Post Academic


How to Handle an Editorial Test, Part 1: Before the Test

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on June 17, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionYeah, you thought you were done with tests when you chose to enter the Hamster World. Not so. If you decided to parlay your Humanities MA or PhD into an editorial career, you will likely encounter the dreaded editorial test as you apply to jobs. Here are some tips to prepare for yet another test:

Get to know the editorial test format. Editorial tests are administered to applicants as a weed-out process. Not only does the employer want to know if you can catch edits, but the employer also wants to know if you can handle the content they publish. Typically, you will have to edit a piece of content that the employer has published before, only the employer has packed it with errors for you to find.

Ask for a copy of the employer’s style guide. Before you take any editorial test, you need to know the employer’s standards. The employer might not give you the company’s entire style guide, but he or she will probably say if the company uses The Chicago Manual of Style or the AP Stylebook.

More after the jump! Still from the movie Rock River Renegades. Public domain on Wikimedia Commons.
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The Decline of Film Criticism: A Glimpse of the Future for Academia?

Posted in Housekeeping,The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on June 14, 2010
Tags: , , , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionFilm critics have been laid off in droves as newspapers change their structure. Understandably, the critics who have been laid off aren’t happy about it, and the debate regarding the role of the film critic sounds similar to the debate regarding the role of the academic, especially in the humanities.

In the latest Vanity Fair, James Wolcott describes the responses of critics scorned, and one in particular surprised me. On a panel, Richard Schickel from Time magazine said, “I don’t honestly know the function of reviewing anything.”

I don’t know Mr. Schickel’s work. He may be a brilliant writer, but those who want to keep their jobs ought to be able to justify what they do. If he can’t think of a function for reviewing anything, then why is he a reviewer?

Perhaps if film critics could better justify what they do, more of them would still have work. I can think of many ways film critics do the public a service. For starters, they save us money by telling us if a movie is worth watching or worth renting. They are also cultural historians. Pauline Kael’s “For Keeps” is, in my opinion, a work of history as much as a work of film criticism. Why didn’t Schickel try to make a better worded, more sophisticated version of this argument?

Wolcott hat-tips Roger Ebert because he was able to adapt, and now he has created a niche for Twitter film criticism. It’s proof that you can’t make your job last solely by complaining and navel-gazing. You must be able to justify what you do and be willing to adapt. After all, Ebert hasn’t changed what he’s done for a living. He certainly hasn’t sold out. He’s just finding new ways to reach new audiences.

A manual film projector with a mini-film and box. Photo by Mattia Luigi Nappi from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

Look Like You Want the Job

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension,public domain wikimedia commonsDean Dad recently published an article explaining why he can’t answer the question “Can You Tell Me Why I Didn’t Get the Job?”

But he did drop a few hints about why some qualified people don’t get one of the precious few academic jobs that are available. One of those hints was this: “Your answer to x suggested that you’re settling for this job, and other candidates seemed actually to want it.”

One of the major issues with the academic job market is that there are so few jobs that people feel like they have to apply for everything. Then someone gets a job in a place they don’t like, and they spend half their time miserable and half their time trying to get out.

A smart interviewer or job search committee will be able to separate the candidates who are interested from the ones who just want a job, any job. So, if you want that job, whether it be an Ivory Tower job or a Hamster World job, you must look like you want it. Find out how after the jump!

Image from Reefer Madness from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Skills

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWelcome to the Post Academic Resume Series. We’ve covered the Resume Objective, Work Experience, and Education. We’re winding down with the Skills section, which is like a basket for everything else that didn’t fit on your resume.

The Skills section of the resume almost seems like a throwaway. You might be tempted to skip it if it your resume is looking a little long. Don’t count it out, though. I’ve said before that you can ignore the one-page resume rule. The skills section is a golden opportunity to surprise and delight a hiring manager if you follow these tips:

Share your editorial knowledge. Experience editing with the Chicago Manual of Style, MLA style, or AP style can go a long way.

Be sure to list computer skills. Yes, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel count. Anyone who wants a job now needs basic computer literacy. You will be even more impressive if you study extra programs or languages, including HTML and CSS.

More after the jump! Typewriter repair falls under the category of interesting skills. Image from the German Federal Archive on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Education

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWelcome to the Post Academic Resume Series. We’ve covered the Resume Objective and your Work Experience. Now we’re at the easy part–Education!

If you’re reading this blog, you’re going to have plenty of information for the Education section of your resume.

And that’s the problem. When filling out the Education section of your resume, you don’t want to overdo it. I am in no way suggesting that you should dumb yourself down. Far from it. You’ve gone to a good program, you’ve busted your butt for a graduate degree, and the whole world should know.

Keep your Work Experience section should be at the top. It should also be longer than the Education section. Period. Here are some tips to keep your considerable education from overwhelming the rest of your resume:

Do not list every paper your wrote or every class you took. Keep it at “PhD, English” or “PhD, Philosophy.”

More after the jump! Image of a Swedish typist, public domain on Wikimedia Commons.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Work Experience, Part 2

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWelcome to the Post Academic Resume Series. We’ve covered the Resume Objective and how to describe your Work Experience. Now we’ll work on how to shape your Work Experience so it gets a hiring manager’s attention.

Now that you have created a list of jobs complete with bullet points describing what you accomplished on the job, you need to consider how to order your list of jobs.

This is trickier than it sounds, especially for career changers. Most people list their work experience in reverse chronological order. Anyone making the leap from academia to the hamster world might not want their last teaching job to be at the top of their resume, though.

For example, if you were a copy editor before you went to grad school, and now you want to go back to copy editing, that information needs to be at the top of your resume. People who work in HR departments are in a hurry, and chances are good that they’ll just scan your resume, so you need to make the most of the upper third of the page.

To pull this off, ditch the chronological order and divide your work experience into two categories:
Editorial Work Experience (or work experience related to whatever field you’re trying to break into)
Other Work Experience

More after the jump! Image of the Civilian Conservation Corps, public domain on Wikimedia Commons.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Work Experience, Part 1

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension

Welcome to the Post Academic Resume Series. We’ve covered the Resume Objective, and over the next two posts, we’ll help you with your Work Experience.

If you thought dealing with your resume objective was tough, wait until you start your work experience. This will be painful, as Arnold and I have mentioned, because you can’t talk about your publishing in depth. Here’s how to capture your teaching skills in a way that hiring managers will understand:

Get inside the head of the hiring manager. Your publications are great, but hiring managers don’t care about you. They care only about what you can do for them, so you must prove that you have skills they need.

Boil your work history into bullet points that start with action verbs. For example, here’s a glimpse of what a copywriter might say about her current job:
Copywriter/Senior Copywriter, Cookie of the Month Club, 2008-present
–Write marketing material for brochures and mailings to clients
–Write Web site content that has been optimized for search engines
–Increased response to direct mail by 5 percent
–Promoted to Senior Copywriter in 2009

More after the jump! Image from the United States Navy Department, public domain on Wikimedia Commons.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Do You Need a Resume Objective?

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThis post is the first in a series on putting your resume together. If you have had a CV, you might not remember the resume format and you might have trouble boiling your academic work into bullet points. We can help. Let’s start with the tricky Resume Objective.

The “resume objective” is a brief statement at the top of your resume in which you declare your intentions to a prospective employer. They usually read like this: “To work as an Algebra teacher at a public high school,” “To apply my skills as a Webmaster to a small nonprofit agency,” and “To convince people with low incomes to buy homes they can’t afford using adjustable-rate mortgages.” You get my drift.

But are resume objectives really necessary? They take up space, and they often sound like hot air because the real objective of most people is “To get a job. Any job.”

A resume objective is useful for only two types of people: those just out of college and those who are changing careers. Otherwise, your work experience will make clear why you are applying for a certain job.

More after the jump! Amelita Galli-Curci seated at desk using typewritter, dressed in fur coat and hat. From Wikimedia Commons with the following statement: “This is a press photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948. According to the library, there are no known restrictions on the use of these photos.” (more…)

Is It the Big Lie of the Mind or the Big Lie of Job Security?

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionPost Academic shows up in many searches for “the big lie of the life of the mind,” which refers to William Pannapacker’s legendary article “Grad School: Just Don’t Go.”

While I prefer to defend the life of the mind, I have been thinking of another “big lie” lately that relates to academia in general, and that involves job security. Should job security or tenure be an expectation of anyone who goes to graduate school?

If you go into graduate school, the best approach is to assume that you won’t get a tenure-track job. And that’s okay. You might get a career, but it might not be the one you thought you would get. You might even find a career that you like better. Adventures in Gradland had a superb series on the types of careers that former academics have discovered, and it’s required reading whether you’re just starting grad school or you just got tenure.

It may sound harsh, but the real big lie related to academia doesn’t involve the life of the mind (or lack thereof). The real lie is that, academia is the fast track to job security, and the evidence is that non-tenure track faculty make up over 73 percent of those teaching in higher ed.

Academics must fight hard to keep the jobs that they have (see debate on why it seems that academics haven’t been fighting hard enough), but it’s also smart to start thinking of other career tracks while you’re in school or even while you’re teaching. You’re not being disloyal to your university or to academia if you think of a Plan B. You’re being smart, and you’ll be better prepared for economic upheavals than most of your peers.

Tomorrow, a glimpse of what it’s like going through a layoff, and why it’s better in the Hamster World.

Image of Mary Pickford from the Library of Congress, public domain on Wikimedia Commons.

The Semi-Notorious New Yorker Cover

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWow. That New Yorker cover by Daniel Clowes, which depicts a PhD moving back in with his parents and hanging his advanced diploma on the wall hit too close to home. Gina Barreca wrote over at Brainstorm, “We wonder whether the implication is that Ph.D.’s are worth as much as third-place ribbons—and are as easy to obtain.”

Eh. Somehow I don’t envision that New Yorker cover convincing a lot of readers that PhDs are deluded individuals who are doomed to return to Mom and Dad’s basement.

Yes, the portrait creates an unflattering picture of those with advanced degrees, but the reason it stings is that it makes New Yorker readers with PhDs feel like they’re being attacked by their own kind. That’s reason enough to dislike the cover, and I find it annoying because it perpetuates grad student/professor stereotypes. I don’t think, however, that the cover has a strong enough message to convince a person who is on the fence about the value of advanced degrees to dismiss such degrees entirely.

People move back in with their parents all the time because their grand life dreams didn’t work out, but it doesn’t mean there’s a reason to condemn the profession they chose. After all, people still go to the theater and go to rock shows, and for every successful actor or band, there’s probably about 10 people living in their Mom and Dad’s basements.

I posted the image of the New Yorker cover because I’m analyzing it for a semi-scholarly reason. I am fully aware that I’m pushing it with that rationale, so I kept the image small. If you want to see the image in detail, buy your own copy of the magazine.

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