Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Why Can't We Be Friends?

Via e-mail, here's a report from one of the smokers from someone on the market:
I’d like to propose a new strategy for smokers: instead of waiting for other people to "become free", join pre-existing conversations. We academics aren't always the most social bunch, but it’s possible to learn how to do this gracefully (though it’s probably good to start practicing at conferences and social events before the APA). This year, at one point I was having a lengthy and enjoyable conversation with someone who interviewed me. Another candidate sat down on the other side of the interviewer, apparently waiting for me to get up and leave. But I didn’t want to abandon a great conversation with a senior figure in my top-choice department. So instead I included the other candidate with generous eye contact and tried to invite him non-verbally to join the conversation. Unfortunately, he didn’t take the bait and eventually got up and left. I wish he would have stayed, because “the other guy” is not just my competition for this particular job. Whoever he is, he’s probably going to be a colleague in my sub-field for the rest of my life, and maybe next time on the market he’ll be interviewing me or vice-versa. I wish I could have met him.

This is something I discovered last year. People interviewing for the same jobs I'm interviewing for are probably mostly people who work on stuff I think is pretty interesting. They're probably people I want to know. I probably want to be friendly with them, and I probably want to work with them in some way or another. It's sort of annoying that the APA--that is, a philosophy conference--isn't really conducive to making those connections in a comfortable way.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. There's a real tension in the email. If we aren't social and you might need to learn to do it, what's to say that trying to join a pre-existing conversation is going to be a very positive experience?

As a tenured, senior person I don't always find trying to join in on pre-existing conversations all that positive, even when friends are involved. People may be concentrating on a particular line of thought, for example. And a whole lot of us really don't have much - or even any - sense of a need to be even minimally polite.

Anonymous said...

This is unrelated to the topic of the thread, but I have a question, especially in case any SC members are still reading: should we expect, from departments that are interested in us, requests for more work? What do they mean, if we get them? That the SC is worried that we don't have much other work, or just that they want to read more of our work? How polished should the work be before we send it?

Thanks, and I've really been enoying the blog! Good luck to everyone, and I hope we each end up in a job ideal for us.

Anonymous said...

On a completely unrelated note:

Fuck! I thought waiting for APA interviews was painful. Waiting for calls or emails about campus visits is much fucking worse.

Anonymous said...

When should we start hearing about campus visits? I was under the impression this part of it moved fast (e.g., visits by the end of Jan.).

tt assprof said...

Anon 10:39 asked:

"should we expect, from departments that are interested in us, requests for more work? What do they mean, if we get them? That the SC is worried that we don't have much other work, or just that they want to read more of our work? How polished should the work be before we send it?"

In the case of our dept., when we send out a request for additional writing sample, that's a result of the following: either, your interview was strong but your other writing sample was weak, or your interview was weak but your other writing sample was strong. As a consequence, one faction may still insist on your invitation, while the other faction may cite either reason to deny your invitation. So we want something in addition to help us make up our minds.

tt assprof said...

Anon 2:16 asked:

"When should we start hearing about campus visits? I was under the impression this part of it moved fast (e.g., visits by the end of Jan.)."

It usually occurs as quickly as you believe, but sometimes it happens later than you may think.

(1) The SC won't meet again until the start of their term--which can be as late as late January, early February.

(2) What happened to me once is this: the SLAC invited their top two choices, both of whom turned them down. So they went to the next two choices, including me. Since it took a while to have the first two choices on campus, then wait to be turned down by them, I didn't get the invitation until March.

Anonymous said...

Another thing is, if the department tells you they'll be meeting a certain day, they won't necessarily be making calls that day. Once I had a department call me about three days after I thought I'd been rejected, because the meeting spilled over into another day.

Also, some places won't tell you that they've ruled you out. I think it may be acceptable to get in touch with them and ask them politely what's up. (The answer is sometimes "We invited other people, but you're not ruled out yet.")

Anonymous said...

I mean, after a certain time, ask them politely what's up. Don't be obnoxious. It may help if they've told you when they expect to meet. (And I don't really know how the search committees view this.)

Prof J said...

Requests for more work:
I don't recall ever doing that. But when I was on the market (a while back), I was asked for more writing from two places: one of them then flew me out (but I didn't get the job) and the other didn't.

Hearing about campus visits:
Unfortunately, there's enormous variation. We always tell candidates during APA interviews when they can expect to hear from us about campus interviews.

Waiting:
Yeah, I remember, waiting when there is absolutely nothing you can do is the most excruciating part.

Anonymous said...

I was never asked for more work, nor do I recall ever asking a candidate for this *after* the APA interviews (I'm on a SC this year and have been on a few others in the last 8 years).

I agree that the timing varies a lot--even year-to-year for any particular hiring department. When the entire seach committee has been at the APA, we've sometimes made our decision about whom to invite at the actual APA. That's rare, though. Usually it takes a couple of weeks before the committe can meet back on campus. And it may take even longer for schools that don't start up again until late January.

Anonymous said...

By the APA-way, did anyone see Florida State in Baltimore? No one on the wiki seems to have heard from them.

A prof who intervewed at APA said...

We aren't sure if we are going to bring in anyone...we might just renew our adjunct contracts ; but if we do contact people we'll do it in early Feb ; otherwise we will send out letters saying we are not going to fill the
position(s) this year.

Anonymous said...

A prof who intervewed at APA--

Not sure I follow: your department did interview at the APA but is probably not going to invite anyone for a campus interview. Is that right? Would you be willing to say more about how this came about? Were you thoroughly disappointed by all the candidates?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this will make anyone else feel better. I was stressing out before the APA, but now I'm not. I think the secret is that I didn't get too many interviews, so I have a better idea of my odds. Or maybe I just stressed out too much and I'm sick of it. Or maybe it's that I'm already in spring search mode: assuming I won't get a flyout until February and an offer til March at the earliest, I'm focusing now on February and March deadlines, so things don't seem as urgent as they did in December, esp. since I got one interview lined up early, then a long patch of nothing, just got my hopes up then dashed them. But now there's no similar deadline to get stressed leading up to.

Anonymous said...

"Another thing is, if the department tells you they'll be meeting a certain day, they won't necessarily be making calls that day. "

Right. At my institution, campus interviews have to be run by the dean, who will want some formal AA information -- e.g., if our on-campus list includes only men, then he'll want pretty complete reports on all the women we interviewed at the APA. So, even after our meeting, it can take a day or two to start calling the candidates.

Anonymous said...

On the original post, one of my closest friends in philosophy now is someone with whom I came into close contact because we ended up interviewing for all the same jobs one year. This put us around all the same tables for the smoker. I don't think either of us ever brought the other into an on-going conversation with a mutual interviewer. But I think neither of us looked like sullen assholes stink-eyeing the other in an effort to establish a pecking order either. Eventually our openness and obvious sympathy with eachother's plights sparked some engagment. No surprise to discover that we had overlapping interests. Friendship ensued. He got two offers that year. I got none. This past year, my friend's department conducted a new search and hired me. The job search process sucks, I know. And this blog is a great outlet for the frustration. But I did (ultimately) get a terrific friend AND a very nice job out of a disappointing search year and some initially awkward smoker situations. Sincere best of luck to all the job seekers!