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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

My First Campus Visit

Well, Financial Rounds posted an entry three or four weeks back and I have kept it in my Bloglines because at about the same time he posted Updates From The Job Hunt, I got a call for my first campus visit. Inhis entry he details the day that he had at Unknown University and his impression of the process.

In my case, I went on a campus visit about two weeks ago now. It was really quite interesting. It was a small teaching-focused college, which is very different than the environment that I am currently in. Given the reality of being a small state teaching institution, the visit felt more like a courtship than an interview. I had been told me professors here at UGA that the interview process is a much them selling their institution as it is me selling myself. But I never did realize that this would be so apparent.

The faculty there were all fairly friendly and there were more than half that were quite friendly, making them seem like that would be great to have as colleagues. Even in a single day, there was evidence of a fair amount of collaboration among colleague on everything from teaching to program matters to scholarship to even West Wing viewership. I threw in the last one, because it further underscored for me that these people seemed to really enjoy working with each other.

The day consistent of a lot of interviews, but also a lot of downtime. I started the day with an interview with the Dean of the School of Education, followed by an interview with the Chair of the Department. Both of these interviews were a half hour in length. After a break of about a half hour, I had an hour long interview with the search committee. Then we went to lunch with about a half dozen of the faculty - a process that took about two hours: a half hour to round people up, fifteen minutes to actually get our food (we ate in the student center, whih was nice because it gave me more of a chance to feel out the institution and the students), and then about sevnty-five minutes to eat.

After lunch, I did a walking tour of the campus with the search committee chair. We hit the library, the fitness facility, stopped by and said hi to the grants person on campus, the administration buildings, and a general pointing out of most of the other buildings on campus. Earlier in the day I had seem most of the School of Education and the laboratory elementary school located at the college. It was a small, but growing campus.

This tour was on route to meeting one of the universities Vice Presidents, which I think (or at least have been told) is a function of the size of the school. This was an interesting interview, as it wasn't much of an interview. Having just returned from a conference, it was the type of conversation that you'd have with someone you met at a conference about what you wanted to do for the next five or ten years or you life.

After a short walk back to the School of Education, I had about an hour to wait before tecahing one of their undergraduate class. I taught for seventy-five minutes and then had another hour break before heading out to supper with three of the faculty members (two of whom were on the search committee).

The entire day was an interesting experience. I found that most of the prepared questions that I wanted answered by each of the individuals (i.e., Dean, Chair, VP, etc.) they had already answered during the course of the interview before I even got the chance to ask it. I'm not sure if they had done this so many times that they had a good chance to know what questions I was going to ask or if my questions were just that predictable. I also found that during the meal times, I was quieter than expected. I had been told that these unofficial times were when most of the "real" interview questions were asked, and was ready to be "on" my game. However, they interacted a lot with each other and there were multiple conversations going on at any one time. While I was always brought into one or another conversation, I was also able to stay kind of quiet and just sit back and watch. This really did allow me to see how these individuals interacted with each other and whether or not they seemed to enjoy each other. It also gave me an opportunity to hear a lot of things that were going on with the department, the school, and the institution - as well as pick up on some of the leisure things to do in the area that people around the table enjoyed.

Overall, it was a great experience and I am currently waiting to hear from them one way or another. I was told that they had roughly three dozen applicants, which they seemed please with. They didn't conduct telephone interviews, but brought two people to campus (they had invited a third, but that individual had already accepted a position somewhere else). The second candidate was to have visited two weeks ago, so I should be hearing something soon.

Tags: graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education


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