Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Leave Me Alone, I'm Lonely

So while I'm waiting to hear about any interviews, my e-mail inbox has become a weirdly unfamiliar place for me. It's because every time I can see any new, unread e-mail, I have to check it right now . And when it turns out to be some bullshit, I delete it, and pay attention to something other than my e-mail for as much as 10 minutes before I check my e-mail for new messages again.

What I'm realizing is, my school sends me a fuck of lot of spam. Not just forwarded announcements for talks I don't care about (The Humanities Council presents an interdisciplinary panel on the theme, "Derrida, Deleuze, Delovely!"), but actual spam. Like, ads for the dining halls. Um, I can feed myself, thanks, and I'd really rather not get those e-mails.

The thing is, before this waiting started, I think I just deleted the spam without it ever really registering in my mind. Now I'm hyper-aware of every stupid message, and I'm sort of surprised to learn my inbox is filled with all kinds of bullshit pretty much all the time.

73 comments:

Will Philosophize for Food said...

I recently got an emailed invitation to the President's Holiday Party for the SLAC at which I adjunct. Two hours later there was an apologetic retraction from the staff assistant for my department, specifying that due to space constraints, adjuncts were not invited. I probably wouldn't have gone anyway, but it did make me feel like a second-class citizen, pseudo-faculty.

And yes, I get emails providing dining hall hours too.

M.A. program faculty member said...

Would any schools contacting you for an APA interview do so via e-mail? My experience (on both ends of the process) has always been to call first, and to use e-mail only as a back-up to get in touch with people who didn't answer their phone and didn't return a message quickly.

(Of course, I've never asked others about their experiences, so I shouldn't be confident that it's representative. But if it is, maybe you can stop obsessively checking your e-mail and start obsessively checking your voicemail)

Anonymous said...

At least spam is something. When it's been awhile since I've received a new message, I'll send one to myself, just to make sure my webmail is working properly. I guess that's the modern day equivalent to making sure the phone is still on the hook. So I welcome spam; *something* has got to stop me from being such a tool and emailing myself every half hour.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:22 -- I think that's a sign you need help. Get away from email for a day -- your email will survive.

Dr. Killjoy said...

Ummm, I hate to break it to you, but...

"E-mails 'hurt IQ more than pot'"

Here is the main link. http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/04/22/text.iq/index.html

Says you can drop a whole 10 points, plus the average 4 from pot smoking, so watch out everyone. Or for those for whom I may be too late "PUTER BAD, GREEN SMOKIE BAD!"

I love you all.

Anonymous said...

MA program- small sample size for you.

Three years on the market (I'm looking to upgrade this year)
I have had 10 interviews. 7 requests have come via e-mail. Three by phone.

Um so yes you can keep obsessively checking that email.

Heck I have had on-campus visit invitations and rejections over email as well.

M.A. program faculty member said...

Fair enough--I knew that the sample size was small. But man--on campus interview invites via e-mail?

I really enjoyed calling people with the APA interview offers--it's nice being the Happiness Fairy. It seems to me the sort of news you'd want to deliver personally rather than via e-mail.

That Guy said...

I once got a job offer over email.

Anonymous said...

Ok, right now I'd be happy with some spam.

Anybody want to add a 'rumors' section to the wiki? Or a 'committees' section, where SCs could post when they plan to contact people for interviews? Heck, why not skip the whole APA and do everything online -- a chat room smoker, anyone?

sleepless in unemployed-ville said...

Phone or email, I don't care. Please, someone just contact me. The wiki suggests that the number of schools seems now to be dwindling ... VCU is now off the list. As are McGill, Cornell, Colby, Creighton, Wash U. Hell, even Misery-cordia has called people.

Now that we seem to have on board even more SC members (or at least people with jobs better positioned to know than I), can we revive the discussion about whether and why a SC might space out their invitations over a few days?

wikimonger said...

By my count about 55 have scheduled interviews. There are about 300-400 jobs this year (not all on the wiki). So we still have a ways to go. Only three of the schools I've applied to have scheduled. So I am holding out hope.

Anon 1:58 said...

Someone on this blog said that we should expect a lot of activity this and next week, because Christmas isn't until the week after that. That sounds right to me, so I think it's too early to fret much.

Anyway, one of the schools I applied to showed up on the Wiki, and I was bummed. Then, about three days later, they got in touch with me to set up an interview. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Interesting difference, wikimonger. 17 of those to which I applied have (according to the wiki) scheduled interviews.

Anonymous said...

How many here included statements of future research in their applications, even when they weren't explicitly requested?

Anon 1:58 said...

Why are interview offers spread out?

One possibility: someone accepts an interview, and then later calls back to decline. You get that spot.

Another possibility: Dept X has its short-list of 20 candidates -- they call the first 10 -- 5 answer right away, 5 don't -- they can now call the next 5, but they have to wait before contacting more than that, at least until they hear from the rest of their top-10. It could take these people a day or two to get back to Dept X (especially if they're waiting for a better offer).

Yet another: Dept X makes a short-list of its top-20. They are pretty sure that numbers 6-20 would take the job, if offered. But what about numbers 1-5? They decide to call 6-15 now, and think a bit more about whether to invite 1-5 to APA. After more discussion, or even another meeting, they invite 1-5, or 16-20, or some combination.

undetached rabbit parts said...

I'm 0 for 21 (!) on the wiki. I think that's probably a big enough sample size to draw some conclusions from. I don't see myself going through this again. It's actually kind of a relief that it will all be over in a week or so.

tt assprof said...

Anon 1:58 and 11:17,

Another possibility:

The hiring committee agrees on 6 out of 10 candidates, but not on the remaining 4. It's already 8pm, so they decide to schedule another meeting, but can't all get together again until three days later.

wikimonger said...

We've had this discussion before. But I would like to here from people on SCs. Does getting called first mean anything?

Anonymous said...

undetached -- 0 for 21, but how many apps in total? There are still plenty of calls to come (for someone...)

Anonymous said...

For posterity, someone really should keep data of how many new interview contacts were made on a day by day basis. For example, 1 DFAPA(day from APA), 5; 2DFAPA 10, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Heck I have had on-campus visit invitations and rejections over email as well."

I've done two on-campus interviews over the last two years where I never heard back from the school at all: email, phone, pigeon, nothing. Both were in the state system in Georgia. You guys suck! I'm serious, never heard back from them. In both cases the searches were highly irregular, so I kind of wasn't surprised.

"It's actually kind of a relief that it will all be over in a week or so." It's over when, and only when, you give up. There's still spring hiring, the writing program at Duke, community colleges, etc.

Newbie said...

This is my first year on the market, and I was recently called for interview. My question is this: how does one respond to the caller without sounding like a completely over-excited cheerleader or whatever. I could hear the tone of my voice change once the caller identified himself.

I was also speechless when the caller asked if I had any questions about the interview. I was like, "uhh, umm, no, none that I can, umm, uhhh, think of right now..." I almost forgot to right down all the important information about time, place, etc.

Final question: can sounding like a complete idiot on the phone hurt one's chances in the end?

wikimonger said...

I had the same experience. I am going to try to play it cool next time. If there is a next time.

remus lupin, abd said...

newbie,
On the first interview I got, I was hyper-excited, and when I asked famous and important faculty about that, they said it was fine.

Anonymous said...

I'm chairing a search committee at a SLAC. We've set up all of our APA interviews. I contacted (first by phone (cell, home, office) and then email when I was unable to talk directly with the candidate) and scheduled the top four candidates before moving on down the list to schedule the next group. We have a deep list so that if someone declined the interview, I knew who to contact next. No one declined (which is not to say that next week someone will contact me to decline thus opening up a spot for the next person). So being contacted relatively early means that you are a top candidate for our position as ranked by the full search committee (which in our case is a larger committee than the interviewing committee--who might have had a different ranking of the top candidates).

I agree that it is nice being the "happiness fairy"... and enthusiasm for the position is noted (i.e. did the candidate remember actually applying for the job at my school?). I was on the other side not too long ago and I still remember the horrible tension (and subsequent inability to get any real work done), and the relief when the phone rang with an interview offer. I also remember the huge sighs of relief and happiness dance after I hung up the phone-- plus the thorough exploration of the school's website and checking of Realtor.com to see if one could afford to live in the area given the average salary of an assistant professor at that institution as reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

wikimonger said...

Thanks SLAC SC Chair, for that info.

One more question. I don't know how many times you've done this. But in your experience, do the APA interviews confirm or significantly reorder your original ranking.

tt assprof said...

newbie,

You need to be balanced in your show of excitement in my opinion.

First, SCs want to know that the candidates they have chosen for interviews are genuinely interested in their position.

They don't want that you simply applied because they advertised in your area.

And some moderate display of excitement is a good indication of such genuine interest.

Second, another indication of such interest is if you have questions for them.

When they call you, one question you should always ask is which members of the dept. will be present at the interview.

This way, you can do some research on the interviewers on line, and I think this should at least marginally better prepare you for the interview.

You should also have a bunch of questions prepared for the conclusion of the interviews as well.

Almost invariably the last few minutes of the interview are reserved for whether you have questions for them.

Even if you know everything there can be known about that dept., you should still have some questions prepared, and should preface a number of these questions by giving away that you thoroughly researched their dept., university, etc. All this just to show your genuine interest.

But, and I think this is a big "But": you shouldn't display so much excitement and enthusiasm such that they can rely on you to take their position if offered.

If they can assume that you will definitely take their offer, it may affect how they rank you on the short-list--you know, as a "sure thing."

I mention this, because I'm pretty sure that's what happened to me with my current position. I think a part of their calculation in deciding between the top two candidates is their knowledge that I was a sure thing.

How did they know that?

I told them, that's how. And as soon as I told them, I knew I had made a big mistake.

Why is that a mistake?

For probably non-rational psychological reasons, it seems a sure thing is always less attractive than a harder to get.

So if you're good enough to make the on-campus list, as a sure thing, you may wind up ranked at the bottom of that list.

So show some excitement, but not too much excitement. An example of the difference:

"I'm so happy to hear from you, and look forward to meeting with you"--I think is moderately excited.

"Oh thank God you called!"--I think is overdoing it.

undetached rabbit parts said...

"undetached -- 0 for 21, but how many apps in total? There are still plenty of calls to come (for someone...)"

I applied to about 65-70 schools (counting several postdocs). But there's no reason to think any of the other ones will contact me. I think it's important to let go of false hope at this point. False hope is what got me into this mess (i.e., wasting the last several years of my life in graduate school).

Anonymous said...

"I'm pretty sure that's what happened to me with my current position". So we're curious: how did you get the job if, as you suspect, your enthusiasm got you a place at the bottom of their list of finalists?

got a list said...

Our placement director suggested some questions to ask if/when we get an interview-invitation call. I made a list of five questions, and I keep it at the top of the page in my calendar covering APA week. That way if I go blank while on a call, I'll have them right in front of me. The questions are:
-What hotel will you be interviewing in?
-What's the best way to find out the room number once in Baltimore?
-How long will the interview be?
-Which professors will be there interviewing?
-What's the best way to get in touch in case something comes up once in Baltimore?

m.a. program faculty member said...

"This is my first year on the market, and I was recently called for interview. My question is this: how does one respond to the caller without sounding like a completely over-excited cheerleader or whatever. I could hear the tone of my voice change once the caller identified himself."

I wouldn't worry about it (pace some of the folks above). I second the suggestion about having some questions ready to ask when the calls come (esp. about who will on the interviewing committee), but you have enough to worry about without stressing out over how excited you should be when you get an interview call.

A lot of people had the following sort of reaction after getting the news:

"Oh. [Pause.] Oh wow--that's great. [Pause.] I mean... Oh wow--thanks." And then they stammered for a second or two more before getting things together. And you know what? That was 100% fine with me, and I promptly forgot about who exactly said what by the time I had finished making the calls.

wikimonger said...

Got a list,

On my interview call, they promptly answered all of these questions before I had a chance to ask. Leaving me a bit bewildered. Oh well! I got an interview. Hopefully, I don't screw that one up.

Does anyone want to offer a good list of questions to ask at the end of an APA interview? SCs which types of questions impress you?

cst said...

"How many here included statements of future research in their applications, even when they weren't explicitly requested?"

I sent out research proposals to places that I thought would put a good deal of emphasis on research, even if they didn't ask for it. For example, a place with a 3/2 load or less or a place with a grad program usually got a research proposal from me whether they wanted it or not. But, for the most part, I did not send them to SLCs.

Btw, I never asked anyone whether this was a good idea. Perhaps it wasn't, but since I think I have a good proposal, I think it is more likely to help me.

Anonymous said...

I second the call for good questions to ask at the end of the interview.

On an unrelated note, today's wiki is a bloodbath for Ethics candidates (at least those who didn't get an interview). Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit drinking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks cst. Think it's worth sending a copy of my statement of future research to those schools that didn't request it (and thus to which I didn't send it -- silly me for following directions)?

Anonymous said...

Roughly 70 of 240 wiki-jobs are now listed in section II. Just in case you're wondering.

anonymous said...

Wheeeeee! Me Continental Pissant, teaching 4/4 at microscopic university in mid-America, been out four years, getting long in tooth--two interviews scheduled today! Wheeeeee! Me go to APA dance! Me no also-ran! At least, not yet.

P.S. Notification #1 by phone, notification #2 by email. And for both positions, cover letter included research track description and monograph plans.

tt assprof said...

anon 2:03,

"So we're curious: how did you get the job if, as you suspect, your enthusiasm got you a place at the bottom of their list of finalists?"

Their top choice or choices turned them down.

To be clearer, I was talking about the list of those invited for on-campuses. Out of four, I think I was third. But what I'm saying is I might have been second or even first if I hadn't been so... easy.

asstrophilosophist said...

tt assprof is a wise, wise dude.

I've had several instances of either overeagerness or too-hard-to-getness scuttle my chances (again, on fly-outs). My first fly-out (at an MA granting institution) I was so eager that I tailored my job talk to have a link to the interests of several key faculty members, hoping to show that I was a team player. Oops. They thought I was too easy.

At my second fly-out (also at an MA granting institution), thinking myself wiser, I gave my own paper, no apologies. I indicated that "I'd consider" their job, if offered. Oops. I found out later that they thought me too full-of-myself.

I finally landed at a PhD granting institution, but it was a long and painful run.

It's a delicate balance between conveying elation and giving the impression that you have options. I suspect that the acceptable level of enthusiasm will vary depending on the extent to which members of the department feel certain about their standing. Some faculty are very proud of their departments and expect enthusiasm, but also expect that you're the top of the heap. Other faculty are very critical of their departments and are skeptical of enthusiasm, and may even think that if you're too hard to get, you're too hard to get.

Yeah, so I have APA vertigo. Whatever I wrote above is fucking gibberish.

remus lupin, abd said...

Not quite seeing the ethics bloodbath, Anon2:40. Creighton yesterday and Middlebury today are the only recent ethics calls.

Looking at what I've heard from other students around me, it seems like the narrower specialties are being called first, with things slowly broadening out from there. Which is what you'd expect, since there are fewer applications for the less common specialties.

anon 1:44 said...

1:44 anon chair responding:

the rankings can be radically re- ordered after the APA interviews. Sometimes a formerly top candidate sinks to the bottom of the list (and off of it entirely). Why? we hope to hire a long term colleague (in part because I HATE the APA experience)... someone who will share teaching strategies, who will teach courses that none of the rest of want to teach but agree must/should be taught... someone who will be working in interesting areas that we can talk to about their (and our) work... someone who will work well with our students, in and outside of the classroom... someone who will work well with colleagues across campus... and so on. (in short, we seek someone who will make our professionals lives easier and better)
In an interview you can sometimes tell if an individual will "fit"... and you can tell that they will not. The candidate who goes on and on about their amazing highly specialized research (that would require resources my school does not have) and not about their teaching is not likely to be a good fit. The candidate who, when asked if he has questions for us, responds "No I checked out your website" is not a good fit (indeed his interview lasted only 15 minutes because it was like getting blood from a turnip).

veteran said...

Last year our bottom-ranked candidate going in to the interviews got a fly out, because her writing sample seemed very narrow, but in person she seemed impressively broad.

Oh, and a few years ago one of our top candidates got dinged because at the interview we asked him what his research plans were for the next few years, and he said he was gonna wait and see what he got interested in. If someone asks you that question, folks, have a plan to unveil for them.

wikimonger said...

Anon 1:44 and veteran,

So sometimes people go way down and some go way up. But in general do say 2 out of 4 of the top ranked going in come out similarly ranked.

veteran said...

In general, we don't have a precise ordinal ranking for everyone, but we do tend to think that there are a top tier, and a few others of the "well, they don't seem world-class, but let's see if they'll impress us" variety.

There is not a lot of promotion and relegation between the two divisions, usually. But we may not be a good guide. For one thing, before we interview people we always ask for extra writing samples, and the initial ranking is based on every member of the cttee having read and discussed 2 or 3 (or more) papers. When i was on the market I was interviewed by some people who, I am sure, hadn't done any work at all.

Anonymous said...

Each of us on the SC has favorites going in to the APA interviews, and there are a few candidates whom we all agree seem like a great fit (we look for soemone highly competent who is a "great fit", not someone "world class", whatever that means). It often happens that "dark horses" emerge as our top candidates after the APA.

asstro said...

Take heart, young job seekers:

Leiter posts today about the origins of some of the top tenure-track faculty at the top 20 graduate programs: http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2007/12/where-tenure-tr.html

If his list is accurate and complete, this suggests that there are only 58 junior faculty total in all of the top 20 programs. That's three tt junior folks per department. Harvard, Oxford, Yale, UCLA, Berkeley, Chicago, and Chapel Hill all placed fewer than four of their grad students (in the past seven years, mind you) at one of these top 10 schools.

One thing this might suggest to you is that you don't have to come from one of these top 10 programs to land at a very good school; and that coming from any of these programs is neither a guarantee that you'll get a job at a "Leiter 10" school, nor a guarantee that you won't be pushed out by other people further down the Leiter list. It gets pretty competitive pretty quick. It helps to come from a top five program, to be sure. But let's just say that your academic lineage isn't as important as it may feel _right now_.

Anonymous said...

asstro prof,

I don't think the concern on this board is that we will not get TT jobs in top 20 departments, but a research job at all. I think the numbers would be much different if it were expanded to the top 50 and then expanded to the the top 75. My hunch is that we would see Top 10 leiterranked programs very well represented at these institutions.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think you get much more reliable information from close reading of the work and the rest of the file than you do from interviews. Interviews are more likely to add noise than information. Nervous job candidate, tired overworked interviewers who would rather be hob-knobbing, some folks on the committee dipping in and out of consciousness. Compare the interview at the start of the day with the one at the end, when both candidate and interview committee are wiped. How's that for an information seeking environment

I take the fact that that interviews so often reshuffle the deck to be a bad thing, not a good thing, since I regard interviews as mostly noise.

The belief that interviews are mostly noisy rather than informational is the main reason that some departments have gone away from interviews. I've been trying to talk my own department -- top(Lei)tier sort of place -- into doing away with interviews for years. Haven't yet succeeded. But at least we do focus our interviews pretty intensely on the writing sample. We make sure that everyone has read the writing sample. And we dispense with the "tell us about your dissertation" spiel, which, given that we've all read the entire file closely, is a waste of time. We just spend the hour in intense philosophical conversation. That makes our interviews less noisy, I think. Still, though, the noise is hard to eliminate.

Anonymous said...

Why stretch the interview calls out over several days?

There are lots of uninteresting possibilities, so you shouldn't worry about it. One possibility is scheduling. It can be difficult to coordinate the candidates and the search committee and may require a bit of back and forth between the various parties. That might slow things down. Another possibility is that, when I was on the market, some of initial calls from the SCs took some time as we chatted about various aspects the interview, the department, etc. -- around 30 minutes. It might be straining to make 10-15 of those calls in one night. Another possibility might be time zones: SC is on the west coast, but can't make calls until 8 p.m., and isn't comfortable calling the east coast at 11 p.m. so puts off those calls for a couple of days.

You shouldn't infer too much from when you're called. The SC I'm currently on hasn't ranked the candidates at all. Each of us may have favorites, but we're all prepared to see those go away upon meeting candidates at the interview stage. Even our alternate candidates look amazingly good on paper; if someone on our list turns us down for an interview and we call an alternate two weeks from now, I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if that person got the job in the end.

Two very important questions to ask while you've got someone on the phone/email:

1. How can I get a hold of you should something come up at the APA (most folks will just give you a cell #) and offer them yours too. Some people might not care about this, but you never know when there's going to be a hotel fire, room change, missing SC member, etc. -- all of these things happened in my experience at last year's APA.

2. Who can I look forward to meeting at the interview table? This is important, and you should learn a few things about these folks ahead of time.

If you've already got an interview, and you didn't ask these questions, there's no harm in getting back to the department at this point and following up.


One final point: it isn't over in the next couple weeks. Last year I got a call for a fly out from a good department that hadn't been touch with me at all *until February* -- and then suddenly a fly out. They didn't do APAs and so I assumed that I wasn't even in the running. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 3:33. I had a very surprising post APA action last year. I received no fly-outs from the APA interviews. However, after the APA was over and done with I had the possibility of 4 fly-outs and a job offer for a VAP at a good LAC out of the blue. One has to remember that there is a strategy for LACs waiting back until after the APA; namely, that it gives these colleges a clearer sense for people who are likely to take the job rather than dealing with the few who have multiple offers.

Anon 1:58 said...

An acquaintance made it through the APA wringer and got an on-campus interview for a tt position. The school ended up offering the position to someone else. They told him the search was officially over, and thanks for playing. Then, a few months later, they got in touch with him again. Was he still interested in the position? He was, and he got the job.

wikimonger said...

Wiki seems slow today...For some reason the depts that I really want to get information on are taking there sweet time. Oh well back to work.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed that those of you who applied for 60-80 jobs remember everywhere you applied. I applied for 33, and haven't seen any of my top choices checked off on the wiki yet. Totals so far: 1 interview, 8 others that have contacted candidates, no word yet from 24. Sounds good so far; why am I freaking out?

Anon 1:58 said...

And even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we win! Even if we play so far above our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days; even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field; even if every man woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn't matter because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they've got all the money! It just doesn't matter if we win or we lose. IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!

Anonymous said...

I have a few interviews, but I'm getting very discouraged by all of the (more attractive) places presently passing me by. It could be worse, I guess, but goddamn it all!

Anonymous said...

COULD SOMEONE POST THE LINK TO THE AVERAGE FACULTY PAYSCALES THAT WAS PUBLISHED IN CHRONICLE? MUCH APPRECIATED.

Nate said...

I don't know the links. But I always google AAUP Faculty Salary and I get a link. Heres the link for the NEA faculty salary almanac:

http://www2.nea.org/he/healma2k7/images/a07fac_sal.pdf

You'll notice that one gives a higher average salary for some institutions. I think the last time I looked into this, the difference stems from one including benefits and the other not.

Anonymous said...

This is what I use ...

http://chronicle.com/stats/aaup/

Anonymous said...

If you want average pay by rank and type of school, go to: http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i33/33a01001.htm#professors
You'll need a subscription to read this. There you also learn that full professors at Harvard average $177k, though in philosophy it's no doubt somewhat less. Meanwhile, for those of us living on sticks and berries. . . .

Nate said...

Here is the full link:

http://www2.nea.org/he/healma2k7/images/
a07fac_sal.pdf

Anonymous said...

Oh, and this ...

http://chronicle.com/stats/aaup/ratingscale/2007aaupratingscale.htm

Dr. Killjoy said...

I hate to be the party-pooper, but I would bet my life savings on the following:

The same 12-15 or so people are dominating all of the interviews for all the top 20 PGR jobs. Out of those 15, I would also bet the farm on around 6 to 8 of those being from Princeton, Rutgers, and NYU (maybe MIT). The rest I would also bet are from the remainder of the top 10.

Any interlopers on the scene most definitely are superstars at good programs working with senior superstars and have rec letters from folks at Princeton, Rutgers, and NYU (maybe MIT).

If this ain't you, then you won't be called. This doesn't mean you stink or that you won't be a famous to-do in 20 years. Trust me, I have seen the set list, and for most of you, they just ain't gonna play your song.

Old Fart said...

I was led to this blog by some conversations with my own students. (I've got a fair number on the market this year for whom I am either first or second reader of their dissertations.)

Hope my speaking as an anonymous old fart won't be taken in the wrong way. But here's the thing I tell them all. I know this job search business can be a terribly discouraging at times. It's can be especially discouraging if you are one of the many younger philosophers who probably won't land that killer first job that fully matches your talents and ambitions. Of course, some do land such jobs first time out. And fortunate those who do. But many, many don't.

To that majority, I say try to think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint. And try hard not to let where you are at any given stage of the marathon get to you too much. You have to make up ground little by little sometimes on those who start out faster.

The first job is for most people just that -- the first job. It was for me. I started out at a two year job at good liberal arts college. It was a perfectly fine college, but it was just a two year job. Second year on the market, while I was still there, I got no interviews. Third year, after my two year job ended, I got exactly one, but fortunately I did get that job. It was a tenure track job at an equally good liberal arts college.

Eventually, hungering to teach graduate students -- since my work was then kinda technical and not necessarily accessible to even good undergraduates -- I went from there to a massive but underfunded state university with a mediocre graduate program. Hated it-- well I hated the university, but I did adore a few of my colleagues -- and was determined to get out of there. Eventually I did. It was at times very stressful, being at places I didn't really want to be. I tried hard to not let the demands of my job on me define my professional aspirations.

Through a combination of something -- hard work, good fortune, stupid blind thrashing about -- things eventually worked out -- after about 11 or so years in the profession. I finally landed a great job that I absolutely loved.

My old fart point. There are many, many paths to a good academic career. The race doesn't always go to the swift. The path is sometimes brutal. [ I remember crying in the shower my first year on the market about how my advisors were so ineffectual and uncaring. ] But it can work out. It doesn't always. But it can.

I hope you all take a little heart in that. I know it's not much. I'm not at all trying to sound like a pure pollyanna. I know how stressful and debilitating this can be for you all. I've watched generations of my own students go through it and I want through it myself many times.

It's hard to remind yourself, in the midst of it all, when you're watching your dream interview go to somebody else, that it's really a marathon for most of us rather than a sprint.

All the best to you all in these stressful times.

Anonymous said...

Thank you old fart.

Wait that didn't sound quite right. Nevertheless, thank you for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, old fart. One thing I'm finding interesting about the discussion here is that there's a lot of anger against search committees for their handling of the administrative side of things, and about the caste hierarchy of the profession (sometimes directed at Brian Leiter, who reports on it but doesn't cause it). But I haven't seen any animosity against the grad students and VAPs who win the race.

I'm not suggesting that we bash our more successful colleagues, mind you. I think it's good that's not going on here, but since this is something I've noticed, I thought I'd mention it. What academics seem to dislike more than anything are institutions and power structures. Set those aside, and we're a pretty merry lot -- at least junior people. Of course, you wouldn't think that from looking at APA paper presentations, or departmental politics, when the fangs come out. Maybe these are learned behaviors. Or maybe we're all bastards waiting for our taste of power and only appear merry.

undetached rabbit parts said...

"The same 12-15 or so people are dominating all of the interviews for all the top 20 PGR jobs. Out of those 15, I would also bet the farm on around 6 to 8 of those being from Princeton, Rutgers, and NYU (maybe MIT). The rest I would also bet are from the remainder of the top 10."

If this is true (and I think it almost certainly is), there is something vaguely interesting about it. Most people finish their undergrad degree around age 22 or 23, and then start grad school around age 25. That is, what you accomplish before age 25 is what determines what grad program you will be in (and this will largely determine if you get one of the very top jobs, at least according to some). What is interesting though, is that very great philosophical ability usually doesn't show itself until at least 25, and usually much later (e.g., how many great works of philosophy can you name that were written by someone under 25). There are no prodigies in philosophy (Kripke doesn't count because his early work was in formal logic, which might as well be math). One could argue that the structure of academic philosophy is completely inappropriate for determining who ends up in the top jobs (the decisions are made too early etc). Maybe I'm wrong; I just think it's an interesting possibility (I don't really care in any event).

Anonymous said...

Here's my proposal: we contact the SCs of every department on the wiki and ask them to post the dates when they plan to contact applicants for interviews.

Oh, and by 'we' I mean someone else -- I'm too busy preparing for my actual defense. Though not too busy to be entirely distracted from said preparations by said wiki.

Any takers? Any SC members who want to help us focus our anxiety on specific dates?

undetached rabbit parts said...

The Wiki is putting me to sleep. Maybe SCs are waiting until next week?

Anonymous said...

I'm a little surprised that more's not going on on the wiki. Think things will pick up in the next couple days or will next week be the big one?

tt assprof said...

Let me just add my two cents to recent comments about the top 20 jobs going to the same 12-15 candidates.

That's definitely true, I think.

But here's the big caveat: how many of those, almost all under 30 with few if any pub's and very little to no individual teaching experience, will get tenure at a top 20 institute? A minority to one degree or another would be my guess.

But should you count yourself among those 15, take heart. I notice most who don't get tenured at a top 20 still wind up with very good jobs, if not at a research place, then at least at a top SLAC.

Remember folks, once you get out of this gauntlet, you still have tenure pressures to look forward to.

Speaking of which...

Kenny said...

In case people are interested, I've started tracking the dates that interviews are first mentioned for each job on my blog at the following post:

http://antimeta.wordpress.com/2007/12/13/apa-interview-scheduling-2007/

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kenny.

How have you fared so far?

Anonymous said...

"Thanks, Kenny. How have you fared so far?"

Somehow I think Kenny's doing fine:

http://philosophy.fas.nyu.edu/object/philo.newsevents.jobtalks.html