Post Academic

And that’s a wrap–at least for this year (Part 2)

So I left off yesterday with a decision looming before me about whether to attend MLA in Philly.  Here’s what I was weighing…


* Actually having a job interview

* Seeing some friends I haven’t caught up with in a while

* Eating an authentic Philly cheesesteak, which I missed the last time MLA was in the City of Brotherly Love because I didn’t want to emit an oniony smell during my interviews

Philly cheesesteak by Cessator (Creative Commons)


* Paying over $1000 for airline tix and a hotel and spending parts of 5 days in Philly for basically a 30-min interview

* Packing during Christmas for my flight early on 12/26

* Not being able to do family stuff before and after Christmas because I’d be stressing out prepping for my interview and getting ready to travel

When you put it like that, the decision was a lot easier to make: I cancelled my hotel reservations, took the $150 penalty on my plane tix, and stayed home.  Pretty much none of my academic friends thought this was a shrewd decision, but I really couldn’t stomach spending the money and the time for a single half-hour interview, even if my career hung in the balance.  Moreover, I’m pretty sure the interview request was made on the strength of a single tout by a very supportive, very helpful faculty friend, so I didn’t know if the whole thing was a courtesy deal or if I was blowing a really golden opportunity.  After all, I was offered an interview before they even *asked* for a writing sample or official recs, so it was a situation that was hard to read.

Once I settled on my decision, though, I was more than happy to be watching The Princess and the Frog with my family peeps the day after Christmas, instead of worrying about whether I’d be snowed in making a connection in Denver.

But surprisingly, the story doesn’t end, quite yet!  Continued, below the fold…

January 2010: I was lucky enough, however, to reschedule the MLA interview as a Skype interview, thanks to the very friendly folks conducting the interview.  In the end, doing the teleconferencing interview was for the best, not because I got the job, but because I totally botched the interview–much better I do it in the comfort of my office at no cost than going to all the expense to blow it in another city, then have to wait 2 days to fly home.  The Skype interview was a little strange, in part because I was wondering how big my head looked to the interviewers and in part because it was hard to pick up cues on when to stop an answer.

While I pretty much knew that it was the end of the line for that position, I still had a few postdocs to apply for and some great diversity postdoc applications already under review.  And I completed the most ridiculous postdoc application in this day and age (which would be the Tufts Mellon postdoc), requiring all documents be submitted in triplicate as hard copies!

February 2010: Received some rejections, but I still had enough postdoc applications out there that at least I thought I had a chance at.  Plus, there was the hope that successful folks would turn down the postdocs once they got tenure-track offers, upping my odds from less than one percent to maybe over 1 in 100!

And we started the blog!

March 2010: More waiting, more rejection, less hope–but more blogging!  And still, I found out about a few really good positions that tempted me into thinking about applying and actually applying!

April 2010: I finally receive the last of my official rejections, though it wasn’t like I didn’t see the writing on the wall at some point.  So here’s the final tally for the 2009-10 job cycle:

Tenure-track positions: 18 applications

Basically the same job ads I’ve applied to in the past: 3

Jobs in fields that don’t really fit my interests: 5

Open-rank longshots: 2

Searches cancelled post application: Only 1, as far as I know

Searched cancelled pre application: 1 –Wouldn’t you know it, but both cancelled searches were in ethnic studies depts

Rejection letters with ads for search chair’s books: 1

Postdocs: 10

Diversity postdocs: 3

Applications that required ridiculous formatting requests: 2

Being put on a mailing list after being rejected: 1

Additional material requests: 4

Interviews: 1

Campus visits: Nada

Offers: You figure out the math…

2 Responses to 'And that’s a wrap–at least for this year (Part 2)'

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  1. You know… it’s funny… PostGrad doesn’t sound *too* much different than Grad (the post PreGrad, I guess).

    But, um, how do we beat the procrastination part of it all… Like, I’d love to pack early, but that also means I have to do my laundry early… which means I can’t be furiously writing… which means… *grabbing a paper bag*


    • Arnold Pan said,

      Love the handle, Grad School Drama! Yeah, the whole laundry thing is part of it, particularly whether to iron your suit in advance and whether to take a back up suit ensemble in case your luggage gets lost! And I didn’t even mention the worst time sink at MLA, which is to prepare materials like sample syllabi for your interview. Even if I already have ’em, I always end up tinkering or making up new classes in a hotel room, while trying to figure out if there’s a Kinkos (or now, FedEx Office) nearby.

      The next post on this topic for tomorrow is on what I would/should be doing to prepare for the next job cycle, which I guess would be the opposite of procrastination. But either way, the problems with time management for grad school types has to do with how ridiculous the one-shot per year job cycle is. Not sure if there’s any other way around it, but it just mystifies the whole idea of getting an academic job.

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