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Preparing for the Academic Job Market: Experience and Tips from a Recent Faculty Hire

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Preparing for the Academic Job Market: Experience and Tips from a Recent Faculty Hire

Searching and applying for a job can be one of the most exciting and stressful times for a student. As a Ph.D. candidate, you can either join the industry or academia as a faculty member. In this talk, I will provide a walkthrough on how to navigate the academic job market. As a recent faculty hire, I will share my experience and tips from searching for openings, document and interview preparation, to finally negotiating your package.


Presented at the "What's Next? Career Talk" session organized by RIT Doctoral Student Association

Date of Presentation: 01 September 2022
Location: Virtual

Searching and applying for a job can be one of the most exciting and stressful times for a student. As a Ph.D. candidate, you can either join the industry or academia as a faculty member. In this talk, I will provide a walkthrough on how to navigate the academic job market. As a recent faculty hire, I will share my experience and tips from searching for openings, document and interview preparation, to finally negotiating your package.


Presented at the "What's Next? Career Talk" session organized by RIT Doctoral Student Association

Date of Presentation: 01 September 2022
Location: Virtual

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Preparing for the Academic Job Market: Experience and Tips from a Recent Faculty Hire

  1. 1. Preparing for the Academic Job Market: Experience and Tips from a Recent Faculty Hire Anthony Peruma h t t p s : / / w w w . p e r u m a . m e September 01, 2022 D o c t o r a l S t u d e n t A s s o c i a t i o n , R I T
  2. 2. About Me Experience/Qualifications Assistant Professor University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, USA Ph.D. in Computing and Information Sciences Rochester Institute of Technology, USA Masters in Software Engineering Rochester Institute of Technology, USA 10+ years of industry experience Research Interests Program Comprehension - Identifier Naming Software Quality - Test Smells Software Refactoring Software Maintenance & Evolution Empirical Software Engineering https://www.peruma.me https://twitter.com/ShehanPeruma
  3. 3. Agenda 01 02 Application Proces s 03 I ntrod u ction Summar y A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  4. 4. Life after your Ph.D. Preparing for the stage of your career Your time as a Ph.D. student will end... It might take 3, 4, or even 6 years… but it will end! So, what's next? A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  5. 5. Industry vs. Academia Industry • Work in either research or engineering • Research based on the corporate vision • Possibility of applying your research in real-world settings • Higher salary than academia – can include stock options • Suitable if teaching is not your passion Academia • Freedom to decide on your research direction – You get to set and work on long-term research goals • Less pressure than industry – no client issues/deadlines; corporate red-tape/policies • Disseminate your research to the classroom and industry • Mentor and grow the next set of scientists/professionals • Funding can be a challenge A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  6. 6. Stages of the application process 02 01 06 04 03 05 A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  7. 7. Finding Job Postings
  8. 8. Where do I find academic job advertisements? https://www.higheredjobs.com/faculty https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs https://cra.org/ads https://jobs.chronicle.com https://careers.insidehighered.com/jobs #AcademicJobs #FacultyJobs #AcademicTwitter Email distribution lists o Check couple of times a week o Use filtering to narrow your search (e.g., location, tenure track..) o Watch out for cross- posts and outdated listings o Keep a sheet to track applications Date applied Required documents Recommenders Status (rejected, submitted, etc..) o Apply to many places as possible A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  9. 9. Application Package
  10. 10. Typical application package Teaching Statement Teaching Experience • Teaching Assistant • Guest/Full-Time Lecturer • Industry/Community Talks Teaching Methodology • Describe your techniques Mentoring Experience • REU/Undergrads/Masters • Mention some key achievements (e.g., papers..) Potential Courses • What new courses are you proposing? • What existing courses can you teach? Curriculum Vitae Typical Content • Short Bio • Education Qualifications • Employment History • Skills • Research Publications • Include a link to your Google Scholar profile • Mention how many are CORE A/B/C • Teaching Experience • Mentored Students • Service (Internal/External) • Academic Talks/Presentations • Awards/Accomplishments Research Statement Research Vision • Brief overview of your research area and its importance Research Experience • Elaborate on your research • Your long-term goal • Significant achievements and publications Future Research • Long-term and quick wins • Funding – Government (NSF), Industry, Internal… • Collabration – Faculty/Labs in the new university Diversity Statement Importance • Why is diversity, equity, and inclusion important to you? Experience • Working with and mentoring individuals from underrepresented groups • Key achievements Inclusiveness • How do you plan on supporting inclusiveness in research and the classroom • Utilize resources available in the university/government (e.g., REU) References Should be someone who knows your work • Advisor • Frequent collaborator The more references the better – spread the load Send them your CV and Statements Cover Letter Typical Content • Mention the position • Your approx. graduation date • 2-3 sentences about your research area • 2-3 sentences on your teaching experience • Why you’re a good fit for this position A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  11. 11. Interviews
  12. 12. The interview process Making it to the interview stage is an achievement! This is a two-way process – the faculty gets to know you better, and you get to know them (and the institute) better ● After review of your application documents ● 30 to 45 minute online (e.g., zoom) meeting ● If your phone interview was a success ● Multiple short 1:1 meetings ● A 1-hour presentation Full-Day Interview “Phone” Interview A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  13. 13. “Phone” Interview ● Vision/Mission of the department ● Unique initiatives in the department – e.g., diversity programs, student clubs, etc. ● Who in the department can you collaborate with? Why? 01 02 Research ● Keep it short! – Elevator pitch ● Long-term goal & future work ● Key achievements ● Sources of funding ● Exposure to grants 03 Teaching ● Experience ● Proposed courses ● Familiarity with existing courses ● Teaching style 04 Misc. ● Diversity/Inclusion experience & proposed initiatives ● Questions from you: ● Tenure requirements ● Teaching load ● Student recruitment ● Faculty mentoring ● Internal funding A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  14. 14. Dining & Tour A brief tour of the campus – ask to see what your office would look like and type of office furniture & computers –ask about parking Lunch/dinner with the hiring committee – ask questions (especially if you received conflicting answers from your 1:1 meetings) Presentation A one-hour presentation highlighting your research, teaching & diversity experience, and principles Attendees will be from multiple areas – make sure the presentation is easy to follow/understand Meetings Multiple 30-minute back-to- back meetings with students, faculty, chair, dean, and research executives; Mostly about research; you can ask questions about anything (e.g., cost of living, relocation, student hire) You’ll be repeating the same things in the meetings ☺ Full-Day Interview Either in-person or online Tip: if given a choice: opt for in-person; you’ll get a first hand experience of the place you’ll be calling home A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  15. 15. Suggested presentation content 01 Promote Yourself • Career roadmap (education & industry) • Publication highlights • Teaching experience • Awards/Accomplishments 02 Intro/Background • Use language understood by people not in your field • Emphasize the importance of the research problem 03 Ph.D. Research • Research goal & contributions • Overview and key findings of your studies 06 Diversity/Inclusion • Plan on supporting diversity & inclusion in research and the classroom 05 Teaching • Existing courses you plan to teach • Proposed courses 04 Future Work • Long-term research plans • Sources for funding and collaboration Presentation: 45 to 50 minutes; Q&A: 15 to 10 minutes A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  16. 16. Negotiation
  17. 17. You received an offer (hopefully multiple offers)! Congratulations! You’re almost done! This can be one of the most stressful parts of the process 01 Compare your salary Many public universities publish salary details on their webiste – you need to search for it (not easily accessible); Google search Compare benefits and tax (income, sales, property, etc.) 02 Startup breakdown Things to look for: equipment (computers, GPU, etc.), travel (how many years?), students (how many for how long? equipment costs), summer salary (how many years?), office furniture, relocation expenses 03 Teaching load Negotiate for one course per semester till tenure or at least the first three years – you’re new, and you need to build your research program You will be expected to teach graduate and undergraduate courses Salary data: https://data.chronicle.com https://www.insidehighered.com/aaup-compensation-survey https://www.higheredjobs.com/salary A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  18. 18. Negotiation Do not be intimidated by the negotiation process – this is a regular activity Let them know you’re evaluating multiple offers Your requests should be reasonable – provide a rationale You might need to share the offer letter for it to be matched Don’t feel bad for rejecting an offer – you need to find the best place to progress in your career Politely decline the offers that you’re not interested in – you don’t have to give them a reason; just thank them and wish them the best in their search Don’t renege the offer -- it just looks bad for you, your advisor(s), your recommenders, and your university Remember – the best offer is the one you accepted! A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  19. 19. Next Steps
  20. 20. Congratulations! You accepted an offer – what’s next? ● International students – start the application process for OPT or H1B; you cannot work without authorization ● Start on the onboarding process with HR ● Prepare for the course you will be teaching – slides, assignments, etc. ● Update your online/academic/social media profiles to reflect the institution and position ● Start working on your relocation – finding an apartment, moving companies, etc. ● Complete the write-up and defense of your dissertation! A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  21. 21. At the new place The first couple of weeks ● Meet the faculty and staff in the department – the department administrator/secretary is most likely your go-to person to find resources ● Attend the new faculty orientation sessions and complete the remaining in-person onboarding tasks (e.g., ID card) ● Become familiar with the software systems the university/department utilizes (e.g., learning/course management systems) ● Explore the campus – become familiar with the various buildings, offices and restaurants ● Don’t be afraid to ask for help – you’re new and not expected to know everything! A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  22. 22. Summary
  23. 23. Summary Start Early Writing statements can be time-consuming and will require multiple rewrites and reviews; some institutes might set constraints on content Your letter writers need time to write their recommendations Apply to Many Some places have already decided on who they want, and this is just a formality Keep track of where you apply and when Don’t be disappointed if your top choice doesn’t select you Good Fit Spend time learning about the place you’re applying to Show that you’re a good fit: - Customizing your statements - Talking points in your interviews Ask questions! Negotiate Don’t be afraid to ask for the package you deserve You only get one startup package – make it count! - Sufficient to grow your research program for the first 3 years A n t h on y Per u m a https://www.peruma.me
  24. 24. Thanks! Anthony S. Peruma, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Information and Computer Sciences Department University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa peruma@hawaii.edu https://www.peruma.me

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