New/would-be academics. Join this thread!

(31 Posts)
EightToSixer Sat 24-Aug-13 11:19:23

Hi, I had a look for the previous thread we were all on, but as it was in chat it seems to have just disappeared. So I thought I'd start another one here (unless someone comes along with the original link).
First task: I need your considerable expertise.....

I have my first academic job interview in early September (social science faculty). I feel prepared for the presentation, but I'm not sure what to wear on my sizeable frame. Suit jackets look ridiculous on me, so, is a black wrap over dress acceptable? Any other ideas. Happy to buy something if necessary, I just wondered what kind of thing I should wear. For lectures in my current institution as an HPL I tend to wear smart jeans and some kind of tunic top, but think that's not quite right for a new position.
Thank you in advance

SniffAndMoomintroll Sat 24-Aug-13 11:41:21

I think the two cardinal rules are to wear something smart but unobtrusive, and to wear something you are comfortable in so that you can just forget about it completely. Personally, I like a nice flattering wool suit with a jacket because I prefer to feel as smartly-dressed as the male candidates, who are pretty much inevitably wearing suits and ties. (I wouldn't wear a suit to work, but prefer to be more formally-dressed for interviews.)

TinyDiamond Sat 24-Aug-13 11:49:04

Hi. I'm hoping to embark on a 1+3 starting next year if I am successful in my application. Subject is sociology. Anyone have any advice about finding funding? I am going to be casting my net very wide and have some ideas but any other input greatly appreciated.

LRDPomogiMnyeSRabotoi Sat 24-Aug-13 13:05:05

Hello!

Yes, the chat one disappears when Chat gets purged. TBH that was why it was there, so we could chat and know it wouldn't be around forever.

I'd just go with a black wrap dress, personally.

EightToSixer Sat 24-Aug-13 14:16:59

Ah LRD, I didn't think of that purpose with chat, makes more sense really for anonymity.

EightToSixer Sat 24-Aug-13 14:18:30

TinyDiamond, if you are looking for ESRC funding for 1+3, my advice would be to start networking with your chosen doctoral training centre as early as edible. Do you already have an MSc in another subject at all?

Hi all!

Tiny -- jobs.ac.uk lists doctoral funding opportunities, seem to be loads on at the moment

Eight -- I think the dress would be okay but perhaps with really nice accessories? ie good shoes and bag

I have to buy a new pair of shoes for my viva next month. I HATE having to think about this stuff, I wish I could just send my brain in to be judged.

TinyDiamond Sat 24-Aug-13 14:49:07

No I do not already have Msc, I am just finishing my Bsc this year so looking to start in 2014. I have made contact with 2 potential supervisors, both in completely different places. I am concentrating at the moment trying to get some papers published over the next 12 months, doing some collaborations

Lomaamina Sat 24-Aug-13 14:54:29

EighttoSixer congrats on the interview. As an academic (and longstanding sitter on interview panels) I'd agree to wear something you feel comfortable in and not too dressy. I'd only notice if it were very shabby or very dressy or, dare I say it, showing too much cleavage, which I think can look unprofessional. I'd go for the dress if you feel comfortable in and an a nice colourful cardi on top.

Have they asked you to make a presentation?

callamia Sat 24-Aug-13 14:56:09

Eight, the dress sounds great. I look like an idiot in a suit, and wore a thin knit striped dress to my successful interview - as long as you're smart, no-one really cares - that's the joyous thing about academia...

Tiny, publishing is definitely a good idea. Work with your supervisors as much as you can to develop your proposal. An MSc sometimes puts you in a more advantageous position, but not always, especially if you've already started to publish.

TinyDiamond Sat 24-Aug-13 14:59:43

It's unlikely well, impossible actually) that I will actually have anything published by the time I am making my applications (from Jan) but everything will have been sent out by that point though so I suppose I will just have to talk about it in a hopeful way and just show that I'm trying to get out there?

creamteas Sat 24-Aug-13 15:53:38

I have to buy a new pair of shoes for my viva next month. I HATE having to think about this stuff, I wish I could just send my brain in to be judged

WTF confused In my area, taking their outfit into account during a viva would be seen as a staff disciplinary issue or reason to fire the external.

EightToSixer Sat 24-Aug-13 16:05:09

Thanks for outfit advice. I'll stick with the dress and invest in cardi, shoes and bag I think.

Dreaming bohemian, viva next month, that's exciting! Good luck smile

Lomaamina, thanks, yes a presentation that I'm excited about which is a bonus, something That will highlight my enthusiasm, so all good smile

Tiny, I know the majority of people who got funding in my intake (2009) didn't have an MSc (three of us were working on our MSc at the time); but this year they had so many applications that they used a masters as criteria. Although forthcoming published papers might get you past that hurdle. If you are thinking of applying for advertised PhD posts on pre-defined subjects that may be less important, I'm going on the open studentships at my current institution, which has 12 per year. That said, a strong application with suitable supervisors in that institution goes a long way. I was fortunate to get funding when I did and I know that there was some reticence to give me funding as my supervisors did not know much about my area. At the time I didn't think it important, as nobody knows anything about my area, but in retrospect now I really wish I had been in a position to move to an institution where supervisors were better able to assist me as I feel I've done a great deal of my work the hard way. I specifically chose the institution as being close by so I could get my DCs to nursery/school, not for the expertise.

skylerwhite Sat 24-Aug-13 16:13:10

Is this the new thread?

I wore a shift dress and blazer for my job interview. I agree with the point about looking as smart as the besuited male candidates. The wrap dress sounds fine, but I would wear something over it.

I've started my new job, and have been in the office till 8 every day since I started trying to get things under control and finish up some writing. Also in on weekends sad. Will t be like this forever?

Lomaamina Sat 24-Aug-13 20:33:52

skylerwhite it shouldn't be like that forever. At least - you might do as I do and insist on going home at a decent hour and if necessary, doing reading or something off the computer if you haven't enough time during the day.

Managerialism and presenteeism are creeping in to academia; but we need to push back at this. After all, noone clock-watches in this wonderful career (and I mean it: how many other jobs pay you to think about fascinating topics, frequently devised by yourself and work with brilliant people and throw in access to massive free libraries to boot?!), so the quid pro quo must be time flexibility ('cos it sure isn't going to be compensated for in monetary terms grin).

Do you have to go in on weekends? I mean, is it lab dependent? I don't mind working one of the weekend days, so long as it means I can break off for lunch with the family and tea in the garden.

And the other weekend day is a must for a complete rest (i.e. catch up on chores, supervise homework otherwise neglected throughout the week, batch cook and then generally collapse).

Lomaamina Sat 24-Aug-13 20:36:25

p.s. EightToSixer your enthusiasm will count for a lot, believe me.

I'd also add, if I may: prepare like mad: read through the job spec with a fine toothcomb, read up on the panel participants' own research interests and on the department in general. Make sure you know what the university's current issues are. Perhaps a judicious search for mentions of it in THES might be worthwhile.

skylerwhite Sat 24-Aug-13 21:18:26

Thanks Lomaamina. Not lab dependent, but I've moved all my books and papers to the office in an attempt to have a healthier work/life balance -ha!- and to keep home space relatively free of work.

Your point about flexibility is useful - I think I need to make more or this. Hopefully this frenetic work work work will ease once I get this piece of writing finished and get teaching plans finished.

Potol Sat 24-Aug-13 21:29:59

I am crap at getting shortlisted but v good at getting jobs (4/4 in 2 years but 2 years before that not getting interviews). Here's my advice:
- read through the job spec and talk to someone in the Department about what they really want.
- think of teaching gaps you could fill.
- talk about collaborative research, areas that overlap with colleagues but also others that are distinct.
- practice, practice, practice your presentation. A polished presentation is key.
- have a handout of your slides, your CV and (this is a consequence of being US trained), prospective syllabi. These are pre circulated but ppl often don't read them. Print them out on nice paper not just photocopies.
- think of possible questions and practice the answers. Under stress my brain and mouth don't always work together so I always practice.
- talk about the upcoming REF but also how you see yourself placed for the REF after that.
- for the interview, practice answers to the obvious questions: why do you want this job? What makes you a suitable candidate? What is interesting/unique about our research and how does it advance the field? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Can you think of anything innovative you have done in the classroom? What challenges have you faced in your research and how have you overcome them?
- have a series of good honest questions for them. I ask about mentoring young faculty and also the support available for major grant applications.

Good luck!

EightToSixer Sat 24-Aug-13 21:30:43

Lomaamina - thanks for that. I will search THES and also read up more on current department although their website is not that informative and very few of them are even on academia, I will ask around my current institution for the down low ;)

EightToSixer Sat 24-Aug-13 21:32:54

Wow potol thanks, that's a mine of pointers, I'll start the prep tomorrow, especially as you are so good at getting actual positions you must be on to something smile

Potol Sat 24-Aug-13 21:39:52

Oh I forgot to add, always talk about how you can contribute to the department beyond teaching and research. What admin duties have you taken on in the past? Could you help with student recruitment? Everyone hates admin stuff so someone who says that they will be an active member of the dept will be liked. Think of it this way, you want to show how in terms of research, teaching and admin you will be an asset to them.

Thanks Eight! good luck on your interview!

creamteas I love your righteous indignation, thanks grin

I don't think actually they will care THAT much what I wear but literally all my shoes have holes and rips in them, which I think is taking it a bit far!

My external is a big name in my field and I do want to impress him for job searching purposes. I just hate all this stuff, I literally have never in my life noticed what kind of shoes someone else is wearing and I hate shoe shopping <grumpy academic emoticon>

EightToSixer Sun 25-Aug-13 09:02:13

Dreamingbohemian I imagine new shoes is a little like power underwear, no one else will notice it but you will know and it'll make you feel put together. Good luck with the shopping smile

creamteas Sun 25-Aug-13 12:30:52

Dreaming Ahhh that explains it!

I was having visions of my entire world collapsing grin.

creamteas smile

I wish I was in one of those really scruffy disciplines though, like... I don't know actually, who are the scruffiest? philosophers? My own discipline is not very scruffy sadly, although still much better than civilian life.

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