What are you BEST at?

coaching, job market, productivity
I work in the world of self-improvement now and, as you might suspect, there are some shady claims out there. A lot of self-help or self-actualization or self-improvement work seems to be focused on what you can do to overcome some essential flaw in your human make up. They imply that if you can just get this one thing in order, you'll be a champ. Flaws--we all have them and most of them are not likely to go away any time soon. Stress, excitement, sincerity all speak to the fact that we will let our true light shine when it matters most. We regress to the mean, as it were. Ok then. Go with that. What is it about you that makes you most YOU? Most unique? Most interesting? It…
Read More

Group Dynamics–Creating Your Academic Network

job market, networking, productivity
There was something magical, for me anyway, about graduate school. I was surrounded by smart, engaged people who were interested in things I was interested in (or at least open to); every week brought new encounters and ideas; every semester required me to step up and deliver something unique and, if I was lucky, compelling. Seminars with my peers guaranteed that I got immediate feedback on half-baked and brilliant ideas. The insights of my peers pushed me to re-orient my own thinking. It felt rigorous AND communal. If you miss that intensity, or the knowledge that you are not working on your projects alone, maybe it's time to re-invigorate your professional network. OR, if you're getting ready to leave the ready-made community of graduate school for the wider world of…
Read More

Is “Entrepreneurial” Really a Dirty Word?

creative work, job market
The push in higher education for faculty and departments to think more "entrepreneurially" about their course offerings, their programs, and the experiences they provide their students gets a fair amount of pushback in the humanities. I remember a department chair telling me, circa 2008, that, yes, there might be money to be found in partnerships with foreign companies, but that we, as a department in the humanities, needed "to be careful with whom we climb in bed." His objection to pursuing corporate sponsorship for departmental events or prizes came from that place of collective cynicism in the academy that ascribes morally pure motives to researchers in the ivory tower and capitalistic, exploitative motives to (all) other players in the capitalist economy. I disagree with his commonly held assumption that academia…
Read More

Cue the Outrage

education, job market, post-academic
In my small corner of the social media universe, a huge storm erupted last week over the University of Illinois, Chicago’s posting of an open position for a Language Program Director. The posting indicated that it was a 67% job, meaning no more than 27 hours of work per week, with a salary of $28,000/year and “prorated benefits,” which most of us took to mean 67% of standard staff benefits at UIC. This first showed up in a friend’s FaceBook feed, garnering lots of angry faces and too many swear words (a lot of them mine) to repeat here. Then Rebecca Schuman sunk her teeth into it (which you can, and should, read here: https://pankisseskafka.com/2017/07/16/rate-my-jil-2018-this-is-what-a-dead-discipline-looks-like/), followed, a day later, by Dean Dad, who presented a slightly more charitable account of…
Read More