Careers: May 2005 Archives

It's about the time of the year when the thoughts of young men and women turn to graduate school. Well, not really, but if you are thinking about applying to graduate school, here's are some tips on how you should prepare over the summer. Although I'm an anthropologist, these are general tips that should apply to most disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

First, you really need to ask yourself if you want to go to grad school and why. I've seen enough unhappy grad students and assistant professors who went because of all the wrong reasons: they were smart and one of their teachers told them that smart people go to grad school; they thought academia was less stressful and had more intellectual freedom than the real world; they wanted to avoid going into the Real World altogether; etc. Unless you really consider being an academic your calling in life, then it may be difficult to make it through seven through ten years of grad school, and another seven to ten years before you get tenure.

In graduate school, I was vaguely aware that there were various types of colleges and universities that would hire you, but I didn't give much thought to what the actual differences between them were. Nonetheless, the type of job that you choose after graduate school has direct impact on your future career.

Even within state university systems, teaching load can vary greatly depending on whether you're teaching at the central premier research university (University of California - Berkeley) or one of the second-tier state universities (Cal State U. - Long Beach). In fact, the teaching load in the lower state university systems is often so onerous (4:4:3 on a quarter system) that it is impossible to do your own research during the school year.

I have some good news to report: I've been asked by the department of anthropology at Yale University to join them as a new assistant professor of anthropology in the Fall. Although I will be sad to leave Macalester College and St. Paul, Minnesota, there was little hesitation in my reply.

Whether you are a new faculty hire or coming up for promotion, you should be aware of what other people are earning in your field and whether or not you are being competitively paid. This can yield quite significant results by simply asking the provost for a slightly more competitive salary when first offered a position. Because annual salary raises are often calculated by percentages, even a $1000 difference in starting salary can have serious impact over the long term.

Although I've said it before, I believe it is critical for graduate students on the job market to have a website. It doesn't have to be a fancy website but you need to have one. One of the first things any web-savvy search committee is going to do is to look you up on the web, sometimes out of sheer curiosity more than anything. You don't want nothing to show up (and if your college-era website is scandalous, this might be the time to sanitize it).

The former president of my college was a well-published economist before he made the transition to administration (a smart financial move, his salary easily tripled). He was also the kindest and most thoughtful college president I've ever met. He was once asked by the junior faculty in the Economics department what his advice would be to faculty before tenure. He said:

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About this Archive

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

Careers: April 2005 is the previous archive.

Careers: June 2005 is the next archive.

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