Mod 2 - Academic PG feedback - Gillmore 12-14-11

Mod 2 - Academic PG feedback - Gillmore 12-14-11

From: Jason G. Gillmore []
Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 5:29 PM
To: Jodi Wesemann
Subject: RE: ACS Career Pathways - Academic Track

Hi Jodi,

Actually getting to this during daylight hours Wednesday!  Just a few thoughts to emphasize what I shared on the conference call Monday and point out a few other minor items.

1)  I appreciated the more explicitly interactive Program Guide, and the tighter focus and streamlining based on the narrowed objectives.

2)  I have some concerns of the streamlining actually stripping out some of the "what its like" details of life in academia that are at the heart of Objective I.A.  re: discerning if academia (and type of institution) fits skills/interests/abilities/calling.
- Personally I think we should include some words of wisdom and encouragement from folks at the end of their first year or two in a tenure track position. 
- We might also include a handful of "describe your job" paragraphs from folks in alternative tracks within academia.
- We can also expand upon the bullet points at the vertices of the Teaching/Research/Service triangle.  Give a TASTE for the first few years - securing and comparing offers, negotiating, getting a group started, teaching a course for the first time, learning about and implementing pedagogies of engagement, grantsmanship, collegiality, what service is appropriate at what points in a career, etc.  (Having a sense of these things will help participants discern if academia is a good fit, discriminate between different types of institutions, and also provide important topics for conversation that display some savvy and understanding in interviews.)
- The goal isn't to prep them to negotiate multiple offeres, succeed in year 1, get grants, adopt new pedagogies, get tenure, or whatever.  But it is to get them to think about what they don't know and can learn about to (a) discern if academia or a specific type of institution is a good fit, and (b) give them "hot topics" or "points of interest" they can learn about to better craft/tailor their applications and/or be more savvy interviewers.

3)  Reorganizing the T/R/S expectations not by institution type but by expectation will help with both discerning what the job is like AND keeping all participants engaged in all slides. 
- One idea: give a slide about research (what's involved in "research" as a PI is different than what's involved as a postdoc!), then a slide about how expectations vary among institution types; then a similar pair on teaching and a third pair on service. 
- But continue to use those triangle diagrams as a recap - I love them!
- I do NOT care so much for the "Job Responsibilities and Type of Institution" Table - #s for teaching are high if you mean classroom contact hours, but low if you mean hours spent in prep/teaching/grading/office hours; #s for publications and grant dollars seem low for R1s and possibly high (or a wider range needed) for PUIs.  Giving this more space in a slide (each) about how research/teaching/service expectations vary among and across institution types would be more informative and accurate.
- The What Counts in Post Secondary Hiring slide is a useful snapshot to augment this discssion when explained sufficiently, but as a standalone (which is what gets taken home) it is awful - #s without units are meaningless.  While its current location does fit, it might streamline to move this back up nearer the triangle diagrams/job descriptions.

4)  Perhaps a bit too much on preparing paper application still.  Ok as is, but this is where I'd cut if cuts need to be made.

5)  Can also trim the # of slides re: postdocs.  Most 2nd year grad students and beyond should know quite a bit about this and many participants will actually be in postdocs.

6)  I'd reorder "making myself more competitive".  Start with the postdoc.  For most positions outside 2YCs it is all but mandatory (not sure where you dug up a job ad accepting ABDs!)  Start there with "is it necessary?" and give a qualified yes, followed by what you get out of it.  Then give the others as "what can I do to augment" (including highlighting the idea that "low impact" exposures to SOME teaching / mentoring / leadership experience beyond TAing a lab will be very beneficial without compromising the research productivity/publication record that is essential for most non-2YC jobs) or "alternatives to a straight research postdoc" with the caveat that some meaningful research productivity post-PhD is probably mandatory for at least half of PUIs and nearly all MS or PhD granting institutions, or "post-post-doc options if you don't land a tenure-track job".

7)  You need at least one good slide on "the academic interview" (or two, since 2YCs and for profits are very different from all other 4+yr institutions) as these interviews are quite a bit different than those in any other sector.  This could also include an overview of the academic hiring timeline (which unlike other sectors is quite "fixed" and "annual", and extends over many months.)

😎  Need hard data for "trends/outlook" (I thought the virtual session on "Academic Jobs Outlook" from the Fall Natl Mtg on which Christine was a panelist was definitely "mis-titled" in that regard); if that data is thin or absent, then this section could also be fleshed out with "issues to be aware of" re: hiring, tenure-track v. non-TT, FT/PT, instructor positions with more teaching but no research (and backlash or issues that arise from that, etc., even if the actual "trends" or "outlook" aren't clear, as long as the section is named appropriately.  We discussed this more articulately on the phone than I am doing this justice here.

This is headed in the right direction, but there is definitely work to be done before this is ready for beta-testing!

Best wishes for a merry Christmas and some refreshing downtime over the holidays as much as you can manage given your deadlines.  I will have very limited accessibility 12/16-1/2, especially 12/17-12/27, but will do what I can from the road in the limited time I will have if you need me.



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