Monday, December 17, 2012

Declining an On-Campus Interview

Recently, I declined a request for an on-campus interview. Yes, I am aware that I am not suppose to apply at places where I am not going to go. But I applied anyway because of the fear that I might not get interviews this year (which does not seem to be the case).

The university was in a big city and had some interesting research going on in the department. However, the amount of teaching and research did not seem to be right for me i.e. teaching counted way more than research for tenure and promotion. This is what the head of the department told me over the phone/email and this is what I gauged from the faculty profiles. Hence, it would not have been a best fit for me and therefore, a waste of time, energy and resources for both parties.

I had double thoughts when declining the interview because I really liked the city (from what I have heard) and do not have an invitation for another on-campus interview, yet.

I still think it was the right thing to do. I want to conserve my energy for future interviews that could be a potential fit for me, for the department and for my family.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Interviews this season

Since the number of interviews is increasing at a rather rapid pace, I am going to keep a log of progress here:

Phone/Google_hangout/skype Interview(s) = 3 4 5 8 11 12          

On-Campus Interview(s) accepted = 1 2 34
On-Campus Interview(s) request declined = 12
On-Campus Interview(s) completed = 1234

Offer(s) = 1  (YES ! )

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How long ?

How long does it take you to start conversation over the email using the recipients first name ?Is it after a single email, after two ?

I have observed that when starting a conversation with some one that I don't know and the first interaction is over the email; I start out in a formal way saying Dr. family name. But after a few email exchanges I find it difficult to keep conversing in a formal tone and I get to the point and start using first names.

I don't know if that is a good thing and how do people perceive it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meeting schedule

There is a certain situation in the lab that prompted me to think: How many meetings between a PI and a postdoc/student /staff is sufficient: daily, once a week, once a month or on a need basis.

I always had this need-to-meet schedule in the grad school and I liked it because: 1) It gave me more time to think and contemplate about the question that I may want to ask my advisor; and generally I came up with a solution of my own during this time. 2) It didn't waste my time with unnecessary meetings 3) I felt more of an academic with my own free will to get my work done.

I do not know what the optimal meeting frequency would be in my group would be (if I do land a tenure-track position some day, fingers crossed). But I find it distasteful to have to meet every day/week/month. The reason is that rigid schedule of meetings would not accomplish anything if the student does not have anything to talk about. Hence, waste of time for the student and more importantly, a waste of chunk of my time. Therefore, theoretically the student would see the advisor on a need-to basis and should suffice in my group.

However, I am not sure how this scheme would work for non-focused students. I am beginning to think what if having a rigid meeting schedule keep student on track? more focused?

I would love to hear any experiences regarding more/less/non-existant meeting schedule some of you may have in your grad school etc.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Another Interview

Hi all

I went to another interview for a faculty position. The university is in a small town of a state and is very pleasant surrounded by river, lake, green trees and mountains...although I have never lived in a place like this (it has been big cities all my life).

The interview also seemed to go very well. The appointment is suppose to be between two academic departments, and seems that it can be a good fit, although I am still thinking seriously about pros and cons. The visit seemed to be very pleasant, the faculty seemed to think that my research is important (in both depts) and my seminar went very well, it looks promising.

They have 3 other candidates, so I am not sure what will happen.

Time will tell...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Leaving academia

Recently a friend of mine left academia in favor of an industrial position. The reason of leaving academia was not that he had an awesome offer he couldn't refuse, or geography, or family etc.etc. He left academia in utter despair.

This was also his second postdoctoral position and I thought he was doing okay with papers and stuff. He had searched for a faculty position for two years and had applied to many, many places.

To give you a background, he is one of the people I consider to be very smart. We have similar backgrounds and have worked in the same fields in our graduate study (although different sub field). Also we were in the graduate school together, and both of us graduated with a PhD much sooner than the average time in the department. Both of us got postdoctoral positions and had vowed to get into academia. We have spent countless hours talking about the strategies for applying to faculty positions, to get papers accepted, strategies for networking and exchanged numerous drafts of research and teaching statements. For all intent and purposes we were in this together .

Now that he has decided and accepted a position in a big shot company, I respect his decision. But I do feel that he abandoned me ( although he abandoned academia). I also feel that if he had waited a bit more and/or changed some of his strategy, he could had made it.

All of my friends and colleagues have stopped looking for academic positions. It seems that I am the last one standing and it is a lonely and frustrating place to be.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Submitting K99

I have a draft of K99 that I had completed 2 months ago. That includes research strategy, candidate information, and other shit. If you have done this much, kudos.

But this is not the whole story.

I have to get more done for the application to submit. That includes letters from collaborators, mentors, institutional people and many other documents that may not make a lot of sense but they are necessary for your grant.

I dont know what is up with the collaborator and the institutional people. I requested a letter 6 weeks ago and send them a draft of the letter a week ago, and still nothing. All they have to do is put the draft I have written on their letter head and send it to me.

The deadline is looming, and if there is a delay in my application, I gonna make some phone calls !

For now it is wait and see...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Faculty position rejection

So, I heard from the head of the department yesterday, and he told me that they are not interested in supporting my area of research. Therefore, they wont be making me an offer.

Now I am not sure, if this comment was to lay me down easy or was it because they are interested more in another related area? Time will tell.

Anyway, I will have to tell you that it is a sigh of relief that I heard from them. No matter it is yes or no, as long as you get the answer. Waiting game is a gut wrenching thing, which can take a toll on your emotional energy. I didn't knew that till yesterday, when a NO made me feel better and relaxed !

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Faculty interview and visit -- 1

Those of you who have been following the blog know that I have been invited for a on-site visit and interview at New University (NW). I will share few of the details of the visit below.

So the interview went something like this. I arrived in the city at night around 8pm and was picked up by the head of the department (HOD) and his wife. On the way to the restaurant, HOD kept on talking to me about my research and his wife kept on telling me how good the city is. I also had a rapid tour of the campus during this time. Thereafter, we all went to a pleasant restaurant; ate, talked about research, life, family etc. I also was asked if I am married ( I know it is illegal) but I kept my cool and went on with the conversation. It was a pleasant evening.

My next day was scheduled to start at 830 in the morning. Faculty member was there to pick me up from the hotel lobby and we went to have breakfast. The next step was to go to the department where I had back to back meetings till late evening. I also had to give a seminar at mid-day.

The meeting were pleasant and the faculty had a lot of interesting questions. Most of the question were basic, since almost no one in the department works on the kind of problems that I do. However, I had practiced a lot to explain my research to a non-scientific person (practiced on my wife) so I think I was doing good at that end.

The seminar also went fine. I had formulated the talk in a manner that would allow people not working in my area, to understand the research and know how important (read: fundable) it is. I had one hour to speak. My practice runs on the talks finished some where from 35 to 50 minutes. I was able to finish mine in 45 minutes, which was optimal. Had a question session for the next 15 minutes with some very interesting questions. There was one guy however, who kept on interrupting during the talk, telling me that this work has already been done ( read: research is useless). I was most polite most of the time, and answered all of his questions very professionally.

After this I went for lunch with another official; after lunch met two deans, few more faculty members till it was around 530. Thereafter, the HOD and I sat and he answered few of the questions that I had all day. He was then kind enough to take me to the airport and I came back to my place ( there was a glitch in the flight, but you guys wouldn't want to hear that:).

This was my first faculty interview ever and I throughly enjoyed it !. I already feel that I have matured enough to the point that I can be a faculty member. Lets hope they make me an offer. By the way, I also learnt that there were more than 200 applicants for the position, and I was the second one on their list..yaay !

In the coming days, as time permit, I will be doing a post on advice on what I did before and during the visit. This would be my way of thanking the blogosphere for helping me out.

Friday, February 17, 2012

preparing for the faculty appointment visit

I think the adrenaline from yesterday has wearied off today. Now, that I can think clearly I have realized that I have to give a seminar.

Got a call from the secretary that the visit had to pushed back a week because of the conflict in schedule. Looks like I will be working my ass off on preparing the slides and yes, practicing them !

I have chosen two projects that I would like to talk about. Both are great projects, from two broad fields that I have worked on in the past.

The reason for choosing these two is: It would show the faculty my diversity, since both the projects are from related fields but generally people don't work on both of them. Also both the projects are in depth, which will show them my depth. Last but not least I have prepared two cool potential applications of my project that I will like to show them off at the end. Hope it all goes well.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The agony may be over :D

Today, I am happy. Got an email from one of the departments that I applied to for a faculty position.
They wanted to invite me for an on-site interview. I am excited...yayy !

I have a prepare a talk though. I do have bit and pieces of talks that I have given recently, but all of the talks have been geared towards experts in the field. As I have been suggested (by blogosphere: that I have to give one that is geared towards no-experts. Let see how it goes.
If any one else has pearls of wisdom for job talk, let me know.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The agony of waiting

Recently, I have been waiting for many things i.e. waiting for my papers to come back after peer review; and results of the faculty applications that I have submitted to various places.

As it turns out, that I got the reviews of the paper back. There were three reviewers. Two of them said accept and one said reject. Lo and behold, the editor said that they are going to reject the paper. The issue that the third reviewer had raised is a controversial one in the field, and we (as a lab) tilt towards the other camp. In either case, the reviewer seems to be a big wig, the editor has said reject to the paper. I know, it does not make sense.

On the other hand, I did get a call from a faculty the other day. They wanted to phone interview me. Needless, to say I was awesome and the interview went very fine (I think !). Lets see if they are going to call me for an onsite interview. Its looks good though, since one of my recommenders told me that the department called and wanted to ask more about me. So, the wait is on !