Of course, being on the academic job market includes putting together the appropriate materials you need to apply for these types of jobs (cover letter, teaching or research statement, etc.). Kameko Halfmann has a wonderful and very helpful blog post about constructing those materials for teaching-focused jobs. Also, last year the TNP team had a panel of contributors answer questions we had about the job market. The topics include selecting where to apply, application materials, funding opportunities, and what happens after you submit the application. These posts may be helpful to you if you have questions or concerns relating to those areas. The experiences we’re sharing here relate to our interactions with the schools after we applied.
Once we applied to a position, there was a varying amount of time before we heard back. In one case, Jen heard back from a school only 2 or 3 days after submitting an application; however, most of the time responses were not that expedient. It also depended on whether the school had a rolling or hard deadline.
When we were contacted about setting up interviews, we learned about some of the different processes schools have for scheduling. Most of the time, universities and colleges have a 2-part interview process (phone or Skype interview followed up with an in-person session). It was also the case, we encountered a 3-part interview process (phone or Skype interview then an in-person session and finally an interview with higher-ups). It was typically community colleges that had this 3-part process.
At this time, we also learned about different ways that schools went about planning and paying for your travel. For instance, we both went on interviews where everything was completely paid for and booked by the school. Yay! Karly travelled to an interview where she booked everything and was only given reimbursement up to a certain dollar amount (e.g., up to $500 or $750). She was also offered an interview at an institution where no compensation was given for travel, and she would have had to travel there twice. Jen went on an interview where the school booked the hotel, and she booked her own flight with a caveat for reimbursement: If she was offered a job there and did not accept the position, she would not be given any money toward the flight. There was also the case where we both went on interviews where we booked all of our own travel and got everything reimbursed, but in one instance Karly waited over 2 months to get her money back! Moral of the story: Be prepared to pay for at least some interviews up front. Is this how the process SHOULD be? No, of course not. But it is how the process, for the time being, works. And when you finally get that shiny new position, remember the job market struggle, and advocate for a more financially supportive hiring process.
When you arrive at your interview, depending on the school, you will either get picked up at the airport, or you’ll rent a car and drive yourself. If you’re driving yourself, think about the car you’re getting and where you’re going. Most of the time interviews are conducted during the colder months. Snow happens. Jen had the pleasure of driving in and getting stuck in a snowstorm. Karly had the pleasure of driving a rental car in a snowstorm at 2am to make a 5am flight. However, if you have nice weather, having your own rental car can be a nice way to get to know the area (time permitting).
Campus interviews can differ widely. Many involve meeting various faculty and administration, either in formal meetings or over meals. For the majority of Jen and Karly’s interviews, schedules (created by the interview committee) detailed where we would be, when we would be there, and who we would be meeting with. Plan for busy days with little-to-no downtime. However, for some institutions, particularly community colleges, there can be less structure. For example, in one of Karly’s interviews, the schedule only booked half of the day. Per that institution’s policy, the faculty was not permitted to interact with the candidate outside of the specific interview schedule created by their Human Resources department. This made for a rocky start to the interview, although the faculty did end up finding a work-around and taking Karly out for meals and to see the town.
During the campus interview, you can be asked to give a number of different talks. Some campuses want a teaching demonstration. Some teaching demonstrations are highly structured (e.g., prepare a 20 minute lecture on confidence intervals), while others give you more wiggle room (e.g., prepare a 50 minute teaching demonstration related to neurology). Some institutions ask for a more traditional job talk, rather than a teaching demonstration. Some even want a combination of the two! When in doubt, ask the chair of the search committee for clarification, rather than assuming what they want you to cover.
Both of us had the fortune of receiving multiple job offers. One of Jen’s came pretty early in the year (November). She accepted the offer, and one week later it was rescinded by the school because there was no funding available for the position. This was upsetting to say the least, but it happened early enough in the year that she could bounce back from it. Also, it is worth noting that a rescinded offer is pretty rare. Karly had an offer extended to her the afternoon after an interview in December. The rest of the job offers came in the spring semester. Depending on the school, sometimes we were only given a week or even as short as a weekend to give a decision. Some places had non-negotiable salaries, and some negotiated on non-salary items (like course releases, relocation reimbursement, and research resources). However, both places where we accepted the position, they were very supportive and gave us all the time we needed to make a decision because they wanted us to be sure we were making the right decision.
Inevitably, we did receive some rejections. (Jen even received a rejection letter via snail mail!) It was the case with some schools, when we received a rejection letter, they immediately invited us to apply for adjunct positions in the same email, or they placed us on a mailing list advertising adjunct positions. When the sting of rejection was fresh, this felt a little rude. Regardless, don’t let the rejections get you down. You want to make sure you end up in an institution that values you as much as you value them.
Did you recently survive the job market struggle? Are you on the job market currently? Comment below or email us at email@example.com with your experiences or questions!
Written by Jen and Karly