How to land an #altac job at a university

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Blog, Main

This past Saturday, I was a panelist at the “Beyond the Professoriate” web conference hosted by Jennifer Polk and Maren Wood. I participated in their higher education panel, where four of us talked about our experiences working in #altac positions still within the university. (Other panels focused on corporate jobs, non-profit or government jobs, and more for PhDs.) My fellow panelists offered some great advice, and there was an active Twitter backchannel throughout the day. If you’re interested in the conversation, you can search for the conference hashtag, #beyondprof, or check out the Storify feed that Jennifer put together after Saturday’s discussion.

I promised to blog about my talk. We only spoke briefly, about 10 minutes total, describing both our current positions and then offering advice from experience. I narrowed my time down to three main points for PhDs or EdDs who are interested in applying to alt-ac jobs within universities or colleges:

1. Work Your Network

Searches for these professional positions work quite differently than tenure track jobs. So, work your network just like you might have to for an industry position — both in order to hear about new postings and in applying and interviewing for them. Search job boards at schools all year round, not just during hiring season. Contact people you know within units to ask them about positions potentially opening up, or to find out more about the job once it has been posted. Ask them to put in a good word for you if you’ve applied, or ask faculty or others you might know at the university to put in a good word for you with the person in charge of the search. The hiring also works on a much shorter timeline than tenure track positions, so do your research early in the process and keep yourself fresh on the job and unit if you are called for an interview.

2. Show Them Your Vision

So, what kind of research should you be doing for these jobs? This is where the leg work for the position comes in. You may know that many alt-ac jobs are relatively new within universities, at least in the long history of higher education. This means that for many of the institutions you would be applying to, a particular position could be brand new, like mine was, or at least have a short history. You want to understand where the position fits into the structure of the unit (a specific college, the Graduate School, extension education, and so on). Who is the supervisor? What are the goals of the job, and how does that fit with the mission of the unit? Who has been in the job previously (f you can find out)? Search that person to find their expertise.

When you know the basics of the unit and the position, you are primed to do the most critical work in applying: show them your vision. In my case, the position of Director and Thesis and Dissertation Support Services was a brand new role. The Deans in the Graduate School knew they wanted to hire an expert in writing across the disciplines and genre theory who could offer writing instruction and support to graduate students across the university. They wrote the position and had it approved by the Provost, touting their vision for improving graduate degree completion for NC State.

However, they had very little insight into exactly how this mission could be executed. This is where I swung for the fences in my application and interview. In my cover letters, I wrote briefly about a vision for this brand new office and how I would use my research from my PhD to develop genre-based services for graduate students. This got my application noticed. For my interviews (I had three total), I assembled a complete package of my vision for Thesis and Dissertation Support Services: I mocked up a one year plan, complete with a list of seminars and workshops, each with their own learning outcomes; I included strategic planning such as meeting with Directors of Graduate Programs and college deans to learn about graduate student needs across the university; I developed a plan for a week-long Dissertation Institute for doctoral candidates (which I will actually be running next week!).

It was risky to spend so much time mocking up what the office would look like, but in the end, this showed the hiring committee that they could have confidence in hiring me because I had a vision for the building an office of graduate student support from scratch — something they didn’t know how to do but knew they needed to hire. I also demonstrated that I would need very little supervision to get the office off of the ground. This is key for many alt-ac positions at universities, as they tend to have very little day-to-day supervision (of course, depending on the unit). But overall you are expected to work independently, make sound decisions, and do work that overall contributes to the success of the unit without relying on approval from others.

The key with showing them your vision is that you make yourself valuable to the institution. Many deans or faculty in charge of hiring alt-ac positions have a hard time visualizing the jobs because they are much more familiar with the tenure track and adjunct faculty models. So, show them you can do the job by showing up with a plan.

Of course, if the job has previously existed, your research and visioning will look a little different. You may want to be a bit more conservative in your planning, as you’ll have an existing structure to work into. Learn as much as you can about the program or office; if you can’t answer basic questions about it in the interview, you’ve blown your changes. Know what you like about the job or programming, and know what might be some things you could advocate to do differently or add as new. Overall, your goal is to show you understand the role, fit into it, and can help them grow and be successful. Which brings me to my third point:

3. Understand the University

If you land an interview, and as well if you are offered the job, you have to understand what role your position plays in the larger university picture. You also have to understand how to manage the daily operations of your job. This requires research and a good bit of knowledge with certain processes within the university (some that you won’t discover until you start). For your interview, you should absolutely know the strategic plan and mission of the university, as this guides the work the units do on campus. How does your work contribute to that? Be able to speak to this in your interview. Don’t brag about your knowledge, but know for instance that your university is focusing on internationalization, so part of your job as Career Center Director might be increasing the university’s international internships (and put that in your visioning documents!).

You’ll also need to know things like where funding comes from and how it can be spend. For example, in North Carolina, state-funded institutions like NC State cannot spend state monies on food or beverages. In my case, the likelihood of my office getting a budget AT ALL was slim to none (and indeed, my budget this year was $0), so I talked about how I could build services that could help graduate more students while using no funds at all.

Don’t fret though: This is where your time spent doing a doctorate comes in. You’ve probably served on committees, attended functions across campus, and had other experiences where you’ve gleaned insight into the university. Especially if you are applying where you got your degree, put this information to good use! And if you’re still early in the process, know that taking on some of the opportunities that come your way are an important element of professional development if you are interested in pursuing alt-ac jobs.

Of course, these are just the three key points I focused on this past Saturday. There are plenty of great sites with alt-ac advice out there — perhaps that’s a good idea for a future aggregated links post! What other advice do you have for folks pursuing alt-ac opportunities in higher education? Please feel free to share in the comments.

Are you using all of the resources available to you, like the fabulous Hunt Library?

Resources for Graduate Students at N.C. State

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Blog, Main
Are you using all of the resources available to you, like the fabulous Hunt Library?
Are you using all of the resources available to you, like the fabulous Hunt Library Graduate Student Commons?

This post is intended to aggregate and summarize the many resources available to graduate students at N.C. State. Often these units are spread across the university, and it can be hard to find them all. If I have missed something, leave a comment, and I’ll be sure to add it.

Academic & Professional Preparation

Thesis & Dissertation Support Services (TDSS)

Of course, I have to start with my own services. We offer scholarly writing instruction and best practices for graduate school to help students better understand the global process of writing a thesis or dissertation. We offer many seminars, workshops, and other resources for students, primarily focused on writing. These services are brand new for Fall 2013 and are constantly expanding. TDSS: We put the creation of scholarship within reach of students.

Preparing Future Leaders (PFL)

PFL offers evidence-based programs, support, and coaching that guide students through the best practices of leadership. This premier community exemplifies creative engagement, reflective practice, and multi-disciplinary collaboration through workshops, seminars, and longer certificate and fellowship programs for graduate students. Their offerings cover teaching, job applications, and planning for being a future faculty member. These are you go-to people for professional development!

Graduate Writing Center

The new (in fall 2013) Graduate Writing Center is open for all graduate students to bring non-exam related writing materials that they would like feedback on. Writing consultants are trained tutors who can help students in any discipline with writing at any stage, whether it’s an outline, first draft, or final draft. Make your appointment online today!

Library Research Workshops

The amazing folks at the NCSU Libraries offer a wide variety of research-related workshops for graduate students, including Writing Research Article Introductions, Searching Scholarly Databases, Publishing Smartly, and more! These are great particularly for newer graduate students to help you get acclimated to the expectations of a research career and the processes you will be doing constantly.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

While technically a component of Preparing Future Leaders (above), RCR deserves its own mention for the importance of the programming that it runs. Their programming covers all elements of academic and research integrity, including data management, ethics, and more. If your assistantship or work is funded by an NSF or NIH grant, you will have to take the short course they developed in order to meet those funding agencies’ requirements.

Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD)

The Graduate School’s IMSD grant program helps to support and fund diversity in graduate school, specifically for students in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Through this program, students can apply for additional need-based funding for their degree and other retention programs for diverse students in these fields.

University Graduate Student Association (UGSA)

The UGSA is an important resource for graduate students at N.C. State. Part of your student fees go toward supporting this organization, which in turns provides programming and opportunities. They offer competitive travel awards to help fund conference attendance and co-sponsor the annual Research Symposium where you can try your hand at presenting your research at a local conference. Follow them on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, and watch for their newsletter, PawPrints, to keep you up to date on the opportunities they have for you.

Health & Well Being

Counseling Center

Life in grad school can be overwhelming at times. NCSU has a great Counseling Center that is open to all graduate students (for free!) to talk about any issues you would like to discuss. They also frequently offer group sessions, some of which are highly relevant to graduate students, such as “The Perfection Trap.”

Carmichael Gym

Your student fees include membership to the gym! Now that I’m no longer a student, I regret not taking advantage of this more than a few swim sessions and tennis matches. They offers tons of group classes and have great facilities. There’s nothing like a good workout to help mitigate the stress of grad school!

ARTS NC State

In my opinion, getting a graduate education isn’t just about the coursework and research, but it’s also about culture. ARTS NC State has a wide variety of events and shows both on campus and throughout Raleigh. Whatever your preference — music, fashion, theater, art — there are events for you!

As you can see, there is a wide variety of resources available to graduate students here at N.C. State. I hope you can take advantage of many of them while you are here!

Live blog: Managing your online identity professional development workshop

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Blog, Main

I’m live-blogging the second professional development workshop of the fall semester for CRDM, “Maintaining Your Online Identity.” Special thanks to CRDM faculty member David Rieder and CRDM-affiliated faculty member Brad Mehlenbacher for sharing their insights and websites with us today.
David starts by indicating he has a static website for a reason: that maintaining a dynamic site requiring constant updating can be quite time consuming. Message: use your time wisely.
Brad features a new page he created his website about online identity management for academics. He offers that the website has come to serve as his vita and/or portfolio. It’s a fairly comprehensive record of his work as an academic.
Dave shows his website and offers several ideas: 1) He maintains a simple, static site to keep it manageable; 2) He used an open-source template; 3) He codes by hand (hey, another old schooler like me!). He emphasizes that for those in the humanities, “flashy” isn’t a standard, and that sites should be usable on a variety of platforms and possibly printable. He also recommends using a hit tracker to identify your audience (he has used Reinvigorate; Brad, ClustrMap) and to better tailor your materials based on where your hits are and the heat map information that is generated.
Brad emphasizes not having a personal section on a website when you’re on the job market – and Dave heartily agrees – to avoid inviting unwanted biases about you as a candidate. Post-job market, Dave offers that the amount of personal information you include on a website depends on how comfortable you are with doing so, but that it’s certainly not necessary.
Brad also uses his site as a resource for teaching, giving talks, etc. He aggregates information as he comes across it and can easily use for his own preparation or to give to students.
Dave remarks that our websites should be a key marketing tool for us on the job market, and we should see it as an opportunity to self-market and become more visible. Search committee members may not all be on Twitter or Academia.edu, but they will certainly Google you – so control the material that appears when they find your site.
Wendi asks a question: “To what extent should your website replicate your CV?” Dave warns: the more information you put out there, the more you offer yourself to be critiqued on, so select the information you put online carefully. Put out enough to support the ethos you present for yourself in your job applications.
Dave and Brad both recommend including brief descriptions of the teaching experience you’ve had: titles of courses, semester taught, and a brief blurb (potentially the catalog description, if it’s not too clunky).
We end with a discussion of really putting yourself out there vs. displaying limited information about yourself, such as only your most recent work. Some academics have earned great recognition based on their open web presence (Cheryl Ball, for instance) and that this is something that each of us will have to negotiate individually as we decide what kinds of jobs we’ll be applying for.
Of course, the workshop was further reaching and with more of the nitty-gritty details than I’ve offered here. We had a great time with lively discussion – if you’re in CRDM, be sure to come to the next workshops in the spring to be a part of the conversation!

Fall semester happenings

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Blog, Main

I’ve gotten pretty behind on updating the blog this month, so I thought I’d do a post with “quick hits” on the the things I’ve been up to and what’s on my radar in the coming weeks. I need to focus on writing more – both scholarly and non (including the blog!) – so here goes!

I’ll start with some good news: I’ve finalized my dissertation committee! My chair will be Carolyn R. Miller, SAS Institute Distinguished Professor here at NCSU. The other three members of my committee are Bill Kinsella (Communication), Nancy Penrose (English) and David Rieder (English). They are all members of the CRDM program here at NCSU, and I’m so excited to have a great team behind me. The next step now is finalizing my exam reading lists, which I’ll do between now and the new year, so that I can begin reading for exams in January. My exam areas are (approximately; subject to more specific language as I construct the lists): rhetorical genre theory, rhetoric of science and environment, and digital media theory.

I think I’ve settled in to my administrative jobs with both the Campus Writing and Speaking Program and the First Year Writing Program. I’ve hosted a few successful workshops thus far and have a few more planned for the year with the CWSP team. One of my major projects for the FYWP will be coordinating assessment of our recently-implemented hybrid writing classes in conjunction with our large program-wide assessment in the spring. These admin roles are a welcome change of pace from teaching, and I think the jobs really agree with me – but, to get used to all the meetings!

Next week I’m traveling with Susan Miller-Cochran to give an invited talk on hybrid writing classrooms for a group of instructors in the mid-West. I’ve written before about teaching hybrid classrooms both on this blog and my WPA Hybrid Guide site, and I’m really looking forward to working with instructors at other institutions. I definitely plan to write more after the trip and will hopefully share some Tweets as we travel, too.

In two weeks I’m heading to Cleveland for the annual conference for the Society for the Social Studies of Science. I’ll be presenting my research (done with Ashley R. Kelly) on discourse about nuclear energy in the Carolinas post-Fukushima. CRDM students just heard this week that we’ll receive some funding for conference travel this year – that great news arrives just in time for this conference! I’m so glad to be in a program that can support our professional development activities and has administrators that will go to bat for us to get us the much-needed funding.

 I’ve taken on a few service-oriented tasks this fall as well – conference proposal reviewing, textbook reviewing for a publisher, throwing my name in the ring for a professional organization’s board – and am glad to start (net)working with professionals in the field beyond NCSU. I know it’s important for my development as a scholar, but I’m also keenly tuned to the discourse I hear for/from graduating CRDMers and the job market. My biggest struggle as I do my PhD is not the work itself, but what kind of work I take on. There is so much work associated with being a scholar, educator, and administrator that the real issue seems to be what work is most beneficial for my professional growth and – let’s be honest here – getting a job. Balance is a word that I hear frequently. Too much service and committees might think a candidate can’t get research done. Too much research (if there is such a thing) and committees won’t think a candidate is a team player who will make a good departmental colleague. Or is it just that when you’re a PhD student, you just need to make your CV as long as possible? As the accomplishments of newly-minted PhDs get better and better every year, the idea behind getting a tenure-track job seems to be doing as much as humanly possible.

Back to reading!

My Techno-Teaching Philosophy

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Blog, Main

This week, for my CRD 704 core class, Technology and Pedagogy in Communication Arts, I created a techno-teaching philosophy to present to the class. Our guidelines were basically to create a teaching philosophy using some kind of technology. I ended up using several different software programs, online freeware, and hyperlinks in my finished product: Adobe Indesign, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Fireworks, Adobe Acrobat, Glogster, WordPress, and Apple’s Pages to create my techno-teaching philosophy infographic.

I’ll include a small image of the file here, with a link to my online portfolio where the infographic is actually posted. I encourage you to check out the full-size view, complete with all of the embedded links that help to explain many of the graphics. What follows is the brief written description of the infographic that I’ve included as an accompaniment to the visual representation of my teaching philosophy. I welcome any feedback that you have. Hope you enjoy!

——————————————————————————————-

For a full size view, click here
Teaching is a major part of my identity as a scholar; indeed, it is a major part of the reason why I have chosen this profession. The same commitment that I have to the scholarship of rhetoric propels my teaching. This infographic represents key points of my teaching in the academy. 
Medium

I have chosen to present my techno-teaching philosophy in an infographic format to reflect some key components of my scholarly and teaching identity: to feature my interests in new media, design, and visual rhetoric; to visually represent myself as a cheerful, upbeat person; and to demonstrate that I stay informed of current trends (one of which is currently the use of an infographic to represent data and other information). Infographics feature carefully selected research and data, presented in a highly-organized but visually-pleasing format, in order for the audience to draw a larger conclusion about the featured topic. My argument with this presentation is that it echoes my teaching style: thoughtfully constructed lesson plans, presented in a way that is provoking and fun for students by relating to their interests, which allow them to draw larger conclusions about the topic as a whole that we are discussing. 

Content

My teaching philosophy infographic is divided into three main sections: who and what I teach, my scholarly grounding in teaching, and evidence of teaching excellence. This presentation shows a trajectory of planning, implementation, and results, a reflection of how I approach assessment of my teaching. 

I begin with the audience for my instruction, “digital natives,” who while they may have grown up using a computer cannot be assumed to understand technology as those in my graduate program understand it. Here I can bring to my students a level of critical thinking and technological competence that will benefit their own use in years to come. I also use technology, social media, and digital media as a konoi topoi, or common topic, to spark discussion or use as an example. 

Knowing my audience also means recognizing not only what they want to learn, but how they want to learn. I teach both face-to-face and hybrid classes, knowing the growing trend in higher education of students take at least one of their courses in blended format. I’ve also linked this statistic to my web resource, The WPA’s Guide to the Hybrid Writing Classroom, to demonstrate my work in the scholarship of teaching and learning. 

The central portion of my infographic represents my scholarly grounding for teaching. As a rhetorically-trained scholar, I build my courses around principles of rhetoric that will most benefit students both while in school and once they begin their careers. I emphasize the rhetorical canons – invention, arrangement, style, memory, delivery – and the rhetorical triangle, incorporating related topics of genre and the rhetorical appeals as we explore a wide range of texts, including written, visual, oral, digital, and multi-modal. This approach demonstrates a valuing of the foundational scholarship in the field while at the same time letting students realize that these key concepts can still be applied to the work and the technology they have today. 

I end with a demonstration of my teaching excellence. While in graduate school, I have endeavored to acquire many skills and listen to many excellent teachers to improve my own instruction. I’ve completed the Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching, and next fall, will be doing the Preparing the Professoriate program. My commitment to teaching is recognized by both my students and my department, as evidenced by my evaluations and TA of the Year award. 

Conclusion

From this infographic, it should be clear that my teaching is dynamic, disciplinarily cutting edge, and demanding, all while being grounded in scholarship and principles of effective pedagogy. This multi-modal infographic has allowed me to expand my understanding of what a teaching philosophy can be and to better represent my personal approach to teaching.

Latest academic adventure: Guest editor for Enculturation

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Blog, Main

I am very excited to announce today that my fellow CRDM student Ashley R. Kelly and I will be guest editors for an upcoming special issue of Enculturation, based on the Computers and Writing Conference that will be held at NCSU next May!

Here’s the official call for manuscripts. Please share widely. Computers and Writing 2012 will be a great conference, and this special issue will highlight the best work!

Call for Papers: Special Computers and Writing Special Issue of Enculturation


ArchiTEXTure: Composing and Constructing in Digital Spaces
Guest Editors
Meagan Kittle Autry, North Carolina State University
Ashley R. Kelly, North Carolina State University 

We welcome manuscript submissions for a special issue of Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture. For this issue, we invite papers originating from presentations given at Computers and Writing 2012, “ArchiTEXTure: Composing and Constructing in Digital Spaces.” Under this theme, conference organizers encourage submitters to consider issues, challenges, and benefits specifically related to the production of digital texts. Additionally, submissions are encouraged to consider questions that both address “archiTEXTure” in the classroom and as part of a scholarly agenda. If your presentation is accepted for the C&W conference, we encourage you to submit your manuscript for publication in this special issue.  
  
The goal of this conference is to move beyond traditional, print-based examinations of new media objects as texts. Thus, we are interested in how digital spaces and new media objects interact with and influence the ways that we compose ourselves, our classrooms and our scholarly work. The archiTEXTure of new media can be the media object itself, but can also be the the contexts, spaces, bodies, materials, ideas, and histories of media. The TEXTure of the media could be the screen, but it could also be the differing surfaces and materials of media. In the space between the competing materialities of classroom and text, we can ask questions about construction, process, movement, and change.

Media & Genres

We welcome a mix of media and genres to reflect the various presentation types featured at Computers and Writing 2012: individual presentations, interactive installations, CREATE! sessions, or ConstrucTEXT presentations. Traditional essays, hypertexts, videos, and multimedia projects are all suitable for publication in Enculturation
Schedule

Inquiries from authors to guest editors begin: September 25, 2011 (Not all submissions must be queried first, but authors are welcome to correspond about their ideas)
Conference proposals due by: October 22, 2011
Notifications to presenters sent: December 15, 2011
Manuscript submissions due by: Final day of C&W conference, May 20, 2012
Notifications to authors sent: July 15, 2012
Revised manuscripts due by: September 1, 2012
Publication date: October 1, 2012

Submission Guidelines

Please send queries and submissions to guest editors at cwspecialissue[at]gmail[dot]com. 

Email should include author name(s), email address(es), and title of submission within the body. Please ensure no identifying information is contained within your file submission. Submissions should be attached as .doc or .rtf formats. If you are submitting a non-print text, please email the guest editors to inquire regarding appropriate formats for your submission. 

A wild time at Wildacres: Carolina WPA Conference recap

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Blog, Main

For two and a half days this week, I got to escape my tethered technological lifestyle and escape to the mountains of North Carolina to Wildacres, a conference center and retreat in Little Switzerland, NC. There, I attended the Carolinas Writing Program Administrators’ fall conference with fellow administrators at North Carolina State. It was my first year attending the conference, and I am glad for the opportunity to meet other WPAs from institutions around the Carolinas – it was an excellent networking opportunity.

The entrance to Wildacres. Source: Wildacres.org

We arrived late Monday afternoon, weaving up the top of a mountain. The conference center is a quaint assemblage of wooden cabins and larger buildings, some residential, some with open conference space, and one large mess hall. Yes, a mess hall – we were commanded to each meal by the ringing of a bell. (I didn’t know anyone still did that!) The mission of Wildacres is to provide a retreat and conference space for non-profit organizations, particularly in the arts, and to give attendees a chance to reconnect with nature. There are no TVs in the rooms at Wildacres, nor phones nor clocks, and our group quickly ate up the limited wifi bandwidth available – and crashed it for the remaining time that we were there!

This year’s conference theme was grant writing and funding, an increasingly important component of a WPA job. Our own Susan Miller-Cochran spoke the first evening about national WPA council grants that are available, providing insight from her years of experience on the council. Tuesday was a full day of workshops, including discussion from Tim Peeples at Elon, who spoke from his experience as an Associate Provost about how to apply for and win internal grant funding. Meg Morgan at UNC-Charlotte talked about finding national funding sources, and Michelle Eble from East Carolina University gave an overview of researching and writing grant proposals. The sessions combined informative discussion and writing (hey, we are WPAs, after all) that left us all feeling a little more confident about applying for grant money for our own programs.

Our two day mini-retreat was not all work, though – there was plenty of time for socializing, games, and and bonfire. While I certainly learned a lot about grants, the best part for me was the social time, talking to other WPAs from the Carolinas and making important connections for when I’m on the job market in two years (still such a long ways away!). Groups members are clearly close friends, and were open and welcoming to newbies/grad students in attendance. On the first night, we had an informal ping pong (table tennis for all the serious players out there) tournament, which yours truly is proud to say she is the champion of. Guess I’ll have to go next year to defend my title! Our final night, the staff at Wildacres held a bonfire for us, and we enjoyed more socialization, roasting marshmallows, and some banjo and guitar entertainment provided by a couple of members. We awoke Wednesday morning to a dreary, rainy day at the top of the mountain, and after a quick breakfast and “beat you in ping pong next year!” we were on the road back to Raleigh.

The rocking chairs were a popular spot for socializing. Source: Wildacres.org.

It was truly a good time had by all, and I got the sense that the writing program administrators’ community is not just a professional group, but a community in the true sense of the word, where members look out for one another and are working together to achieve their goals and to improve writing programs at all institutions. This was also a good time for me to get to know my fellow NCSU administrators better, too. Special thanks to the First Year Writing Program at NCSU and director Susan Miller-Cochran for the opportunity to participate!

Professional development as a PhD student

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Blog, Main

This week I applied for a position in my department as the Graduate Assistant Director of the First Year Writing Program. It’s a great opportunity to pursue my interests in higher education administration, to get some practical experience on the job, and to work with one of the most respected directors in the country. I was so excited when I got the call for applications in my email and started working on it right away.

The call asked for a “letter of interest.” Sitting down to write it, I realized – I’ve never heard of a “letter of interest” before. I’ve certainly never written one. I’ve never attended a workshop on writing them or heard a word about them in any professional development work I’ve done. I’ve heard and seen a lot of information on writing a cover letter and a CV, reading a job call, etc. Because it was an internal call – only PhD students who teach in the program are eligible to apply for the position – I’m assuming that’s why only a letter of interest, and not a complete job application, was necessary. However, if this is a common practice for applying for internal jobs, as a graduate student, I’d certainly welcome some guidance in writing for those.

I worked on some ideas, drafted what I thought I would include to demonstrate my interest in the position, and did what any smart student does – sent it out for peer review! With the help of someone in my cohort, I think I’ve produced a strong letter that demonstrates exactly why I’m not only interested in the job but also highly qualified to take the position.

However, it leaves me wondering if my letter of interest fits the genre. What goes into an internal letter of interest? How common of a practice is that in higher education? For instance, if you’re an associate professor applying to be the director of graduate programs, do you write a letter of interest? Do you complete an application? Or is this the only time in my life I’ll see a job opening that will require (and only require) a letter of interest?

I’m also helping facilitate a series of professional development workshops for PhD students in our program. This reminds me that I need to “think outside of the box” for workshops and ask around for important information that’s not necessarily the standard PD workshop material. Inevitably, there’s always something you haven’t heard of before that you have to work on for your job application that I want to see if we can cover if at all possible. Which reminds me – I’d better start on the first workshop! January has nearly passed us by.

Cheers!