Beware "strong" women
I was a consultant for two years in an international organization and I applied for a staff position. I had the most experience of all candidates, and was fully qualified but I did not get the job. I asked for feedback and was told, informally, that while I was the best person for the job the (middle-aged, white, male) manager of the unit felt that I was not the right person because I was “a strong woman”.
Students are Woefully Prepared for Internet Age Job Market
Over the last four weeks I have met with numerous college students and recent graduates who are interested in working for tech startups. I have been surprised to discover how woefully their schools have prepared them for how to find a job in the age of the Internet. The vast majority of thses students do not have their own name registered as a domain, have their Facebook profile as the first search result for their name, have no LinkedIn account (or an empty one), don’t know how to approach companies over the Internet and the list goes on.
Once I noticed this pattern, I started to ask about what they were being told in school. It rapidly became clear that the career centers at even top schools are apparently stuck in the days of the polished resume. More importantly though, the students have none of what they have worked on during their time in school online. There are no student essays or projects that are published and discoverable on the web. None of their professors ever made this part of the class or included it in the evaluation of their work.
So until colleges catch up here, students will have to figure this out for themselves. At a minimum I suggest that everyone register their name or some variation thereof as a domain and use a service such as About.me to put up a pleasing home page. Beyond that students might want to take a look at BrandYourself, which is a service that helps them influence their Google search rankings. At least on the design side schools are beginning to help their students graduate with online portfolios. For instance both RISD and SVA have portfolio sites for students via Behance. Something along those lines should be the norm and not the exception.
So you want to be a teacher.
I know only like three and a half people follow this blog, and if they do it’s mostly for fandom purposes, but lately I’ve been running into a lot of aspiring teachers, and there are a lot of things I wish somebody had told me before I shelled out the money for my education degree.
For the record, if the job market were not so absolutely abysmal for teachers in my region (there is about one open job for every four unemployed teachers), then I would probably still be doggedly pursuing it, but the longer I am out of university and away from that culture, the more I think that maybe it’s not for me. Because I love teaching. I adore it. But teaching is only about 5% of a teacher’s job.
Further info about me, to clarify: I live in Canada, which is mostly similar to the USA in its school system, but there are some differences. I am a certified High School English teacher, but not currently, and possibly not ever, employed in the field.
So if you or a friend are considering going into teaching, you need to ask yourself some of these questions.
1. Are you prepared to work 14-hour days, 7 days a week?
Thanks for the Career Advice
A family friend has a new boyfriend who is in his late 30s, just a few years younger than me. I’ve recently finished my Ph.D. and I’m on the job hunt. Stuck in a one-on-one conversation with this guy he proceeded to tell me:
1). That I just needed to keep putting myself out there, like he had to find his girlfriend. Then he told me a very long account of how he’d been looking for a very specific type of woman for so long, and had various partners, but had only just now finally found the right woman. As though his romantic choices and journey to find a woman were the same as my years struggling through my MA and doctorate. Or as if a tenure-track job is comparable to finding a romantic partner.
2). That if I was so interested in Asia, that I should go and teach ESL. (Which as everyone knows you can do with a BA, or in some areas, without a BA. Obviously I did not get two advanced degrees in a topic other than ESL education in order to teach ESL. Although it’s none of his business, I have done that. And that experience teaching taught me I love teaching but don’t like to teach low-level English conversation.)
3). That I should expand my search parameters. (Uhhhh, I’m applying for everything reasonable and feel rather apologetic to my letter writers as a result).
4). That something must be wrong with my application documents if I really was applying to as many reasonable jobs as existed. (700 applicants per job is bad odds, I don’t think he gets that point.)
5). That I should apply to community colleges. (I have. And museums. And research institutes. And postdocs. And visiting positions. And tenure track. And everything else that I was confident I could do.)
I could go on. Finally I had to just say “I’ve been as patient as I can be with this conversation, I cannot continue to be patient, and I don’t need your advice.”
A double dose of mansplaining.
Right before I defended my PhD several years ago, a rising star of a professor in my discipline came to give a talk to my department. He was still relatively quite young- maybe late 30s or early 40s (so not some old crone from the days when all academics were exclusively white men). As a preamble to the rest of this story: I had interviewed for a position at the university where he had tenure a few short months before he came through to the institution where I was doing my doctorate, but didn’t get the job.
As part of his visit, this professor came to a casual afternoon social gathering with graduate students. We (grad students) all briefly introduced ourselves and stated at what stage of the program we were at. When it came to my turn, I said that I was just finishing up my PhD and was immediately going into a tenure-track job right afterwards (at a different university - a different job from the one I interviewed for at his home institution). As I said this, the guy’s eyes almost bulged out of his head and he said, “So you’re going to be an academic?” As if this was news to him - which it shouldn’t have been, given that he had been on the hiring committee for the job that I had interviewed for at his institution. And then he proceeded to explain how difficult being an academic had been for his wife, who had had to quit her job as a professor “for the sake of their marriage” because it became too much for them to manage two academic careers and simultaneously raise their young child who, he said, generated so much extra laundry!
Afterwards, some of the students who had been in the made their way to our shared lunch room, and one of my friends (female grad student) stated that she was appalled by this professor’s comments to me. Along with another friend (also female), we had a brief exchange about how totally sexist the whole thing had been and that we couldn’t believe that this had come from someone relatively young. One of our male colleagues who had been present and was also in the lunch room let out a deep sigh, rolled his eyes, and told us that we shouldn’t take everything so personally.
So, a double dose of mansplaining. 1. our role is to be laundresses and child-minders, not scholars and educators (because the two categories are apparently mutually exclusive). 2. we shouldn’t take any notice of sexist comments because they’re totally not personal!
Glad we got set straight on both fronts. At least I now know why I didn’t get that job at his institution - which I’m so grateful for, because it means that I don’t have to deal with this guy (who still teaches there) on a daily basis.
Meeting Etiquette for Students: 10 Tips for both School and Work
These are ten simple ideas that will go a long way in making your relationship with your fellow students, professors, co-workers, and employers better. And, they will make you better organized and productive.
1. Bring paper and a pen to every meeting. This is a pet peeve of many, many faculty and employers.
2. Take notes while in meetings. You will not remember everything later.
3. Do not use social media in a meeting. Put away your iPhone and focus on the person or people with whom you are speaking.
4. Dialogue, don’t monologue. When engaging in casual conversation, always be sure to ask about other people’s interests and avoid the trap of talking too much about yourself. Remember, you can learn a lot from others.
5. Whenever possible, schedule meetings through your institution’s shared, online calendar system.
6. Keep meetings productive by having a specific set of items or problems that you would like to discuss.
7. Never leave a meeting without a clear understanding of “next steps”. Make sure to have a clear timeline for the completion of a project.
8. If you do not understand something, ask immediately for clarification.
9. Respectfully listen to other people’s ideas. Even if you disagree, you might learn something. If you like another person’s idea, be sure to let them know.
10. BRING A PAPER AND PEN TO EVERY MEETING!!!
If you have some more suggestions, please add them in the Comments section.