Archive for January, 2015

The Bus Stop

January 21 2015

Today I had a rather interesting experience waiting for the bus.  (I usually bike from my car to my office, but I brought in my electric tea kettle today, so I decided to take the bus).

A woman waiting for the bus comments that it is always late (I think — not my experience, it’s always very punctual … but then again, I usually don’t take it).  Trying to make conversation, I ask why the route has changed.  She explains that it is because so many people are taking it (again, not my experience), so they needed to start using bigger buses.  She then comments that it doesn’t seem like the buses are bigger though.  (what do I know about this one?)  She made some comment about how bad the traffic is and how she hates waiting for the bus and then waiting in traffic.  Again, this is not my experience.

For a few minutes, I was perplexed.  I think she was trying to be nice and make conversation, but everything just came across so negative.  And, I think this happens a lot when we have casual conversations with strangers.  For some reason, it’s easier to complain or to say something negative than it is to say something positive.  I wonder if I ever come across so negative … I hope not, but I’ll think twice about complaining about the weather next time it’s “almost” freezing outside.

First Official Rejection Letter

January 12 2015

Mid-December, I finished applying to faculty positions (well, for the most part … there might be one or two more applications I submit).  The academic job market “calendar” is as follows:

  1. Deadlines for submitting applications: September through February.  Some schools have a “soft” deadline followed by a “hard” deadline, with only one of those dates really posted.  The application consists of a CV, a research statement, and a teaching statement.  Some schools additionally require a “diversity statement” or a list of publications (which is a subset of your CV, so why can’t they just look at that?)  I also submitted a cover letter for every school (not mandatory, but probably expected).  I spent about 1 hour to write each cover letter.  The most important document in this application is the CV, but the one I spent the most time on was my research statement.
  2. The phone and/or Skype screening: December through February.  Of all of their applications (in the hundreds), they select a few to be phone interviewed.  I’m not sure what the exact numbers are, but I think each school may phone screen maybe 5 – 25 applicants.
  3. The on-site: Jan/Feb through April-ish? You go there, give a talk, and meet with people.  Some schools only let you get to this stage if they really really like you (inviting only one or two per open position), and at others, you are still in a rather large pool (10 on-sites with one offer).
  4. Offers are made shortly after all on-sites, and they pretty much expect an answer right away (or, so is the experience of people I know).

Note the overlap and large time windows.  Oh, and the schools that aren’t interested … they usually don’t even let you know.

Back to the purpose of the post: today, I received my first rejection letter.  But, I take this as a good sign for two reasons (1) In this particular department, I ranked among the top 125 of the 539 applicants.  (2) this means that schools are starting to make decisions about whom they want to interview.