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The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job Paperback – August 4, 2015
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“Kelsky offers wide-ranging, valuable advice and an important perspective for job seekers.” - Booklist
“Every graduate student in academe should read this book. But also: if you teach graduate students, if you mentor graduate students, if you worry about graduate students, and even if you’re thinking about becoming a graduate student, you should read this book too. It’s just that indispensable.”– Michael Bérubé, Director, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, Penn State University
"Kelsky offers smart, frank, and often witty advice to lead applicants through the complicated process of securing a tenure-track position..this cogent, illuminating book will be indispensable." - Kirkus Reviews
“It's tough out there, but no one understands how academic jobs are landed better than Karen Kelsky. If you are a graduate student, The Professor Is In offers sound, realistic advice, and it may be the most valuable book you ever read if you intend to have an academic career. – William Pannapacker, Professor of English at Hope College and columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education
“Karen Kelsky levels the playing field, providing practical insider knowledge to demystify the job market and help you improve the odds. - David M. Perry, Columnist, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Director of Undergraduate Research, Dominican University
“Explains in exquisite detail exactly how to land a tenure track job. In her genial yet unabashedly thorough book, Kelsky coaches readers through the critical topics they need to know. I wouldn’t want to navigate the inhospitable weirdness of the academic job market without it.” – Adam Ruben, author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School
“Getting a job is about more than being smart; read this book if you want to be prepared, professional, and on your game.”-Elizabeth Reis, Professor and Chair, Women's and Gender Studies Department, University of Oregon
“A realistic account of what it takes to turn a Ph.D. into a job when all the jobs seem to be disappearing, The Professor is In offers sobering, impeccable advice from one of the most honest voices in higher education today.”--Greg M. Colón Semenza, Author, with Garrett Sullivan, of How to Build a Life in the Humanities: Meditations on the Academic Work-Life Balance
“This is the book I wish I had when I was a grad student. As The Professor Is In, Karen Kelsky delivers generous, savvy advice for academic job seekers. Unflinching, supportive, and honest, there is no other book like it. All Ph.D. students (and their advisors) should have a copy on their shelf.” -Carole McGranahan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado
About the Author
KAREN KELSKY has run The Professor Is In blog and business since 2010, and today, she is the most widely recognized expert in the highly engaged world of Ph.D.'s attempting to navigate the transition to the job market. A former tenured professor and department head at two major research institutions, she knows (and shares) the insider knowledge of academic hiring.
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Kelsky has written a book designed to empower PhD students who are facing a bleak academic job market. She doesn't guarantee that her readers will earn a "coveted" tenure-track position by reading the book - nor is that her goal. Her mission is to help PhDs get a job, be it academia, alt-ac, or non-ac; and she does this by detailing what job candidates need to know about academia. The readers of her blog or columns in The Chronicle will not be surprised by this goal, nor should they be. Kelsky is an avowed advocate for PhD students and recent graduates who are struggling on the market because they need more guidance.
The book is written for all academic fields, but Kelsky also calls attention to some of the dire conditions in the humanities, and how that may affect PhD candidates and job seekers.
The bulk of the book focuses on preparing for jobs in academia, but it also provides information on leaving academia and finding other ways to utilize the PhD. The book is broken down into ten parts covering everything those looking at the tenure-track need to know, including types of academic institutions (R1/SLACs/R2/etc.), job market documents, offer negotiations, grant writing, and how/when/why to leave academia altogether.
For those who are familiar with her blog, here are the biggest bonuses of her book:
* More real-life examples from emails, letters, and in person conversations Kelsky has had over the years.
* Chapter 4 details how the academic search process works from the university/department side - a land few grads may know as intimately as Kelsky explains.
* Figuring out a 5-year plan and determining what issues of the minutiae of graduate school life will distract you from the goal of making your CV the strongest it can be for the job market.
* Creating your “campaign platform” for the job market
* More specific information on crafting your elevator speech
* Key questions to prepare for in an academic interview (and how to tackle Skype and on-campus interviews)
* Answers the question of what to do when you don’t feel like you belong in academia, for myriad reasons including elitism, racism, gender, sexuality, imposter syndrome, and more
Most importantly for me, having all of this information in one compact book means I have a go-to present for my favorite students who giddily tell me that they want to become a professor. I don't want to discourage them like my undergraduate advisers tried to do to me, but I do want them to be well-informed about what the graduate-school-to-tenure-track life is like. I love having genuinely curious and bright students be interested in becoming a professional in my field (history), but I don't think it necessary that they see "professor" as the only meaningful way to study history or be a historian. I'm glad Kelsky has deepened my understanding of the nuances involved in mentoring students and being a student myself, as well as giving practical and thoughtful advice.
On another note, the book also provides me with a good stocking-stuffer for my non-academic parents who still wonder why I’m “in school” after so many years, and why my work schedule doesn't follow the 9-5 they're used to. I may even send a copy to my adviser.
- The scope of this book could have been problematic. Yet somehow Kelsky pulled it off: covering what it takes to get a tenure track job, the job market process, and throws in some additional material on grants and leaving the academy.
- The job market process chapters are incredibly detail oriented and this is a very good thing. The academic job interview is unlike anything anyone has experienced before. I'm certain this book will make interviews less scary.
- Some of the chapters are elaborations on Kelsky's blog posts (some of which may not be available online anymore), but this is the minority of the content in the book. Moreover, the overarching themes and lessons of the book make the material useful, even to those that had read the blog post previously.
- Kelsky is telling the ugly truth about the reality of the job market process. Yet, unlike many academic pundits, she also gives proven strategies for dealing with reality. We would all like things to be better, but until then, we have to work within the system. Kelsey gives you ways to do that.
- Occasionally Kelsky's experience as an anthropologist does not resonate with my experience in a different field. Almost always Kelsky acknowledges when there are disciplinary or paradigmatic differences and suggests that the reader knows her field.
This book may frighten some people. But it is absolutely essential that anyone that is a part of this process understands how this works. I read the book as a veteran of Kelsky's blog and consulting. I suspect that reading the entire book would be challenging and/or overwhelming for a young graduate student. I would suggest that an early graduate student read Part I, II, III, and IV carefully and skim the rest for familiarity. A graduate student that successfully passes exams should re-read Parts I-IV and then read V-VII carefully. Parts VIII-X are more topic-specific, but are excellent resources for any scholar.
I believe that faculty should read this entire book with a goal of being better advisors and better academic community members. We all need to take responsibility for the system that currently exists and Kelsky's book (and other work) may be a good starting point for trying to resolve some of the problems - either as individuals or systematically.
I sincerely hope that Kelsky can carve out time from her consulting work to write a similar book about life on the tenure track and getting tenure. Her blog posts on this topic are fantastic and I suspect that it would be a good "second project" ;) for her. We all desperately need this sort of frankness and guidance.