Undergraduate Teaching; Job search, how and where to begin!

 In PhD/Postdoc Blog

By now if you have decided to choose a career in undergraduate teaching, whether you are a doctoral or postdoctoral student your ultimate aim is to find a faculty position in the field of your expertise. Although some institutions do consider fresh graduates for new teaching positions, a few years of postdoctoral experience is almost always preferred. So far, we know that most institutions offer teaching opportunities for graduate students and postdocs, which are like stepping stones towards a teaching career.  The big question is…”where and how does the actual search begin?” Have no fear readers, I am here to help.

 

JOB PORTALS:

 

These are the websites for potential candidates to find and fill available job vacancies. Most job portals are diverse and offer a broad range of jobs in a number of fields including academia. I have found a few of them are specially designed for jobs in higher education (e.g., Higheredjobs, The Chronicle of Higher Education, etc.). These websites not only filter job vacancies according to the field of interest but also to geographical location, in case you are committed to a particular area. For more details about what job websites work read Erin’s recent postdoc blog.

 

Let’s say that you found a job that suits your credentials and your interest, what next. In my previous blog, I already talked about the requirements of a job application, which means having your portfolio ready and customize it according to the requirements of the listed job. Piece of advice; try to apply at the earliest time possible; the sooner the better. Once you have applied for the job it is time to search again.

 

JOB RE-SEARCH:

 

While you have thoroughly looked into the requirement for the job, but you might not have thoroughly vetted the school or the department you will be working. Academic institutions have a mission and vision statement, and are looking for candidates that will work towards that direction. You need to know how you can align your career goals with the institutional mission. Individual departments have vision statements too and you must know about the one you are applying to be part of. Interviewers often ask for your comments on these statements so be ready and don’t fiddle with the papers during the (phone) interview. Yes, if you are lucky to cross that first barrier and get shortlisted, know that first interview will mostly likely be on the phone or on skype. They have read your papers and now they want to hear it from you.

 

JOB INTERVIEW:

 

There are a lot of online resources available about the type of questions asked in specific types of job interviews. Minimize your search to academic job interviews and according to the institution you are applying (e.g., primarily undergraduate institute or a research-intensive institute). Print the list of questions, try to filter the ones you think are more likely to be asked and practice, practice, practice. Ask your spouse or a friend to sit with you and do practice interviews. For one of my interviews, I actually sat down with my mentor who came with a set of questions and we had a mock interview. It not only gets you ready to face the questions, but also helps you overcome the fear of facing the unknown. Don’t have anyone to help you? Try Facebook live or just recording yourself; that adds extra pressure and will help you be able to answer questions even though you might be nervous.

If you know who will be interviewing you, research their field of expertise, publications, and contributions. While discussing your research goals you can easily talk about collaborations with the faculty if you know their area and can connect your future work with their current work. Employers stress a lot about your social skills, which includes your interactions with other faculty and this is the best way to shine in that skill.

 

For more helpful tips for about the job search and the application process, I recommend reading Five Reasons Why You Keep Getting Rejected by Justin Zackal. Zackal’s article was featured in HigherEdJobs (my favorite job portal). In addition to job postings, HigherEdJobs also have blogs and podcasts to help you at every step of your career. If you have found your destination is …, they will help you in your journey. Remember the best efforts must come from you because you are the one who has to talk the talk and walk the walk.

 

Best of luck for your future job search and find. If you have any questions feel free to reach me at irfanamuqbil@wayne.edu.

 

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