Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Advice for grad students and post docs seeking tenure track positions

I came across this blog today, and although it is a little bit depressing (there are only so many tenure-track positions to go around!), I think there is good advice within. In particular, note that every single postdoc interviewed for the blog stressed the importance of publications and perseverance.

This blog also led me to the following two articles with advice for graduate school and beyond. The second is much less cynical than the first, but they both contain good advice and food for thought. I especially like Huey's assertion (in the second article) that "Contrary to widespread opinion, writing and publishing can be fun. More important, the process of writing is a positive learning experience - my understanding of my own research is invariably enhanced while developing a paper or grant proposal." Sure, writing is hard work, but in the end, it gives your research context and meaning for an audience beyond your graduate committee.

I am often asked, how did I end up in a tenure-track position? Of course, there were many contributing factors. But, I can highlight two key points: (1) I was no superstar, but I had a respectable publication list (about 10) from my PhD and postdoc. (2) The job was just the right fit - my research experiences meant I could teach the specialty upper division classes that needed to be taught, and I could perform research in a relevant field that complimented the research interests of other faculty. I didn't find that "perfect fit" right away, but kept looking anyway. So, the blogs above were right: (1) publications and (2) perseverance got me to where I am today.

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