Posts about the work you’ll find in higher ed, including lines of work for academics, work skills for academics, informational interviews, and profiles of people who do that work.

Keep Failing Forward

When it comes to failing, where do you tend to assign blame? Knowing academics, I’m guessing that you tend to blame yourself (because often that’s true).

Let’s take a concrete example. Let’s say you are competing for a job that you really want. You put forth the effort to write a strong cover letter and tailor your resume. You get a call for a phone interview. You start to accept that this might really happen. You get an in-person interview. You give a great interview. You are charming, you’re personable, you have strong answers prepared, and you’re sensing that the committee liked you. After you leave, you start thinking that “this could be it! I might finally get the job I deserve!” You even start to publicly tell your references and circle that you did really well, and you are waiting for an offer any minute.

And then, you get the rejection email.

What’s your reaction?

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Are We In For a Recession? What does that Mean for your Job Search?

I am not an economist. And my crystal ball is permanently broken. But judging by an uptick in anxiety, stress, and a heightened sense of “oh, crap! I NEED to land a new job before a recession” in my inbox, it seems like all the news that a recession may be coming are taking their toll.

Again – I’ll repeat – I know NOTHING and am in no way qualified to talk about whether a recession is coming. I strongly urge you to defer to real experts in the economy. Who can tell you far better than I can whether we’re headed for a recession. Who know what on earth a yield curve is or why it’s inversion matters.

But I do have

  • emails from 2 folks saying their team is getting the axe (Layoffs)
  • loads of requests from folks looking for a new job – for all kinds of reasons. But a big theme seems to be “my workload is overwhelming me. My employer isn’t doing ANYTHING to reduce it!” which sounds to me like their employers are scaling back on hiring.
  • email from people who have been looking for a while (3+ months) and are getting more worried & discouraged (sigh! I feel ya! )

So what’s my inbox like? Should I job hunt before a recession hits? Do I just take the first offer that comes along, presuming it’s going to get rougher? Is there any point keeping up a job hunt during a recession?

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Bite-Sized Career Development

In my day job, I manage professional development programs. And in that field the trend has moved to offering bite-sized training. Appetizers, if you will. Rather than committing someone to a full three-course meal (or more!) of training, we know adults learn best when single-tasked and focused, and in smaller chunks, particularly as we get bombarded with more and more information.

This applies really well to graduate school training too.

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Campus Jobs as Graduate Assistantships Lead to Better Outcomes

One of the foremost thinkers in how we can overhaul the graduate school experience to address career planning is Leonard Cassuto. In addition to his excellent book The Graduate School Mess (which should be required reading for anyone interested in the topic), he also writes a series for the Chronicle of Higher Education called the Graduate Adviser. His latest post, “Outcomes-based Graduate School: The Humanities Edition” illustrates how one university – Lehigh – tackled overhauling its graduate curriculum in English.

There’s several things to note in how they went about this.

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Office Optics: Make a Great First Impression at a New Job

A theme of my week seems to be office optics. You know, how things look, how you are perceived by others.

Has anyone ever stopped by your desk to say: “Where is [your neighbor]?” and you don’t know, haven’t seen them in an hour or so, and there’s nothing on their calendar? Bad optics. What about the working parent who CC’s the whole team – and not just the boss – to say “My daycare just called, baby has a fever, I have to go get them. I’ll be taking the rest of the day off”? Good optics! Be transparent. It goes a long way.

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Finally, Some Transparency in Pay in Museums

Last week, museum workers started a Google sheet to share Art/Museum Salary Transparency. HOORAY! The transparency of salaries and UNequal pay has certainly gotten more attention lately, from the US women’s soccer team lawsuit to actress Michelle Williams coming forward to share how VERY little she got paid last year to women in all kinds of industries – including higher ed– demanding faster action. One of the best ways to get better pay for all (a rising tide lifts all boats, folks!) is for all of us to be more transparent about pay. So I’m glad to see that someone the Philadelphia Museum of Art staff have kicked this off.

Museums have never been known for paying well. 🤣

But it’s never going to get even marginally better if workers have no clue how their pay is or is not comparable to that of their colleagues. And advocating for better pay industry-wide takes an effort of this scale, so that anyone can see how bad the pay is.

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