Post Academic


While you’re waiting for that call/email…

"Autoanswer-1" by Kitsya (Creative Commons license)

If you’re not holding on until the last possible minute to mail out your job application packets, you should pat yourself on the back.  And if you are procrastinating, you have about a week to get those November 1 applications in, so get cracking.  Anyway, those of you  more or less done with your end of the bargain are entering various stages of waiting, depending on how much you were asked to send in for a given call.  We already addressed what you should be doing to be prepared for a secondary request for materials, but there are those ads that ask you for everything at once, leaving you hanging until you get the call–or not–for a MLA interview.  And since MLA is in January 2011 this go-around, I’m not sure if that also means you’ll find out news–or hold onto to false hope–later than ever.  Though knowing that university bureaucracy will dilly-dally as long as possible, I hope they either put the candidates out of their misery for the holidays or let them use the time to prepare.

I know, I know, you should use your time productively–like getting ready in advance for possible interviews or working on your diss to knock out two birds with one stone–but it’s much easier to fritter hours away online, which you are, of course, welcome to do so here.  Below are some of the not-so-productive activities I found myself engaging in while playing the waiting game.

Cybersnooping: I know I shouldn’t and I know it’s undignified, but I have become quite a good cybersnoop, starting from MLA season to campus visits to finding out who landed the positions I applied for.  The academic jobs wiki makes this way too easy to do; once the first notifications for interviews are posted, the dang site becomes pretty much like crack, which gets all the more addictive once the x2 (by phone) and x3 (via email) notes pop up, while you’re making sure your cellphone voicemail works and checking that there’s nothing in your spam folder.

More on cybersnooping, below the fold…

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Even more awkward academia-related interactions

Posted in First Person by Arnold Pan on July 29, 2010
Tags: , ,

As promised, I’m continuing with my series of *even more* awkward academia-related interactions.  While the last post dealt with the uncomfortable run-ins that might happen with people you don’t know well or only a little bit, this piece covers some squirm-inducing experiences I’ve had with people I know pretty well to very well.  The thing is, those crossed signals can sometimes be worse unbeknownst to you, because it’s easy to take your interactions with the folks you’re familiar with for granted…

"Union Station Urinals, Toronto" by Jason Doucette (Creative Commons license)

Don’t get stuck in the bathroom: So I was attending MLA a few years ago, when I opened the door to a convention hall bathroom only to notice one colleague of mine ask another colleague of ours about his job interviews.  I was in a purely voyeuristic position (*not* in that way!), because they were over at the urinals or on the other side of something or other and couldn’t have known that I was there and listening.  Anyhow, the first colleague–someone I know fairly well and known from this point on as “PQ” for “Prying Questioner” –asked with brutal shamelessness the question most of us never ask in such a bald-faced way: “Where did you interview?”  I don’t know if the other fellow was caught off-guard or is a networking-type himself, but he answered that he was interviewing at one of the best, best schools in the country!  Now “PQ” was probably the one who was blindsided, since I can imagine that someone who’s nosy enough not have any scruples is also prone to measure himself against others.

Maybe they didn’t mind getting stuck in the bathroom together since they were comparing notes, but it’s not anywhere I’d want to be trapped, forcing to answer with no escape hatch.  And yet, I got my comeuppance for the spying, even though I fled the men’s room…

Find out how I got my comeuppance below the fold…

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More awkward academia-related interactions

Posted in First Person by Arnold Pan on July 27, 2010
Tags: , ,

"Hotel elevators" by Wesha (Public Domain)

My last post about talking to the guy on the airplane about academia–and postacademicinnyc’s comment about how to extricate oneself from such chit-chat–got me thinking about other awkward conversations I’ve been in or seen.  This time, we’ll limit the uncomfortableness to academic-on-academic action.  I guess the anecdotes would be more timely for convention-interview time, but these cringingly entertaining stories might whet your appetite for what’s just around the corner.  (By the way, the new 2011-12 academic job wiki is already up!)

After reading the stories, you can decide how you want to read the “more” in the title, whether in quantity–as in “more examples of awkward interactions”–or in degree–as in “more embarrassingly awkward interactions.”  Let us know about your own good (or bad) ones, too.

Getting stuck in the elevator: This awkward situation involved my friend being caught in the elevator with someone who had just interviewed him at MLA.  I was in there with them and happened to know the interviewer socially, better than my friend did actually.  So in some ways, I could be to blame here, because my greetings to the interviewer probably set a friendly, casual tone that may have gotten my friend in trouble…

You’ll have to go below the fold to find out what happened!

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Holidays on an academic schedule (with poll!)

"Thanksgiving Postcard circa 1900" (Public Domain)

Watching some of the “news” about Memorial Day traffic got me thinking about academic schedules again, something we covered way, way back.  For many, Memorial Day doesn’t really count as a day-off holiday, since those of you on semester schedules have already started your summer vacations–lucky you!  I’ve only ever been in a quarter system as an undergrad and a grad student, so the last Monday of May has always been a day to look forward to, whether as a chance to tie up loose ends at the end of the term or catch up on school work right before finals week.  The only thing to look out for with Memorial Day is that it can lull you into a false sense that summer’s already here and get in the way of finishing the school year on a strong note.

So maybe everyone in the Hamster World might think academics live in a state of arrested development, but you know they’ve gotta envy the nerds for having a few months of summer vacation and spring break.  Then again, the academic’s flexible time also means you end up grading or writing or grading or researching or grading at times a lot of other folks aren’t in the office, since there’s no boundaries between work hours and after hours.  Holiday days can magnify the academic’s inability to compartmentalize.  Below the fold, I rank the holidays on an academic schedule, in reverse order…

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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…

Pros

* 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)

Cons

* 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…

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And that’s a wrap–at least for this year (Part 1)

About a month and half ago, I wrote about the last–maybe the very last–job application that I sent out for a postdoc I had found out about at the last minute.  It was a pretty easy application to put together, since I had applied for so many postdocs this year and had a project proposal more or less ready to go.  Of course, I was as dubious as ever about my odds of actually being selected for the postdoc–actually, more so than usual even, due to the late date and the very short application period, which made me think that an inside candidate must’ve been lined up and the posting must’ve been done for compliance purposes.  Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Or, just nothing gained: It wasn’t much of a shock, but I received my email rejection for the postdoc late last week, which was my first interaction with the institution, since they didn’t bother to send an acknowledgement.  Actually, I had found out at the Academic Job Wiki postdocs page that a decision had been made, so my “personal” rejection–lacking a personal salutation to me and hundreds of other applicants–just confirmed what I already knew.  I know they’re being nice and all, but, c’mon, you don’t need to include platitudes like the committee found your research “original and engaging”, when it’s likely that most of the hundreds of applications aren’t, my own possibly included.  It wasn’t the worst rejection letter, but it wouldn’t have hurt them to read our rejection letter do’s and don’t’s posts, here and here.

Don’t know if I’m ready for a career post-mortem yet, but here’s the post-game analysis on this year’s job cycle for me, since all the results are in.  See it, below the fold…

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The latest from the MLA: Convention proposals due April 1

Posted in The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on March 29, 2010
Tags: , ,

We usually don’t do CFPs (aka Calls for Papers) here, but I got an email yesterday from the MLA reminding me that the deadline for all panel proposals for the January 2011 MLA convention are due this Thursday, April 1.  The reason I’m posting this is that the MLA announced earlier this month that it is promoting panels and papers on the ever-worsening status of the profession, under the catchily-titled theme “The Academy in Hard Times”.

Just thought we’d put out a PSA about the MLA convention deadline, especially if you’re more together than I am and can get a proposal together in the next few days.  Here’s a link to the MLA proposal submission site.  At this point, I think single paper proposals to panel CFPs are all but closed by now, so you’ll have to come up with a panel topic, then find a few colleagues and friends with papers to round out the proposal.  One helpful tip: It’s a bit confusing to navigate the MLA submission site, especially if you aren’t a member and don’t have a login–actually, you can’t even submit anything if you aren’t member, so don’t waste your time if you’re not!

Hopefully, some of panels listed under “The Academy in Hard Times” will consider post-academic issues.  Good luck, and let us know if you have a panel accepted, whether it’s about “Hard Times” or good times!

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