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.