Careers: October 2005 Archives

It's about the time of year that PhD candidates are asking for letters of recommendations for teaching positions. This seems like a very good year for hiring, the latest edition of the Anthropology Newsletter is thick with postings. You should be looking there, as well as the Chronicle of Higher Education, your regional association newsletter (in my case, the Association for Asian Studies Newsletter), and online mailing lists (for example, H-Japan, the SOLGA mailing list, etc.).

Asking for letters of recommendation is as strategic and political as anything else in academic careers. Do you ask Professor-Big-Name who might only vaguely remember you from a seminar you took your first year, or do you ask Assistant Professor-Young-Turk who you've been working closely with ever since arriving at AnyU?

One of the biggest mistakes a junior faculty member can make is to become chair of their department pre-tenure. While not common at larger institutions, you may be asked if you're at a smaller school such as at a private liberal arts college. If at any point, you are offered the position as an untenured faculty member, become very very worried. Becoming chair is an enormous burden, not an honor. It is a tremendous responsibility with very little real power (especially over the senior faculty). The fact that the provost is offering you the position means that the senior faculty in your department are either too structurally weak, too disorganized, or too factious to take on the responsibility themselves. You may want to think about other job opportunities. The likelihood that your department will later be able to get it together enough to properly support your application for tenure is questionable if they can't even handle the position of chair amongst themselves now.

Careers: Getting tenure

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It's now been about six weeks since the beginning of classes at Yale and I've never worked harder in my life. My entire week is crammed with meetings, colloquia, seminars, and teaching. It's absolutely exhilarating and exhausting, and I wouldn't want anything else. I'm finding that the main difference in teaching at a small liberal arts college and a major research university isn't the much better library system or the presence of graduate students, but the sheer amount of intellectual stimulation that goes on.

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About this Archive

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

Careers: September 2005 is the previous archive.

Careers: November 2005 is the next archive.

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