Careers: April 2005 Archives

Ideally, we would all like to get jobs at large research universities where people are allowed to focus on their one particular speciality and where we are within a community of scholars who can recognize and celebrate our work. But the reality is that the majority of jobs are at small state colleges and liberal arts colleges where departments are small (three to four people) and you have to be a generalist.

That also means that your hiring committee will most likely be generalists. Often, faculty from other departments may participate in the search. These people may not know why your research is so critical to the understanding of one small aspect of social structure in XYZ-land. You may be the newest leading scholar in ABC microstudies, but they will not know what the significance of this is.

Going on the market can be one of the most dispiriting things that a recent Ph.D. can do. While nasty rejection letters from academic journals are par for the course, usually even the most snide letters from the meanest of journal editors contain some kernel of insight into why the paper was considered weak and what you need to do to improve it.

On the other hand, job search rejection letters are almost uniformly unhelpful. Most simply thank you for the application, note the special nature of the applicant pool this year, regret that you were not selected, and wish you well. Usually they are only two or three sentences long. They never tell you why you were not selected.* Don't give up hope!

From The New York Times > Education > For Women in Sciences, Slow Progress in Academia:

"Even as the number of women earning Ph.D.'s in science has substantially increased - women now account for 45 percent to 50 percent of the biology doctorates, and 33 percent of those in chemistry - the science and engineering faculties of elite research universities remain overwhelmingly male. And the majority of the women are clustered at the junior faculty rank.
Your curriculum vitae or CV is one of the most important documents that you'll write as a freshly minted graduate student. Even if you are hired and never apply for another position, you'll continue work on the C.V. throughout your entire academic life. For example, I have to submit a new C.V. to my college each year as part of my annual review. When I submit work for review, publishers and conference organizers also usually want an updated CV.

Although you can rent your cap and gown for your Ph.D. graduation, there are very real reasons why you should purchase them while you are in graduate school. You will be required to be in formal cap, gown, and hood at least twice a year as a faculty member: matriculation and graduation. Also, if you are a member of a honor society (Phi Beta Kappa, for example), you will need your formal wear during those ceremonies as well.

In your last year of graduate school, you should start preparing for the job market. There are several things you will need to get together, in roughly the appropriate order:

This week, I had the great pleasure of having dinner with some of the graduate students at my older alma mater. They had a hundred questions about finishing their dissertation and finding a job in this tight market. I've started this new blog category as a way to write down some of the advice I gave them, in the hopes it can help them and other prospective and newly minted PhDs in anthropology.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Careers category from April 2005.

Careers: May 2005 is the next archive.

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