This is the season for looking for an academic position (actually, a little late in the season) so I am spending a little time talking to local or commutable universities. I am being a bit picky about where I am applying, and will be a bit picky about who I accept a position with, if anyone offers. It is not that I can really afford to be choosy — I am not an academic superstar by any means — but I do not want to end up at a place that is a bad fit, because I hope this will be somewhere I stay for some time. So, no applications to “safety schools.” Everywhere I have or will apply is a pretty reasoned application.
As a side note, I have been telling people that I plan on riding the 1 train giving lectures and holding out my hat. Folks have had two reactions to this. Either they think it is an excellent idea and well worth executing, or they are horrified. If you have leads on good jobs in Manhattan or surrounds (need not be academic), do let me know. I am planning on doing some consulting as well — whether I find a suitable academic post will indicate the degree to which I will also need or want to consult.
For the sake of the process, and because I would not want to publicize matters the schools prefer to keep quiet, I will report only in generalities. I was going to assign cute pseudonyms but given few schools there are, that would make it way to obvious which was which. I will just give them some numbers. Over the last couple weeks, I sent out four application letters to four different schools:
School 1: Got back to me right away and I talked to the chair of the hiring committee on the phone. They had me in for an informal campus interview pretty quickly (I was their first), and I got to meet a number of their faculty members and chat a bit over lunch. I’m now on hold until they do first interviews with some of their other candidates, and then they will get back to me to see whether I come back for another talk or if I have been voted off the island.
Not a perfect match for what I do in terms of research, but who is, really? More importantly, they need someone with the set of skills I have. The university and the program is a bit funky and a bit arty, both in ways I like. The program (graduate only) is large and has some great folks teaching in it and some interesting graduates. It would provide a nice space between theory and production, and a lot of places fall heavily on one side or the other. The university as a whole is a good place for me, and I could make strong ties with other campus units. It’s not entirely clear whether this is something the chair likes or not, though it was suggested it is a pretty common sort of thing to happen. I’m excited about this school, but it may just be because I met and like the people there, and so I know more about it at this stage.
School 2: Also got back to me right away and I chatted with the hiring committee chair. This one is a “vaporjob”; it has yet to have a funded line backing it. The conversation/interview was interesting, and I think I would make a good fit here. It is a program with a clear emphasis, and although that has not been my emphasis in the past, it is not foreign to me either. Great school, with a well-known faculty. I don’t know enough about the job yet — including whether it exists — to know what is happening here. Waiting for a call back, eventually.
School 3: Had a brief conversation with the chair of the hiring committee the day after I sent in materials, and they are bringing me out for a campus interview, but not until late January. This one is the farthest commute, which would probably mean relocating a bit outside of the city, but it is an interesting and growing program. It is not nearly as well known as the other three schools in this batch, and different in character in many ways, but it is an interesting possibility.
School 4: Nothing yet. Normally, this would be expected, but given how quickly the others got back, I am already thinking this may be a “no.” It is also the position that everyone in the world (at least everyone I have talked to) seems to have applied for, so I am guessing (a) there may be a mountain of CVs to work through and (b) I may not be a particularly big fish among them.
A three-out-of-four initial hit is far better than I had expected. Of course, those of you who know me in person know that my charming, witty, self-effacing blog-self is a stark contrast to my severe, taciturn, mean-spirited in-person-self, so these face-to-face interviews could very well signal the end of my search. I’ll update in a month or two; sooner if there are rapid developments.