Advice for getting jobs inside academia

To supplement the last post, getting jobs outside academia, here is the advice I received on getting jobs inside academia.  These kinds of jobs include not only the teaching (Faculty) jobs, but also research and service positions.

For these opportunities, the number one priority in grad school should be finishing your dissertation or thesis.  You should also publish frequently and attend and present at conferences.  Start locally, such as department or school-wide poster sessions.  Any place to get your work seen is an advantage.

Find and foster the right types of mentors.  Not only long-term mentors, but also seek out short-term mentors as well.

  • Dissertation committee: foster relationships with your committee members
  • Teaching mentor: someone who will write recommendations for your teaching
  • Outside of your school: those you meet at conferences from other universities.  Talk with them, invite them to lunch, and if you publish something related to their work, send them a copy.
  • Other faculty in your department who you trust.  The conversation can start as simple as “I would like another opinion to my advisor, and I’d like to meet and talk about things regularly–I’ll bring questions and only take 15 minutes of your time each ____” (month, week, etc).

Take advantage of teaching opportunities (classes, review sessions, etc), especially if you want to pursue a career teaching

  • Get feedback from students. How are you doing? Do they understand you?
  • Look up unique arenas in which to teach (such as a mentoring program, distinguished teacher series, student lecture series, guest lecturing for a class, community college courses, summer enrichment courses, short courses, tutoring, etc)
  • Any experience will help you develop your teaching philosophy. That is, what you do (and should do) in the classroom, as well as providing specific examples.

Seek out service work.  Any academic career will have a portion devoted to service. This should be in an area that aligns with your interests.

  • Graduate councils, department positions, aiding conference planners, etc.
  • Talk to the department chair and your advisor to get more ideas.
  • Get on leadership with organizations.
  • Take part in the planning and organizing of events.

Take advantage of all professional development opportunities that are available.  These workshops and sessions will at least give you a support network for the job search and application process.

Tenure side-notes:

  • If you want a tenure position, you want publications.  You should tell your advisor, “I would like to publish 1 paper per year, how can I make that possible?”
  • It is hard to take summers off when you first start your academic career, since you are trying to get tenure.  Your schedule will ease up a bit once you meet that milestone.

Advice for getting jobs outside academia

I recently (a month ago) attended a seminar about jobs after graduation, and figured I’d share that information here.  This is the information on getting a job outside academia.

Lifestyle Questions

These are questions you should ask yourself when looking for a job:

  1. What would you be happy with? vs what could you do for a few years to get by?
  2. Would you rather do individual or team work?
  3. Do you want a job that’s intellectually stimulating all the time or not?
  4. How do the money and benefits stack up for that particular area?
  5. What are your current skills? (Make a list of your skills and things you are currently doing. Selling yourself outside of the academy is harder.)

Experiences Needed Outside of Your Academic Area

  1. Communication ability to a broad audience (giving the big picture)
  2. Leadership/management skills. (You can get these from clubs, organizations, volunteer groups: don’t just be a member, but have a position in the group.)
  3. Budget management
  4. Networking skills
    • Jobs usually posted within companies before nationally.
    • Seek out opportunities, do informal interviews: call up a company’s HR department and ask for things in the future, even if none are available right now.
    • LinkedIn is a good place to be
    • Internships and Summer Internships: consulting firms will bring people in for 3 days/week or short shadowing positions.

Applications And Materials

You should have a few versions of your resume. A CV generally lists all publications and presentations, running about 5-8 pages. For outside academia, have a resume as well, which runs only about 1-2 short pages. Note: filling out one job application can take 2-5 hours to prepare.

Getting a Job Unrelated to Your Degree

It is possible to get a job outside your degree area.  There are a few things that you can do to help out with this:

  1. Research the company you want to work for.
  2. Find out who they normally hire.
  3. What would you be doing in that position? Ex: identifying problems, research, problem solving, etc.
  4. In your cover letter to that company, say what they are looking for and then how your (different) set of skills match that description.