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27 minutes ago, ltr317 said:

TMP - Your observation parallel the experiences of two undergrad friends who earned their PhD at Berkeley and Columbia, and are still in search of a tenured track after spending the past two decades in visiting and non-tenured jobs.  I fear that the train has left the station for them.  

How long after getting a PhD and not getting a TT job would you say you could still realistically compete with new grads? I know it all depends on a range of factors, but I assume that it isn’t equal if someone with a Berkeley PhD from 10 years ago (and no TT job) is competing against someone with a Harvard PhD from 2 years ago...

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I've been taken off the waitlist at Indiana! Just received my formal offer today and I have to say that I'm relieved/emotional/over the moon. I'm going to get a PhD! I'm still on the waitlist at

quite a lot to unpack here. you assume that I’m not using this as a way to put a better application forward next year which is quite a big assumption to make. I’d like to recontextualize: I said I was

sorry but why do you feel the need to be such an asshole about this? the poster didn't get into a program they really wanted to and are upset about the way the rejection was dealt with. sounds perfect

6 hours ago, FruitLover said:

How long after getting a PhD and not getting a TT job would you say you could still realistically compete with new grads? I know it all depends on a range of factors, but I assume that it isn’t equal if someone with a Berkeley PhD from 10 years ago (and no TT job) is competing against someone with a Harvard PhD from 2 years ago...

Some searches actually (and horribly) put a limit of ~5 years from degree award on their candidates. You're right that the further you get away from the PhD, the more problems you'll have but it's dependent on what you've been doing. If you've been adjuncting for even 1-2 years, you're probably done; at this point I would discourage anyone from thinking of an adjunct position as a stepping stone to full academic employment. If you've held 2-3 multi-year VAPs, though, you're probably still a viable candidate. 

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If I have RSVP for the recruitment weekend at A and B but after my first visit at A I have decided to accept its offer, will it be okay to cancel the visit at school B and decline school B’s offer even if the RSVP deadline for B has passed? 

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4 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Some searches actually (and horribly) put a limit of ~5 years from degree award on their candidates. You're right that the further you get away from the PhD, the more problems you'll have but it's dependent on what you've been doing. If you've been adjuncting for even 1-2 years, you're probably done; at this point I would discourage anyone from thinking of an adjunct position as a stepping stone to full academic employment. If you've held 2-3 multi-year VAPs, though, you're probably still a viable candidate. 

Also depends on the school that's hiring. The problem is magnified at R1s--you won't be competitive after maybe three or four years (maximum) of postdocs/VAPs. Unofficial rules are less defined at lower-ranked schools. 

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13 hours ago, FruitLover said:

How long after getting a PhD and not getting a TT job would you say you could still realistically compete with new grads? I know it all depends on a range of factors, but I assume that it isn’t equal if someone with a Berkeley PhD from 10 years ago (and no TT job) is competing against someone with a Harvard PhD from 2 years ago...

I agree with the other replies, though there are exceptions occasionally.  Unfortunately, (cough, cough) there is implied (cough, cough) age discrimination.  Not universally applicable but departments will favor younger applicants because they can potentially have a longer career.   The same holds for non-traditional older PhD applicants.  

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8 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Some searches actually (and horribly) put a limit of ~5 years from degree award on their candidates. You're right that the further you get away from the PhD, the more problems you'll have but it's dependent on what you've been doing. If you've been adjuncting for even 1-2 years, you're probably done; at this point I would discourage anyone from thinking of an adjunct position as a stepping stone to full academic employment. If you've held 2-3 multi-year VAPs, though, you're probably still a viable candidate. 

4 hours ago, schlesinger1 said:

The problem is magnified at R1s--you won't be competitive after maybe three or four years (maximum) of postdocs/VAPs. Unofficial rules are less defined at lower-ranked schools. 

1 hour ago, ltr317 said:

Unfortunately, (cough, cough) there is implied (cough, cough) age discrimination.  Not universally applicable but departments will favor younger applicants because they can potentially have a longer career.   The same holds for non-traditional older PhD applicants.  

This is good to know/keep in mind. Does it matter then how long it took someone to get their PhD in terms of how it looks on job applications? And also, what do you think (theoretically) is a smarter move, a VAP at an R1 school or a TT job at a small regional/LAC college if you want to eventually be at an R1/2 school? 

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14 minutes ago, FruitLover said:

This is good to know/keep in mind. Does it matter then how long it took someone to get their PhD in terms of how it looks on job applications? And also, what do you think (theoretically) is a smarter move, a VAP at an R1 school or a TT job at a small regional/LAC college if you want to eventually be at an R1/2 school? 

Take the tenure-track offer.  They are seriously far and few.  But try to maintain a high research profile and do very interesting work in the process.  VAPs at R1 don't necessary get anywhere except in exceptional circumstances (i.e. diversity hire, sudden departure of the person whose classes you're covering, etc.)

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26 minutes ago, FruitLover said:

This is good to know/keep in mind. Does it matter then how long it took someone to get their PhD in terms of how it looks on job applications? And also, what do you think (theoretically) is a smarter move, a VAP at an R1 school or a TT job at a small regional/LAC college if you want to eventually be at an R1/2 school? 

There is some preference for students who finish PhDs in shorter times (i.e. 6-8 years) over students who take much longer. Of course, that depends heavily on sub-field. It would be unreasonable to expect a medievalist to finish in the same time it takes someone specializing in 20th century US history.

As for the jobs: the market is so bad that it's very tough to turn down a TT job, even if it's in a less desirable place to live. It's likely that the TT job you get will be the one you stay in for the rest of your career, based on the way the field is trending.

As for @telkanuru's point about adjuncting, it's not called "adjunct hell" for nothing. Far too many PhD students (and recent PhDs) end up something I call the "teaching experience trap." What I mean is the idea that "I just need to teach 1 more course to be a competitive candidate/to get a TT job." I don't call it a "trap" lightly. On the balance of it, though, it's probably more worth devoting your energy to finish the dissertation than it is "just teaching 1 more course."

Edited by psstein
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Related to the questions above, and directed to currently attending grads/post-grads:

For someone deciding between programs and about to undertake a PhD, would you say it is important to have a clear roadmap/plan/timeline for what grants and fellowships to target, conferences to attend, and people to meet before beginning the program? Or from your experience is it harder to plan/foresee opportunities without understanding your field and department more after being enrolled for a year or two?

Also, both from online digging and from personal connections with other grad students, I notice a wide spectrum in terms of PhDs/scholars that one can find very little information about, and scholars who have meticulously maintained social media platforms and websites, which detail publications, conferences, and research interests. What are your thoughts on having a kind of public profile that makes you easily searchable and "connected" on the internet? Is it more practical to do so, both in terms of eventual job prospects (in/out of academia) and just for research networking? Is it a waste of time?

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48 minutes ago, IGoToWar said:

Related to the questions above, and directed to currently attending grads/post-grads:

For someone deciding between programs and about to undertake a PhD, would you say it is important to have a clear roadmap/plan/timeline for what grants and fellowships to target, conferences to attend, and people to meet before beginning the program? Or from your experience is it harder to plan/foresee opportunities without understanding your field and department more after being enrolled for a year or two?

On funding: I encourage EVERYONE to start researching different funding opportunities and when you are eligible for them as soon as possible. I started doing so in my first year, but I wish I had done it the summer before I started my program just to get ahead. Make a spreadsheet or some other organizing document with the opportunity, required materials, pre/post-ABD/completion fellowship/grant/travel grant, due date, link to the website etc. I organize mine by phase/year, so pre-ABD, 4th year, 5th year, completion, post-docs. Add as you find more, subtract as your project changes. 

It helped me a lot to enter the PhD with a funding plan (ex: 1st year fellowship, 2nd year teaching, 3rd year GSR and so on). Obviously it had to be adjusted as things fell through or fell in my lap, but it's really important to keep funding on your mind so you don't miss out on opportunities. You will write more grant/fellowship applications over the course of your career than you will write books. Writing books is exceedingly difficult without grants/fellowships (unless you're independently wealthy). Imo everyone should be treating funding like a critical aspect of their job--which it is!--by spending some amount of time each week working on it, either updating their spreadsheet, tweaking proposals, searching for more opportunities, whatever it may be.

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46 minutes ago, IGoToWar said:

Related to the questions above, and directed to currently attending grads/post-grads:

For someone deciding between programs and about to undertake a PhD, would you say it is important to have a clear roadmap/plan/timeline for what grants and fellowships to target, conferences to attend, and people to meet before beginning the program? Or from your experience is it harder to plan/foresee opportunities without understanding your field and department more after being enrolled for a year or two?

Also, both from online digging and from personal connections with other grad students, I notice a wide spectrum in terms of PhDs/scholars that one can find very little information about, and scholars who have meticulously maintained social media platforms and websites, which detail publications, conferences, and research interests. What are your thoughts on having a kind of public profile that makes you easily searchable and "connected" on the internet? Is it more practical to do so, both in terms of eventual job prospects (in/out of academia) and just for research networking? Is it a waste of time?

1. Why not keep a list of important fellowships and their deadlines? What do you have to lose by meeting with professors who share your interests (because it will benefit you intellectually, not professionally at this stage ? You will not be able to foresee the ways that your project will develop or the opportunities available for funding your research, but every chance you get to better understand history on the graduate level will help you.

2. I don't think there's any reliable evidence on whether social media helps or hurts you, especially so early in your career. I do want to caution you, though, that tweeting out ideas and sources can make them slip out into the broader academic community in ways that you can't control, and the argument that you were going to feature in your main dissertation article could become common knowledge by the time you put it out there. And having an academic profile too early in graduate school can be distracting or costly if your project changes or your ideas become more sophisticated -- and it will and they will. For what it's worth, for all the talk of facing one's public, I've never heard of any of my graduate school friends getting a job or losing one because of their online presence (certainly not their social media impact in their first few years of the program!).

Tallying up my grad school cohort, I can think of only one who has a substantial social media following and meticulously maintained website.

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1 hour ago, FruitLover said:

And also, what do you think (theoretically) is a smarter move, a VAP at an R1 school or a TT job at a small regional/LAC college if you want to eventually be at an R1/2 school? 

I'm going to temper @TMP's advice slightly: it depends on the VAP or postdoc. Something like the Harvard Society of Fellows is something you should take over a TT job at University of South-Central Alabama's third satellite campus, to give an extreme example.

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16 minutes ago, AfricanusCrowther said:

2. I don't think there's any reliable evidence on whether social media helps or hurts you, especially so early in your career. I do want to caution you, though, that tweeting out ideas and sources can make them slip out into the broader academic community in ways that you can't control, and the argument that you were going to feature in your main dissertation article could become common knowledge by the time you put it out there. And having an academic profile too early in graduate school can be distracting or costly if your project changes or your ideas become more sophisticated -- and it will and they will. For what it's worth, for all the talk of facing one's public, I've never heard of any of my graduate school friends getting a job or losing one because of their online presence (certainly not their social media impact in their first few years of the program!).

Tallying up my grad school cohort, I can think of only one who has a substantial social media following and meticulously maintained website.

This seems on the money. I'm now in a TT R1 position, and I have zero online presence. Your online profile could not matter less in comparison to the quality of your research and, as AC suggests above, the mismanagement of social media has serious downsides. 

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1 hour ago, IGoToWar said:

Related to the questions above, and directed to currently attending grads/post-grads:

For someone deciding between programs and about to undertake a PhD, would you say it is important to have a clear roadmap/plan/timeline for what grants and fellowships to target, conferences to attend, and people to meet before beginning the program? Or from your experience is it harder to plan/foresee opportunities without understanding your field and department more after being enrolled for a year or two?

Also, both from online digging and from personal connections with other grad students, I notice a wide spectrum in terms of PhDs/scholars that one can find very little information about, and scholars who have meticulously maintained social media platforms and websites, which detail publications, conferences, and research interests. What are your thoughts on having a kind of public profile that makes you easily searchable and "connected" on the internet? Is it more practical to do so, both in terms of eventual job prospects (in/out of academia) and just for research networking? Is it a waste of time?

I did it all in the summer before my first year at the advice of a friend and maintained that spreadsheet.  No shame in doing it at all. You gain more than you lose and you can plan ahead of time to make sure you qualify for those grants/fellowships (i.e. I did not go to Israel at all when I knew I wanted to apply for the Fulbright, which stipulated that they did not want you spend significant time in Israel in recent years/months. After I applied (and got rejected), I finally went to Israel for research).  This is key for international/national fellowships requiring language evaluations so you can get them when you need them, and this means getting in touch with the people in the relevant language department on your campus (Fulbright, SSRC, Fulbright-Hayes DDRA, etc.).

Online present/social media is a mixed bag.  I keep an academia.edu profile for the sake of checking out where people were googling me from.

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21 hours ago, FruitLover said:

How long after getting a PhD and not getting a TT job would you say you could still realistically compete with new grads? I know it all depends on a range of factors, but I assume that it isn’t equal if someone with a Berkeley PhD from 10 years ago (and no TT job) is competing against someone with a Harvard PhD from 2 years ago...

It truly depends on many, many things. I want to be clear on something now that I've been hired and that I've participated in a search at my institution. There is no formula to get a TT job. THERE IS NO FORMULA. Like when applying to grad school, many things are unknown. I can assure you the job market is incredibly less straightforward than grad school admissions. At my institution, an R1, research is very important so conversations swirled around originality of argument, the literature candidates were engaging with, the possibility of grants, the possibility of cool courses. Needless to say, research production such as articles is evidence of cool research. 

[Tip for Americanists: please, f*cking engage with the literature of your topic outside the US. Eg: if you study gender in urban settings, do engage with scholars that study Europe and Latin America, for example]

So, there's no golden time between time of degree and time of job, though if you've been out and you haven't taken a VAP, postdoc, or NTT, it's harder to come back. This is incredibly unfair to women, of course. 

5 hours ago, TMP said:

Take the tenure-track offer.  They are seriously far and few.  But try to maintain a high research profile and do very interesting work in the process.  VAPs at R1 don't necessary get anywhere except in exceptional circumstances (i.e. diversity hire, sudden departure of the person whose classes you're covering, etc.)

Always take the TT offer (minus the exaggerated caveat proposed by @telkanuru). You might be able to negotiate postponing a TT starting date for a prestigious postdoc. This usually happens at institutions that do not need you right away, so it's the exception, not the rule. 

5 hours ago, IGoToWar said:

Related to the questions above, and directed to currently attending grads/post-grads:

For someone deciding between programs and about to undertake a PhD, would you say it is important to have a clear roadmap/plan/timeline for what grants and fellowships to target, conferences to attend, and people to meet before beginning the program? Or from your experience is it harder to plan/foresee opportunities without understanding your field and department more after being enrolled for a year or two?

Also, both from online digging and from personal connections with other grad students, I notice a wide spectrum in terms of PhDs/scholars that one can find very little information about, and scholars who have meticulously maintained social media platforms and websites, which detail publications, conferences, and research interests. What are your thoughts on having a kind of public profile that makes you easily searchable and "connected" on the internet? Is it more practical to do so, both in terms of eventual job prospects (in/out of academia) and just for research networking? Is it a waste of time?

It's always best to do your research, though I can tell you that coming from abroad I had no idea what fellowships were least of all what I should be applying to. Peers and advisors walked me through that in my first and second years. 

Re: online presence, you've noticed that it doesn't matter. However, know this: people will look you up so having online presence gives you control of what they find. I've been very active on twitter and thus was able to find out about opportunities (conferences, fellowships, archives) that I could have missed. I even organized an entire conference with twitter friends. Again, I came to the US with no network so for me my online presence was a way to creating my niche. 

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32 minutes ago, AP said:

[Tip for Americanists: please, f*cking engage with the literature of your topic outside the US. Eg: if you study gender in urban settings, do engage with scholars that study Europe and Latin America, for example]

Good lord, same for British historians.  Please get off the little isle and engage any aspect of the Empire/Commonwealth, especially in Asia and/or Africa.  The two people I know who do transnational/imperial turn in British history got tenure-track jobs immediately or shortly after graduating with PhD (and they're women to boot) whereas my grad colleague, a white straight male, did not and he's on his four year on the job market. During all that time, he got only two Skype interviews.

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39 minutes ago, AP said:

 

[Tip for Americanists: please, f*cking engage with the literature of your topic outside the US. Eg: if you study gender in urban settings, do engage with scholars that study Europe and Latin America, for example].  

Good lord, same for British historians.

Yes, good advice on both counts!  That's why more grad history programs are taking a global approach (read non-Ivy) to at least provide an additional avenue for employment.  

 

 

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5 hours ago, TMP said:

Good lord, same for British historians.  Please get off the little isle and engage any aspect of the Empire/Commonwealth, especially in Asia and/or Africa.  The two people I know who do transnational/imperial turn in British history got tenure-track jobs immediately or shortly after graduating with PhD (and they're women to boot) whereas my grad colleague, a white straight male, did not and he's on his four year on the job market. During all that time, he got only two Skype interviews.

But don't do it half-assed. Nothing annoys regional specialists more than Europeanists who don't know what they're talking about pretending to be experts.

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10 hours ago, TMP said:

Good lord, same for British historians.  Please get off the little isle and engage any aspect of the Empire/Commonwealth, especially in Asia and/or Africa.  The two people I know who do transnational/imperial turn in British history got tenure-track jobs immediately or shortly after graduating with PhD (and they're women to boot) whereas my grad colleague, a white straight male, did not and he's on his four year on the job market. During all that time, he got only two Skype interviews.

Honestly, though, modern British history has been going this way for 20 years. The imperial turn is not new; it's almost now a baseline requirement to seriously engage in British studies. And it only takes one or two trips through the British studies conference program to see this in action. Nearly all the new up-and-coming scholars have some imperial/global angle or edge to their projects, if not projects entirely about the empire.

But I also think that a good advisor (certainly a hands-on advisor) won't let you design a project that's 20 years out of date using methods everyone's seen and done before. This goes for any field. It's one thing for a second or third year student to not yet know what is interesting/innovative/new in the field and what isn't. But your advisor does, and should step in before you spend five years on a project that's not going to get you anywhere professionally. Even if you really do want to study a topic that is not, in itself, On Trend, a good advisor should help you find a new angle or method for the topic that distinguishes it from the rest.

And not to mention that everything in academia snowballs, so a project that's designed to be compelling from the get-go will attract funding and grants, and funding and grants attract more funding and more grants, and more funding leads to a stronger project (because more time to research or write), and a stronger project backed by lots of research and institutional funding will lead to a stronger job market application... etc, etc.

5 hours ago, AfricanusCrowther said:

But don't do it half-assed. Nothing annoys regional specialists more than Europeanists who don't know what they're talking about pretending to be experts.

Ah yes, the old "I'm a British historian and Britain had colonies in the Middle East so I'm obviously qualified for this Modern Middle East job!" switcheroo. The idea that British historians should respond to the job market crisis by applying to regional studies jobs has always struck me as somewhat neo-imperialist. 

 

Edited by gsc
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1 hour ago, gsc said:

The idea that British historians should respond to the job market crisis by applying to regional studies jobs has always struck me as somewhat neo-imperialist. 

 

In a desperate job market where supply far outpaces demand, calling applicants neo-imperialist for applying widely seems a bit harsh. Throw what you can against the wall and hope something sticks. That's a common strategy on the job market, regardless of field. 

Edited by schlesinger1
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