Saturday, September 29, 2007

Would it help?

I went for a ride this morning, thinking that the cloudiness would clear up into a sunny autumn day. I took a new (for me on a bike) route, with some (for me) challenging hills. Challenging hills are good for clearing the mind, and making sure that things like legs, lungs, and heart are doing their thing.

As I was riding, I was thinking about ways of helping someone deal with a problem. Sometimes, people talk about a problem, and they really just want the other person in the conversation to confirm the difficulty, sympathize, and perhaps join in condemning the idiocy around us. Other times, people talk about a problem and they really want information or help solving it.

When I was about 8 miles out of town, it started to rain, proving my weather optimism wrong. Fortunately, it was a light drizzle, so not horrid for riding, though it did make me a bit tense. I turned around and headed back.

I've recently read some blogs by folks who are on the job market, or thinking about being on the job market, and I think back to my own misery on the market. Being on the market is about 10 orders of magnitude more miserable than being wet and 8 miles from town with hills to climb. And I wondered about writing a post to try to demystify the other side of the job market? I mean, there are some aspects of the market that just make no sense unless you've sat on the other side, and then they make at least some sense.

On the other hand, no blog post is going to actually do anything to solve the real economics of academic job searching, and maybe what's most helpful is to be supportive of those on the market without trying to explain stuff? Sometimes, after all, the explaining sounds like making excuses.

I'm home now, dry, wearing long johns (yes, already) and sweats, and sitting in front of a space heater with a warm laptop on my lap, about to go out and lube my bike (I cleaned it after I got back, and it's been air-drying for an hour or so). And I'm almost warm again, finally.

Would it help to try to demystify the job search process from the other side? Do people even have questions, or do folks feel well-informed?


  1. Maybe what would help is a blog post that goes something like...

    My school is one of X kind.

    I've sat on a few hiring committees at X, so if I were to apply to another school like X in the future, I'd do a, b, c and wouldn't do e,f,g.

    That way, if someone's goal is to work for an X school, they would have some insight...

    I think this is helpful if you aren't at an R1 -- and especially if your school is more focused on teaching than research. The thing is, grad school teaches you about how to work at the research-type institution but not about all the others... because they don't have a clue about the others!

  2. Please, please write that post! I'd love to know what the process looks like from the other side, and as Inside the Philosophy Factory says, a lot of the stuff you're told in grad school is applicable only to R1s.

  3. I think it depends on who is providing the information. With you, a friendly blogger who is trying to provide something useful to people going through a tough time, I would say yes! Please! This would be wonderful! (And if your school happens to have a dual career program or ever makes an effort to deal with the "two body problem," any info would be useful.)

    I think where providing information or advice is not useful is 1) when the person is emotional and clearly needing support (one situation you identify yourself) or 2) when you are someone in that person's life in a long term relationship -- a parent, sibling, long time friend. Those relationships have a lot of baggage and, unless advice is solicited, it's usually resented.

    But again, in this context it is eagerly anticipated! :)

  4. All information on this subject is appreciated--even if it's not applicable to every situation (and practically no job market advice will be applicable to *every* situation).

    So yes, please, write the post!

  5. Pretty please!!!

    In all honesty, my department is pretty good about providing information and answering questions, but more information is always welcome. Especially since I'm sure that we all have blind spots and forget to tell or ask about something. The more information the better!

  6. You are so sweet! Any advice would be helpful and appreciated.

    I feel like my blogging the process will hopefully help out some people further down the road even as it calms me down.

    Of course, one thing I keep learning is that every time I say "the job process is about X" on a blog people jump in to tell me how I'm wrong or at least discounting other possibilities. So I don't know that you actually _can_ give advice that works in multiple situations. Ah well.