Modern Language Association
Viewing convention Program information from 2013

Session Details

21. Avenues of Access for Recent PhDs

Saturday, 3 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Fairfax B, Sheraton

A special session

Presiding: Belinda Wheeler, Paine Coll.

Speakers: Joseph Donica, Wiley Coll.; Anca Luca Holden, Mount Holyoke Coll.; Thomas Lawrence Long, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs; M. Stephanie Murray, Carnegie Mellon Univ.; Belinda Wheeler

Session Description:

The avenues of access for recent PhDs are shrinking. With the academy becoming "far less accessible for aspiring college professors," we need to "reverse this trend" and "advance the discussion of alternative career paths for PhDs" (Bérubé). This roundtable opens up a discussion of how upcoming or recent PhDs can successfully navigate the challenging job market.


Subject:

  • The Profession – General

Author Comment
Subject: Time Conflict
It seems strange that this session was scheduled at the same time as the Pre-Convention sessions for job seekers. Any thoughts on this conflict?
Subject: Scheduling
Thank you for sharing your concerns about the scheduling of this session. Whenever possible, we do work to limit subject conflicts so that registrants can attend as many sessions as possible related to their interests.

The process of putting together the convention program, with 3,000 participants in close to 800 sessions, however, is an intricate one. Apart from the obvious need not to schedule any one of the 3,000 session participants for two meetings in the same time slot, we need to consider room size, audiovisual requests, ADA-related needs, religious observance requests, and health needs. Forums require special scheduling consideration, and governance-related sessions have predetermined dates and times. Sessions sponsored by the same organization cannot conflict. These factors limit the available options for all sessions and make it difficult to rearrange sessions after the convention schedule has been finalized.

I hope this background helps explain some of the constraints involved in scheduling convention sessions. My colleagues and I thank you again for sharing your thoughts and will make note of them in planning next year’s program.
Subject: More information about Session 21
Dear colleagues:

Heather, I want to thank you for your initial question about the scheduling conflict, and Maribeth, I would like to thank you for your response.

As the roundtable organizer and participant of session 21, Avenues of Access for Recent PhDs, I thought I might add some additional information that may help decide what session might be the best fit for your current needs.

For session 21, all participants are newly-minted PhDs (or relatively new), who will be discussing how we successfully navigated the challenging job market. Some of us are in tenure-track Assistant Prof. positions, but some of us are not. For our roundtable each of the five (5) participants will talk about our experiences (5-7 minutes each), we will then answer some pre-arranged questions (mostly tips/ strategies/ advice for others), and then we will open up the floor for questions. Our questions may touch upon some of the specific things we did in order to land a job (interview questions, adapting a cv, for example), but it will not be like the ADE Executive Committee's panel (session 6), which will discuss broader "aspects of the job search—including letters of application and recommendation, curriculum vitae, interviews at the convention and on campus, waiting out a sluggish market, and negotiating an offer." Also, session 6 will be run by established scholars in the field, chairs etc., while ours is not. I have attended the ADE Executive Committee's panel in the past and they do offer excellent general strategies for those individuals who are on the market or considering entering the market. They also always provide excellent general handouts for the audience "do's and don'ts before your interview," "cv strategies" etc.

Here is a small preview of what we will be discussing in session/panel 21:

One participant secured a tenure-track position in English at a Historically Black College, via a traditional interview opportunity, but his interview experiences were unlike any he had experienced elsewhere or heard of before;

Another participant successfully juggled location and family commitments to secure two visiting appointments in German Studies at two different private all-women colleges and an adjunct faculty position in English at a community college;

Another participant secured an associate professor-in-residence position in the School of Nursing at a Research 1 institution after a networking opportunity enabled him to create a new position within the university;

Another participant utilized several strengths to create a hybrid position – associate director, academic advisor, and adjunct assistant professor of English – as an alternative to the tenure track at a Research 1 institution;

The final participant, a former international student, obtained a tenure-track Generalist position within the English Department at a Historically Black College, but she did so through a non-traditional interview opportunity. Though the participant is in a Generalist position, she has utilized creative ways to ensure her research interests in American and African American literature are a central part of her classroom practices and campus activities.

I hope this information helps. The MLA Convention is always filled with interesting/exciting panels. Whether you are able to attend session 6 or session 21 next month I hope you find the material exceptionally helpful.

Thanks,
Belinda

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