--i think only two schools. yeah, it looked like maybe a total of 12 schools were interviewing at the APA this year.

and yeah not as many nervous people pacing around waiting to be interviewed, moreso just people there for the conference. i didn't go to the receptions so not sure what the turn out was like for those.

Anonymous said...

"The times they are a changin" ...

The Eastern APA seemed calmer than in years past, including the infamous Smoker. The room for the Smoker was a fraction of the size of what I remember from some other Eastern APAs. There were tables with numbers, but less of them. And some were smaller, too! I was able to converse with friends at a table for four. It was more relaxed and friendly.

I still felt the ghost of past Eastern APAs. But I think these memories of the bad old days will fade. A new era is upon us.

Anonymous said...

First Eastern in several years, totally different than before. Very few job seekers in evidence, some schools that were interviewing were at Omni instead of Marriott, overall attendance seemed light. Program was still typical Eastern, lots of flaky or overtly political panels, but still enough good philosophy symposia to make it worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

"Lots of flaky or overtly political panels, but still enough good philosophy symposia to make it worthwhile." I agree - it really is shameful that a small amount of philosophical resources were devoted to concerns that can be characterized as "political".

Anonymous said...

I went to the E-APA for a job interview. Over the last two years I've had 7 skype interviews, and this was my first in person. While I prefer the convenience of Skype, I can say with confidence that interviewing in person is much easier, more natural feeling, and more revealing both with respect to the job candidate and with respect to the school. So it's not clear to me that moving to all-Skype interviews is progress simpliciter. Maybe moving away from first round interviews would be progress.

BunnyHugger said...

I only went to the Eastern APA twice, but two or three more times I planned to go and didn't bother when I didn't get any interviews, so it loomed over more holidays than it actually occupied. I truly do not miss worrying about it. I too am in a steadily renewing position and no longer have any aspirations (and, one might also say, hopes) to move on. I am still heartily glad that the next generation will not have to deal with the APA circus anymore.

Anonymous said...

There is a discussion thread up at DN about job applicants writing their own letters of rec and then just having their recommenders sign them (with little or no emendation). Only one person has posted, which got me to thinking. Either this practice is non-existent in philosophy or those who have engaged in it (either as applicants or as recommenders) are too ashamed to admit to doing so. After all, if the practice exists, the only ones who will know about it are those who engage in it or those who know people who are engaged in it. I doubt it's non-existent, so methinks they protest too little.

Anybody here want to anonymously share knowledge or suspicions that the practice exists? I am just curious more than anything.

Anonymous said...

I did it when I applied to grad school, but my letter was probably so shitty that the prof wrote it all over again. I had no idea what to say or how to say it.

Writing good letters of recommendation is HARD. I certainly never got any training on how to do it, and since our own letters are confidential (or supposed to be) you never get to see any exemplars. I never read a letter for a job candidate until I served on a search committee.

It is a real disservice to the student/applicant to make them write their own letter. People who are not self-promoters are likely to utterly fail at it.

Anonymous said...

"It is a real disservice to the student/applicant to make them write their own letter. People who are not self-promoters are likely to utterly fail at it."

I'd never use a student-written letter, but I have asked students to write such letters as an exercise. First, it gives me a sense of how the student seems himself/herself: what does this student think he/she has done well? poorly? What is important to this student? How does this student want to see himself/herself in the profession? It's helpful to bridge the gap between how I view my students and how they want to be viewed.

It's also valuable for the students, because they are going to have to become self-promoters. Students who are not good at self-promotion are going to suck on the job market. Part of the student's job on the market is to sell himself/herself. You have to write an application letter that convinces search committees to read the rest of the application and advance the application to the interview stage. You have to sell yourself well enough during the interview process - at all stages - in order to convince the department to hire you.

And of course, once you get into the profession, self-promotion skills will serve you well in applying for tenure, applying for grants, convincing presses to publish your books, convincing administrators to not cut your program, etc. If you're not a good self-promoter, start learning. Soon.

Anonymous said...

4:33: I don't disagree with you. Those are all things I had to learn in the profession. I don't think it would be a bad idea at all for students to learn how to write a good letter, for themselves, and for others. It's an aspect of professionalism that (in my experience) is not taught.

Anonymous said...

From what I can tell, most aspects of professionalism are not taught. This is why so many people are surprised when they run into it.


Marcus Arvan said...

Hi Jaded: I don't mean to thread-jack, but I wanted to briefly encourage your readers to weigh in on an informal job-market survey I launched over the Cocoon.

My hope is that if enough people weigh in, some trends may emerge that may help job-seekers better gauge what will/will not improve their chances on the market. Depending on which kinds of trends emerge, it might also lead to some useful discussions of "pathologies" of the markets (things search committees seem to be doing/not doing that may be worrisome/problematic). Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sure would be nice if thousands of people signed petitions aimed at preventing scores of highly qualified job candidates finding themselves out of work for reasons not having to do with performance. It looks like it worked for a tenured professor who found himself out of work for reasons not having to do with performance. I guess it all has to do with priorities.