Monday, November 10, 2008

Guest Post: Getting a Job

The Future Time Machine Builder reminds us that it could always be worse. --PGOAT

Getting a job in philosophy is a bit like trying to satisfy this posting:


Actually, this one might be easier to satisfy than the demands of some philosophy departments.

--TFTMB (The Future Time Machine Builder)

38 comments:

Kalynne Pudner said...

And I suspect that Person Carnation Restaurant might be a more pleasant working environment than many Philosophy Departments.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of getting a job, is JFP 180 out yet?

A Prof Said.... said...

It doesn’t really matter if JFP is out yet.

A number those positions that are advertised will be frozen.

I just learned today that my dept is taking another 5% cut in the spring and there will probably be an additional 6-8% cut in the next fiscal year.

Our search is now officially on hold.

Our travel budget will be cut by 50% and there will be no raises next year.

We were hoping to up grad student stipends by 5% - but salaries for grad assistants and instructors will also be frozen.

The university has said it will try to retain healthcare benefits for graduate students – but that may be an item on the chopping block.

unemployed terminal MA said...

Speaking of getting a job, I'm tempted by the Logic PhD program in Amsterdam:

http://www.illc.uva.nl/

But it's not on Leiter's radar. Am I just dooming myself to unemployment?

mr. zero said...

I did not realize that New York University had a campus in Abu Dhabi.

Anonymous said...

The wiki's back up, but basically all that's posted are "application acknowledged"s. I guess there won't be much movement until the APA, but I was hoping I'd be able to start crossing jobs off my list soon. You know, last year was so painful for me, and this year looks worse for just about everyone, I'd rather give up hope sooner or later, but I can't do that in good conscience without some positive evidence. Anyone have a job yet, can rub our faces in it?

Anonymous said...

Unemployed terminal MA: yes, you would be so dooming yourself. Plenty of good programs do logic (e.g. UC Berkeley) - go to one of them.

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell an outsider just what the role of the APA placement service does (for candidates)?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:43 -

It is still rather early for interviews to have been scheduled. I do know of cases in which phone interviews were conducted in the second and third weeks of Nov. But, this was for a job in which on campus interviews were conducted BEFORE the Eastern APA (late Nov, early Dec).

Anonymous said...

To unemployed MA: the ILLC is an awesome outfit, nearly unparalleled in terms of the level and intensity of research but it's true that it would be difficult to do well in the US job market (in philosophy) from there. Van Benthem is one of the greatest living philosophers, but this doesn't offset the fact that most US departments don't see logic as being at the heart of their mission.
Consider the ILLC for a post-doc.

unemployed terminal MA said said...

UC Berkeley, um yeah.

The thing is, I can afford to go to the University of Amsterdam.

UC Berkeley Philosophy funds all their PhD students, UC Berkeley Logic students get squat.

Oysters Rockefeller, The Employed Philosopher said...

Dear Anonymous 6:20AM,

The APA placement service does the organizational work for interviews that take place at the three yearly APA meetings (the Eastern APA, most frequently in NYC, has the most interviewing. Fewer interviews take place at the Central and Pacific APA meetings).

The job interviews take place at two different kinds of location at the APA meetings: at a large room full of round tables for interviewing, and at suites in the hotel hosting the APA meeting. The main business of the placement service seems to involve keeping track of which interviewing departments have checked in at the conference. As soon as the interviewing department checks in, the placement service either (a) assigns the department a table or (b) takes down the information about the department's suite.

For those of us who are fortunate enough to have any interviews at any of these meetings, the APA placement service informs the job candidates of the location of the interviewing department's suite or table.

The other task the APA placement service carries out is to collect resumes for interviews arranged on site. Every year there are maybe 20 or so departments collecting resumes for interviews on site at the Eastern APA. This is one of the last calls for tenure-track jobs in the interviewing season. As far as I can tell, scoring one of these interviews is a rare feat. Some candidates pay to attend the APA just to try to get one of these interviews.

The cost for candidates steep. The registration fees are not so bad for students, especially compared to other academic conferences. Student candidates interviewing at the conference pay low registration fees to the APA ($35 to register for the APA for the year, $10 to register for the conference). Post-student candidates and members of departments interviewing at the APA pay steeper registration fees ($45-$250 to register for the APA for the year, $50 for the conference).

The other costs required to attend the APA can be very high. The interviewing departments do not contribute a dime toward the costs for candidates attending the APA--so a typical grad student might end up paying $400 or more for a plane flight, $400 or more to stay in a hotel, perhaps $400 for meals and other costs, just to interview for a few jobs.

These conferences typically take place in some of the most expensive cities in the US (New York, Chicago, San Francisco). Holding the conferences in these cities is definitely in the self-interest of the interviewing departments--most of the members of these departments are reimbursed for all expenses of interviewing at the conferences. However, this practice of conference interviews imposes great costs on graduate students and unemployed philosophers.

Anonymous said...

but there has already been one rejection, for an oxford fellowship, according to the wiki. let the slaughter begin.

(and, job marketeers - if you have any info, even lame stuff like acknowledgments that are on different dates than those posted, do go ahead and post them. seeing any kind of changes on that thing reassures me that there will also be changes when the time comes (i.e. when people start getting interview calls)).

Anonymous said...

I said this last year and I'll say it again. I don't think that we should have the eastern division meetings when we do or where we do. The timing is awful for all of us. The location is awful for most of us. Move it to the middle. Somewhere where the hotels are cheap and the weather isn't horrible.

I'm on the market this year and I'll be presenting at the conference. I'll receive no funds from my university because supporting research isn't something my university does unless you are tenure track. So, it's all going on the credit cards. I'll then spend next semester working a second job to pay off my credit cards. This is my fourth year doing this. Fuck!

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to brag, but I've just received my first rejection of the season! Two years without so much as an interview and it looks like the streak might live on!

Good luck everyone. I'll say that now before I end up hating most of you.

mr. zero said...

I said this last year and I'll say it again. The timing and placement of the Eastern APA meeting sucks, but it is the best of a very bad set of alternatives. It's the one week during which everyone is off--before Christmas is finals week in a lot of places, and after new year's day is the first week of school in a lot of places. Holding it earlier in the fall or later in January won't work, either, because most people aren't off.

Changing locations would cause similar problems. It might be cheaper to find a hotel room in Dallas or Austin (I assume you don't mean Omaha or Des Moines by your complaint about the weather), but it is not cheaper to fly there. And there are far, far fewer philosophers who live within driving distance of those "middle" places--there are far more colleges and universities on the east coast than in other regions.

The Eastern APA is a compromise that makes the best of a bad situation. Moving it will only help people who live in the immediate vicinity of the new location. You're imagining a situation where it's moved closer to you, but even if they move it, it's unlikely to be closer to you with any degree of regularity. Moving it near where you are would be better for you but just as bad for everyone else.

That said, they shouldn't put it in New York, and I'm not sure Philadelphia is much better. I thought Baltimore was a really good place to have it.

Anonymous said...

I just learned that ASU has a total of 350 faculty positions open accross the University and the President of the Univ froze all of the positions as of today for one year - OUCH.

prof. j. said...

Well said, mr. zero.
A few years ago the Eastern Division polled the membership and found that although a small majority wanted to change the time, there was no time that any plurality preferred to the current one.

I believe next year (Dec. 2009) will be the last Eastern meeting in New York for the foreseeable future. Philadelphia seems to me to be fairly reasonably priced. Baltimore was cheap and very cheap and easy to fly to, but I understand that people didn't like it. The main hotel couldn't accommodate all the philosophers (not even close), that might have something to do with it. As for Omaha or even Austin, I doubt there are hotels that could do the job.

My impression, for what it's worth, is that the Boston and Washington meetings have been the most successful all-around, although there was that little problem of a fire at the last Washington one...

Anonymous said...

How about Atlanta? Easy to fly there, cheap and big hotels...

Anonymous said...

I have to question some of Mr. Zero's assumptions. I think Dallas would actually be a pretty good place to have the December or January meetings.

1. Cheap and centrally located. Sorry, but if you're on the West coast and need to make it to PA for the 27th, chances are you'll need to leave early on the 26th. Most of the country can make it to Dallas in under 5 hours.
2. Southwest flies to Dallas. It doesn't fly to Boston or NYC.
3. Make it early January. I doubt "lots" of places people work who are hiring have class starting Jan. 2. If you're on the market as an applicant, who cares if you miss the first few days.

The Eastern APA is a compromise that makes the best of a bad situation. Moving it will only help people who live in the immediate vicinity of the new location.

I doubt it makes the best of a bad situation. It's a bad situation that no one bothers to change. Motiving it won't help people who live in the immediate vicinity, it helps minimize the badness of those who live very far away or can't afford the more expensive cities in the East that can handle a convention the size of the APA.

mr. zero said...

1. Cheap and centrally located. Sorry, but if you're on the West coast and need to make it to PA for the 27th, chances are you'll need to leave early on the 26th. Most of the country can make it to Dallas in under 5 hours.

That's true. However, if you teach at one of the over 100 colleges or universities in Boston, for example, Dallas is much, much worse. I did not assume or imply that the east coast is great for everybody. I said it's near a larger quantity of schools than other parts of the country. If you were to calculate the "center of mass" for higher ed in the united states, I am confident that it would be somewhere northeast of the Ohio River.

Also, you can fly from Seattle to Washington DC in 5 hours.

2. Southwest flies to Dallas. It doesn't fly to Boston or NYC.

Can't argue with that. We ought to base the APA on where the discount airlines go. Like how Southwest flies to Philadelphia.

Also, I specifically said that they shouldn't put it in New York, and I agree that it shouldn't be in Boston, either.

3. Make it early January. I doubt "lots" of places people work who are hiring have class starting Jan. 2. If you're on the market as an applicant, who cares if you miss the first few days.

This isn't scientific or anything, but I've worked at or attended five colleges or universities. Of those, 3 of them started class less than a week after the new year. And I guess I sort of care about missing class, especially since if everything goes well I'll be canceling more class for campus visits.

In any case, I challenge your assumption that it's just a status quo that nobody is willing to get off his ass and change. Prof J points out that the APA did consider changing it a few years ago, and although almost everybody wanted to change it, nobody could agree on when or where would be better.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Dallas is that the city sucks ass! It's an awful city to visit. It's almost completely unwalkable and the culture is repulsive.

Austin would be entirely different. But yes, you can't take Amtrack or Greyhound there. Or, well you can, if you want to spend a couple of days on the bus. Travel between cities on the East coast is very easy. (The Chinatown buses make it almost free . . . ) And lots of us live out here.

Prof. J. said...

If you were to calculate the "center of mass" for higher ed in the united states, I am confident that it would be somewhere northeast of the Ohio River.

Sounds right. And don't forget that a significant number of philosophers arrive from the UK or even continental Europe for the Eastern APA meetings, and a growing number of those are job-seekers.

Anonymous said...

The date for the Eastern meeting should be changed to Jan 2-6 or 3-7. The demands of the profession are great (granted), but placing the key meeting for the year right in the middle of the holidays really does signify an absence of the APA appreciating the fact that philosophers have families too.

I'd be interested to see how many other disciplines put their 'big' yearly meeting smack dab in the middle of the Holiday season. I doubt many (maybe none) and I'm sure one of the factors against such a strange things is: "well we'd like to spend the Holidays with our families (we like our familes at least enough to spend the Holidays with them). You philosophers dont't?"

Of course, I know many philosophers hate leaving their families the day after Christmas for uncomfortable interviews and even more uncomfortable smokers. But if I were an outsider I would seriously have to wonder if philosphers (or at least those organizing the meeting) really did deeply want to (or care that others want to) spend the Holidays with their families.

The timing of the APA meeting really does show a complete disconnect with the personal lives of their membership. More philosophers would go to Eastern (as opposed to just desperate job seekers) if the timing of the meeting wasn't such a joke. Philosophy is important but do you really want to leave your family for the Holidays to deliver a paper? I love philosophy (I'm a TT professor and really do love philosophy) but I am glad my answer is to this question is and hopefully always will be, no way in Hell.

Wednesday said...

10:47,

The current dates are the ones preferred by the membership There is a legitimate question (pursued on this blog) whether the largest part of the membership might be failing to appreciate or give way to the interests of job seekers, but there's no real question of a bunch of bureaucrats choosing the dates in ignorance of or lack of concern for the interests of the membership as a whole.
There are two main reasons for having the convention between Christmas and New Year rather than after New Year. First, the hotel is quite a lot cheaper (except in New York). Second, a significant number of colleges are in session shortly after New Year.

Finally, the MLA holds its big convention at the same time as the Eastern APA. That's a very, very big convention, and it covers a whole lot of departments and an enormous number of job seekers.

Anonymous said...

Finally, the MLA holds its big convention at the same time as the Eastern APA. That's a very, very big convention, and it covers a whole lot of departments and an enormous number of job seekers.

?

How is this a point in favor of the current APA date? Seems like the opposite, if anything.

Anonymous said...

A short break from the fam around this time of the year isn't such a bad thing.

Wednesday said...

1:41,

How is this a point in favor of the current APA date? Seems like the opposite, if anything.

It's not. It's a response to 10:47's second paragraph.

mr. zero said...

How is this a point in favor of the current APA date?

Dude says, "I'd be interested to see how many other disciplines put their 'big' yearly meeting smack dab in the middle of the Holiday season. I doubt many (maybe none)..." So that's why it's relevant.

In fact, it seems to be the case that most other disciplines have their big yearly meeting at that time, because it really does make the best of a bad situation. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday,

10:47 here. Thanks for passing along the info on the MLA. I didn't know that and the MLA certaintly counts as a big yearly meeting. But I'm still very skeptical of the claim, I think made by someone else, that these Dec 27-30 dates are standard fare.

I've been looking into other disciplines and I'm not even sure if they have a big jobs confernece given the dates of their big annual meetings. For instance, I looked at the American Psychological Association, American Political Science Association, and American Sociological Association. And these groups seem to all have there big yearly meetings sometime between early August and Septemeber. ASA Aug 1-4 2008, APA Aug 14-17 2008, APSA, Sept 3-6, 2009.

With others that have experience with these other disciplines what is going on? Is there little to no job placement at the big annual meeting? Does the placement take place at these Aug/Sept dates? Is the 'jobs conference' something other than what appears to big the big yearly meeting in your discipline? Something else? I'm just looking for what might serve as a better model than the current situation in philosophy.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the other disciplines 6:04 asked about, but the American Psychological Association can meet in August in part because they have no jobs conference. The jobs conference idea is an outdated relic of a should-be-bygone networking-centered approach to hiring. In psychology, academic departments tend to, you know, look at the dossier and references, and then interview by phone and go to fly-outs or just go directly to fly-outs. Our system in philosophy is nice in that it enables face-time for many candidates at one location, but it's really problematic. The concentrated approach to in-person interviewing may benefit candidates who have several interviews (assuming some of their competition is repeated from job to job), but think of the bulk of candidates, who just have one (or two) interviews. Effectively, they're paying around $1000 to have a one-in-fifteen shot at a job. That's really unfair to them. If we just did phone or video interviews for the first round, everyone (including a lot of broke universities and philosophy departments) could save a lot of money, and everyone could get their winter break back. And we could move the Eastern to a more friendly time and make it what it should be, namely a real conference. Its focus on jobs is why it is in all other respects a relatively unpleasant and unproductive conference, compared to the Pacific and Central. I've been in the profession for some time now, and it really is frustrating to see how irrational and unfair it can be.

By the way, the argument that we need to have the Eastern during winter break so that no one has to miss classes seems to overlook the fact that we have Pacific and Central when classes are in session, and that's not a problem. Going to conferences is part of our jobs. There should be no reason not to go, unless one is devoting one's time away from one's students to other conferences.

Anonymous said...

FYI, the MLA is moving its annual meeting from Dec 27-30 to some time in January or February. The members revolted.

Wednesday said...

Anon 11:23;

we have Pacific and Central when classes are in session, and that's not a problem.

Why do you say it's not a problem? It's always a problem for me. I sometimes go anyway, but I have to cancel classes and make them up later, which is a pain and not very pedagogically sound.
The Pacifics are often during a lot of people's spring break (not this year, though, so I won't go).

On the other hand, I agree that it's time to replace the Eastern APA job market with something more rational and fair. If the meetings weren't 'mandatory' for so many philosophers, it would be less problematic to hold them during times that conflict with classes.

Anonymous said...

11:23 and 1:51

Thanks for the info.

So the MLA revolted against the crazy time of between Christmas and New Year and Psychology doesn't engage in such madness. Maybe one day philosophy will come around and the Eastern, our biggest yearly meeting, will actually serve as an enjoyable conference as opposed to the jobs conference that it is.

mr. zero said...

I agree with Wednesday, I think. If we're going to have the big, stupid interview conference, we should have it when we have it. But we should really consider not having it at all. It's like when Frank Costanza invented Festivus: "there has to be another way!"

Anonymous said...

Wednesday,

11:23 here. You wrote (quoting me),

we have Pacific and Central when classes are in session, and that's not a problem.

Why do you say it's not a problem? It's always a problem for me. I sometimes go anyway, but I have to cancel classes and make them up later, which is a pain and not very pedagogically sound.


It sounds like your situation is unique or rare. I've worked at several institutions, and I have friends who work at many, many more. All of us do one of three things: schedule an exam for the missed class (to be proctored by someone other than the instructor), have another instructor for the missed class (such as a TA, if you have TAs), or cancel the class without a make-up. Why can't you do one of those things? Maybe I'm being shortsighted here -- I'm not really familiar with what community colleges think about such practices, for example. But I don't see any pedagogical reason not to cancel class. Our semesters or quarters are only so long; imagine they were one session shorter. Given that the length of the semester (or number of class meetings) is dictated by various non-pedagogical constraints, why is a conference not a legitimate candidate for being one of those constraints? And I can't imagine any other professional reason not to cancel class -- I see attending conferences as part of my professional responsibilities.

I would be curious to know if I'm missing something here, though.

Wednesday said...

2:42 (=11:23),

Well, I hardly ever give exams during the term; I do sometimes have a TA, and on a couple of occasions I have indeed filled in an absence with a TA lecture, and that was a very good solution. I cannot, by my university's rules, simply cancel a class – I have to make up any missed classes.
I am very surprised that you see no pedagogical reason not to cancel classes. Do you see any pedagogical reason not to cancel two classes? (If not, I’ll have a follow-up question, which I bet you can guess.)

Going to the Central meetings is obviously not completely unworkable, and I often do go. But I have lots of good reasons to be away during the term. Sometimes a colloquium requires me to miss a Thursday and a Friday both, for instance; besides the APA meetings there is another meeting in my field that’s more important; and I sometimes have other professional meetings that are more ‘service’ than ‘research’. Adding another one (the Eastern APA) would not be a disaster, especially if it were optional (because we got rid of the job market there), but it wouldn’t be good.

Maybe you’re right that I’m unique. But I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

The historians have their big yearly conference (AHA) which is also a big jobs confernece right after Jan 1.

I am starting to think that philosophy might be in the unique position (after the MLA switch) to being one of the very few disciplines (maybe only sizable discipline) that holds its big annual meeting right between Christmas and New Year. That this is also our big jobs conference makes the date that much more worse for people who actually want to enjoy the Holidays with family.

If a person opts to deliver a paper over the Holidays that is fine. It is not like people should have to spend time with their family over the Holidays if they would rather deliver a paper or attend sessions. Do whatever floats your boat. But to inflict this upon most anyone looking for a job in philosophy is really almost (and perhaps is) in bad taste.