Preparing for the Academic Job Interview #AcJobInterview [Workshop Notes]

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Interview via @phdcomics

Life in Academia: Preparing for the Academic Job Interview
Tenure provides you a secure job for life, but getting a tenure track job is no easy task. How do you present yourself to land a tenure track position in these difficult economic times? Toulouse Graduate School, will share critical information for landing a tenure track job. Come and learn everything you need to secure a tenure track position and a secure future. Topics covered include the tenure track job interview, the research and teaching presentation, and salary negotiation.

My NOTES from today’s workshop.

 

Defending My Dissertation Proposal

Well there you have it. I successfully defended my dissertation proposal to my faculty committee on Tuesday. My proposal represents Chapters 1, 2, & 3 of my dissertation.

This slide deck might give you some insight, but probably not enough to cover my 89-page proposal. Really, this was just a visual to talk about my research plan. From this meeting, I have some helpful notes, comments, and questions to answer before moving forward with my data analysis. After I clean a few things up, I will be sure to detail more about my these chapters, specifically the literature review and research methods.

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Our department also invites other researchers, including students, faculty and visiting scholars, to our dissertation proposal and final dissertation defenses. This open forum style provides other doctoral researchers with ideas and examples for their own research and defense. I have attended a few proposals (and final defenses) before presenting my own. These defenses are great learning opportunities to gain insight and ideas for the doctoral process. During this post defense meeting, I really do appreciate the SUPPORT and FEEDBACK given by my scholarly peers (near and far). Thank you all!

Although it is not the end (just one FINAL defense left), my faculty advisor told me to celebrate. Take heed of important milestones. It is important to recognize steps throughout the doctoral experience since it is a long journey. I am not finished; however my dissertation proposal lays the ground work for Chapter 4: Results and Chapter 5: Discussion, a.k.a. my contract to freedom and to finish my PhD. It’s go time.

The PhD: Troubles Talk… and Moan… and So On

As a PhD candidate, I am trying to be more cognizant  with my response when asked the following (common) questions:

  • “How’s your dissertation going?”
  • “When are you going to finish your PhD ?”
  • “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in ages…”

phd

For those who are also “dissertating” like me, you understand how easy it is to offer a roll of the eyes, smile/nod combo, and “just great” to friends and family. When talking to fellow PhD candidates and scholarly researchers, we seem to be more open to dig right in to slag the our dragging timelines, cry about our progress, complain about our faculty support, identify dissertation distractions, and, of course, whine about the TIME we used or didn’t use productively.

I recently read an article by Dr. Inger Mewburn (a.k.a. The @ThesisWhisperer), who discussed such “troubling talk” among PhD candidates. Often it is the talk of troubles that brings PhD scholars together to form communities  of practice, like a learning network and/or support group. There has been a large growth in online blogging, tweeting, slidesharing, podcasting, and more from PhD and early career researchers. There’s an active online community that supports personal/professional development and sharing of resources.

One section in particular interested me as Inger shared her own experience with the transition from student to professional academic. Specifically Mewburn (2011) discusses how there is evidence to doctorate researchers who interact with one another often whine and encouraged this type of struggling story telling with others, even if they were not having any challenges. In recounting experiences of PhD gatherings and discussion over lunch, Inger identifies with the camaraderie of a shared PhD struggle:

 “The recognition that others were struggling too certainly made me feel better, but at the same time my own role in the talk was strangely discomforting. I realised I was amplifying my writing trouble, making it into a ‘war story’  in order to make it amusing and interesting to others. I wondered: was my performance of an   ‘inept student’  in the kitchen a form of PhD student identity work? By talking about being ‘in trouble’ with my writing, I was positioning myself as ‘one of us’  (a student) and not ‘one of them’  (a professional academic)  which was closer to my lived experience. I began to wonder: did my fellow PhD students ever deliberately perform ‘non competence’  too? It’ s likely that many of them experienced good writing days, but I rarely, if ever, heard about them in the lunch room” (Mewburn, 2011, p. 322).

Which brings me to my own experiences, and thoughts about my PhD progress. Do I keep quiet or join in with the slagging if I am around others who are complaining about the struggle? Do I try to down play my advances in writing and publications with other grad students? Have I told any “war story” to entertain my peers, rather than the reality of my own research progress? It is easy to fall into this, especially when there are funny xckd.com images or brilliant PhDComics.com cartoons. Just posting something like this to get a like, RT, or share from others in my PhD community is commonplace with those of us who claim #GradStudentProblems:

grad student motivation graph

A number of blogs, such as The Thesis WhispererPhD Talk, and PhD2Published; and Twitter hashtag communities, like #phdchat#gradchat, and the @GradHacker community of bloggers/Tweeters, have actually been quite helpful for my PhD progress.  I appreciate theses online communities for sharing ideas, talking about writing resources, offering advice, and linking to research methodology. When thinking about my own approach to “catching up” with my social networks (online and in person), I’ll be sure to not just moan about things. Although I do value my online networks, there’s nothing better than having a bit of a chat with other doctoral students/candidates or researchers when we get a chance to meet up and socialize.

Let’s not just use these social moments to be A.B.M. (always be moaning). As PhD candidates, our lives aren’t THAT bad. We were selected to study and research in a field or discipline we want, and really if it’s not your cup of tea … then maybe it’s time for a change anyways. Much of our PhD negative self-talk or even group-think can stifle research and writing momentum. Sure – there’s going to be issues and challenges; however we need to celebrate the small victories along the way. I know we have more productive and interesting things to talk about when we get together (online or in person), so let’s collectively encourage, motivate, and positively influence each other with our research progress. We CAN do it!

Reference:

Mewburn, I. (2011). Troubling talk: Assembling the PhD candidate. Studies in Continuing Education, 33(3), 321-332)

The Vitae: Brewing Academic Experience for Your CV

A key part of the academic application is the vita. Since I mentioned I’m on the job market, a number of peers have asked me, what does my curriculum vitae (CV) look like? My response – it depends. It depends on the type of position – academic or nonacademic – and the institution. For the most part, I have a standard CV that I tailor for my applications and will update as I review my  academic job search spreadsheet o’ fun this week.

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Besides the cover letter, the vitae is probably the most important document for your academic job search. The vitae provides a detailed, yet distinct, review of your academic experiences and background that is chronological, skill-based, and in a combination of formats.

Viva Vita Java

The CV is a presentation of you on paper (for the most part) that highlights your expertise and development as a scholar. Although the organization resembles a resume, a vitae does not have length restrictions and it focuses on your academic experiences (you may want to include non-academic information if it strengthens your CV, and this information is relevant and specific for your discipline):

A typical CV includes:

  • Your Information (e-mail, address, mobile, website, etc.)
  • Education (undergraduate and graduate school)
  • Dissertation information & faculty advisor (title, expected graduation, if ABD)
  • Areas of research (or teaching) interest
  • Publications – peer-reviewed and relevant non academic publications
  • Grants, honors & awards
  • Teaching scholarship – link to teaching portfolio if applicable
  • Related work experience & positions (academic & non-academic; paid & unpaid)
  • Names of references (phone and email)

Format, style, and visual presentation of the CV is really up to you; however I recommend reviewing vitae examples, and getting other faculty or scholars in your discipline to review it. A few helpful tips on the curriculum vitae from Barnes (2007) includes:

  1. List your publications on the first page – show how you are already contributing to the literature in your discipline.
  2. Separate academic from nonacademic publications – distinguish between peer-reviewed articles, book reviews, & nonacademic publications.
  3. Separate publications from presentations – differentiate writing from teaching.
  4. Provide lists in chronological order – most recent first and move backward in time for easy reading & review.
  5. Include works in progress – identify if it is in review, accepted, and dates.
  6. Avoid filler – be confident and concise in your details.
  7. Include honors and grants immediately following publications – introduce most recent achievements & that you are able to acquire funding sources.
  8. Include related and nontraditional employment – consider the position and what experiences are relevant for your applications, perhaps you should industry, university administrative role(s) on your CV.
  9. Include postdoctoral experiences in the “education” section of the vita.
  10. Include service-related experiences – leadership role in a department, committee work or organized a conference helps to make you look like a more rounded candidate.

Format and style for your CV is a personal choice. You may wish to organize your CV differently for research-focused vs. teaching institutions vs. nonacademic roles vs. positions. There are a number vitae examples to review herehere, here, and here. I would also recommend looking at faculty profile pages for vita examples at the departments/institution you are applying to, and be sure to review CVs from scholars whose work you follow in your field. More often than not, CVs examples are posted online (pros & cons of this) and shared – as it also shares academic scholarship and experiences.

Ask your faculty advisor, current faculty, and respected researchers for advice. Many would be happy to support your academic search, and gladly review your CV — plus a few may want to have a copy of this document if they will serve as your reference. Get support with editing and fine tuning your vitae. Another set of eyes, and feedback from an outside perspective will help you improve your CV.  Good luck with your applications — I’m off to edit and update my own.

Reference:

Barnes, S. L. (2007). On the market: Strategies for a successful academic job search. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

#AcWriMo Peer Pressure: Time, Challenge/Support & Cheerleaders

As many of you know, I signed up and successfully completed my first UNT Eagle Dissertation/Thesis Boot Camp over that past few days. What did I accomplish? (you might ask). Here is my summary, in a tweet:

The boot camp structure helped me find time, space (physically & mentally), and support to dedicate 3 FULL DAYS of just writing and research for my dissertation. Dr. Oppong and the Toulouse Graduate School provided the group of doctoral students with advice on the PhD process, motivation, meals, and, of course, COFFEE! Boot camp let me be selfish with my time and required me to just SHUT UP AND WRITE my dissertation.

Shut Up & Write #AcWriMo Start of Dissertation Boot Camp

During the camp, I purposefully unplugged from all social streams, e-mail, phone, etc. Unless you were my faculty advisor,  my friend Paeng from our COI research lab, or my partner-in-crime - you probably did not hear from me much.

Similar to #AcWriMo November 2013, this boot camp included goal setting and accountability with our writing progress. Here’s my self-evaluation from camp:
Boot camp sel-evaluation. #acwrimo #phdchat #latergram

My main purpose for this boot camp was to finish my dissertation proposal for my committee to review. Essentially the dissertation proposal consists of Chapter 1 (Summary), 2 (Literature Review) & 3 (Methodology) for my final dissertation. Want to learn more about this writing process? Check out SAGE’s new resource: Do You Understand What is Required in a Doctoral Dissertation or Thesis? [PDF]

I managed to get most of these beginning chapters drafted, and have them loosely reviewed by my faculty advisor. I also put my writing drafts into the official UNT Dissertation format, and identified areas I need to edit and add to. I plan on using December to meet with a few faculty members to review my research methodology (the recipe for research), and then I will work with my faculty advisor to set up a time for my dissertation committee gather for review in early 2014.

Overall, this boot camp was a great experience, and I am quite pleased with my progress. I think that agraphia groups and writing support programs are invaluable for doctoral students. Events like this offer peer pressure, social support, and, most importantly, TIME for writing. I would like to attend the next UNT boot camp in February to write up Chapter 4 (Data Collection, Analysis, & Findings) and Chapter 5 (Conclusions) in the Spring.

Thanks for the challenge & support from the following tweeps: #AcWriMo writersinstigator of research ideas, and especially those of you who cheered me on. Always be writing…

Your Higher Ed Website + Search: “Social Media Guidelines” or “Social Media Policy” = A Database for My Dissertation Research

Yes. I know that this may be my  LONGEST blog post title ever. I created it for one reason. It is the equation which will help me move my research forward for my dissertation.

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You may recall a previous request for this from an earlier blog post: Gathering #SocialMedia Guidelines from #HigherEd. So, basically what I’m saying is…

I NEED YOUR HELP! => Submit Your Social Media Guidance Please!

My dissertation research methodology (good ol’ Chapter 3) will involve text mining analysis for reviewing all these many social media guidelines (policies, strategies, beliefs, regulations, etc. included) I am gathering right now. The caveat for this type of research is –  I need to build a large enough database of documents to examine and evaluate. BONUS: After collecting all of these documents, I will share this Social Media Guidance database AND my research findings for you here: http://socialmediaguidance.wordpress.com/

As of today (4:30 pm CT), I have collected approximately 176 Social Media Guidance documents from 13 different countries. Hoo-ray!

Check to see if your institution is listed below, and if it is not – please SEARCH YOUR COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY WEBSITE to see if you might just happen to have social media guidelines, a policy, a directory, and/or anything that might be related to social media. Thank you!

I’m “On the [Job] Market”: The Application Process

As academic job postings and other employment opportunities are becoming available, I decided it was time to prepare my own application materials and announce that I’m ON THE JOB MARKET. It should be no surprise to many as I am ABD (not a title), and I have been diligently working on my dissertation— so there is really no better time for a job search.

Well I was going to save this for holiday reading...but it looks like I'm On The Market NOW #phdchat I’ll be honest. I’m quite accustomed to the thrill of the job hunt (I am in my 3rd position of employment, since I have moved to Texas 5 years ago); however the academic job search has upped the ante. My future career planning involves a potential re-location (either in the US or abroad) and new career beginnings (either as a junior faculty member, research or other), which means this job search and application process is being treated like a job itself.

To prepare for my job search and career planning…

I have been talking to many researchers in the field, administrators in higher education, companies who seek my support, current faculty (off and on campus), mentors, and peers over the past year [Thank you for these discussions and talks - you know who you are]. More than not, many are quite open to offer advice, share professional experiences, edit my application materials, provide a reference, or send potential job postings my way (hint, hint). In my spare time, I have been reading Barnes’ (2007) “On the Market: Strategies for a Successful Academic Job Search,” specifically,  Chapter 4: The Application Process. This section of the book includes great questions to ask and think about before the application process, and examples of deciphering what academic job postings mean to decide what I want. Here are some current, pre-application questions I am currently pondering:

  • What type of position am I most interested in?
  • What sort of institution or organization do I want to work for?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • Do I want to apply for administrative or faculty track positions?
  • Who will write my reference letters?
  • Will my academic search focus on research or teaching institutions?
  • What is my best academic “fit” for department?
  • Do I want to look beyond higher education & academia?
  • Who will I connect to discussion the application process?
  • What is my timeline and schedule for applications?
  • How will I best organize a joint career search with my partner in crime?

Fortunately, most of my academic application requirements are “works in progress” from my doctoral program and portfolio requirements (Thanks #untLT department!) these past few years. My current objectives are to edit and prepare materials I have for my academic job search and application, including:

  1. Cover Letter
  2. Curriculum Vita
  3. Letters of Recommendation
  4. Writing Samples and Other Supporting Documents
  5. Teaching Portfolio (Dossier)
  6. Social Media Spaces & Places
  7. Application Schedule – to track applications & submissions

This chapter also includes helpful templates for CV’s and cover letter formats. I plan on re-tooling and modifying my current application materials based on position type and job description, so a review of these examples were helpful. Here are a few suggestions for cover letter writing items to include – 17 elements for the academic cover letter:

17 elements of the academic cover letter. #phdchat

Do you have academic job search advice? Tips on the application process? Considerations for the academic research and faculty positions? Potential openings I might be interested at your institution? Let me know. Academic job search advice is welcome.

 

Reference:

Barnes, S. L. (2007). On the market: Strategies for a successful academic job search. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

#et4online What Happens In Vegas, Should be Blogged

Much to my surprise, my first visit to Sin City was less about the bright lights, gambling, or trouble I could cause…and more about innovative ideas and collective sharing for learning technologies. This is what happens when you attend the 6th Annual International Symposium on Emerging Technologies for Online Learning (#et4online).

Waiting for my flight to #et4online

In returning from the #et4online conference, I think that there are a number of great conversations, thoughts, and questions I am left with. So, fortunately for my readers, what happens at an #et4online conference in Las Vegas, will NOT stay in Vegas.

Here are a few #et4online conference highlights, notes & tweets (I am not alone – as I know @tjoosten does this as well):

  1. Location Location Location – Kudos for the Planet Hollywood site. Easy to get around, wifi access was great, it was the middle of the strip & close to some great restaurants, and, most importantly, Rex Manning from Empire Records looked over me while I sleep. What more could a gal want?
  2. #EdTechCareer Forum Round Tables - This was the 1st year to start this initiative; however we had a decent turn out and more importantly conversation with our facilitators @amcollier @veletsianos@tjoosten, @whitneykilgore, Kevin Grazino & Rachel Salas-Didier. Thank you to the emerging scholars and career-seekers who stopped by to talk about direction in the field, finding passion, planning for career applications, and more around the job search and career development we have in the #edtech field.
  3. Keynote: What’s That Coming Over the Hill? Digital Futures, Emerging Cultures, New Learning c/o @timbuckteeth This chat had a malay of ideas and experiences for connected learning and pedagogy. Unfortunately Steve had to return back to #PELC13 back in Plymouth, otherwise it would have been great to pick his brain about e-learning more.  Here are a few notes myself & others took via Twitter from his talk.
  4. Plenary: Seven Tales of Learning Online with Emerging Technologies with @veletsianos I like how George shared his learning experiences as a student, researcher, and instructor to help us look critically and realistically at how we are using emerging technologies in education. Here are a few collected tweets from the talk.
  5. The Launch Pad: What a great way to show case Ed Tech start ups, and provide an space in the conference to discuss how educators/developers can work together and collaborate to pilot these initiatives. It was great to connect with Lida & Scott from @Ginkgotree after our BreakDrink.com podcast last October to demo the product. Great to hang out & hopefully we’ll connect again in MI soon!
  6. Discussion & Dialogues of Education Is and Is Not - Specifically what is broken or needs to be fixed, and the reality of this statement. I appreciate how George Veletsianos engages in this more on his blog post, and chat with Amy Collier encouraged me more to think about the change, challenges, and issues being labeled in higher education and for online learning.
  7. #UNet4online: Open Space Technology - These sessions were threaded throughout the conference program and facilitated by Jennifer Ross (@jar) to encourage conversations and idea-swapping for online learning. I was able to attend one on April 10th and the final one on April 11th. I appreciated the  free space to challenge, ask questions, brainstorm, and share ideas/practices with peers. Shout out to the #unet4online tweeps: @amcollier ,@rasebastian, @veletsianos@KavuBob, @jleung81, @g4m, @johnrturnerhpt, @jar@hollyrae, @desertjul & @markjwlee who joined in on various unconference conversations. We were able to  talk about valuable ideas for learning including distributed flip educational models (not.a.MOOC),  higher education organizational design/culture, and ownership in education. Want to learn more? Check out the fantastic post on the (f)unconference from Amy Collier or my rough Google doc notes.
  8. Getting Social  - For me, this is why you attend a conference. I love connecting with others and learning how they are working with students, researching ideas, and just having some great banter. I am glad I got some quality time with @amcollier, catch up time with @tjoosten & @veletsianos, and hang time with new friends, such as @jar @dwicksspu & @kavubob. For those of you who were social [media] online – it was nice to connect via the #et4online hashtag. Let’s continue the conversation.

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Thanks to David Wicks (@dwicksspu) for inviting me to join the #et4online conference steering committee. I look forward to 2014 #et4online planning in Dallas, TX. Giddy up! For those of you who are going to Summerfest & #Blend13 - I will see you in July. :)

#sxswEDU: Thoughts, Reflections & Then Some…

Time sure flies when you’re conferencing, volunteering and travelling… so my thoughts on South By South West Edu (#sxswEDU), are delayed by exactly 2 weeks. My bad.

Due to my love of Austin and enjoyment of SXSW, I thought SXSW Edu would be a great conference to engage with other educators and expand professionally. There were a number of things I liked – such as being on public transit, new perspectives on learning, and connecting with tweeps (Shout out to: @tjoosten, @gsiemens, @veletsianos@audreywatters & more #iamEDU friends!). I also appreciated the lively banter our Social Media in Higher Ed (#smHE) panel had on the topic, and the great follow up conversations with other instructors, practitioners, and researchers. 

Essentially, I got what I wanted out of the #sxswEDu conference – connect, social, interact and learn. I sort of expected something else from this conference, specifically with regards to the education (K-12 and Higher Ed) involvement. I was a bit disappointed to see that the Panel Picker selected more sessions with industry, rather than any educators. It was odd. I was not alone in noticing the tensions were felt between the industry and educationWhy were the instructors, teachers, principals, faculty, higher education professionals, and educational administrators not sitting in these #sxswEDU seats?

Let's get ready to MOOC-off! Where art thou @gsiemens?

Although the education presence was not the “sage on the stage” approach, I am glad I was present to listen to what industry and technology leaders think the “future of learning” will be. I know that many of these sessions were challenged and talked about outside the formal #sxswEDU program, and I was curious as to how other educators interpreted the conference message(s). 

One thing that was very noticeable = the repetitive rhetoric being shared from room to room. To mix it up I, jokingly, initiated the  #SXSWedu Terms to Know, Use, Love & Hate Google doc to note the key words, terms or phrases I heard at the conference. Some might say I was being jaded (*cough* Siemens *cough*), but really I was just having fun with the common language of the conference. After curating this list, I decided to create a game (…which had multiple players, I might add): 

#sxswEDU BINGO Card #3

Note: Another suggestion was to draft a blog post with the complete list of terms. I decided to respectfully decline said challenge; however I will stay alert to the language and context of these words. It’s not a bad idea to keep your ears open and listen every once in a while… Thanks for reminding me of that #sxswEDU.

Finding a Research “Home” with #SocioTech at #iConf13

As a College of Information student, the learning technology department compliments a number of research areas emphasized within our iSchool and at the 2013 iConference. Andrew Miller (@findandrew), Leila Mills, Mark Evans and I proudly represented UNT as one of the 12 finalists for the Social Media Expo hosted by FUSE Labs of Microsoft Research at the iConference this year. After conducting our ethnographic study on the Denton Local Food System (LFS), we submitted a research paper, video, poster, and created an online space for the LFS community to share information, house knowledge and connect to local happenings within the community at FeedDenton.org.
#iConf13 Social Media Expo Finalists
  Social Media Expo poster @ 2013 iConference (#iConf13) with @findandrew

What I enjoyed most about attending the conference was the refreshing opportunities to engage about research methodology and conceptual frameworks that apply to my scholarly interests. It felt like I was coming “home” when talking shop with various academics and graduate students during the conference. The best part might have been the pre-conference session:  SocioTechnical Systems Research workshop (#CNFWSP2). This is where I was able to connect to other #sociotech researchers, and learn more about areas of inquiry coming out of the iSchools and various disciplines.

The pre-conference was a full day o’ fun that housed various speakers, discussions, and sharing of directions in socio-technical research, including

  • critical study and comparative study
  • considerations for multi-scale ethnographic research
  • artifacts that change communication in organizations
  • impacts of human and non-human delegation
  • shifts from visible to invisible networks (part of ANT)
  • organization as a constant communication
  • sustainable information practices
  • action-based research for informatic improvement
  • participation, community resilience, plurality, design

Later in the day, Steve Sawyer, conducted a master class to present various sociotechnical systems (STS) perspectives, which drew upon theories from Actor-Network to social construction. Everything is relational as new forms of social organization is occurring with new technical arrangements all around us. We talked about #sociotech in practice, specifically how to situate the phenomena (conceptual & empirical framing) and conceptualize sociotechnical systems (identify characteristics of the social, technical and interactions) by looking at this STS conceptual space mapping from Steve.

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This post is just the tip of the iceberg, as I have a number of notes, ideas, references, and research peers to turn to thanks to this workshop. I was not surprised to run into some of the #sociotech usual suspects in #iConf13 sessions such local communities, learning environments, or ethnographic studies of online communities. I appreciated the comments and dialogues brought to both the paper and notes sessions (I preferred the workshop space in the notes session better), and I am motivated to dig back into my own research and dissertation grind.

Want to read more about the 2013 iConference proceedings or connect to a few sociotechs? Here you go:

 

Reference:

Miller, A. J., Pasquini, L. A., Mills, L. A., & Evans, M. (2013). Towards a methodology of virtually augmenting a knowledge sharing community of practice: A case study of the local food system of Denton, Texas. iConference 2013 Proceedings (pp. 1095-1101). doi:10.9776/13527