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.

VisualCharades Sun 25-Aug-13 20:38:08

just finishing my msc thesis/project/dissertation/big essay.

now i kind of left it really, really late as i do all my essays.

was petrified for the first few days writing it up but now feel more chilled out.

now I'm thinking is it a bit emperors new clothes of fear or should I be feeling more afraid?

UptheChimney Tue 27-Aug-13 04:44:41

Old academic lag here, but I've regularly been both sides of the selection panel at all levels. (Interviewed with a VC, and by a VC).

To add to the excellent advice you've already received:

* be very clear about the REF
* be very clear about the REF 2014 and 2020, and how your research trajectory maps onto the REF cycle and requirements.

If you're appointed before 31st October (the REF census date, iirc) you may/will be entered. If this is your first job on a standard academic contract (teaching & research), you'll be an Early career Researcher, so you'll only need one output/publication.

But if it's a research-active, intensive, or aspirational HEI, they'll want it to be 3* or 4* -- they're the only grades which attract the QR funding which pay for all of our sabbaticals & research time.

* Have some good solid plans for publication, and be clear about which journals and why and/or which publishers & why (I was asked this by my now VC in a professorial interview, so it's not just an ECR thing).

* think about how your teaching & your research connect, and how each informs the other.

* be prepared to discuss your experience beyond your PhD -- if you're just newly post-doctoral, it can sometimes be a challenge to think beyond your thesis, but your committee will appreciate it if you do & can.

Better to err on the side of smart dressing than not, although don't overdo it. One candidate for an entry-level lectureship came in as near as an academic gets to a "dolly bird" sort of outfit, complete with false eyelashes (one of which threatened to come adrift). It didn't affect our ranking of her, but it was odd.

EightToSixer Tue 27-Aug-13 08:21:05

Thank you UpTheChimney, I'll remember to make more of my publications and my experience beyond PhD. This post is one year to cover leave but Its a good reminder to show the panel my long term perspective in case a vacancy arises further down the line.

Oh and no false eyelashes or fake tan - got it :-)

BarbariansAtTheGates Thu 29-Aug-13 14:15:03

Just found the new thread - hi all! Good luck with the job interview and viva, eight and dreaming, and your application tiny. I wore a wrap dress for my successful interview also all the unsuccessful ones. I would second that unobtrusive (not noticeably scruffy or showy) and comfortable are best.

I start my new job on Monday, and because I am taking the day off for a family party tomorrow, today is my last day in my postdoc. I've just this minute handed in my office key at the institution I have studied and worked at for the last decade. sad

I'm looking forward to the new start - I've been incredibly lucky with my new post, and the department seems lovely. I haven't heard much since I got my contract several months ago, so I emailed the department administrator today just to check that if I turn up on Monday morning there'll be an office to go to and I'll actually be able to get in to the building!

Your experience worries me, skyler, because I'm simply not going to be able to put in the kind of hours you seem to be doing. I will be spending 3.5hrs every day commuting (luckily 2hrs of that on a train where I can work) - so if I'm still in the office at 8pm I may as well not bother going home at all! I just know that once I start there'll be thousands of little administrative jobs that need to be done, plus I have all new lectures and courses to prepare for. I suppose there's no point in worrying about it until it happens though.

yetanotherworry Mon 09-Sep-13 18:09:07

Barbarian, how is the new job. I hope you're enjoying it and its not too time-consuming.

I have a question. I'm putting a grant together (career re-entry) and one of my references is an open access/PLOSone article. What's the story about these? Are they ok to use or are they frowned upon?

BarbariansAtTheGates Wed 11-Sep-13 19:04:30

Hi yetanother. The job's going ok so far - students aren't back yet so I'm spending my days doing induction admin and writing lectures, while trying to keep my own work ticking over. The rest of the (very laid-back) department seem to be pleasantly surprised I'm even coming into the office before term begins! The commute is going ok as well, which I was worried about. I work on the train, so even though I'm out of the house 12 hours a day I don't work at all when I'm at home in the evenings, and I get a proper break. As for the open access/PLOSone question - it's not my field, so I'm not sure, but I personally wouldn't hesitate to use a peer-reviewed article in any context.

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