Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Out of the Mouths..." A First Sampling of Some Job Seeker Experiences at the MLA.

We'd be happy to hear from some more job seekers at the recent MLA convention in San Francisco. Send your thoughts here.

  • I have been tied up in knots for months waiting for these past 2 days. And.... It was nothing. The interviews were actually fun. People wanted to know what I had to say. They wanted to hear about my research, wanted to know what classes I wanted to teach. It was like Christmas and my birthday all at once. Three interviews and each one was friendly and just like talking to friends. I'm stoked for the future.

  • The single worst thing was seeing my folder pulled out of a gigantic box full of my competition. I had my nerve up high and I was ready. Then I saw a big "#17" on the folder with my name on it. 17? 17th to be interviewed? 17th ranked? What the hell did it mean?!?!? Ugh. I couldn't get it out of my head.

  • I went in with a really good attitude. I'd been prepped by my mentors; I knew my material cold. I even knew all about the school. And the 4 dullards who sat in front of me seemed to be more interested in getting the thing over with than anything else. I feel as though I've been working toward this day for years, and the people who interviewed me were just going through the motions. I'm sick to my stomach.

  • After all of the horror stories and warnings and panic-mongering advice, my interviews were fine. The committees were sane and friendly - they'd actually read my materials and were genuinely interested in talking to me. I'm ***cautiously*** optimistic. Why am I surprised? This is what we do - we terrorize each other with worst-case scenarios and urban legend-like tales of the Interview Gone Horribly Wrong. I'm sure I'll continue the cycle of abuse after I have my very own TT job...

  • The search committee chair didn't actually reach out to feel my breasts, but his eyes sure did their best.

  • This is how it works? I felt like a piece of meat - and not in a good way. The first day of interviews was so disorienting that I can hardly remember a thing about the process. By day 2 I felt a little more able to process, but then for my first interview of the day I arrived an hour late. I don't know what happened. I knew the time. I had it written down. I just walked in at 11 when I was set for 10. No excuses. They didn't take me either, and they didn't offer a new time. The rest of the day got better, but this is no way to hire someone.

  • I didn't learn anything about the search committee. You can't possibly do these things in 45 minute shots. It was like a race from when I sat down until I was being ushered out of the way. I had questions I wanted to ask, but we never got there. I know nothing about the job, really, beyond the ad. They asked some canned questions; I gave some canned answers. We're strangers still.

  • Piss on me if you want, but I nailed the interviews. If I don't get at least three offers than there's something screwy.

  • There are NO jobs that fit my interests. I might as well just stay in grad school if these people think I'm going to teach 4/4 until I die.

  • I met some nice people, but woefully unambitious. One school had a committee made up of people all in their 50s or above. Nobody had taught anywhere else. It's not some garden spot either where they live. Why are they still there? I can understand someone like me going there. But do they really not want something better? Mystified.

  • I've spent about $800 on this week, and I might as well have just thrown the money away. I did lousy at the interviews. I had been told by my advisor to prepare to talk about my research and my dissertation, but all anyone wanted to know was about teaching strategies. I'VE TAUGHT 2 CLASSES...I don't have ANY strategies yet.

  • I had some good interviews this week, and I have no complaints about how I was treated, but the questions and the follow-ups were more suited to an experienced faculty member. I was asked about developing courses, taking part on committee work. What are my preferences? I don't have any idea! Did you not notice that I just graduated? Is there no breaking in period? I can't get a year or two to get up to speed before you want me to actually know everything? Really unreasonable.

  • Frightful. Some of the people who interviewed me knew less about the field than I do, and I KNOW I know nothing.