Resigning and Choosing a Non-Lateral Career Path

I have really struggled to write about my recent job resignation and to figure out how to communicate my experiences with it. We are in the midst of national (and even international) conversations about hiring freezes in higher education, so it’s difficult to imagine someone wanting or needing to resign from their job. However, that’s exactly the position I found myself in not long ago. I was wracked with guilt about how my resignation will affect my current employer because I was afraid they would be unable to replace me. However, after I had the difficult conversations I needed to have, I was amazed to find I felt more supported than ever in my pursuit of my career goals. Not only that, I was reminded of a painful reality in higher education – many faculty and staff are faced with a lack of mentorship and transparency as they navigate their workplaces. By opening up about my situation to my coworkers, I discovered I should have had many of these conversations much earlier. Continue reading

The Pros and Cons of Campus Visit Dinners

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

The campus visit is an odd portion of the academic job search process. It is arguably the key moment when the power dynamics between hiring committees and candidates begin to shift.

A typical tenure-track search might produce three candidate visits and, due to the limited number of candidates at this stage in the process, departments tend to switch their focus from critiquing candidates toward impressing them. (I don’t mean to say that the search committee isn’t still evaluating candidates — only that it has narrowed its pool of potential hires and, if candidates have multiple options, the committee’s labor could produce a failed search.) For many departments and universities, getting the “top candidate” will become a point of pride.

Thus, the visits often consist of a combination of evaluative moments (interviews, meetings, teaching demonstrations and job talks) paired with expensive dinners and real estate tours. These dinners and tours could be considered job marketing efforts, and, recently, I have become increasingly aware of debates regarding the professionalism of this type of marketing. Continue reading

Junior Prof’s Resources for Contemplating Contingent Labor in the Academy

It’s no secret that the last several decades in higher education have witnessed a large-sweeping, administrative turn toward divesting in human labor. As the consequences of these administrative decisions make themselves more and more clear, the subject of contingency in the academy has come to the attention of authors, institutions, and academic news venues. Continue reading

How to Advocate for the Research You’re Already Doing

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

Part of our training in graduate school involves fine-tuning the skill of academic research. And a lot of graduate school programs will insist that the holy grail of publishing opportunities lies in the peer-reviewed publication, whether in article or book monograph form.

Upon completion of a graduate degree, if you choose to stay in an academic job with a research component, or find an industry job that requires publication as a metric of employee success, peer-reviewed articles continue to reign supreme among supervisors who need to rack and stack their subordinates against one another for raise and promotion purposes.

In the last 18 months of my job, I’ve had a number of conversations with colleagues about the merits and pitfalls of jobs that have such a narrow evaluation system. Here, I argue that we should value research and publication outside of peer-review metrics. I’ll also offer a tentative plan for advocating for the research that you want to do — rather than the institutionally prescribed format of peer review. Continue reading

Junior Prof’s Book Proposal Tips

I’ll never forget the biggest highlight of my dissertation defense – learning that my dissertation “made sense” as a book to my advisors. I should start by saying that I’m in a field where writing a book is fairly common. There are many researchers out there in STEM, the Social Sciences and the Humanities who will never write a book and whose research findings would be illogically organized if presented in book format. However, I am not among them. I have always envisioned publishing my work as a book and feared greatly that my advisors would tell me not to. Recently, a lot of my time has been occupied by the work of turning my dissertation into a book that makes sense. Earlier this week I took to Twitter to announce an accomplishment of which I am very proud: I submitted my book proposal. Continue reading