Post Academic


Online browsing shoulds and shouldn’ts, MLA edition

Posted in Absurdities by Arnold Pan on November 12, 2010
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"Tailoring First Fit Front 01" by SummerWithMorons (Creative Commons license)

We know you can’t spend all your time preparing for secondary application requests or even the possibility of MLA interviews (note: start prepping your real syllabi as sample syllabi).  But you’re probably on your computer, which means you’re probably wasting time online.  Well, you might as well be productive spending your time poking around online and maybe even spending a little money that you might not have too.  Now or later, you’re gonna hafta accrue some (more) debt on your credit card, so you might as well be prepared to do it in advance if you can swing it.

Here’s a brief list of what you should looking for online and what you should avoid…

Should: Kayak it…alreadyThe last time (if I’m remembering correctly) we told you what you could be doing online while on the job market, I mentioned that it’s never too early to go onto Kayak and at least start comparing ticket fares and hotel rates for MLA.  Well, now, you might as well pay out now if you find a reasonable enough deal.  I know, I know, who wants to front around $1000 when you’re not even sure you’re gonna be out in LA for MLA–I’ve been in that situation before.  Last year, I ate the $150 flight cancel fee because I did the cost-benefit analysis on forking over much to go to Philly between Xmas and New Year’s and doing one interview I wasn’t so excited about.  But forget about me and think positively: Just get your itinerary together if you find a good deal, because it might not be there tomorrow.

More shoulds and shouldn’ts below the fold…

Shouldn’t: Yelp it — No, I’m not suggesting you go frugal and not enjoy dinner plans in order to penny-pinch your way to MLA.  What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t go onto Yelp and find out what the best food options are in the college town of your dream job.  Does Podunkville have ethnic food?  Are there any good vegan or at least vegetarian options?  What about grocery shopping?  It’s easy to wanna daydream about the possibilities or to do the opposite — to talk yourself into getting really psyched about a position you’re really not that interested in a part of the country you never imagined living in before now.  Which isn’t to say it wouldn’t be fine or great.  It’s just to say that you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself and set yourself up for disappointment, then rationalizing that you never cared about the job to begin with.  There’s better ways to waste your time and psychic energy.

Should: Go online window shopping — Yes, I’m advising you to get ready for MLA by going online and buying clothes.  Not just any clothes, but probably the most expensive items in your wardrobe.  If you don’t have a suit — or in my case, one that actually fits right and/or in good shape — it’s better to get one sooner rather than later so you’re not rushing through after Xmas sales crossing your fingers to find a jacket that matches your pants.  Like I said about Kayaking it, I’ve been there before, though it’s usually for weddings or some formal event.  If it’s a little baggy or slouchy, you still have plenty of time to alter it.

While you’re at it, you might need a new pair of not-scuffed-up shoes too, though you wonder whether the sloppily dressed search committee would even noticed that you’re a sharp dressed wo/man.  Hey, at least you don’t have to shell out for a winter coat this year if you’re from the west or the south, since MLA is in sunny southern California.  I think I had to buy a new one each time I had to go to Philly or Chicago from the OC because either because the coat I had was crappy or it was made of an allergenic material that would make me red-nosed and miserable at the worst possible time.

Shouldn’t: Go virtual house hunting — I mean, who knows what’s going on with real estate and when the market is bottoming out and whatever, etc?  But seriously, you know what we said about Yelping it cause a gajillion times for logging onto realtor websites.  It’s really, really jumping the gun to start looking at median housing prices when you start pie-in-the-sky fantasizing about a job.  OK, it is one of the potential attractions of a job in the middle of nowhere, especially for folks living in higher cost-of-living parts of the country.  And, um, people have been known to do this — hey, the few times I did this, I actually did have an interview lined up at least!  There is a time and a place for this, but maybe you should at least be on your campus visit after having a guided tour of the area.

Sorry to be the killjoy here, but there’s more important stuff to be doing than going on virtual house tours–and those 360 shots take forever to load.  Instead, start figuring out and worrying about whether or not you should buy a suit that looks too trendy or play it safe by going to the conservative scholar route, which is totally a topic for another day.

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2 Responses to 'Online browsing shoulds and shouldn’ts, MLA edition'

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  1. Great advice. Web surfing is the biggest time-suck of all … unless you’re on Post Academic, of course. I had to add that Hipmunk is also a good place to go for airfares. They let you sort flights by “agony,” which balances cost/layovers/length/start time. When you’re going to the MLA, it makes sense to minimize “agony” as much as possible.


  2. Caroline, thanks for the hipmunk shoutout – we’re counting on users like you to spread the word and really appreciate it when you do! Should hipmunk ever let any of you down – don’t hesitate to email contact@hipmunk.com so we can make things right. Our aim is to take the agony out of travel search.


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