Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm a wanton. (Maybe.)

Today's the last day in this, the week I've been told to expect the majority of interviews to be scheduled. And while I've landed a few interviews this week--THANK FUCKING GOD--I'd really be happy if the number of chances to completely fuck up and humiliate myself, but still stand a chance of ultimately getting a job this year, were a little higher. (Okay, a lot higher.) And so. The temptation to blow off everything and hang around waiting for the phone to ring or the emails to arrive is weighing pretty heavily.

But I've got a lot of work to do. Like, a lot of work to do. Grading, dissertation, job talk, interview prep. And experience shows that there's no way I'm getting any of this shit done unless I sequester myself away somewhere away from both email and phone contact. It's gotta be the coffeeshop around the corner with no wireless.

Obsessively-freaking-out-chest-pains-from-the-anxiety PGOAT says, "Fuck the dissertation! You've got email to check! Obsessively. Every two or three minutes at least. C'mon. Think of how good that, "You like me! You really like me!" high feels. You could be getting that fix right now."

Second-order PGOAT says, "What are you, an animal? Get your shit together. You don't stand a chance of getting any of these jobs unless you get this work done. Stop fucking around, asshole. Get your ass to the coffeeshop."

Yeah, I know. Get my ass to the coffeeshop.


juniorperson said...

Not to screw with you or anything, PGOAT, but could you please remind me of the email address to contact you guys?

(Seriously. But not job related. Sorry!)

undetached rabbit parts said...

I once accused an entire class of being wantons. They seemed more amused than offended.

P.G.O.A.T. said...

Sure, juniorperson. You can reach us at philosophyjobmarket at gmail dot com.

(How is it that I'm able to respond to your request in such a timely manner? Clearly, because I haven't yet made it to the coffeeshop. Yup. Wanton.)

Smerdyakov said...

"I once accused an entire class of being wantons. They seemed more amused than offended."

I can see that happening.

Anonymous said...

I've had a number of students self-identify as 'wontons'. At least you weren't accusing your class of being inanimate foodstuffs.

Remus lupin, abd said...

Back in my first year of grad school, I was TAing Contemporary Moral Problems for a lecturer who discussed being a wanton. I forget what the context was, but I remember that he kept pronouncing it 'won ton', which caused a good deal of undergraduate confusion and TA giggling.

Anyway, congratulations on your interviews, PGOAT.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the interviews. Not jealous.

Okay, I'm jealous.

Stephen said...

You are, in fact, an animal. Aristotle and Kant think you're a rational animal, but they haven't met you. I'd say you're just clever, especially when it comes to rationalizing obsessive e-mail checking.

Anonymous said...

I took a page out of the Joe Thomas playbook, and went out to see Will Smith in I am Legend today. The hope was that I'd come out and have voicemail waiting, then go home and find email waiting. I mean, I burned my college eligibility studying, so #3 in the NFL draft is no longer an option.

Turns out I got no voicemail, and my email server seems to be down. And I'm still keeping the corner of my eye out for abnormally strong, hairless, semi-human mutants.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, PGOAT.

This is all much more drawn out than I expected -- can any SC members tell us if they're done arranging APA interviews? Or is there still hope for calls from Section II?

And does anyone know of departments that aren't interviewing at the APA? Do westcoast departments all interview there, too?

Anonymous said...

I'm not on a search committee, but here are two things I know: (1) West Coast schools do interview at the Eastern APA; and (2) of course there are schools from both coasts and in between that don't.

I don't know how one can tell in advance which schools are skipping the APA/phone stage unless: a) they advertise so; or b) one knows a search committee member at that school. I also don't know whether there are schools who have started but not yet finished their APA invitations. However, the placement director at my institution suggests that early next week will be the "hottest" time for receiving APA interview invitations.

Anonymous said...

Are there any wise and/or kind adults like "old fart" willing to chime in on how Associate-level searches go? I've been on SCs for Assistant searches and Full searches, but never Associate. My experience is that beginners get conferences interviews, Full Profs are brought straight to campus.

But what about in the middle? Do departments typically interview for Assoc Profs at the APA?

I would ask around my department, but they don't know I'm looking...

Bobcat said...

Brian Leiter seconds anonymous 11:44 AM's comment:

Anonymous said...

Search Committee member here.

We were hoping to settle on a short list by now. But we've got one more meeting to go.

We have notified a few candidates about whom we reached a firm consensus that we will be interviewing them at the APA. But we've still got a medium-sized list of maybes. Most of these remaining maybes will be interviewed. Several of them won't be. The problem is that we rather disagree about who should go and who should stay. After several hours recently, we decided to re-group and meet again after (re)reading some writing samples and seeking further input and information from a variety of sources.

Seems doubtful, though, that we'll reach consensus. Probably some sort of voting procedure will have to be employed.

You can see that the dynamics of these things are non-simple. If other departments are like ours, then even if some folks have been told that they will be interviewed, there remains an outside chance for others who haven't heard yet that they might still be interviewed.

It's of course getting late and we really wish were were decided and done. But fact is we aren't done yet.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:22 -- thanks.

Did I apply to your department?

remus lupin, abd said...

As someone who applied very broadly, I haven't been counting my individual jobs to see who has reported and who hasn't. Instead, I just flip through the wiki and check how many screenfuls of jobs haven't called and how many have.

We've barely passed the point where more screenfuls of jobs have called. And when you count in the postdocs, the balance tips the other way.

Caveats: On the downside, maybe some schools have only called people who don't know of or don't bother to update the wiki. On the upside, maybe some schools have called only a few people and still have more calls to make.

So keep feeling optimistic!

Inside Man said...

I've heard of APA interviews for associate positions. Well, at least once. But I think skipping straight to campus visits is the norm. Here's something else to bear in mind: I suspect schools looking to hire at the associate level solicit applications, don't get too many unsolicited applications, and are impressed with only a very few of the unsolicited ones.

Some departments are known not to interview at the APA: e.g. Princeton. I think Michigan does campus visits but no interviews. I'm not sure. And I know some schools in Canada don't, although they sometimes arrange informal meetings (if one member of the department happens to be at the APA).

It took hours and hours of meetings, on many occasions, to get our interview list.

Anonymous said...

Inside man! Is that really you?

So have you contacted all the people on your list?

Not Philosophically Viable said...

I really hope that next week brings at least a little more interviews. While I have some interviews under my belt, it'd be nice to have a little more in order to increase chances of success and leave some room for error.

I wish the best to everyone here who is despairing.


DK fan said...

I hate this. I am a successful human being. I have a great life. I am normally a very happy person--been that way since I finished my PhD.

But my VAP is coming to a close and I am on the market for the third straight year. I have two interviews, and yet I am utterly depressed. I had more interviews when I was ABD several years back.

I am being utterly irrational, I am grumpy, out of sorts, and yet again thinking about law school applications.

The only thing that is nice about is that I was the high school geek who got stood up a lot, and that experience sitting by the phone waiting for someone to call, yet knowing that they were never going to call, has prepared me well for this process.

If only I had faith it would be easier, but instead I don't. I am miserable and am cheering myself up as I keep humming the Dead Kennedy's "Nazi punks F--- off" with Search committee fitting into the appropriate spots.

Anonymous said...

Nothing. Not. A. Thing. Zip. Nada. Niente.


Anonymous said...

I'm joining the list of 0's. No interviews. Third year as a lecturer and I've never had an interview at the Eastern. This will be four years running. I have pubs. I have a teaching award. I have a PhD from an unranked program. I'm having a hard time not being very jealous of grad students interviewing for jobs, but good luck. I don't hate the player, but the game is fucking bullshit.

Anonymous Female Department Chair said...

Have heart. We are working carefully through files and won't have our meeting to determine short-lists for APA interviews until next Monday. I realize it's tough for candidates, but it's also tough for us--we didn't get funding approval in time to make the first issue of JFP and so, given time constraints and reasonable deadlines plus our own time pressures to complete grading, etc., this process is proceeding for us as quickly as it possibly can.

languagepolice said...

To DK fan and various anonymouses,

This may well sound cheezy, but I am being earnest: take some time this weekend to hang out with someone you love (in person or over the phone). This job search process can really be a soul-sucker.

Last year, I had 0 interviews, and it really got to me. Interestingly though, I didn't cancel my plans to go to the APA and wound up having a great time. Going to paper sessions reminded me of why I got into this business and I returned home feeling pretty jazzed. Thus far, I've only got 1 interview (with less than half of my schools not yet having contacted interviewees). Anyhow, I think that job seekers should make room in their lives for the fact that egos are going to be fragile throughout the job season. For some people, making this room means religious observance; for others, it may be listening to the DKs...

That brings to mind the idea of a job search playlist. :)

Will think about that and post something if inspired...

Anonymous said...


I think candidates understand the time contraints departments are under, and I'll speak for all the other candidates in saying that we'd rather you do to job well than quickly, though well and quickly is best (note that 'well' means deciding to interview us).

But you should keep in mind that the more warning we have, the better we'll do. My one APA interview was scheduled a while ago, and I've been preparing hard for it (including work towards a teaching presentation). If I hear from your department on Dec. 22, there's a lot less I can do in trying to show myself in the most accurate light. So it does benefit you to contact folks in good time.

This will apply to on-campus interviews as well: if you give us a week to prep, that's not nearly as good as three weeks, etc.

Mark said...

Hey folks:
So I'm an old fart and have lots of experience as placement director -- for the last 20 years or so.

So, associate searches rarely, but sometimes, interview at apa. As someone else posted, they very often solicit applications, but I know of man searches that looked seriously at unsolicited ones. (That gets less common as you get more senior.)

There will certainly be interviews scheduled next week. (I once had a call for an interview at 11pm on Christmas eve, though the person doing it was a nut.) As has been mentioned, classes are just ending, finals going on, etc. And if you haven't been on the hiring end of a serious search (I mean one where the department takes it seriously) you have no idea how much work is involved. (One year at my department I read over 5000 pages of application material.) I do think this past week was probably the largest, but early next will certainly have more.

On preparing: why do you need to wait until a given interview is scheduled? Granted, there are a few things one directs to the particular department, but dissertation descriptions, discussions of research, various course descriptions -- the overwhelming majority of what one should prepare is quite independent of who is interviewing you. Work on that now. Get other students who know nothing about your work to listen to your short description. They can tell you if it makes sense. If it sounds interesting, etc.

And hang in there. I know from massive experience with friends, students, etc that this can be aweful. Do attend to the comments of the previous old fart. I could give you dozens of stories of people who made it into this profession through many years of stubborn perserverence.

undetached rabbit parts said...

No interviews for me either. I don't really know why (my program is ranked (albeit in the bottom half of the PGR), I have several publications (and they are not in horrible journals like some are probably infering) etc). I'm strangely o.k. with the fact that I received no interviews. I don't feel like it's really my fault. And I am leaning towards not trying again, and I'm fine with that too. We hear a lot of people telling us to persist etc. But maybe not trying again is the right thing to do, at least for some of us? I suspect there are people who tried only once (like I am thinking of doing) who would tell you it's the best thing they have ever done. It's tough to justify going on the market again when you did not receive even one interview; and wasting another year seems like it's just compounding the worst mistake I've ever made (i.e. go to grad. school).

Anonymous said...

Re: going out again when you didn't get interviews the first time around.

In my experience the job market is way too chancy not to give it a few (and even more than a few runs). I went on the market three years in a row. The first year I got 4 interviews, but no call backs. The next year, I added two forthcoming publications to my cv (the first year I had none); naturally this meant that I got no interviews that year. The third year I went out with the exact same cv as the second year. I got three interviews, three call backs, and two jobs (all at Leiter-ranked places). There was, as far as I can tell, nothing other than luck to explain the difference between years 2 and 3. So it can, in fact, be well worth hanging in there for a while, even when the immediate prospects look pretty bleak.

Will Philosophize for Food said...


I concur with Anon 8:15 (for what it's worth). If I may be so bold, think that your despair centers on the mistaken judgment that this is a rational process. SC members, as objective as they sometimes might think they are, are human too--and let their own biases slip in to this process. A given candidate might have all the things one needs (good PhD, pubs, good teaching, etc), but one's candidacy may be derailed because of something as superficial as SC member A thinks you should be on the list, and SC member B can't stand the thought of A getting his/her way.

It is a common misconception that academics is a meritocracy. This is false. Academics is more truly political than, well, politics.

Consider the following: my only interview is at an institution I applied to last year. They rejected me without interview then, and my application packet has not changed substantively since last year--albeit I'm a lot closer to finishing this year than I was last year.

It may just mean that you have to wait until February with me.

Anonymous said...

My current institution (in the Leiter 10-20 range) is hiring for an advanced assistant or associate this year, and the SC has put many hours into examining unsolicited applications, as near as I can tell.

undteached rabbit parts said...

Anon. 8:15 and will philosophize for food,

You say to try again because a lot of luck is involved, and this isn't a rational process. But to me, that is why it is not worth trying again. This tells me that the process is out of my hands, that even if I get more publications it will not matter etc. I guess I just don't want to gamble with a few more years of my life. I do wish everyone here luck though.

give randomness a chance... but how much? said...

There certainly is a lot of randomness (in some sense of the word) in these processes. Change the SC members, but hold everything else fixed -- same set of dossiers, same job description, same school -- and you will get a different interview list, quite possibly substantially different. So it does seem to make sense to try more than once.

But it can also make sense to set limits. I've set a limit for myself up front: two years, this year and next, on the job market. If by the end of that time I'm not sitting in an attractive post-doc or a TT position, then I will look for jobs outside the profession.

In my humble opinion, we are all too talented, and the field is too crowded, to invest a significant number of years of one's life virtually begging for a job. Some persist stubbornly and succeed, but others persist stubbornly and eventually fail in despair. And yet we all could succeed easily in numerous other careers.

Setting a limit for myself in advance has helped me retain a sense of dignity and of control over my own life -- and for that matter, it helps me feel more positive about the application and interview process, and it's also having a positive effect on the philosophy I'm producing (both in quality and quantity). Ultimately that's got to have a positive effect on my job prospects, too.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know the timeline for jobs that aren't interviewing at the APA? Do they typically contact candidates before the holidays, or does the whole process not get going until the new year?

Anonymous said...

Four interview-schedulings/rejections so far on a Saturday. Even the weekends aren't safe. . . .

At least they weren't at schools I applied to.

veteran said...

One thing that can change significantly from year to year without you knowing it: your letters of recommendation.

We have seen people re-apply with letters that say something like "since I wrote last year for this person, their work on topic X has improved a lot and they have become interested in the following interesting problem, where their ideas show great promise".

I tend to think that if someone just resends the same letter they used the previous year, it looks bad. people should have made some progress and the letters should reflect that, (at least the letter from the head of your cttee).

Anon 1:58 said...

I don't think the process is irrational, but rather that reason is fragmented, plural, and incomplete. Individual department members (usually) have reasons for the choices they make. But there is simply a ton of information they have to wade through when making these choices, and the pool of candidates changes radically from year to year. This is why, from our perspective as candidates, things appear completely screwy.

By the way, if some person takes offense at being called a "wanton," doesn't that mean she probably isn't one?