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The Academic Job Market

Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 16:30:03 -0400
From: Cameron MacDonald <macdon2 @ HUSC.HARVARD.EDU>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
Thanks to Joan Korenman and others for thoughtful responses on what
is rapidly becoming a crisis situation in many disciplines.  One
thing I'm surprised to miss in these discussions is the exploitation
of adjunct and "replacement" faculty and its corresponding affects
on the dearth on junior-level tenure track positions.
What, if anything, are senior faculty doing to combat this growing
Cameron Macdonald
Social Studies
Harvard University
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 15:27:00 -0600 (MDT)
From: Cathy Bray <cathyb @ CS.ATHABASCAU.CA>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
One way of addressing the problem of too many workers
and too few jobs, in women's studies and anywhere else,
is by fighting for job sharing and fairly rewarded
part-time work. Some people have struggled for
adequate recognition of part-time work for years; the
issue should become central. Full-time workers need
to see this as their issue too, and be prepared to
work less and get paid less.
Catherine Bray
cathyb  @  cs.athabascau.ca
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 14:52:03 -0700
From: Sonja Streuber <shstreuber @ UCDAVIS.EDU>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
Hummmm... <gulp>,
so what should one do as an English major ina PhD program?  I mean, if
job prospects are really that bad, would it maybe be better to get a
degree ina more marketeable discipline?
Maybe I'm just focused wrongly, but this thread and the latest MLA job
report make me feel totally paranoid, even paralyzed tothe point where
I"m hardly able to work any more (lack of motivation, resignation etc.).
Is it me or is it really that bad?
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 17:47:59 -0500
From: Dianna Taylor <TAYLODE @ UCBEH.SAN.UC.EDU>
Subject: job applications
Maybe this post is a partial plea for someone to interject:  "Gee, things
aren't _that_ bad in the job market!"  I've been reading this discussion with
increasing anxiety, as a student about to begin my doctoral work in (gulp!)
PHILOSOPHY!  Of course, faculty have informed me that "it's rough out there,"
but it seems to me that the only way I can even attempt to get through the next
three or four years of my life is by (fooling myself into?) believing that,
yes, I will get a job, some job when it's over.  Are those of you who have
posted talking primarily about universities?  Is it any better in four year
colleges or community colleges?  I know salaries are lower and teaching loads
higher, but a little bit of money is better than nothing -- a point which hits
home even harder after living on nothing for years as a graduate student . . .
Are you all suggesting that it's unwise at this point to consider getting
degrees in certain fields?  Of course, part of my motivation is that I love the
work that I'm doing (I'm completing an MA in women's studies right now), but
you seem to be suggesting that you can't love what you aren't able to do.  Any
advice for the naive student would be appreciated.
Dianna Taylor
taylode  @  ucbeh.san.uc.edu
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 18:22:10 -0500
From: "Maggie Faulkner, Phys.Ed./Psych" <E7P5FAU @ TOE.TOWSON.EDU>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
In response to the question of senior faculty response to the dearth of junior
faculty positions I am afraid that at my institution, and perhaps at many other
places, the only thing senior faculty can do is die or retire.  Even then with t
he current down sizing mode going full tilt adjuncts are all the rage.
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 18:15:14 -0500
From: Kristi Coulter <kristic @ K.IMAP.ITD.UMICH.EDU>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
>Just to expand on what Joan said concerning students going on to grad
>school--I think the decision many students make to go on to grad
>school is relatively uninformed and reflects, to a large extent, some
>disturbing cultural stereotyping.
I've got an MFA in Creative Writing, and am currently teaching composition
as a low-wage, uninsured, here-today-gone-tomorrow adjunct.  It used to be
fairly standard for MFAs to go on and earn PhDs in English so we could get
tenure-track jobs (though the Associated Writing Programs made great
progress towards having the MFA recognized as the terminal degree it is,
some still regard it as akin to an MA in literature).  I decided not to
pursue a PhD for several reasons:  1) I don't want to take the classes,
read the books, or write the dissertation; 2) I have the growing impression
that the job market is so wretched that having a PhD means less and less,
and 3) I know that as a creative writer, my shot at a good teaching job
will ultimately depend more upon my publication record than on my academic
So all that's fine, and I'm willing to slave away for a while.  The problem
is that even what I see as fairly undesirable jobs (one-year non-renewable
part-time Comp lectureships, etc.) are being advertised as PhD-only
positions.  And even jobs which are advertised as Master's level community
college positions must be flooded with applications from PhDs, if what I'm
reading on this list is indicative of the general level of panic out there!
A college in Iowa recently advertised for a poet to teach poetry-writing
_only_--PhD required.  And when Emerson College advertised a one-year
replacement position in its creative writing program, it received over 640
I suppose what I'm wondering is, if it's almost impossible to teach _with_
a PhD these days, how can anyone hope to teach _without_ one?  And what
place does skill as a teacher have in all of this, if any?
Kristi (who, like the others, didn't mean to go on for so long!)
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 18:49:14 -0400
From: Cheryl Sattler <csattler @ CAPACCESS.ORG>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
I wish I could say I hadn't had all of the thoughts already expressed in
this conversation (don't you hope I have something to add, eh?)  I
graduated with a Ph.D. in the Sociology of Education (from an Ed school)
last August.  I then continued to work at my job, which was science
education research, while I looked for a job.  I searched for about a
year.  In that year, I sent out something in the range of 300
applications, for jobs (I might add given the threads of this discussion)
for which I was qualified.  By and large they all required 3 (sometimes up
to 6) letters of recommendation.  They all required publications.  They
all required transcripts, vitaes, meaningful letters, etc.  From this
stack I generated one interview (and one job offer: I was the top
candidate at a yukky school and turned them down).
Like the situation in English, jobs in my field receive +300 applications.
 I got letters of rejection from approximately 1/3 of the places to which
I applied.
On the other hand....I think that academicians do a poor job (if any job
at all) in preparing their Ph.D. students for alternative careers.  I am
currently working as a researcher in a qualitative research firm in
Washington.  Do I miss teaching? yes.  Do I miss research?  I'm doing it.
Did I hear about this through my academic connections?  Excuse me, but
hell, no.  I suspect there are jobs for English grads, too--like editing,
working for publishing firms, speechwriting (big here in the neighborhood)
etc.  Now, for philosophy I'm not so sure (and the fiancee is a
philosopher, so cross your fingers).  But why is it that graduate school
trains us to be blind to other options?
Surely in this market, there is no good excuse for this....
Cheryl Sattler
csattler  @  cap.gwu.edu
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 16:54:46 -0800 (PST)
From: s ryan <s_ryan @ CCGATE.INFOWORLD.COM>
Subject: Re[2]: Avalanches of Job Applications
Cheryl Sattler <csattler  @  CAPACCESS.ORG> said:
I suspect there are jobs for English grads, too--like editing, working for
publishing firms, speechwriting (big here in the neighborhood) etc.
     She's right. I work at a technical publication and the people who are
     most valued here are not the techies, but the word folk.
     So, there probably are other things out there. Not a lot, and likely
     not what new Ph.D.'s with dissertations on Shakespeare's sonnets had
     in mind....
     S  (s_ryan  @  infoworld.com)
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 19:59:58 -0400 (EDT)
From: Lynne Taetzsch <TAETZSCH @ GWUVM.BITNET>
Subject: job applications
I finally felt I had to put my two cents in on this discussion.  I got my
PhD in English with an emphasis in creative writing three years ago.  Every
year, I apply to all the job openings in my field.  I have only once been
offered an MLA interview (our discipline's main conference).
The only school that invited me to campus and offered me a job after I
graduated was George Wshington University, and the job was not tenure-track.
It is a full-time temporary position, paying much better than the part-timers
get, but not as well as the tenure-track people, and I have to teach mostly
Each year I have been on the job market, it has gotten worse.  This year I
tried applying to some community colleges in desperation, and even they were
swamped with applications and did not want me.
A friend (woman) with a degree in rhetoric (most sought after area) with
solid credentials all the way around thought she was home free when she
got 12 interviews at MLA.  She will be with us next year because nothing
materialized into a job.
It is awful.  The way part-timers are treated is a disgrace.  They often
do the same work for one-tenth the pay.  The system stinks, but anyone with
a tenure-track job is just glad to have it and doesn't want to rock the
I also agree with whoever wrote about those affirmative action form requests.
It is adding insult to injury.
Taetzsch  @  gwuvm.gwu.edu
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 19:53:08 -0500
From: "Cheryl L. Clark" <cclark @ KNOX.EDU>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
On Tue, 2 May 1995, Joan Korenman wrote:
> Whether the research is genuinely
> important or needed, and at what/whose expense it comes, is rarely
> considered.  I'm not railing mindlessly against research; I AM suggesting
> that we need to examine the current emphasis on research more critically,
> if only because I think it contributes in an important way to the
> over-production of Ph.D.s in many fields.
Iam an undergraduate student that has been less likely to write
considering the letter posted that discouraged undergraduate inquiries.
However, I can't help to respond because the question Joan brings up
about research is something I have been questioning for awhile.
Because of prior investigations into feminist psychology, I have been more
interested in the formulation of the research question.  When one
considers that the values of the researcher will influence the research,
is opens up the realm of research about research.  Latelty, I have been
trying to formulate research that investigates how the researcher
considers the social implications of the research and if he/she does
consider it when deciding upon the research,
specifically within psychology.  I plan to look at this cross-culturally
in the United States and Costa Rica.  Is anyone aware of similar research
or questionaires that apply to this research?
I decided to write this because I do not like to be pigeon-holed within
the status of undergraduate and therefore,less valuable.  I hope that
a women's study's list would be considerate of such a distinction which
is often too hierarchical and unjust.  This isn't a class project but a
serious question I have about research in academia.
Thanks (and I truthfully wonder how many disregard such a message because
I am an undergraduate)
Thanks again for your time and yes, do read Women On the Edge of Time.
Cheryl Clark
Knox College
cclark  @  knox.edu
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 21:09:18 -0400
From: Cindy Bily <cbily @ ADRIAN.ADRIAN.EDU>
Subject: job applications
Sorry if this is getting far from the purpose
of this discussion. A few people writing about
the job market have mentioned "resorting in
desperation" to applying at community colleges,
and being rejected.
  Please understand that community colleges
serve a distinct population and work hard to
meet the needs of that population. The last thing
a faculty needs is teachers who don't respect
the school or the students--who think working
there is a last resort.
  In answer to another question, the department I
teach in part-time at a small liberal arts
teaching college just had an opening for a full
time tenure track job--four courses a semester,
2 freshman English courses plus two upper-level.
We had over 400 applicants, most with the PhD.
We could tell, by the way, who wanted to work at
a school like ours and who was applying because
it might be easier to get a job here.
  I'm in full sympathy with all of you--I don't
have even the MFA, but just an MA in English
(ABD abandoned 15 years ago). Talk about your
worthless degrees!
  Cindy Bily  cbily  @  adrian.adrian.edu
  Adrian College
Date: Tue, 02 May 1995 23:30:15 -0400
Subject: job applications
I am truly one of the lucky ones, as I applied for and got a tenure track
position in English (at a community college)--and I'm still working on my
PhD.  Oddly, though, my department hardly thought my position noteworthy, as
apparently placement still means nothing if it's not at a four year school.
<Personally, I really wanted the job because of the school's open admissions
policy and the opportunity to work with a more diverse student population.>
Even my peers were lukewarm in their congrats.
Well, now a year and a half later, a pathetically small number of the recent
graduates have found academic employment, and my home institution has met
with my chair to discuss how to better prepare their graduates for
employment in 2 year institutions.
I'm afraid that this elitist 4/2 split keeps many from applying for
positions that they might be suited for--and keeps them from applying
correctly.  For example, we had 2 new hires last year, and many of the
letters of application clearly came from people who were clueless about the
expectations of community college instructors.  Rather than focusing on
their teaching abilities (and maybe even awards)--stuff that many 4 year
schools don't stress--these applicants went on at length about their
dissertations (on Japanese death poetry, postmodern architecture and its
relation to film, etc.)--stuff that will not impress a committee looking for
someone to teach mainly comp and basic lit.  (Although I do get to teach
Women's Lit)
The job market is scary, but applicants do themselves no service by treating
all institutions as though they were Berkeley.
flat5  @  nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu
Date: Wed, 03 May 1995 01:14:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: Andrea Austin <3AJA1 @ QUCDN.QUEENSU.CA>
Subject: job applications
    I almost hesitate to add my comments to this thread, since the posts on
   avalanches of job applications have themselves turned into a veritable
   avalanche, but I feel compelled.
     I think that most of us graduate students finishing up our dissertations
   do know how dismal the job situation is.  I'm not at all sure, though, that
   a dismal job situation is a reason not to do a Ph.D, if one can afford to do
   it and one enjoys doing it.  After all, the problems we're discussing here
   regarding employment are certainly not peculiar to academia.  Most of my
   friends from undergrad. and masters have been working for various corpor-
   ations for the last five years or so, on one-year contracts.  Several of
   them have been working for the same company for four or five years, on a
   series of one-year contracts--no benefits, no real vacation time, no
   seniority (they start over as 'new' each year as they start a new contract
   term), and they can be laid off at any time with only 2 weeks notice. It's
   all part of the new, '90s attitude of employers:  use workers up like a
   kleenex, then throw them away and get new ones.  So the current rage for
   adjuncts certainly doesn't surpise me.
        Yes, it's true that universities aren't doing a great job of preparing
   their grad. students for jobs outside academia.  Then again, I'm not sure
   that it's their job to (there are other programs to do that).  It is,
   however, their job to understand that they cannnot continue to happily
   cling to antiquated notions, enforced by regulations, concerning the ideal
   requirements for a graduate degree.  Language requirements are a case in
   point--in my view, computer programming languages ought to be accepted.
   (There have been a couple of positions advertised for humanities computing
   consultants, requirements being master's degree or higher in a humanities
   discipline, and a computer science undergrad. or equivalent experience).
   To some extent, I think, some departments are antagonistic to grad. students
   pursuing any simultaneous education in non-humanities fields, even if it
   requires a student to take very little time away from their "main" business.
       In other words, while I don't expect my dept. to prepare me, and other
   grad. students, for careers outside academia as well as in, I do expect them
   to start revising some of the regulations so that I am allowed more flexib-
   ility to prepare myself, on my own.  Catering to current trends in the
   ever-shifting general job market is one thing--being sensitive to them is
                                                   Andrea Austin
                                                   3aja1  @  qucdn.queensu.ca
Date: Wed, 03 May 1995 01:21:22 -0700
From: Stephanie Bower <snv @ NETCOM.COM>
Subject: writing sample requests
>Even more unethical is the practice of a few departments that require
>writing samples with the applications!  I know people who have had to
>spend almost $5.00 per application, given the costs of xeroxing and
>mailing.  That seems entirely unnecessary until a later cut.
When I went out on the market last year, I was advised to send out writing
samples with every application, regardless of whether or not the search
committee had specifically requested one. The logic behind this went
something like this: since the writing sample is the single most important
piece of evidence a committee receives, better to send a sample of your best
work right away. Our advisor thought that committees which did not request
this information simply did not anticipate the number of applications they
would receive, and would sooner or later need this evidence to make their
determinations. Of course, this made the application process much more
time-consuming and expensive, and I'm not sure I will follow this advice
again next year. (Needless to say, my initial search was unsuccessful.)
Stephanie Bower
snv  @  netcom.com
Date: Wed, 03 May 1995 01:21:25 -0700
From: Stephanie Bower <snv @ NETCOM.COM>
Subject: job applications
     I think departments need to spend more time preparing students for jobs
_inside_ academia. I started grad school believing that there would be
plenty of jobs opening up in the early 90s (remember that one?). Four years
ago our department had a "town meeting" to warn students that this rush to
retirement was not going to materialize, and advised us to get out
publications, go to conferences, etc. But I've found that this type of
"career planning" requires a different kind of mentality from the real work
of grad students--teaching, writing seminar papers, preparing for exams,
thinking of a diss topic. I believe professors should emphasize these goals
in their courses and their responses to papers. For example, it would have
been very useful for me to attend a seminar-type course that focused on
revising essays for publication. Unfortunately, no such course existed, and
professors seemed surprised when I asked how I might begin revising seminar
papers I wrote for their class. I know that many people fault this
career-directed approach for lowering the academic standards at journals and
conferences, but if these qualifications are necessary for employment, then
universities should be doing all they can to help their students get jobs.
Another frustrated job-seeker,
snv  @  netcom.com
Date: Wed, 03 May 1995 07:04:01 -0500
From: Kimberly Clarke Simmons <Simmo003 @ MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
I am a graduate student in sociology. I entered a Ph.D. program immediatly after
graduating from a small liberal arts college. My vision of an academic life was
based on the professors I worked with as an undergraduate, most of whom had
tenure. I see a very different picture of academia from the U of MN and wish
that I had had a more realistic and politically saavy sensibility about academic
careers when I enlisted. One of the problems, I think, was that the career
counseling center emphasized coorporate jobs and could not provide me with info.
I have benefited, lately, from the autobiographical texts written in soc
(Berkley Women Sociologists; 50 years of women sociologists) as well as more
general sociological accounts of women in academe (Athena Theodore's book,
"Campus Troublemakers" was particularly enlightening). Placing my experiences in
a social and historical context have helped me make sense of them (albeit not
feel better). The self-helpish book "Lifting a Ton of Feathers" has also been
I encourage those of you working with women undergraduates to share information
about your experiences in the academy, to help them network, and have a reading
group/workshop/brown-bag where they take seriously the reflections of women who
are struggling with tenure, with work/family issues, with discrimination, etc.
It is not that these problems are particular to the university, but that from
many undergraduates point of view, the Professor-job seems idyllic.
Kim (simmo003  @  maroon.tc.umn.edu)
Kimberly Clarke Simmons
U of MN Sociology
Date: Wed, 3 May 1995 08:25:43 LCL
Subject: job applications
I agree with Stephanie Bower that it is important to help students
become part of the "professional conversation" ... which I believe
includes not only submitting papers to journals, but also READING
journals, attending conferences, and so on.
I believe that the sciences have done a better job than the arts and
humanities of figuring out how to help students make the transition to
being professionals.  There are many more opportunities in the
sciences, it seems, to work on a research project WITH a mentor,
co-author papers, and so on.  Also there are more post-docs.  In part
I believe this is because the sciences have done a better job of
thinking about how to work in teams -- while most humanities research
is still being done by lone individuals.  I do think that we in
Women's Studies should be thinking about more and better ways for
faculty and students to work together on collaborative projects as
part of the mentoring process --- and that those who are already doing
this should share with the rest of us what they are doing and how,
etc. to stimulate our own imaginations.
----------- Ruth Ginzberg (rginzberg  @  eagle.wesleyan.edu) ------------
Date: Wed, 03 May 1995 08:01:14 -0500
From: "Kathleen T. Smith" <ksmith @ BETA.CENTENARY.EDU>
Subject: Re[2]: Avalanches of Job Applications
I have to jump into this discussion.  I will be receiving an MA in
Liberal Arts in about a week; I have a BS in Education (English major,
Journalism minor).  I am currently working for a small Liberal Arts
college as a Facilities Coordinator (plus I have about 3 or 4 other
"jobs" I also do).  I enjoy the work.  I find that most of what I have
learned over the last twenty years comes to bear on this
job--coordinating events, solving problems, writing manuals, training a
conferences staff for summer.  My thesis committee members are pressuring
me to go on for a Ph.D..  This discussion is convincing me that I'm
better off where I am with what I have.  If I want to teach, I have the
option of teaching in Continuing Education, which I have done.
I have had this same discussion with my daughter, who is attending a
community college.  I told her to do what she loves and to not worry
about the money.  That will come later.  Higher education shouldn't cause
so much stress.  I agree with several commentators that we should start
thinking more creatively about what we can do with these degrees.  The
business world would benefit from some qualified English majors in its ranks.
ksmith  @  beta.centenary.edu
Kathleen T. Smith
Centenary College of Louisiana
"Stay Calm! Don't Panic!"
Date: Wed, 03 May 1995 08:57:43 -0600
From: Rebecca Ragsdale <RAGSDALE @ VAX1.MANKATO.MSUS.EDU>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
As a returning non-trad student who has been in the "real world" for more
than 20 years, I'm here to tell you that it isn't just academia that is
constantly swamped with job applications.
I worked in the advertising business, one of the high demand businesses
of our time.  As far back as the early 80's, every advertised job opening
generated hundreds of applications.  Since the early 90's and overall
down sizing, the numbers have multiplied.
The fact is there is a serious absence of decent jobs in our current
economy.  Lots of new openings at McDonald's and Walmart.  But thousands
of middle management jobs were eliminated.  As were academic jobs with
the unannounced cutbacks in faculty.  I came back for a Master's because
the unannounced cutbacks in faculty.  I came back for a Master's because
President Clinton said a new emphasis would be put on education, especially
community colleges.  Too bad none of his plans have materialized.  Guess I
should concentrate on looking for jobs in one of the new prisons.
Date: Wed, 3 May 1995 11:29:28 LCL
From: Green Deborah <dxgree @ FACSTAFF.WM.EDU>
Subject: Adjunct exploitation
What are senior faculty doing?  Some of us thought progress was being
made when positions were converted to full-time temporary poistions
(limit 3 years) and continued to push for conversions to tenure-track
positions.  Unfortunately, budget cuts have reversed this process and
administrators maintain they must have the flexibility that adjunct
and temporary postions give.  We are now confined to trying to make
sure that these conform to AAUP (American Association of University
Professors) guidelines to minimize exploitation, but I feel that it
is a losing battle at this point!
Debbie Green
College of William and Mary
Date: Wed, 03 May 1995 09:37:54 -0700 (MST)
From: Beverly Miller <ALIMILLE @ IDBSU.BITNET>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
     Rebecca is right: the problem is not confined to academia. However, I
wonder if part of the current job shortage doesn't stem from so many people
being willing to work longer and longer hours. A full-time job used to take
40 hours a week. Now it often requires 60. Two 60-hour people do the work that
once was performed by three. Here, we have a number of full-time faculty
and staff among our adjuncts. They take on the extra work to get extra money,
the university can offer courses in programs the state board won't fund without
making any commitments, and the students take it all for granted. The losers
are the folks who would otherwise be hired to teach the courses. However, in
many cases the existing employees don't even get the extra cash. A friend of
mine applied for a librarian's position at another university not long ago.
When she made the first cut, she was told: we regularly work 10+ hour days here
and we do not take the vacation the university provides us. This in addition
to the librarian's usual weekend and holiday shifts. She said no, but my guess
is some other desperate candidate did not. Beverly Miller
Date: Wed, 03 May 1995 11:19:44 -0600
From: Helen Klebesadel <Helen.Klebesadel @ LAWRENCE.EDU>
Subject: Avalanches of Job Applications
        Two recent messages discussed the issue of a job search with an MFA
and the need to prepare students with skills and accurate information about
careers outside of academia.
        I too have an MFA, but it is in Studio Art.  The job market in
studio art is every bit as difficult as English.  I was lucky enough to be
offered a studio art teaching job at a small liberal arts university,
tenure track, five years ago.  I am convinced that I was offered the job at
least in part because of my graduate teaching experience in Women's
Studies.  It indicated an interdisciplinary approach that fit well in a
liberal arts setting.  In studio art an MFA is a terminal degree, a fact
that does escape some of my colleagues, but those are the ones who tend to
assume artists are less rigorous in our intellectual and creative research
pursuits anyway.  How can it be rigorus and intellectual if its focused
around visual language rather than text?  But thats another topic for
another time.
        The assumption in studio art programs is that only a small
percentage of graduates with MFA's will find teaching jobs, the rest will
be lucky if they have found a way to still produce their art after five
years.  It is vicious, it is competative, and it is important to be very
clear why you are in the field in the first place.  If you are their
because your art voice matters too much to allow it to be scilenced, you
will make your art no matter what.  If it matters to you that other people
find that voice too, you will find ways to teach, in all kinds of colleges,
and out side of the academy if necessary.  Like Women's Studies, it does
not stop at the door of the academy.  This is from the perspective of a
re-tread:  someone who returned to school and the academy after ten years
in the real world.  Please forgive the length.
Helen Klebesadel
klebesah  @  lawrence.edu
Date: Wed, 3 May 1995 11:49:22 CST6CDT
From: "Kimberly J. Cook" <COOK @ MERCURY.SPS.MSSTATE.EDU>
Subject: Job Market Experience
This discussion about the job market has been so depressing.
Someone, I forgot her name (a graduate student just finishing the
M.A. and beginning the Ph.D.) asked for some good news.  So, I'll
share my experience with people.
I just finished my doctorate last August, in Sociology with a
concentration in Criminology, at the University of New Hampshire.
While writing my dissertation last year, I applied for 38 or 40 jobs
altogether (in two rounds -- fall deadlines, and winter deadlines).
The fall deadlines resulted in my making several short lists, and one
interview.  I suspect this has to do with the reality that the people
coming out of the top ten schools with fresh ph.d.'s are snapped up
first on the job market, so the fall round of applicants usually
includes Ph.D.'s from Harvard, Yale, Wisconsin, Michigan, etc...
Those applications for which the deadline was in the winter (Jan.
Feb, March, etc) were much better for me.  I made most of the short
lists and was invited to 5 more campus interviews.  I had two offers
at the same time, and was therefore able to negotiate for a better
contract.  (All of these were tenure-track positions.)  It seemed
that the competition-pool had been weeded out enough so that someone
with my training (at a mid-level state university, rather than a
top-tier university) would be more competitive than inthe fall round.
Four of my six interviews occured in April and May, one in March and
the other in December.  Seasonal differences DO matter, which of
course has little to do with who you are a human being.
1. It matters greatly where you get your degree.  People from
top-tier schools are employed first.
2. It matters who your dissertation director is -- and who writes
letters on your behalf.  I chose to work with Murray Straus as my
diss. director, but did not write on family violence.  (My diss
research examined "pro-life" people who favor the death penalty.)
3. It matters, the extent may vary by discipline, WHEN you apply for
a job; fall v. winter, etc.
4. It matters what you say in your letter of application.  As much as
you can tell that the rejection letters are form letters, employers
can also tell when your letters are mass-reproduced.  It takes time,
but try to tailor each letter to the needs expressed in the job ads.
5. Before going on interviews, do more homework.  Find out who the
people are in that department, what their areas of specialization are
in your discpline, do a quick search for their recent publications
and try to read as much of them as you can.  In my experience, this
may not be feasible.  Some of my interviews were in large Ph.D.
granting deparments with more than 20 people on the faculties, which
made it impossible for me to know all of their research.  In that
case, choose two or three of the major names in the department and
familiarize yourself with their work, their perspectives, etc.
6. Conference calls are important, but very alienating, screening
mechanisms some departments use to make decisions on who to bring
to campus.  If you're asked for a conference call appointment, make
sure you get from the employer what will be on the agenda of the
conference call, and who/howmany people will be there; the entire
department, the search committee only, etc?  Give yourself a couple
of days before the appointment to get your head together.  In other
words, don't be so eager for the job that you agree to do a
conference call that same afternoon when they call you at 11am!!
Mentally, you'll need the "intellectual" space.
Finally, if you feel like you blow an interview, go out for ice
cream.  Be nice to yourself.  It's a difficult process and there is
no easy way to do it.
This year, I sent out five applications only.  Was invited to one
interview which I declined because it was not significantly
better than where I am  now.  Was rejected by two without
notification of short lists.  Made the short list at another place,
and interviewed a month ago at "my dream job" place.  And despite my
feelings that I did not do well, they offered me the job, and I
there are personal reasons for this relocation, as well as
professional.  And this note is too long already for me to add that
to this story!  Suffice it to say, the job market is NOT FOR WIMPS.
Be strong, and be persistent.
Kimberly Cook
Kimberly J. Cook       601-325-7891
Dept of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work
P.O. Drawer C
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, MS  39762
Cook  @  Soc.MSState.Edu
AFTER JULY 15, 1995
Dept. of Criminology
University of Southern Maine
1 Chamberlain Ave
Portland, ME  04103
Date: Wed, 03 May 1995 12:43:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: search process preparing students etc.
In view of the avalanche of responses to the job search process thread,
I am adding my "2 cents" to several recent remarks in one posting. I
discuss the following:  majors in English, preparing graduate students
for the realities of academic life, and some simple tips on saving money
in the application process.
Way back in 1979 I saw the writing on the wall in re: graduate
school in English.  At the time (with an M.A.) I was an adjunct
teaching composition at two colleges in California.  That spring
one of the colleges had its first opening in about 10 years.
Mind you, this was (still is) a podunk college, but they received
over two hundred applications, including PhD's from Yale and Harvard.
I was forced to work in the "real world" for a while after that .
Calif.'s Prop 13 (the property tax initiative) passed and virtually
all adjunct positions were cut.  Ultimately I went back to get a second
masters, this time in communication, taking
journalism & pr courses in hopes of making a living from professional
writing.  "Unfortunately" I got sucked in by a terrific teacher in
a communication theory class required of all grad students, and soon
after I was toddling off to Iowa for a Ph.D.
From what everyone has been saying on this list, it sounds like I
made a good choice.  The competition is still tough, but it's not
nearly so bad as other fields -- most of the jobs I've applied for
have had fewer than 100 applicants.  (In broadcasting teaching positions
they're happy if they get 30.)  Those that have had more are
in very desirable locations, e.g., Boulder CO; Tampa FL.
Mind you, the market is still pretty tough, but the retirements
ARE happening.  At the School of Journalism at U. Oklahoma,
where I recently interviewed, 70% of the faculty were hired
in the last four years.
A doctoral program in communication (or mass communication),
at least  in a place like Iowa (or Utah or Penn State or Illinois)
where there's lots of support for doing qualitative/cultural studies,
you can end up using a good deal of the textual analysis and  literary
theory you learn in English, only applying it to
 different sorts of texts.  If, before you go to  graduate school,
you spend some time working in "the industry"
(journalism, public relations, business communication, instructional
design, etc.) you will make yourself very marketable, particularly
if you keep up with the new communications technologies.
My training in English and creative writing continue to serve me
very well, both in my teaching and in my research.  But what's
really terrific is that nowadays when I read a novel or a poem,
I get to do it for pure pleasure!  Moreover, I feel the more
sociological/anthropological emphasis in my doctoral work
has given me a much broader, more realistic education than
one often finds in English literature departments.
Having said that, I shudder to think of what could end up being
a huge glut of communication PhDs!   Still, there's an additional
advantage of a communication degree:  it's more recognized
as a "professional" degree with "real-world" applications
than is English.
I started presenting papers at professional conferences my
second year of graduate school.  I was aided in this by the
design of the doctoral program in the School of Journalism
at Iowa.  Grad students receive one hour of credit for a required
"PhD seminar."  The primary work for this, aside from attending
the one hour weekly seminar, is to prepare a paper for
presentation at our "PhD Convention" toward the end of
the semester.  That paper generally involves advanced work
on a previous paper submitted for a course.  Students are supposed
to work closely with a faculty member on the revision and
expansion of the earlier work.  At PhD Convention, students
present papers in a public forum to the graduate program.
There two critiquers -- one faculty, one student.  The
"conventions" are timed so that students will have plenty
of time to revise again in order to submit to one or the
other of the main conferences in our field.
We all griped and complained about it of course, but many
of my cohorts who took advantage of it ended up with publications
before they completed their PhDs.
I should add that in most cases students are not working
directly with the faculty member on her or his research.
I understand the appropriateness for such arrangements
in the sciences, where a research project must be carried
out by numerous persons in order for it to get done.  But to
some extent I see that as a way for faculty to exploit graduate
students, furthering their own research ends rather than
helping students develop theirs.
WRITING SAMPLES:  For unpublished work I use my
word processing program (MS
Word) to squeeze as much possible copy onto as little paper
as I can without making it difficult to read.  I lay it out in 12 pt
Times Roman (which is very legible but takes the least space
of all the type fonts I have),   single spaced, in two columns,
on a "landscape" format page (i.e., horizontal rather than vertical).
I make the margins narrow -- about 1/2 inch all around.  This makes
each page look like two pages of a journal article.  I then copy it
back-to-back.  This set-up will reduce the number of pages by
about 60%.  (I also copy my now 7-page vita back-to-back.)
This set up saves considerable postage funds!!!!
If you have publications, use the reducing feature available
on most copiers now to squeeze two pages onto one, and
copy these back to back.   (Assuming, of course, that the
copy remains legible without a magnifying glass!)
DOSSIER services:  In my field, dossiers generally are not
used.  In fact, if you have willing referees, you are best off
having them send individualized letters for each application.
Letters that speak directly to the requirements of the position
being applied for are given much more weight than generic
ones.  Of course, this requires that you stay on top of deadlines
so you can give your referees plenty  of lead time, and that
you apply ONLY for positions specifically suited to your
background and experience.
TRANSCRIPTS:  I have photocopies of my transcripts on
hand.  Photocopies are viable in most cases, though some
require official transcripts.  Unless the position is one of
those to which I can say "wow, that job has my name
written all over it," I don't bother requesting official transcripts.
For one thing, I have attended a large number of institutions
of higher learning and if I requested official copies of my graduate
transcripts alone it would cost me $24 for each application.  So I
send photocopies, with a note saying I will forward official
copies if I make the first cut.  If that cuts me out of the running,
so be it!  So far that hasn't happened.
I don't see the point of requiring official transcripts with an
application.  Of all things that are appropriate for determining
whether a candidate qualifies, having official copies as opposed
to photocopies surely is not one of them!!!
Georgia NeSmith
gnesmith  @  acspr1.acs.brockport.edu
(still have my fingers crossed for Michigan and/or Oklahoma)

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