Here's How it Works

It's the start of December, which is a special, magical time in the life of aspiring historians. Hiring committees have to send out their interview notices before the start of the winter break. Every day is a fresh check of the inbox, to the sound of giggling elves and dancing fruit of some kind (I am kind of free-associating here, so bear with me.) Here's how it works:
  1. You, the would-be academic, wrap up six years of work in an application package (CV, letter, letters of recommendation, sometimes a statement of teaching philosophy) and send it off to places that are hiring.
  2. Somewhere between 50 - 299 other aspiring academics do the same thing for the same jobs at the same places.
  3. If you make it past the first round of cuts, you get an e-mail that yes, you lucky dumpling, you get to have a preliminary interview at the annual American Historical Assocation meeting. You put on your new 260 dollar suit (or the equivalent) and head on down there.
  4. You have something like 20 minutes to explain your entire life's work. You may or may not be asked to submit a chapter or two of your dissertation
  5. If you make it past that round of cuts, you are definitely asked for samples of your dissertation. Then, off you go to Panhandle State University itself, for the fabled Job Talk. You give a 30-something minute presentation of your most polished and emotionally moving research and writing. You field hostile questions from the entire department. Two other candidates do the same thing, although most places have enough discretion to schedule their talks on different days.
  6. If you make it past that round of cuts, you get the job. Then you're an assistant professor of history. Then you have six years to do everything in the world to be eligible for tenure.
Sound like fun? It's never too late to go to grad school!

(If anyone's wondering, I'm way back between steps 2 and 3: waiting to see if I made it past the first round of cuts anywhere.)


noncoupable said...

Hmmm... I think this is why I'll be happy to not apply anywhere on the American job market for historians. I'd rather work as a researcher or a teacher in some other country where the system isn't so cut throat.

Adva Ahava said...

Sounds like a blast. Good luck!

Elizabeth said...

Sucks. But you still get to eat PB&J everyday if you want, no matter what step you are in. And then sometimes people get a job. Isn't that wild?

noncoupable said...

I love PB&J. We should have a PB&J social some day.