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.


The Internet’s Changing!

What an interesting week in the Internet world.  We’ve had talks of firewalls, government bills, blackouts, hackers, and copyrights.  So, what’s it all about?

Well, this week started off with the whispers of SOPA and PIPA, bills introduced in congress to curb internet piracy of copyrighted materials.  They, of course, were backed heavily by a few headliners over the past decade: the RIAA and the MPAA, among cable and media content companies.  While their intentions were noble, their methods were not quite straightforward, nor guaranteed freedom of expression on the Internet.  One post by one blogger had the possibility of having an entire website blocked overnight.

So, the web “took back the day.”  Wednesday, dozens of websites went dark to boycott the legislation and get Internet users to understand what was written in the bills and to get them to contact their representatives.  Wikipedia, reddit, and many other sites went completely dark (blocked access to content), while others kept functional services but posted information on their homepages (Google, Mozilla, etc).  Well, it worked, and with overwhelming success.  Both bills have been slowed while they are reworded and reconsidered, if not killed (since PIPA will be coming to a vote next week).

Then Thursday happened.  The FBI took down the MegaUpload family of sites, which did not even operate in the US.  They shut down the site and arrested the leaders involved in the sites.  So, of course, since the FBI has global reach, why do we need legislation like SOPA and PIPA?  Clearly we can arrest those involved, who are not only non-US-citizens, but also lived in New Zealand.  Of course, the interesting events of this evening have been the shutdowns of Anonymous, who are acting out against the shutdown of MegaUpload.  They have attacked sites and forced the other part of the “internet population” to go dark–the proponents of the bills that were boycotted yesterday–namely, the MPAA, RIAA.  As one who sets up systems and builds websites, I’m not surprised that there are security holes in these systems, but I am surprised at how open the sites have been left to vulnerability.

So, maybe the internet will return to normal tomorrow?  Let’s hope so.


(and no, don’t hate me for listing fox news as a resource… it’s not usual ;) )

Abram’s Vision

I was reading my daily chapters in the Bible today, and came across a very interesting revelation given to Abram well before he was Abraham.  This is something that I have completely overlooked in the past, but lays out the end of Genesis and the Exodus.  Here it is, in the NASB:

Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” –Genesis 15:12-16

Why have I not put this together before?

New Years Resolutions

I’ve been thinking about new years resolutions this year, reflecting on years past.  This morning, Jim Sommerville almost took the words out of my mouth at First Baptist in Richmond.  I still figured I’d share my thoughts.

Every year, I’ve tried to make resolutions, but they all seem to fail in time.  Two years ago, I tried to do a 365 days of pictures on Flickr, which lasted on and off for just over two months.  It was a lot of fun, but eventually “life” got in the way.  Even trying to stay simple, I’ve tried from giving up things such as fast food, soda, and tv time to promising to read for fun every day and going to the gym more often.

I don’t think this is the right direction to take the beginning of each year.  Rather than try to add specific goals, such as “lose weight,” “get in shape,” or “read more,” we should strive toward who we want to be and who God wants us to be.  I know the person that I know I can be is not the person I am now, since there is so much more I want to do and be in this world, and I believe that God uses those dreams and passions.  For me, this year, it means that I will be more focused on serving God wherever I am; being more proactive about quiet times, reading time, posting and taking photos, building friendships; and researching new directions that God wants to take me.

So, my parting questions are: 1) Who do you want to be, and who does God want you to be?  and 2) What can you do in small steps to become that person?