Post Academic

Smartphone Survival Etiquette: Don’t Let the Smartphone Dumb You Down

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on January 14, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionIn theory, a smartphone should turbo-charge your noggin. With a few fingertaps, you can access entire libraries of data. Yet you’re running a risk of relying too much on your phone. Since you can’t be on the phone at all times (see entry 1 and entry 2 of Post Academic’s Smartphone Survival Series), your brain needs to stay strong. Here’s how:

Unplug occasionally. You’ll strengthen your brain cells if you put your phone out of reach. Smartphones are so easy to use that this might seem bonkers. After all, they cut down on what you carry, and they reduce paper bulk. But you still want your brain to work independently of your gadget. Speaking of …

Image of an iPhone and an iPhone 3G by Dan Taylor from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

Smartphone Survival Guide: Human Interaction Still Comes First

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on January 12, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionOne of the biggest problems with smartphones isn’t the annoyance and interruption factor. It’s the fact that the same gadget that keeps you in touch with people at all times can create static between you and other human beings. So, how do you stay connected without losing touch or offending someone?

If you must choose between the human and the smartphone, choose the human. Smartphones are perfect for keeping in touch with colleagues who are in offices or on campuses far away … which means you shouldn’t overuse the phone around people who are already standing right in front of you. It’s one thing ot show off a cool app or introduce a person to the “Bed Intruder Song,” but it’s quite another to engage in a texting conversation with someone far away while an actual human being is trying to talk to you.

The person who wants to talk to you will feel like he or she gets only 50% of your attention, and that’s dehumanizing. Putting a text conversation above a real conversation is also a surefire way to piss off a boss or a colleague.

Image of an iPhone from 2007 by Roguegeek from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

Postacademic MLA Interview Survival Tips

I’m putting the smartphone series on hold in the interest of those who are participating in the MLA. Although I strongly advise anyone going to the MLA to develop a backup plan and brace for a career change, I know that some of our readers are giving it one last shot. This one’s for you!

Arnold has been weaving horror stories of MLA interviews, so I’ve gathered together a link roundup of our past interview tips and tales for quick reference:

Top Grad Student, Round 4: Convention Interviews With Soul-Sucking Vampires
Inappropriate Academic Interview #1
Transfer Your Skills: Interviews in the Hamster World
Look Like You Want the Job

A caveat: The MLA interview is a completely different animal from the Hamster Interview. As Arnold’s posts have shown, you are more likely to encounter crazy during the MLA, and you can’t reason with crazy.

So, in the face of irrational interviewers, here is the only tip you need: Do not show fear. Keep your face completely still, or at least with a slight smile. Some of these MLA interviewers are sadists who want to tear you apart, and you shouldn’t let them. By not breaking character, you might impress one of the interviewers with your professionalism, or at the very least you’ll fry someone’s circuits.

Remember: There’s nothing wrong with effi-ing with their heads. Why not? They’re eff-ing with yours.

Smartphone Survival Etiquette: Your Coworkers Versus Your Smartphone

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on January 3, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionOne of the top workplace complaints is that people–especially students–are too obsessed with their gadgets. But consider your own habits before you judge others. Now even the poorest of grad students can afford some sort of smartphone plan and get in on the texting action, which means everyone runs a risk of becoming a gadget-crazed asshole. So, how do you avoid becoming the type of oblivious texthead that everyone loves to hate?

Before texting, determine what is and isn’t important. Smartphones push texts to the front of your screen so you always know what’s up. This can be a huge distraction, especially if some of your friends, relatives and colleagues have textarrhea. So, either disable the smartphone’s setting that pushes texts to the front so that you can go through your texts at your choosing, or put your smartphone out of sight if you’re in a meeting and you’re not waiting for something important to happen.

Image of a smartphone charging in its dock by Adrian Ilie from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

The Rejection Resolution: Getting Your Mojo Back After a Rejection

PhotobucketSome people take rejection harder than others. If you’re one of them, remember what Psychology Today said about Tylenol? How about a stiff drink? After one rough Hamster World rejection that involved an inside candidate, I played the iPhone’s iamsamjackson app for a solid hour. And, yes, listening to “That doesn’t suck!” repeatedly actually made me feel better.

But, if you’re not into motivational bon mots from Samuel Jackson, try the following:

Apply for something completely different. Look for jobs or even part-time gigs that you’re qualified for but wouldn’t usually do. You might discover a hidden talent or learn a new skill.

Go after rejections. Kiplinger offers counter-intuitive advice: Pursue rejection. As in, aim to be rejected several times a week. I knew a guy who applied to medical school, and he taped his many rejections to the wall in the hall by his dorm room door, where everyone could see them. At the time, I thought he was a masochist, but he got into an excellent medical school, and he’s a doctor now, so it clearly worked for him.

“Crying Is Okay Here” stencil posted by Miss O’Crazy from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

The Rejection Resolution: Learning From a Rejection

PhotobucketWhen you’ve been rejected, someone has critiqued you and found you lacking. After the initial sting, it’s your turn to get revenge of a sort by critiquing the critique. Some rejections can be useful to you in that they are constructive, and you can make changes that improve your chances of getting a job. To follow through on a resolution to master the art of being rejected, get started …

Ditch all the form rejections. Burn ’em, flush ’em, delete ’em from the inbox. They are worthless to you if they don’t offer feedback.

Speaking of, analyze all feedback closely. Some hiring managers will tell you up front why you didn’t get the job. If they call you to tell you that you weren’t hired, then it’s your right to ask why. At the very least, you can make someone squirm if the reason you didn’t get the job was an inside candidate. (Gotta love those calls …) Someone who rejected you for a legit reason will tell you up front what was wrong, such as you didn’t have enough experience writing code. That’s fair and fixable.

More after the jump! Sheet music cover from 1913 from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The Rejection Resolution: How to Cope With Rejection

PhotobucketYou might think I’d be doing a series on New Year’s Resolutions, but really, there’s only one that academics and recovering academics need–to learn how to cope with rejection better. Rejection hurt back in sixth grade. It hurt in college. And it doesn’t get better when you get older, either. Now that it’s the season for rejection for academic positions, I realized that academics might deal with rejection more than any other job category since there are so few journals and so few slots on faculties.

Alas, post academics will be dealing with just as much rejection–if not more. Resumes will go unnoticed, calls won’t be returned and you’ll wonder why you’re even bothering. Rejection doesn’t feel as personal in the Hamster World as it does in academia since the Hamster World is so open, but rejection can linger. This week’s series is all about encouraging you to push ahead so you can establish a proper Post Academic career. First up, how to cope with rejection when it first strikes:

Don’t slow down. Keep sending out those resumes and talking to people in your network. If you slow down, you might get introspective, which might make you depressed and/or desperate. Worst Professor Ever has a terrific post on how persistence trumps positivity, and it can help you get over a rejection-related bout of depression.

More after the jump! Logo for the band Rejected by Nicolas Espinosa from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license

Publishing Jobs Outside the Publishing Industry

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 24, 2010
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PhotobucketAcademics in the humanities who look to make a career change often think of publishing as a great go-to job. I spent a brief time in publishing after I left. While there are some pretty good publishers and agents out there, the work that’s available is awfully similar to what academics are trying to get away from.

A while back, Eliza Woolf at On the Fence described her realizations as she started interviewing for publishing jobs. For starters, the wages are not good, less than what you’d make as a first-year prof. It’s more than what you’d be making as a TA or an adjunct, but if you have any sort of debt, you’re not going to be able to pay it off with an entry-level publishing gig. You also have to do a lot of grunt work if you ever want to make it big, and the number of jobs at the top is shrinking.

The biggest issue for me regarding publishing is that it isn’t as forward-looking as it could be … and that should sound familiar to anyone who wants out of the academy. E-Readers have shaken up publishing, and a few authors (good, published ones) are declaring their independence from print. Read JA Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing to get an idea of where the future is headed. Also read it to get an idea of how slow some parts of the industry have been to keep up.

More after the jump! Image of Richard March Hoe’s printing press by A.H. Jocelyn from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The Pros of Temp Jobs

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 20, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThe number of temporary jobs in this economy is rising, while the number of full-time jobs is staying flat. That may seem like a bummer, but a temporary job could be perfect for a post academic. A temp or contract worker is much more likely to go from temp to full-time than an adjunct is to go from part-time to tenure-track prof.

You have nothing to lose by going the temp route. Not all temp jobs are Dilbert-esque wastes of time. I’ve had a few temp jobs, and not all of them resulted in full-time gigs, but I got one of the best full-time jobs I ever had by starting as a contract worker. These tips might help you turn a temp gig to your advantage.

Calculate the right hourly wage. The big downside of a temp job is the lack of health insurance, of course. Some of the bigger agencies will let you buy into a plan, but you usually have to be working for them for a while. You can offset the financial damage by asking for a higher hourly wage. Since the company that eventually hires you as a temp doesn’t have to pay your benefits, chances are good that you will get the money you want. Just set a budget, determine what you’ll need to get by and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Contact multiple staffing agencies. Some staffing agencies are better than others. Usually, all you need to do is look up an agency and ask for an appointment. Just tell them your specialty (coding, editing, whatnot), and they’ll ask you to come in and take some computer-based tests. I am not endorsing any companies, but, if you’re wondering where to start, two of the bigger names in creative work are Aquent and the Creative Group, but there are a lot of other agencies that might offer a niche that fits your skills better.

More after the jump! Image of a cubicle farm by Asa Wilson from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

An Academic Turns to an Advice Columnist, AGAIN

PhotobucketCary Tennis is becoming the go-to advice columnist for the grads. As usual, I want to ask the author of the letter, “Where is your advisor and why isn’t this person doing his or her job?” But I digress … it’s to Cary Tennis we must turn.

A week ago, the grad student in question wonders why the life of the mind isn’t thrilling her the way it used to:

I’m at a top-ranked graduate school, and I’ve been purring along, performing my graduate student duties, and feeling really good about myself and what I’m doing. Then my good friend and colleague quit a professorship that had taken over and ruined her life. Post-docs are now telling me that they have no job prospects and that they wish they had known earlier. The whole premise of my efforts has crumbled. I feel like I’ve been duped, but my advisor keeps acting like pursuing his profession is the only way to be happy. The more I think about it, the less and less I want to do this for a living.

…on the inside I feel like I’ve been hollowed out like a pumpkin.

I’ll bring my Sense & Sangria to the table. This letter is fascinating because it seems as if the student was happy in school, and if what he or she says is true, the student has a shot at a job because they’re attending a top-tier program. What brought on that “hollowed-out pumpkin” feeling seems to be … peer pressure, more than anything else. The person mentions the plight of her friends and colleagues first.

Advice after the jump! Advice-themed comic book cover from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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