Thursday, January 27, 2011

Job Search

That is not the face of a happy camper. I've been sick this week (and sleeping 12+ hours every night) and yesterday I woke up with a blocked sinus, which made my face hurt really badly. There must be something going around because some of the healthiest, strongest people I know are just dying. My boss joked (I think?) that he doesn't want to come in to work on Friday because so many of us are sick.

So, how have you been? I've missed blogging, but I just didn't have anything exciting to tell you. I haven't made any exciting food before tonight. I made some pasta + veggies last weekend, and a bad batch of wild rice soup (too much rice) and neither recipe was worth sharing, but both were completely edible. I didn't have to cook at all until today. That 'recipe' will be at the end of the post...

This is good because I've been trucking on job applications and preparing for an upcoming interview (!!!!!!!). I was just going to blow off blogging for the week, and tell you all that I was once again working on job applications....but then I realized that you probably don't understand why this takes so much of my time!  So, if you're curious, this is what I'm doing:

I am applying for jobs as an Assistant Professor of (Bio)chemistry. I am looking at schools with 4 year programs for undergraduates, and I am also entertaining the idea of working with Master's level graduate programs. My job will consist of mostly teaching and a small research program that I do with undergraduates/young graduate students.

I find these jobs at websites like:

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Higher Ed Jobs
American Chemical Society
Science Careers
Nature Jobs

Once I find a job that I want to apply for, I have to prepare several documents specifically for each one.

Curriculum vitae - Like a resume for the academic world.

Cover Letter - 1-1.5 page business letter. This is very specific to the school and requires me to really sell myself and my skills to their school.

Teaching Philosophy - This is a 1-3 page document written in essay format. It describes my experiences teaching and how I like to lead my classroom and teach students. For the most part, this document stays the same for each application, but some schools require the 'short' version and some like the 'long' version.

Research Interests & Plans - 1-7 page document describing my research plans. My research is REALLY AWESOME, but I have to sell my idea to each school. They have to believe that my research is publishable, that I can do it with undergraduates and minimal funding, and that I can do it with the supplies and equipment that each school has. I also need to tie myself in to existing research at those schools. This document is exhausting. It's actually HARDER when it's short.  

Reference Letters/Contacts - Some schools require letters e-mailed from each of my references along with the application, some just want reference information so that they can contact my references if I make it past the first cut. I have a core group of references and then I have a couple that I switch in and out as I see fit. I always feel so bad bothering them for letters though!

When I am done, I have a 10-15 page document that is specifically tailored to the program and the schools. This takes a ton of time. I have applied to 6 schools and am preparing another 4 applications in the next few weeks. It's paying off though! I am a finalist at one of the top schools on my list, and I have some confidence that if they see something in me based on my application materials, then other schools might as well. I have heard horror stories of people who applied for 50+ jobs to get two interviews and one offer, so I am happy to not be in that boat...yet.

Now that you feel my pain, I'll reward you with a recipe. It's not really a recipe as much as an assembly. One thing that we really like to make at our house is taco salad. It's easy. It's filling. It's delicious.

First, crush some chips in the bottom of a bowl. This is ~1 serving.

Then top with a salad mix.
(Thanks Fiance for the action shots!)
This is a mix of lettuce, spinach, broccoli slaw, carrots, red pepper, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
Top with taco meat or seasoned beans, tempeh, or tofu.
This was 1 lb of 93% beef + 1 lb skinless ground turkey. Seasoned with chili powder, garlic powder, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and salt.
I used 2/3 c meat.
Then you top it with the good stuff! I used avocado (about 1/2-2/3 of a whole one), light sour cream, and salsa.
The fiance used cheese, avocado, sour cream, and salsa.

His & Hers.

Ok, I just made some 'healthy' chocolate mousse, so if that turns out, I'll let you know.Time to go enjoy my hard work!

I have a job interview on Feb 7-8th. I am one of four finalists, and I think I interview in the middle of the group. Any advice for me? I would love to hear any ideas on how to land this job!


  1. Frannie,

    I had the opportunity to sit through interviews of candidates at UWSP when I was teaching chemistry labs there. I found it a valuable experience and it gave me some great insight into good interviewing.

    1. Be yourself. The length and time of the interview does not bode well to being fake. I doubt you'll have any issues with this.
    2. Make sure you can convince the other professors that you know your stuff. If they feel that at any point you don't know what you're talking about, that's it.
    3. Don't lie. If you don't know, you don't know.
    4. Make sure your research presentation (usually public) pops. That can really seal the deal and shows that you can handle yourself in front of crowds.

    Honestly, I don't think you'll have any problems. You're a rock star. Now the chemistry departments just have to see it.

  2. Hey lady! I had the opportunity to be around for two faculty searches and one director search while a student. I am sure your colleagues can give you great advice from a professional perspective, but from a student perspective, I always appreciated the candidates that could relate to my level. The ones that could drop their research to my understanding (particularly when I was an undergrad and didn't necessarily know all the lingo yet) were always better in my mind. I was also partial to those that had a grasp of what they had previously taught, could give specific examples of 'success' and 'failure' stories in teaching, and could show a genuine interest in what they plan to bring to the table with respect to educating the next generation.

    Keep in mind, this was from a student's perspective, and I know that many more components go into the decision-making process when schools are choosing a new faculty member :)

    BEST OF LUCK to you, ma'am!