Friday, August 6, 2010

Preparing for the Fall

The Simpsons has done a fine job over the years of tweaking grad students:

A little gallows humor is probably appropriate as we are about to start the next cycle in the academic job market.  Due to keen strategic planning a series of coincidences, I have more students on the fall job market at one time than ever before. 

The good news is not just that they are all very bright and doing interesting, relevant work, and they are hardly identical.  They will mostly not be competing for the same jobs I have failed to produce carbon copies xeroxes clones--each has a different mix of strengths, skills, interests and experiences.  Each works on political violence but vary in how much focus is on the international side of things.  They vary in the processes they emphasize (the strategies of armed groups, the pressures and opportunities of international aid, the key actors in failed states, the targeting of some groups and not others).  The geographic foci border on each other but rarely overlap (Israel/Palestine for one, Somalia/Afghanistan/Pakistan for another, Indonesia for a third, a bunch of SE Asian countries for the fourth) [why mostly Asia?  I have no clue--again an accident rather than by design].  That is not a surprise since I have no geographic focus--just whatever my question of the day requires. 

So, we are preparing for the job market this fall at the same time we are preparing for the next few years (which is why I was thinking of long term vs short term) as things shake out.  Not every candidate will be successful the first time.  In this market, few will be.  Next year, they will be more competitive with dissertations completed (only one has a completed dissertation this fall), with more publications, more teaching experience, etc.  So, we need to plan for today and tomorrow--how to compete well this year while completing the dissertation and publishing so that they are more competitive next year.  This is not bad training since multi-tasking is a huge part of the academic enterprise.  Might as well get used to it. 

To be clear, each one will be a great hire this year with heaps of potential to make significant contributions.  That potential will simply be clearer to see next year with longer records.  If you are interested in employing any of them (or all of them!), I am easy to find.  You can learn more about my students on my website.

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