Post Academic


Beware of Campus Visit A/V F-Ups

We had originally planned to write a longer piece about the pitfalls of campus visits, even though we’ve never experienced first-hand the hazing ritual of the next round after convention interviews.  Still, we’ve seen and heard enough of ’em to offer some good second-hand anecdotes for those of you preparing for your upcoming endurance test of meet-and-greets, job talks, teaching demos, and all those meals and down time where you could slip and say something impolitic.  (By the way, we’d love to post some first-hand accounts, so please let us know if you wanna share your experiences here at Post Academic.)

But really, the interpersonal tightrope and the logistical nightmares of any campus visit go with the territory, and it’s not like you can or should change your personality at this point in order to anticipate what might happen that you can’t anticipate anyway.  Sure, we could’ve mentioned the time that grad students in my program made a job candidate hyperventilate by bombarding her/him with snarky theory questions.  Or about when a friend of mine had her teaching demo time cut in half with no warning because a classroom was double booked.  These kinds of things happen, though who knows what *exactly* will happen, so you’ve just got to be ready for a lot of variables.

The one thing,though, that invariably happens with humanities campus visit presentations is that the A/V will not work.  While it’s a plus for you to show off how you can use technology, whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation or something more advanced — hey, everyone wants a digital humanist, even if a lot of folks don’t exactly know what that is, just because you’re tech savvy doesn’t mean that your hosts are, no matter how much they want someone like that.  We at the Post Academic help desk have seen too many job talks that get off to a bad start because the A/V hook-up to a laptop doesn’t work or are derailed in the middle when the sound on the DVD player is jacked up.  Don’t be the one who looks crushed when you need to be at your best, just because your best-laid plans have just fallen through.  So keep in mind the following…

Don’t Believe Your Eyes: You might think the pre-game test of all the equipment means you’re good to go, but we’ve been in too many situations where prep doesn’t mean a thing.  Somehow, the A/V gremlins come out in full force when you least want them to, even if everything checks out or you know what you’re doing or your hosts have the tech guy on call.

More advice on how to manage your A/V presentation, below the jump…

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The Academic Interview Waiting Game

"Wooden Hourglass Edit" by S Sepp (Creative Commons license)

Even though MLA ’11 may be history and you’re (hopefully) home from L.A., that doesn’t mean you’re still not thinking about it.  No, I’m not talking about all the back-and-forth about digital humanities or the general direness of the hard times in the profession, but, rather, your ongoing, neverending anxieties about your first-round interviews.  I know I should say that you should  forget about the interviews so that you can get on with the rest of your life, but that’s not gonna happen without more than a little wasted mental energy.  So yeah, go ahead and lurk on the Academic Jobs Wiki if that’s what you’ve been doing all along, though there’s little info about campus visits yet.  And maybe some not-so-discreet depts will start posting job talks on their calendars soon, but it’s a little early for that considering that some schools aren’t back in session yet.  One piece of advice on what not to do while you wait: Don’t second-guess what you did in your interview, since it’s over, no matter how many times and how many different ways you re-run it in your mind.  (Unless you want to write up any zany experiences for Post Academic!)

But there are some things you can do to futz with a job search that’s more or less out of your hands until/unless you get to the next round.  Be prepared and be productive as you deal with your nerves about what your future might or might not hold for you.

Send out thank you notes ASAP: You’ve probably done this already, especially if you were told at your interview that the search committee is planning a quick turnaround on who to invite to campus.  I always prefer to mail a  handwritten note whenever possible, but that might not be possible or preferable when time is of the essence.  Though it might not be as formal and gracious as snail mail, send a quick email to the search chair — and maybe even the whole committee if you have enough to say something unique to everyone so it doesn’t read like a form letter.   It might feel a little tacky and pushy, but emailed thank-you messages are pretty much pro forma as far as I’ve heard.  One advantage to email is that you know that your message will get to its intended soon enough, rather than get lost in the mail sorting process.  The other, potentially more beneficial aspect of email is that you might get a response back.  It might not be exactly what you want and it might lead to more tea-leaf reading, but maybe you will get a little more info to work with.

More productive fussing, below the fold…

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