Saturday, April 23, 2011

Practical Program

Yesterday, I went to the annual find a job workshop that my department puts on.  They started this my second year in the program, and the how to find a job part starts with things to do your first year in graduate school, and finishes with advice on how to negotiate your offer.  It's pretty comprehensive, and something that I quite honestly took for granted until I met students from other schools on the job market who are not in such a practical program.  There was nothing in the talk you couldn't get from talking to candidates/hirers (or reading academic blogs) but it's nice to feel like the program thinks this is important information as well.

There are other useful things my program does as well.  In one of my classes I had to write a teaching philosophy, in another a grant application.  Both instructors said that one reason we had to do this was that it would be helpful in the future.  I've used my teaching philosophy to apply for summer jobs, and my grant application was the one that got me the fellowship that funded my dissertation (well, as least until they totally screwed me over).

Instead of comprehensive exams, we write two papers, which are supposed to be of publishable quality, and not necessarily related to our dissertation topic (usually one is, one isn't).  When we submit them to two faculty readers, we have to state the journal we intend to submit them to afterwards.  Like a journal, the faculty readers can give reject, revise and resubmit, or accept.  Once the faculty approve, we submit to the actual journal (or they sometimes recommend another journal).  All in all, this has helped a lot of us (myself included, the paper I just published was my first one of these papers, and the second one is submitted with fingers crossed) get published before we go on the job market.

Now, I know plenty of people in more traditional programs who get grants, publications, and jobs without this sort of help.  However, I really appreciate the support I get from my program, because I think that even if I might have done these things otherwise, the system has helped me a lot.

1 comment:

  1. Our comprehensive exams for the Masters were very broad, with a huge reading list, which I though was a good idea because in Spanish they will mostly be looking for generalists. In the PhD, some faculty were looking to implement something like what you comment of your comprehensive, but they were shut down and we are still doing each member of the committee gives you a question and you have exactly 24 hours to answer it. A waste of time.