How do I get a job in academia? Part 1

This article is the result of a presentation given by Professor Darren Tanner on October 17, 2014.

The fact that you are in graduate school, getting a degree in Linguistics, indicates that you are likely looking for a job in academia post-graduation. This isn’t to say that you won’t look for some other job, but most people don’t spend the extra 5 (or more!) years it takes for a PhD just because it looks good on a resume for the job hunt. Those three letters after your name indicate your ability to teach and conduct research.

One really important thing to remember, however, is that having the Dr. prefix in front of your name does nothing to prove your ability. Sure, you can get through graduate school, but that doesn’t mean you’re a good teacher or a good researcher. It just means you were good enough to jump through the requirements of graduate school.

If you want to get a job in academia, you need to have a track record. And this means being incredibly productive during grad school. If you simply coast through school, you may pass, but the job offers won’t be lining your inbox the day after you defend your dissertation. You have to prove yourself BEFORE all that even happens.

This means you need to publish. You need to publish original, innovative research, and you need to present your research in front of notable scholars in your field. Several years before you graduate you need to get started. Do original research – groundbreaking research. Present your findings at conferences where you know other leaders in your field will be. Then submit your findings to the top journals.

However simply doing this won’t be enough. You need to allow people to get to know you. This means, HAVE A WEBSITE! It doesn’t need to be complex, but you need to have an online presence. Start with a headshot, a list of your research interests, and a list of publications and presentations that shows your track record. Describe the classes you have taught and the work you have done. Through all of this you need to prove to people that you are someone who will continue to be amazing once they hire you. They don’t want to hire another graduate student – they already have tons of those. They want to hire someone who will lead; someone who will teach; someone who will bring notoriety (the good kind) to their department and school.

So if you really want to get a job in academia, you need to prove to others that you are an academic. If you can’t do that, they won’t even consider you.

Best of luck! And happy hunting!

The next post will describe the process of actually finding jobs.

Reporting Wireless Problems

If by chance you happen to have any problems with the wireless internet, either in a classroom or in your office, you may report the issue to:

With the following in the email:

  • Your name and contact info
  • What the complaint is, room number where you experienced it, and a narrow time frame of when it happened,
  • Your wireless nic mac address

Hopefully any problems will be resolved shortly in this manner.

Updating your personal profile

How to edit your profile on the Linguistics Department website

written by Prof. Peter Lasersohn

Profiles are generated from information in the LAS “CVStorage” database.  This database allows you to enter a lot of information, but only some of it is used in generating your profile.  (But if you are affiliated with another department that generates webpages from this database, some of the information we do not use may be used by that other department.)

To edit your information, first log in at

This will take you to a page with the title “ATLAS Directory” at the top, and five tabs underneath marked “My User Profile”, “Manage My Users”, “Manage My Areas”, “Title VI”, and “Sign Out”.  When you first sign in, “My User Profile” should be the active tab.  (If it isn’t, click on it.)

Just under the tabs, you should see five headings, marked “User Information”, “Additional Information”, “User Publications”, “Area Affiliations”, and “Proxy Permissions”.  Each of these leads to a page with a series of blanks where you can fill in information:

User Information

  1. Title.  This is optional. If you want, put “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or whatever title you prefer.
  2. Given Name.  Your given name.
  3. Surname.  Your surname.
  4. Suffix.  You can use this to put a degree (B.A., M.A., etc.) after your name.
  5. Appointment title. Our site does not use this.
  6. Primary area affiliation.  If you have more than one departmental affiliation, the one you designate as primary will be listed first on your profile.
  7. Allow primary area affiliation to modify profile information.  Check this if you want to allow me and Randy Sadler (or whoever maintains the site for your primary affiliation) to modify your information.  If you don’t check this, please be sure to examine your profile and directory listings carefully, and correct anything that is not displaying right.
  8. Primary office address.  Our site does not use this.  We get your address from a different field, described below.
  9. Primary email address.  Your email address.  Be sure to fill this in, so that students and others will be able to contact you.
  10. User photo.  If you have no photo on your profile page, please add one — they add a lot to the visual appeal of the page. If you already have a photo, please make sure it is up-to-date.
  11. Notify xxx when user information has been updated.  Check this if you want to be notified.
  12. Save.  Be sure to click this or none of your information will be saved.
  13. Upload CV or resume. Use this to include a link to your CV on your profile. Preferred format is PDF.

Additional Information

User Publications
If you have publications, please enter them!

Area Affiliations
This page will display a table with all your affiliations with departments that use this system.  If you have affiliations with departments that do not use this system, they are not displayed.

Find “Linguistics”, and click “edit”.  This will open up a form below the chart, where you can enter more information.

  1. Visible in Directory.  Please make sure this is checked.
  2. Office Address.  This will display on your profile, just below your photo.  Unfortunately, we do not have separate fields for mailing address and office location, but BOTH types of information really ought to be displayed.  I recommend listing your mailing address first, then a blank line, then your office location, like this:

University of Illinois
Dept. of Linguistics, MC-168
707 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Office: 4096 Foreign Languages Bldg.

In some cases, your address may have been entered automatically from university records, but in a cryptic, abbreviated format that no one outside the university would understand.  Please don’t leave your address as “LING, Flb 4080, M/C 168” or no one will understand it.

  1. Office phone.  Be sure you include the area code.
  2. Roles.
  • Administration.  This is for administrative titles such as Head of the department, Director of Graduate Studies, etc.  As a graduate student, you will probably not have any such titles.
  • Faculty.  This is for your academic titles such as Professor, Assistant Professor, Lecturer, etc.  Again, as a graduate student, you can skip this.
  1. Research keywords.  Not used by for graduate student profiles.
  2. Home department.  This is for the department of your primary affiliation, if it is NOT Linguistics.  As a graduate student, this will probably not be the case, so skip this field.
  3. ESL/Language. This field determines whether you will be listed under the MATESL program or the LING MA/PhD program on the directory page. If you are in the MATESL program, please enter “yes” and click “Add value”. If you are in the LING MA/PhD program, please leave blank
  4. Language. As a graduate student, you may skip this field; it is used to sort faculty in the language programs from those in the linguistics programs.
  5. Department-wide administration title. As a graduate student, you will not have such a title; please skip.
  6. ESL/Language-related administration title.  Again, as a graduate student, please skip.
  7. Research interests.  This can be one or more short paragraphs describing your main areas of research.  This displays on your profile, but not on the directory page.  After entering the text for each paragraph, be sure to click “Add value” (on the right).
  8. Education.  List your degrees.  After entering the text for each one, be sure to click “Add value” (on the right).
  9. Current projects.  This can be one or more short paragraphs describing your current projects.  After entering the text for each paragraph, be sure to click “Add value” (on the right).
  10. Affiliated.  This field is used to sort core faculty in linguistics from faculty in other department who have “courtesy appointments.” As a graduate student, you should skip this field.
  11. Update.  Be sure to click this or none of your changes will be saved.

Proxy permissions
This is for giving other users permission to edit your information.  Don’t do this without a good reason.

After editing your profile, please look at it and at your listing in the department directory at to make sure everything is displaying properly.

If you need any help, please don’t hesitate to ask me or Randy Sadler.

Need help on your research?

Written by: Amelia Kimball

Ever wanted some help with simple research tasks?  Ever wanted to mentor a new linguist?  Consider getting an undergraduate research assistant!

If you are working on a research project supervised by a faculty member AND you and the faculty member agree that there is part of your project that an undergrad could do that would provide her/him with valuable research experience, you can get an undergraduate research assistant.

The undergrad would sign up for Ling 290/490 (an individual study) with your faculty member.  They would be primarily supervised by you, the graduate student, and would get course credit for the work that they do.

If you’re interested, the first step is talking with a faculty member and asking her/him if your research project would be appropriate for undergraduate work and if the faculty member is willing to sponsor you.  The second step is finding an undergrad that is interested in your project.

Before you take on an undergrad RA, think about the following things:

  • What parts of my research are doable for a beginner linguist?
  • Does my IRB allow an assistant to look at my data?
  • How much time do I have to meet with a student?
  • How can I make the time most valuable for the student (provides new/useful skills and knowledge, not mind-numbingly dull)?
  • How can I make the time most valuable to me (most low-skill, high-priority research work done)?
  • How can I most clearly explain what needs to be done?

How do I get access to the Reading Room?

Reading RoomThe Linguistics Reading Room (4100 FLB) is a great place for studying, eating, relaxing, or getting some work done. It has a large table, two couches, a small refrigerator, a microwave, and tons of books.

If you ever decide that you would like access to the Reading Room, you will need to have an I-Card. You should take a copy of the front and back of your I-Card to Cathy Drake in 4080 FLB or to Jon Swigart in 2090 FLB. They will take your UIN and have access granted to your I-Card. It may take some time for the card swiper on the door to be re-programmed, but you will then have access.

Just don’t spend too much time napping on the couches!