Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The road to Ph.D.

It has been an extremely busy season for me. This semester I spent all my time analyzing data, writing, attending meetings, and interviewing for jobs. The month of April was by far the busiest and most stressful, but thankfully, it's now coming to a close. That being said, I wanted to share a little about what I've been up to with my dissertation, and the job interviewing process.

First of all, I started applying for (university teaching) jobs in the fall as soon as I successfully proposed my prelim and was considered a doctoral candidate. Generally, departments will post job vacancies in the fall, and accept applications up through the beginning of the new year. To apply for a faculty job, you have to provide a curriculum vitae (CV) which is a lot lengthier than a resume. It's a written overview of a person's experience and qualifications. An academic CV generally includes your educational background, honors and awards, publications and presentations, research and teaching experience, industry experience, relevant coursework, and other skills or it can be several pages. In addition to the CV, applications generally include a letter of interest, 3-5 references, letters of recommendation, a teaching philosophy, a research statement, a teaching portfolio (syllabi, student reviews, sample papers/projects), and publication samples.

Interviews begin around February and typically start with a 30 minute phone or Skype interview with the search committee. (A search committee is made up of 3-5 professors in the department and led by a search chair.) During this interview, they ask you about your education, qualifications, background, courses you've taught, research interests, service work, etc. After a successful interview, they will ask you to fly in for a final campus interview. For a campus interview, you typically fly in and meet with the search committee (or other faculty) that evening for dinner. The next morning you wake up bright and early and meet more faculty for breakfast, and then have several appointments throughout the day (including meetings with the committee, department head, dean, graduate students, campus tour, city tour, etc.). You are also asked to give a research presentation and teaching presentation. The interview ends with another faculty dinner, and then you go back to your hotel room, and fly home the next day. It is exhausting.

Here is a typical campus interview schedule:
Typical campus interview schedule. (Names are completely fictional.)

Prior to your interview, you have a lot to do: prepare a teaching presentation, prepare a research presentation, research the department and program, figure out which classes you would be able to teach by looking over their course catalog, research all faculty members/staff you will meet (learn about their background, research, teaching, and industry experience), etc. You also may need to make your own travel arrangements (booking flights, renting a car, etc.), which will be reimbursed later.

I interviewed at 6 different I did the above 6 times in the course of 3 months...all while writing my dissertation. That's a whole other story.

I am thankful to say that my interviewing is now over. I will share more about that another time. Now I am focusing on my dissertation, which I finished writing this week. I spent months analyzing data, making tables and figures, re-analyzing data, and finally writing up my results and conclusions. I met with my advisor weekly, sometimes multiple times a week, attended weekly grant meetings, sent written chapters to peers and advisors for review, etc. I finally sent the paper to my committee (which contains the chair, three other professors, and external member from another school, and a graduate school representative). Typically, you turn in your paper 2 weeks before your defense date, but due to time, I got permission to turn it in 1 week in advance. I will be defending on this week I am preparing my presentation. After the defense, if I pass, I will make edits given to me by my committee, and then submit it to the Electronic Theses and Dissertations  (ETD) editor at the university. She will then give it back to me with changes/edits, which I will make, and then submit (the final) to her again. Then I will finally be finished!

A dissertation is no joke. My "paper" includes a full literature review (everything related to theory and past studies), a 2-phase research study that I came up with (using applied methodology and theoretical framework), data that I collected, results from hours of statistical analysis, and conclusions/discussions/implications/limitations and ideas for future research. The paper I submitted to my committee this week was 141 pages and 26,702 words. It included 34 tables, 8 figures, and 17 appendices.

Basically, it is a year's worth of work...and I have to successfully defend it to a group of experts in my field. That is next Monday, and I am hoping I am successful. Until then, I will be preparing my presentation and hopefully getting some sleep! I really need it.

the Bride


Post a Comment