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Oatmeal Durkheim

Academic Job Mobility in the European Context

6 posts in this topic

In the United States it is not uncommon to apply to academic jobs all over the country. Personally, I do not know a single person who limited his or her search to just one state (i.e. Massachusetts). That being said, the language of instruction and the key aspects of academic culture remain the same coast to coast.

In comparison, what is the situation like in Europe, particularly Scandinavia and Switzerland?

For example, given that the population of Denmark is comparable in size to that of Massachusetts, how does this affect the academic job market? Is it standard practice for PhDs & lecturers/postdocs located in Denmark to search for their first career placement across Europe [and beyond]? Or do they search for employment primarily on the national academic job market? How do the national differences in language/academic culture fit into this equation?

Background: I’m considering PhD/Academic Career in Europe. Ideally, I would like to learn the local language and assimilate as much as possible during the PhD. Given this long-term effort, I would prefer to continue on in the same country following graduation.

I’m especially interested in hearing from those with experience in the social sciences and humanities (working or studying in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, or Switzerland). However, please consider contributing even if you do not fit this particular set of criteria. My own experience is in Cult/Soc Anthropology (USA).

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Have you looked at job ads in Europe? I have in the past. What I've seen is that some require you to be able to teach in multiple languages right away (e.g., Switzerland in my experience, where they want you to be able to teach in both English and French) while others will give you 2-3 years to attain sufficient language skills to be able to teach and attend meetings in the national language (I've seen this more often for jobs in Scandinavia). I've never applied for a job in Europe so I can't speak to the other aspects of your post.

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, rising_star said:

Have you looked at job ads in Europe? [...] some require you to be able to teach in multiple languages right away (e.g., Switzerland in my experience, where they want you to be able to teach in both English and French) while others will give you 2-3 years to attain sufficient language skills to be able to teach and attend meetings in the national language (I've seen this more often for jobs in Scandinavia).

    
Indeed, this is my main concern. Becoming proficient enough in a language to teach and negotiate (service) is a non-trivial investment. Same goes for networking on a national level, it takes time and effort.

This is why I would prefer to stick to a given country after graduating; and (more pressingly) why selecting the right country for the PhD is such a priority for me. This way I can learn the local language and build relevant networks right away.

I am well aware, of course, that there are absolutely no guarantees. There isn't a country with a surplus of jobs these days. That being said, my aim is to find out, which national job markets might be more suitable than others (especially for a foreigner). Any hints/tips/suggestions appreciated!

Edited by Oatmeal Durkheim

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18 minutes ago, Oatmeal Durkheim said:

 I am well aware, of course, that there are absolutely no guarantees. There isn't a country with a surplus of jobs these days. That being said, my aim is to find out, which national job markets might be more suitable than others (especially for a foreigner). Any hints/tips/suggestions appreciated!

In that case, instead of asking vague questions on this board, I would encourage you to read up on the websites of relevant universities you might want to eventually teach at to (a) identify if/who/how many foreign faculty in your area/field work at that university; (b) read up on their credentials and background to see if there is a pattern (they all have EU/US degrees, they all have XYZ language or specialty, etc); (c) reach out to them to ask directly for their perspective as a foreign faculty member in University/Country. That will be a whole lot more effective than asking here. What you really want to know is not only what's technically on the books (though that matters too), but what are the unwritten rules -- are international faculty shielded from service? helped with language difficulties? assigned easier classes to teach? encouraged or discouraged from joining the staff? That's something insiders will know, and if you make the right connections, you might be able to begin to find out. They could also be your first points of networking and contact, and eventually if you do end up in those schools/countries, they will be some of your best options for allies. 

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It's probably also worth noting that some countries give preference to national citizens first when it comes to hiring, which can complicate things as a foreigner. If I were playing the game that you're playing, OP, I'd probably try to go a country where I can learn a language that is spoken in multiple countries (e.g., French or German), rather than one that is less widely used like Danish or Norwegian. But, I think this is all a crazy gamble to take given that you really should be picking PhD programs based on where you can best pursue the research you want to pursue.

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8 hours ago, fuzzylogician said:

Instead of asking vague questions on this board, I would encourage you to read up on the websites of relevant universities you might want to eventually teach at.

Why would you assume I'm not doing any of that?
Forums/message boards are not my only source of information. That being said, I've gotten a lot of great advice via forums over the years. Sorry to hear that you found my question vague, let me know if I can rephrase it for you.

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