Anyone out there flipping through the online or "wired" version of the Chronicle of Higher Education lately? It is filled with advice columns each week (and sometimes daily). The weekly paper version is too. Articles can be found on completing dissertations, writing and modifying resumes, applying for jobs, job interviewing techniques, midcareer mentoring, when and how to give notice that one is leaving for another place, departing or retiring from academic life, and so on. There is so much advice out there, my head is spinning.
The past 6 or 7 weeks have given us all ample stuff to read about life as an academic in between grading papers, serving on committees, and conducting research. Given that we had "Arab Spring" last year (see this interactive timeline of Arab spring from the Guardian), I think we should name the spring of 2012, "Chronicle Spring." There sure is a plethora of career advice and mentoring articles coming from the online Chronicle of Higher Education the past month or two to support that notion. Listed below are a few such articles; most of these are from the past couple of weeks, but all are less than two months old.
Ten Sample "Chronicle Spring" Articles:
1. My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Dissertation, April 8, 2012, Rachel Herrmann, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
(Note: The essence of the above article--get done! Few people write dissertations that change the world. As I said, get done! I tell my students the same thing. Sure, 1 or 2 doc students in 10 (at most...more like 1 in 20 or 1 in 100) will come up with a fantastic new model, theory, instrument, research method, etc. But the vast majority will not. Most of them, however, will provide useful insights into some topic area and nudge their chosen field ahead a bit, but their work will not be of the earth-shattering variety that is reported in Time, Nature, or Washington Post.)
2. Midcareer Mentoring, Part 1, March 19, 2012, Female Science Professor, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
3. Midcareer Mentoring, Part 2, April 16, 2012, Female Science Professor, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
(Note: During the past week or two, I have shared the above two articles on "midcareer mentoring" with many friends and colleagues who recently obtained tenure and many of them quickly returned notes of thanks. Apparently, this article about strikes a chord with people as they think about whether it is time to leave their current institution or organization or perhaps to stay and perhaps retool with a sabbatical.)
4. Why I Tossed Your Résumé, April 17, 2012, Brent Miller, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
(Note: This article has some quick comments on why your resume may be tossed from the pile of applications into the nearest bin as well as an insight or two or how to get one's resume/CV noticed and perhaps get the job. It is personally funny and touching in parts since I have experienced many of the things mentioned when on search committees in the past.)
5. Graduate Schools Need to Improve Career Counseling, Report Says, April 19, 2012, By Stacey Patton, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
(Note: According to this article, "the number of jobs requiring a master's degree will increase by 22 percent over the next eight years, and the number of jobs requiring a doctorate or professional degree will increase by 20 percent." However, there is limited career counseling for graduate students about their respective job options. This lack of help on career pathways and options could be a reason that these advice and mentoring articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education are so popular today.)
6. The End of the Affair (about the pain of turning down a job offer), April 18, 2012, George David Clark, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
(Note: This is a short article that has also struck a chord with friends of mine who had difficulty accepting one offer over another.)
7. You Will Not Reject Me. I Will Reject Me, April 17, 2012, Allison M. Vaillancourt, The Chronicle of Highe Education.
(Note: The essence of this one is that many brilliant people lack the personal confidence to apply for jobs for which they are interested and are highly qualified. Very sad I think. As such, it is an important article to quickly skim through and reflect upon. Is that you?)
8. A Few Thoughts on a Graceful Exit, April 20, 2012, Gene C. Fant Jr., The Chronicle of Higher Education.
(Note: Clearly, you should be fair to those around you when you have a job offer that you are likely taking or indeed have taken. If you have hired the movers and scheduled a pick-up time for your furniture and put your house on the market, you better tell someone you are leaving and need to be replaced on the fall or spring teaching schedule.)
9. Work-Life Balance Is Out of Reach for Many Male and Female Scientists, March 8, 2012, By Audrey Williams June, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
(Note: this article uses a recent survey data report to foster a discussion of better ways to foster a work-life balance; especially in STEM fields. According to this survey of over 4,200 scientists and researchers around the planet, 48 percent of women were not pleased with the way work and personal life mesh, whereas that drops to 39 percent for men. Both figures are way too high.)
10. In the midst of all of these advice articles, of course, there are discussions about salaries. And there are charts and tables to lend support to such discussions. For instance:
Professors Seek to Reframe Salary Debate, April 8, 2012, by Audrey Williams June, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Along with that article is an interactive Table of salaries and detailed data on the different colleges profiled.
(Note: Definitely worth playing with the interactive data chart. It is eye opening to see where my university ranks when compared to other places around the USA.)
Ten Causes of Chronicle Spring:
Had enough of all these articles? Me too. I have enjoyed each one but my brain is going a tad mushy with all the advice, recommendations, and data points.
I think there are many reasons for the increase in all the advice and guidance columns and increasing need for career mentoring. Here are ten such reasons (as you can see, I do like the number 10).
1. Spring, Spring, Spring: It is springtime and people are getting interviews for new positions and pondering whether to leave their current institution or organization or not. In addition, spring is a time for renewal and reflection. Summer is around the corner, and if you do not teach at that time, it can be a time for much writing productivity and advancement of one's research. These advisory types of articles can help one plan for summer.
2. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: The job market is clearly picking up. Seems nearly all my current and former students on the job market are getting interviews and some of them have multiple job offers. That was not the case a year or two ago. Part of the reason is retirements. Of course, all is not rosy for those getting positions today since, at many institutions, the faculty replacement policy is 1 person being hired for every 2 or 3 retirements. As such, mentoring and advice is needed on whether to take such a position.
In my current discipline, instructional and educational technology, things are really heating up. The Chronicle of Higher Education, in fact, has been documenting some of the current explosion in venture capital for learning technology companies (see list of start-ups at the bottom of this article on Piazza; there are others as well; 3 Start-Up Announcements From the Education Innovation Summit and Online-Education Start-Up Teams With Top-Ranked Universities to Offer Free Courses). As you pan through such articles, it is clear that there are many job opportunities out there for those who want to work outside of academia.
In addition, nearly all college and university campuses and government agencies now need instructional design and distance or e-learning learning support for their online and blended courses. Those seeking a job in instructional technology, educational technology, or e-learning on a college campus or in a government, corporate, or military setting (or even in a school district), might see the jobs portal from my department (Instructional Systems Technology (IST)) at Indiana University or my personal portal of over 30 job Website portals. And there's always the jobs database from the Chronicle of Higher Education to peruse through.
3. Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes: Because we are coming out of a recession, no one wants to make a mistake and pick the wrong place to move to or make a bad decision of any kind. At the same time, most people do not want to wait too long to make a move. It is a nerve-wracking situation for many. They need advice and mentoring.
4. Information, Information, Information: So many articles to read and learn from in order to stay abreast of what is happening today. So much to consider in terms of one's career. How can anyone keep track of it all? I know lately I have seen a surge of people seeking advice about their careers, whether they be graduate students, assistant professors, or associate professors. Some want advice on writing their resumes or CVs. Others want to know about interview questions that they might be asked (see my blog post on that). And others want to know whether they should focus their careers in a couple specific areas; and if so, how. That is just a small sample of the questions I am getting the past few weeks.
5. Flow, Flow, Flow: Some people are seeking happiness and flow. They want to have a richer, better, and more meaningful life. And they seek out advice columns and personal mentoring for such. It is hard to balance a career and family life; especially, after surviving a system with so many hoops and hurdles like getting a master's degree or a(n) Ed.D. or Ph.D. We are conditioned to be working all the time and to be competing with others around us (either implicitly or explicitly). Stop! Stop! Stop! I recommend people enjoy the journey and help as many people around them as they can. There is something to be said for going with the flow. There is something to be said for having a high quality of life. Just focus on your own flow state and ignore the stuff happening around you (or don't focus on flow...just exist within it). Do that, and all will be well.
6. Models, Mentors, Maintaining Meaningful Relationships: Many graduate students and faculty members lack a personal mentor, coach, or guide around them who cares about their personal growth and is willing to devote significant amounts of time to help them reach their full potential. Such meaningful relationships take time to build, nurture, and maintain. Open access articles found online can be a short-term solution. But, we certainly need both.
7. Who Knew? Too New!: Many of the people I talk to are new to all of this stuff. Some have never interviewed for an academic position before. Others are in their first academic post and it is going so-so or perhaps it is highly frustrating. Still others are doing great and love their job and institution but want to excel at an even higher level or nonetheless want to explore options. All want to read these articles found in Chronicle Spring.
8. Options, Options, Options: Part of the reason for the spike in these mentoring and advice as well as the rising number of career related inquiries that people like myself are getting lately is that there more options for someone graduating today that there were 23 years ago when I graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. One area where those options are particularly obvious is in teaching. Today, one can teach online fulltime or part-time. One can teach blended. And you can alternate between online, blended, and face-to-face teaching. Such online teaching opportunities will only increase in the coming decades.
9. The Digital Scholar: As part of the movement to online environments for teaching and learning, the Web also offers many news ways to be a scholar or should I say, to be a digital scholar. You can also build a career with your podcasted interviews, wiki-generated books, blog postings, open access research articles and conference papers, Twitter posts, and Webcasted lectures. As I mentioned in my blog post a few days ago (A Close Up Look at an Upcoming May MOOC), during the month of May, I will be doing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for CourseSites people who are part of Blackboard. In just a little over a week, over 1,000 people have expressed interest in this course. Keep in mind that the official sign up is not until tomorrow. A MOOC was never part of my teaching or career plans when I graduated from Wisconsin back in 1989. Those teaching in a MOOC or open teaching type of situation are clearly going to require extensive advice and a bit of handholding. And so will their department chairs and deans.
10. Preparation and Confidence: If you know your colleagues and others in your field are reading these advice columns, then there is a feeling that you must as well. Reading as much as you can and discussing with others your perspectives and insights from these articles will help one feel better mentally about the current situation or possible places to apply or target. The more you are prepared, the better you will be. Four years ago, I blog posted about the types of questions one might be asked at an face-to-face, phone, or Skype interview as well as the types of questions that the interviewee might ask (it had 30 of each; Bonk's 30-30 Rule: Questions for Higher Education Faculty Job Interviews). I also wrote a series of blog posts with writing tips (a particularly popular one was on Writing Tips for Starting an Academic Career).
There are assorted other reasons for this rise in the need for career mentoring, advice, and support. Nearly everyone seeks a high quality of life. Nearly everyone I know in academia seeks to perform at the highest level possible. Nearly everyone has questions about their next move as well as their long term personal and professional life plans. Getting advice from online articles (such as the 10 from Chronicle Spring posted above) or from a personal coach or mentor can help one find a potential path to success. What will be your path? What will you be reading during the final month or two of spring and on into the summer? And who will you be talking to about what you read or heard about?
Enjoy spring 2012--i.e., "Chronicle Spring." As part of it, I hope to see some of you at the May MOOC. I will try to show what is now possible in this open educational world. The world is now wide open for learning, teaching, mentoring, coaching, etc. Eventually, we might call this Massive Open Online Mentoring (MOOM). I hope to see that day.
Labels: academia, Advice, Chronicle of Higher Education, educational technology, higher education, instructional technology, jobs, mentoring