[Itech] Fwd: Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1302. Behind the Academic Curtain: How to Find Success and Happiness With a Ph.D.

Teresa Franklin franklit at ohio.edu
Thu Jan 30 16:43:12 EST 2014


I thought you might be interested in this posting!

Dr. Franklin

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rick Reis <reis at stanford.edu>
Date: Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 3:34 PM
Subject: Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1302. Behind the Academic
Curtain: How to Find Success and Happiness With a Ph.D.
To: tomorrows-professor at lists.stanford.edu

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter, Sponsored by Stanford Center for Teaching
and Learning]
*It is difficult to underestimate the importance of the job talk for a
candidate's success in getting a good position. In many places, the job
talk will be your only introduction to some of the members who will vote on
your appointment.  *

1302. Behind the Academic Curtain: How to Find Success and Happiness With a


[image: Rick Reis]

The posting below looks at some of the things graduate students and
postdocs should do to prepare for the academic job market.  It is an
interview by Serena Golden with Frank F. Furstenberg, author of *Behind the
Academic Curtain: How to Find Success and Happiness With a
Ph.D.*(University of Chicago Press). The article appeared in the
November 20,
2013 issue of *Inside Higher Ed*, an excellent - and free - online source
for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education. You can subscribe
by going to: http://insidehighered.com/.  Also for a free daily update from
Inside Higher Ed, e-mail . Copyright ©2013 Inside Higher Ed. Reprinted with


Rick Reis

reis at stanford.edu

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Tomorrow's Graduate Students and Postdocs

----------1,495 words ----------

Behind the Academic Curtain: How to Find Success and Happiness With a Ph.D.

The academic job market has been unsteady -- to say the least -- for years
now, and more seems to be expected of job candidates with each hiring
season. Trying to succeed in academe can be daunting, and no single article
or even book can begin to provide the prospective academic with all the
information she'll need.

Still, Frank F. Furstenberg gives it his best shot in *Behind the Academic
Curtain: How to Find Success and Happiness With a Ph.D.* (University of
Chicago Press). The subtitle may overpromise, but Furstenberg does offer an
exceptionally comprehensive guide to an entire academic career, from
deciding where to apply to grad school to determining when it's time to
In an email interview, Furstenberg, who is Zellerbach Family Professor of
Sociology Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, offered some tips on
navigating the early stages of an academic career. But his book may offer
something even for those who've been in academe for years -- and for those
who may want to apply their Ph.D.s elsewhere, as well.

Q: What should students be doing relatively early in grad school to lay the
groundwork for becoming attractive candidates for academic jobs?

A: Students should begin to think about future jobs aspirations even as
they decide which graduate program to enter. If you want an academic
career, it is very important to know whether the program that you are
entering has a good record of placing students after they complete their
Ph.D. For many students seeking an academic job, the next step after
graduate school is a postdoc. Increasingly, students will be expected to
have some evidence of scholarly accomplishment before they complete their
dissertation. This means submitting papers for conferences and publication
as you complete your coursework and begin writing your thesis. While this
schedule may seem demanding, these days departments recruiting assistant
professors are looking for a record of achievement, not just the promise of

Q: What advice can you offer grad students who may not want to pursue a
career in academe?

A: In many disciplines, more students plan to enter nonacademic than
academic careers when they complete graduate school. I suggest that if you
are considering a nonacademic career, you must establish contacts outside
of academia during graduate school. This often happens through summer
employment, but typically faculty members know of job prospects and are
useful in helping to bridge the academic and nonacademic worlds. Try to
pick a mentor (or two) who knows about job prospects. Often the
opportunities arise through internships and placements during graduate
school.  Know how the job market outside of academia in your discipline
works before you start writing your thesis. Picking the right topic will
enhance your prospects of getting a good job outside of academia.

Q: What are the most important factors in deciding whether to do a postdoc?

A: In the sciences and social sciences, post-docs are a common stage after
completion of the doctorate. Almost all scientists and a substantial
minority of social scientists move from grad school to a postdoc. Working
with a mentor in a different department provides an opportunity to build on
work done during graduate school, get papers out for publication, and widen
social contacts within the discipline. Picking a postdoc in which you will
have an able and engaged mentor who puts your interests first is highly
desirable. Making that happen means doing some careful assessment of how
previous postdocs have done in the places that you are considering. Don't
be shy about asking for this information!

Q: You write that "going into a holding pattern is a wise strategy for a
committed and capable recent Ph.D... ." What actions do you recommend to
job-seekers who are unsuccessful in their first year on the job market?

A: Of course, it depends on the candidate, but I advise not giving up if
you have a good record of accomplishment and a strong commitment to being
an academic. Instead, try to build on that record, even if it means
remaining in the department where you have completed your degree as a
part-time teacher or researcher. This is what I mean by going into a
holding pattern. If you must follow this course, try to use the year to
publish and expand your professional contacts, just as you might if you had
an official postdoc. You will not be alone in following this strategy. It
is risky and requires a reasonable prospect that a second round on the job
market will treat you better than the first.

Q: What are some of the most common mistakes that you see job applicants

A: I think the most common pattern that I see is avoidance. That is, some
students don't sufficiently plan for the next step -- what to do after
completing a doctorate -- during graduate school. For some people, it may
be difficult to think about the future when they are in the thick of
graduate training. My book offers suggestions on how to anticipate what
will happen next and how to position yourself to make a successful
transition into the job market. While you cannot make choices before they
become available, it is important to think about the choices you might have
in advance. Preparing increases the odds that you will indeed have choices
after graduate school, whether you want an academic or a nonacademic

Q: Many applicants, you write, may not "realize how central the job talk is
to the hiring process." What should candidates keep in mind as they prepare?

A: It is difficult to underestimate the importance of the job talk for a
candidate's success in getting a good position. In many places, the job
talk will be your only introduction to some of the members who will vote on
your appointment. Sad to say, faculty may not read your research unless
they are on the search committee or your work falls in their field of
expertise. You have an hour or so to introduce your work and yourself to
these colleagues. Make sure that you construct your talk so that they will
understand the importance of the work that you are presenting and how it
fits broadly in your future research plans that often go beyond the job
talk itself. Never, never do a talk that has not been field-tested in
advance. Even if a practice job talk is not part of your department's
routine, arrange to give one to your fellow students and willing faculty.
Anticipating critical comments on your research and having thoughtful
responses to potential criticisms will greatly increase your chances that
the job talk will be successful.

Q: When a candidate is offered a job, to what extent, if any, should she
try to negotiate the terms of the offer?

A: It is almost always possible to negotiate terms of employment after you
get an offer unless otherwise indicated by the employer. You have some
latitude to ask for more if you think the offer is insufficient. A little
more salary, summer salary for a year or two, a bigger research account, or
a course off in the first year are common requests to a chair or dean who
is making the offer. But think carefully about what you need and how you
can best respond to a pending offer. I would seek advice from your mentors
about whether an offer is reasonable and whether to ask for more. Don't be
greedy or get into a contest of wills. Of course if you have alternative
offers, then you have a better hand to play. Most of all, don't back
yourself into a corner in making demands that your potential employer
cannot meet.

Q: You describe "a large disconnect ... in academia between formal career
training and doing the job." What do you see as the most difficult aspects
of the transition from graduate student to new faculty member?

A: Most beginning assistant professors find the transition daunting because
there is no way to prepare fully for it in advance. Of course, if you have
taught courses before -- and this is likely in most fields -- you will have
a head start. Still, it takes time for most people to become comfortable as
an assistant professor. You are getting a lot of new information in a very
short time. You must deal with everything from finding your way on campus
to figuring out the culture of your new department. Sometimes the process
takes weeks, but more often it takes months or even years to get a good
grip on reality. How to handle yourself in faculty meetings, whether you
must accept invitations to join committees, how to balance teaching and
research obligations are just a few of the challenges that you will face.
It seems like a lot and, it is, but most first-year assistant professors
are so relieved to be "on the other side of the lectern" that the
challenges are welcomed.

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*"A teacher affects eternity; [she]he can never tell where the influence
stops." - Henry Adams*Dr. Teresa Franklin
Professor, Instructional Technology
313D McCracken Hall*, *Dept. Educational Studies
The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education
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