Friday, October 31, 2008

Guest Post: Got Guts?

Is it too early to start reveling in the horror stories? Naw. It is, after all, Hallowe'en. OooooOoooh! Scary. -- PGOAT

So, the other night I was having dinner with a couple of colleagues (they are both tenured professors at top schools). Because I am on the market this year, each of them recounted their own horrible (yet somewhat comical) job search experiences. One was so nervous while at the APA smoker, that he excused himself from talking with a very famous philosopher to throw up in the bathroom. The other had trouble pouring himself a glass of water during an interview because of his intense shaking. In retrospect, they were both able to laugh at themselves about this kind of stuff (I was certainly laughing with them).

But there were other parts of the process that (even after many years) weren't so funny. In particular, they each told some stories about how badly they were treated during some interviews. Without giving any details, I will say that it should be clear to all readers of this blog that not all interviewers are nice to and/or even remotely interested in their interviewees. Both of my colleagues expressed some regret that they didn't have the guts then to get up and walk out of such situations. I'm wondering if anyone out there has had the gumption to do such a thing (or knows someone that did). How did it go? Any serious repercussions? Would you recommend such a practice to others?

-- (Almost) Ready To Stand Up For Myself

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Show me the money!

So I've been doing some rough calculations and I'm guessing that a fairly full scale application process is going to run in the ballpark of $600-$800 this year.  I'm sure the mailing will get cheaper when I'm not rushing things off to Nov 1 deadlines, but so far I think mailing out each app is going to end up costing something like $10-$18.  This includes sending out my basic app and then seperately sending out my letters.  (It should be noted the super awesome placement committee at my institution is probably going to find some money to reimburse us some unknown amount so that cost should come down). 

Does that sound normal?  Am I too worried about getting applications in "on time"?  Or more generally, outside of paper, ink and postage, what costs am I forgetting?

Regardless, landing a job would totally be worth $600..

-- Second Suitor 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Guest Post: Moving Up

Mr. Philosophyhead is back. Thoughts, ye social climbers? --PGOAT

Here's a question I have always wanted to ask to a bunch of employment-seeking assholes like myself under conditions of mutual anonymity. Coming from my program the only 2/2 anyone would ever feel entitled to would be as an uninsured member of a certain department located in or near Poughkeepsie. As far as anyone around here can recall, there have been a few placements of our students directly into research programs, but it seems like it happens at an average of about once every decade. So the question is, supposing I score a less than dream job the first time out, what are the chances of eventually climbing the ol' non-corporate ladder? Has this happened to you or anyone you know? Exactly how much less than a dream job was it, and how long did it take?

Thanks again, PJMBers!

--Mister Philosophyhead

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Guest Post: Now We're Talkin'

Philosotographer has my kind of ideal job ad. PGS relays by email that his ideal job ad would be AOS: being an ex-blogger, AOC: saying "fuck" a lot. -PGOAT

As long as we’re thinking about what the “ideal job ad” would look like, why not dream bigger? Two years ago, when I received the October 2006 JFP, I wrote out my ideal job ad:

333. TRINITY COLLEGE, Dublin, Ireland. The newly established Institute for Rock and Social Justice Semester at Sea Program invites application for a tenure-track appointment to begin September 2007. AOS: Photography. AOC: Ethics, Drumming, Logic, and one or more of the following: Whale Watching, Bowling, Kayaking, Documentary film watching/making. ABD preferred (Ph.D. considered). Please send CV, portfolio, writing sample, and list of favorite things. Interviews will NOT be conducted at the APA Eastern Division meeting because we respect Christmas and time off. PE/ACE.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Guest Post: What's with all the student conferences?

Anonymous MA Department Chair presents us with a very good question. --PGOAT

I’m the chair at a well-regarded MA Program and I have a beef to express. What’s with the proliferation of student conferences? It seems that almost every day I get another flyer or e-mail announcing a graduate student or, God forbid, undergraduate student conference. Our bulletin board is plastered with them. They are simply mushrooming. What’s the deal with this? I suppose that it might be good practice for students to organize conferences, deliver papers, and meet peers. But from my point of view, there’s a problem. If we encourage our students to participate and they are accepted to various programs (a not unlikely scenario given how many conferences there are), then they look to me and the department for funding. We already have limited travel funds to support our faculty, and there is no separate slush fund to draw from to help our students travel to Illinois, California, Florida, New Jersey, and wherever.

I also don’t believe that the faculty members at most of the places sponsoring such conferences truly want to attend and sit through papers by a myriad of students, some perhaps good, some likely not-so-good. Frankly, I wouldn’t. Do the faculty members encourage this? Do they actually show up? Are such conferences are a good idea? Why are they on the increase? Do they really help anyone? I would like to hear your opinion. Can you please tell your fellow graduate students to stop organizing these conferences? If not, can you recommend an attitude or policy I should take in advising our own students?

Thank you for letting me vent here.

--Anonymous MA Department Chair

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More on the ideal job ad.

It's true. I do run a blog concerned with job market issues. And now it's not just the APA people who want to talk to you, my lovelies. Now it's the people at Yale. Play nice. -- PGOAT

Dear "PGoat,"

I understand that you run a Blog that is concerned with job market issues. We have been trying to make our job ad as user-friendly as possible. Could you check with your readers about whether the following is useful, and -- if not -- how it might be improved?



-- Tamar

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The ideal job ad.

The APA is listening, folks! The APA feels our pain. The APA wants to help. It wants to serve us better.

Kevin Timpe just left a comment regarding Anon 8:19's contention that "[i]f the APA--an organization to which we pay a not insignificant amount of money in dues--had their act together, then all of the ads would be standardized, and all of the job dossiers, including confidential letters of recommendation, would be uploaded by candidates and letter writers to some secure server where search coms could access them."

Here's Timpe's response:
I'm on the APA Committee on Academic Career Opportunities and Placement. I strongly doubt Anon's request will happen anytime soon, for various reasons that you all can likely guess. But what I'd like to hear is exactly how the JFP (in roughly something like its current form--print and online copies) could be more user-friendly and helpful for folks on the market. This is something the committee was discussing earlier today. I've heard the desideratum of a standardized format, with fields for easy mail-merge. What else would PJMB readers like? Consider this the opportunity to design your ideal job ad, in terms of form/structure (rather than specific content).
Talk to the nice man, people. Enough of this wailing into the void. Give him some concrete suggestions about what the APA can do to make our lives easier. (Or, you know, at least slightly less riddled with despair.)


Let's get competent

Bumped up from yesterday's comments:

Anonymous 4:25p said:
When some places advertise an AOC (or less often, AOS) in "History of Philosophy," what am I supposed to think? Do they mean ALL periods of the history of philosophy? Or just one or more? What, exactly?

There's a related question. Sometimes you see an AOC in "critical thinking." Does anyone have an official AOC in "Critical Thinking"? I've never heard of it. If they're just looking for someone who can teach Intro to Logic and such, that's just about everyone with a PhD in philosophy, no?
My guess is that when History of Philosophy is an AOC they want you to be able to teach a few historical classes and it's fine if they're in some particular area. If it's an AOS they expect you to be an expert in one area in the history of philosophy but they don't have a specific preference as to what period. Sound right?

Also, wouldn't it be nice if posters used some anonymous name so we're not always referring to each other by the time stamp. It smacks too much of Parfit for me..

-- Second Suitor

Monday, October 20, 2008

Guest Post: Cut Off

Here's a depressing scenario from Lost to brighten your Monday morning. --PGOAT

I was just recently cut off by my Ph.D. granting institution. The secretary with the support of faculty and admin have decided that none of my requests to send out dossiers will be filled from now on. They say that I have exceeded the annual maximum. They put a limit of 100 requests per year and only for 5 years after being awarded the Ph.D. With the difficult job market and the possibility that it could take anywhere from 5-9 years to secure a TT position, this is a crushing blow to my career prospects. Has this happened to anyone out there? If so, how did you get around it? Is this the supreme vote of no confidence (you will never get a job, so it is pointless for us to continue sending out dossiers)? Shouldn't new grad students be notified that the department's support for their future job search will be severely limited? Any advice would be appreciated.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Don't go crazy"

How can writing cover letters be so hard?  I mean, they're kind of easy:

Hi pals!

I'm applying for your job.  My diss is pretty and I'm going to be super done before you hire me.

Did I mention I'm good for your job?


That seems simple enough, but somehow the 'I'm good for your job' is impossible to say in a nice, clean 4 sentence paragraph.  I  mean seriously.  I am good for the job.  My interests, your needs.. they go together like bananas and peanut butter.  It may not sound good at first but try it!

So I'm just going to spend a little while longer on this lovely saturday night rewriting a fine but not great paragraph while my non-philosophy friend tells me not to go crazy (note: this somehow doesn't help).

-- Second Suitor

Friday, October 17, 2008

I don't know if she's worth 900 kr

It's probably a little late in the game for a discussion of selective job searches to be helpful to those who are standing at the edge of the deep (or, in this case, the shallow) end of the pool trying to figure out if they should jump in and splash around. Nonetheless, there's inklings of this discussion in the comment thread over yonder, and I thought it merits it's own post.

What I've been told from numerous people-in-the-know is that going on the job market selectively makes no sense; if you're ready to apply to some jobs, then you should be ready to put your shoulder to the wheel and go forward full-bore with the applications. I pushed back on this sentiment at first. I wanted to leave open the possibility of applying selectively (just in case the perfect job satisfying all my academic and geographic desires came about), but I've come around to share it for the following (non-exhaustive) reasons:
1) Being ready for the market is all-or-nothing: you either have your dissertation done (or close to done) so your letter-writers can say that you'll have your Ph.D by the time of appointment, you either have publications or don't, you either have a job market portfolio prepared or not, et cetera, et cetera.
2) A selective job search, if conducted because you're not completely ready to apply to all kindsa jobs for the above reasons, more than likely won't be successful. That time you will have spent applying to jobs will be wasted. It's oh-so-precious time you could have spent finishing the dissertation, getting published, or getting a jump on the job market portfolio.
3) There's an off-chance that a job search, if conducted before your eggs have hatched, may hurt any future chance you have at getting that job. If that job is so dreamy as to draw your application and it isn't up-to-snuff, then if it isn't filled, there's no reason for them to take your application seriously the next year. First impressions matter (and perhaps there's a chance of those first impressions hurting your philosophical reputation elsewhere?).
I'm not entirely sold on whether or not these reasons compellingly speak against a selective job search (or make sense, especially the third reason). But, if these don't do it for you, I'm sure people can build upon them (and attack them accordingly) as they see fit in the comments. So, have at it!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's time to face the hole

There are some good jobs that call for 'open' AOSs.  I mean, yeah, I could work at MIT or Berkeley.  But seriously... open?  What department honestly has the resources to just hire, you know, someone who does whatever...

Don't get me wrong.  I'm officially taking them at their word for it and applying to all the 'open' posititions (becuase that could mean me!).   But this kind of feels like I'm wasting their time and they're wasting my money.

-- Second Suitor

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The room is dark and heavy with what I want to say

This damn anonymity. There's just so much I wish I could get into for the true believers here at PJMB. Things like my advisor laying out, in no uncertain terms, the wonderfully outlandish conditions that would have to be satisfied in order for me to get a job this year given my current situation (let's just say it involved possible worlds in which our respective counterparts couldn't be any more dissimilar from our existing selves in the actual world). Or, how, unlike my incredibly smart colleagues, I did myself no favors in relation to going on the job market (whenever that is) in teaching what I ended up teaching this year (did I seriously choose to teach what I'm teaching now? fuck).

But, as much as it pains me to have to navigate the tricky, secretive waters of revealing some without revealing too much that comes with the anonymous blog territory and how to come to grips with it keeping me from telling stories that may provide some small comfort or diversion to our loyal readers, I take solace in the fact that the moral of said better left unsaid stories is: it's beginning to look a lot like I'm forgoing the market this year.

Thing is, though, I'm not so sure I should be as happy I am with these developments as I am. Good thing I have this anonymous venue from which I can complain.


Guest Post: Cover Letter Hell

Presenting ... The Epistemologizer. -- PGOAT

Writing cover letters is giving me panic attacks. I'm trying to get input from a number of different professors, so it's not just my committee telling me "Yes, your letters look good. Now get back to writing your dissertation." Perhaps predictably, the advice I've been getting from the different professors I've shown my letters to is all over the map. So far I've received, on the one hand, a multiple pages-long response giving me paragraph-by-paragraph suggestions. On the other, a six-line email saying that you can never really help yourself by saying things in the letter, really you can only harm yourself, so in that respect the less said the better. What does one DO with a response like that?

Then there's the conversation I had with another professor today, in which he said: "Well essentially this has been rehashed already for the past decade by plenty of people, so what makes your dissertation project new and important? How is it different from what X said in 1996?" I think my mouth was open, but no sounds were coming out. Not a good sign. (Mental note: start prepping for job interviews so I can actually answer that question should anyone decide to interview me after reading whatever becomes of this cover letter.) So not only do I not feel so great about the state of my cover letters, but now thanks to my efforts at trying to improve first impressions, I've been thrown into a crisis of self-doubt that my project is at all worthwhile or philosophically significant, so should I even make it through the first round by some miracle, I'll blow it once I get to the interview stage for lack of being able to answer very basic questions like the one just cited. Did I mention that I've only written 12 pages of my third chapter? There are four chapters of my dissertation, so really I haven't even written (and therefore have no idea what will be in) the end yet. Come to think of it, my committee might be onto something.

-- The Epistemologizer

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Comics


(A larger pic is just a click away)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guest Post: 2008-2009 Marist Awards

Here's Mister Philosophyhead again, this time with a call to categorize the worst of the ads in the JFP. Someone needs to figure out how to turn this into a drinking game. --PGOAT

Nominations are now open for the worst job ads of the 2008-2009 hiring cycle. The awards are named after the famous ad from Marist College in JFP 176, which to my mind at least, will probably go down as the worst JFP ad of Our Time:

"*28.,*29.,*30.,*31.,*32.,*33.,*34.,*35.,*36.,*37. MARIST COLLEGE, Poughkeepsie, NY. The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Marist College invites applications for adjunct positions teaching Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics, or World Views and Values starting in the fall of 2007 or the spring of 2008. Adjuncts usually teach no more than one or two courses per semester. MA in philosophy required, Ph.D. desirable. Teaching experience desirable. Applications considered immediately. Please submit a CV and letter of interest to: Chair, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Marist College, 3399 North Road, FN 221, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. (SW07) (176)"

(A condemnation of this ad, along with a completely inadequate response, presumably from someone at Marist, can be found here:

The question is, what job ads from this year deserve wider recognition and ridicule? Here are the categories:

(1) Most utter contempt for human life and well-being

(2) Most bizarre requirements for application materials

(3) Most outrageous combination of AOS's and AOC's

(4) Most [insert any other disreputable practice you can think of here]

Thanks again for your help, PJMB community!

--Mister Philosophyhead

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nothing is fucked

A couple quick thoughts on reading the JFP for the first time when I'm actually going on the market:

1. Every time I cross out a job I can feel some opportunity slip away (this is worse when I cross out a whole page).

2. Seriously William and Mary? You want applications the day after tomorrow? Where I come from that's the Lord's day.

3. Somehow in my mind this was more of an all-at-once thing. I'm going to end up writing cover letters for the rest of the semester.

4. This year's JFP is 4 pages shorter than last year's ...

--Second Suitor

Thursday, October 9, 2008

PSA: October JFP

It's up. Have at 'er. Thanks to several intrepid commenters for being all on-the-ball 'n stuff.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wherein PGOAT tries her hand at advice columnry.

Please tell me why it is so tough. As a rising senior now applying for Ph.D. programs, a lot of what I hear is depressing or blatant denials. But I'm mostly told that (1) if you publish a lot and make the right connections as a Ph.D. candidate, you will emerge with a job and (2) that most of the old folks will be retiring by the time that I finish. Are these myths that deserve to be trashed as we seek better options or what? Hope I don't sound too nervy. Thanks for all you do.
-- Jhdeleuzian

Dear Jhdeleuzian,

I love nervy. Bring it on. As for the advice you're being given:

(1) is right, but not nearly as easy as you might think it would be. Grad school is hard. Like, really really hard. Telling you that all you have to do is "publish a lot and make the right connections" is about as awesome as Charles de Mar's skiing advice in Better Off Dead: "Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn." It's not wrong exactly, it's just totally fucking useless.

(For important suggestions about how to avoid some pitfalls in thinking about this, check out what PGS wrote here a while back.)

(2) is a tired myth that deserves to be trashed. The assholes who perpetuate this myth deserve to have their kneecaps smashed in with a ball-peen hammer. Some discussion of this in the PJMB archives can be found here, here, and here.

good luck kisses,


Edit: Bonus Better Off Dead trailer! (Go to 0:56 for the quote.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Guest Post: Deal-Killers

Mister Philosophyhead is back, with his second guest post.  This dude is definitely growing on me. -- PGOAT

Now that we have settled all the more pressing issues of philosophy job marketeers everywhere, like what that crossed-out date on the APA site meant, or how great my playlist is compared to yours, or anything involving you telling me stuff about the market that I already know or should have known, assuming that I am really enrolled in graduate school and interacting with real faculty members and real other graduate students on a regular basis, rather than someone who just happened to stumble on this blog by accident and who writes posts to fulfill some sort of Chuck Plahniuk or whatever his name is type fantasy of pretending to share in other people's suffering for the sake of personal catharis or just to alleviate boredom (in the movie anyway it was unclear which it was exactly), well, maybe then we can get around to some simpler issues for folks like me.  So here is an unresolved question from my last post which I have been thinking about.
Suppose you got hired recently and there is something you now know about your new department or school which would have made you think twice about accepting the job.  But of course, nobody told you before you were hired.  It could be something weird though not necessarily deal-breaking, like that half the department are practicing Wiccans.  Or maybe something not so weird but potentially deal-killing, like [
redacted for the sake of author's and author's friend's anonymity] I have three questions about this, one theoretical, one practical, and one solely for entertainment:
(1) Does the head of the search committee have an obligation to tell you these weird or potentially deal-killing facts before your accept an offer?
(2) Assuming the head of the search committee does not fulfill such an obligation, how do I go about finding out?
(3) Any stories?
Thanks again, PJMBers.  I've gotta go update my iPod now!
--Mister Philosophyhead

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ZOMG we totally need a PhilBot!!!1!!

I just stumbled across this brilliant website.  The artist makes a new robot every single day. I love it.  Totally inspired.

That's NerdBot.  Maybe we can convince her to make a walrus and dinosaur to torture him?