Department of Criminal Justice
I recently attended the “Surviving Your First Years as an Assistant Professor” workshop hosted at The Ohio State University in July 2010. This session was by far, if not, the most informative workshop that I have attended as a doctoral student at IU. During this workshop, we were provided with a great deal of resources and tools that help doctoral students successfully transition to a junior faculty position. This workshop addressed the different degrees of faculty roles and responsibilities, criteria for promotion and tenure process, and research and funding while in a tenure track position. In other words, this workshop stressed the importance of career planning, publishing, and the academic job market. Most importantly, the workshop provided us with strategies that can help us fulfill research, teaching, and service expectations when confronted with a series of obstacles while doing so in a way that allows one to maintain their integrity, emotional and physical health, and intimate and workplace relationships. However, the most important aspect of the workshop for me was the career planning session.
During the career planning session, we examined four main points: (1) a story--how others see your work; (2) reputation--how others see you; (3) plans--getting there; and (4) who to ask and about what. First, the importance of a story is to make certain that people understand and can easily evaluate what you are doing. Your story should create a sense of your career unfolding over an extended period of time. This can be done in a variety of ways by creating titles that easily connect conference papers to grants and publications. A story should also pinpoint your goals or contributions to a project and you should be able to explain your research in a way that other people will understand it. In other words, one should have an elevator pitch approach (i.e., similar to explaining one’s research to their mother), book flap/abstract approach (i.e., a summary of one’s research and major findings), and job talk and/or department colloquium approach. In addition, one should be known for their own work, thereby being mindful not to walk in one’s dissertation advisor’s shadow. Second, one should develop a reputation as being fair, invested, respectful, and respected. This means one should strive to be fair to students and colleagues, invested in the department and university’s success, respectful of differences, and seek to be respected by others. In addition, one should also demonstrate that he/she can multitask well. Third, one should take charge of their career by choosing opportunities that will help one’s professional growth and development. This means one should create a time management plan and avoid the syndrome of being a perfectionist. One should create a timeline for tenure and have projects at different stages. Finally, one should have several people to turn to for advice and support. In other words, one should cultivate mentoring relationships and have more than one advisor. One should seek many opinions and then develop his/her own. Most importantly, should not be afraid of making mistakes. Instead, one should grow, learn, and recover from mistakes made.