The Life of a Wannabe Academic

Detail of the life a new academic. The progress from graduate training to professor. Includes reflections on the job hunting process, research in technology and education, and what it is like to be a new college professor.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Girl is Growing Up!

I have been pretty silent on the job front, but this was for a reason. It is interview season and with employers searching their candidates online I thought it best to keep silent until this process was over. Well today it is officially over for me. I was offered a job at Morningside College, a private liberal-arts school in Sioux City Iowa. This was actully the first place that I interviewed and well, I guess I impressed them as I was their first choice out of the three that they had brought in to interview.

I am very happy about this. I emjoyed my visit there and I look forward to moving down there and starting my professional life as a college professor. But let me describe the process a bit now that I am through it.

First of all this interview was a little unusual in that there was no preliminary phone interview. Most places you phone interview first, and from there the top candidates are invited to campus. I have had phone interviews before, and in general they are pretty standard in format. The committee interviewing you will often have some questions they ask and in my case it was usually about teaching style and how I would include undergraduates in a research program. During this time the interviewee also gets information on the school, such as course load, research expectations, relationships between students and faculty, etc. In my process with Morningside I did not have this step. I just went straight-away to the capus interview, which sort of left me feeling a bit like I was walking in with my eyes closed.

But I accepted and at the time, Morningside was not terribly high on my list, but it was in the region and it was a campus interview, something that you do not typically turn down. So as I am approaching my interview I am terribly nervous 1) because it was my first ever interview, and 2) I had not even talked to anyone there yet. I made sure to do my homework by searching the college's website and getting to know the interests of the people on the committee that I knew I would meet and made my way down to Iowa.

The way a typical interview day at a smaller college goes something like this: 1) arrive the night before and have dinner with the committee 2) have meetings with the dean, president, and chair of the dept 3) campus tours with a student representative 4) lunch with students 5) a teaching demonstration or job talk 6) final meeting with the search committee 7) go home utterly exhausted!

The candidates task should they choose to take it, is to gather as much information from as many different sources as possible. General college stuff from the dean, departmental stuff from the faculty, "dirt" (not usually) on the faculty and dept from students, what to do for fun from students and faculty, and of course job specifics. I went in with a literal list of questions that I wanted answeres for and filled it out during my bathroom breaks.

As far as my experience at Morningside, I found that I felt at ease as soon as I got seated during dinner the night before with the search committee. They are a very nice and funny group of people As I made my way through the interview day I found myself growing more and more in love with the idea of actually working there. The department is known for it's high quality education and the students appear to be high quality as well. I felt at ease with everyone that I met (though I was nervous) I was not intimidated and I felt like I was already part of the group. I find that unusual for having only met these people.

Finally Sioux City is a nice place, much larger than I thought (about 100,000 in the metro area). THere is minor league baseball and hockey (good for me and my husband) lots of great restaurants, bike trails, summer festivals, camping and outdoor stuff, and a longer growing season for gardening.

All in all I am very excited and happy about this new chapter in my life. There are many people that I want to thank for my journey here. First is my husband and my family for supporting me in pursuing an unusual occupation and especially my husband for being there when I needed him and being willing to follow me to Iowa. My advisor, Mark, and many people in the psychology department at UND that have molded me professionally and guided me to this point in my life. The G/E (general/experimental) psychology program has done well for me at UND. I also wish to thank some of my undergraduate professors at the University of St. Thomas: Drs. Buri, Robinson-Reigler, Chaukley, and WilliamsMorris. These individulas are the people who inspired me to pursue this. Basically they were great mentors and teachers and left me wanting to do what it was that they did. Finally, there are my classmates and other colleague graduate students: Karyn, Betsi, Dave, Brent, Shyla, Hannah, AnnaMarie, Anna, Jason, and others. You were either there working with me, there struggling by my side, or there to give much needed advice. This is ceratinly not something that I did all by myself and without recognizing these people I would be doing a great disservice.


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