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 Later I’ll advise you to find mentors  The advice I’m giving today is not just my own  It also comes from some of my mentors and role-models, especially.

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Presentation on theme: " Later I’ll advise you to find mentors  The advice I’m giving today is not just my own  It also comes from some of my mentors and role-models, especially."— Presentation transcript:


2  Later I’ll advise you to find mentors  The advice I’m giving today is not just my own  It also comes from some of my mentors and role-models, especially David Schmidtz and Matt Zwolinski

3  Suppose a person plans to win gold in the Olympics in 3 years  She says, “Oh, I have plenty of time. I’ll begin training when the time comes. I work better under pressure anyway.”  Does she take the Olympics seriously?

4  You are an academic in training  In a few years, you’ll be running the Olympics  There’s no silver medal  The way to succeed in getting a job is to start working for it right now.

5  Ask: What will it take to have a highly competitive dossier when I go on the market?  Then ask: What do I need to do now to make sure I have that?

6  Not your advisor’s job  Not your committee’s job  Not your placement director’s job

7  Senior grad students shouldn’t act like grad students ▪ They should behave like assistant professors  Junior grad students shouldn’t act like grad students ▪ They should behave like what they expect senior grad students to behave like ▪ Or, better yet, like assistant professors

8  In most fields, bad and getting worse  If you want a job, you need to spend the next five years making yourself as competitive as possible  The time to start professionalizing yourself is right now. ▪ Sorry, but that’s how it is.

9  5 th year grad student: “Hmmm. I should really start to consider publishing some articles.”  1 st year grad student: “I should write my term papers with an eye to pleasing my professor.”  WRONG!

10  Right now!  Don’t write term papers for class. Write articles for publication.  If you write to please a professor, you waste an opportunity  Starting no later than your third year: Always have at least three papers under review at all times, period, no matter what.

11  A good journal publication matters more than almost anything else.  Your professors are paid to write you a good letter.  Journal editors don’t care about you. What does it say to search committees if an editor devotes space in her journal to you?

12  Still, publications > almost everything else  Given how tight the market is, the more you do, the better

13  You will be better in your fifth year than in your 1 st.  But, still, if you are good enough to publish in a good journal in your 1 st year, no one will hold it against you that the paper isn’t as good as what you’d write now

14  Single-authored peer-reviewed articles in top journals  Not:  Book reviews  Co-authored articles with your advisor  Encyclopedia entries  The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies or The Review of Libertarian Heterodox Economics

15  Do you think publishing is the cost of being an academic?  If so, quit now. (Stop watching and quit academia now, while you’re ahead.)  Publishing and writing are the job. If you don’t love it, go do something else you’ll love more, or at least get paid more to do.

16  You can’t be afraid of rejection  You need to be willing to hear “no” or you will never hear “yes”.

17  If you want to be a college teacher in the future, don’t let teaching college consume your time now  What to do as a TA?  Should you do extra teaching?

18  In your first year, find out who the most successful grad students are.  Which get the most interviews? Which get the awards and publications?  Figure out what they do, and copy their behavior.  Find mentors and potential advisors right away  The best advisors have standards  They don’t take all comers.

19 1. Internal Locus of Control 2. Passion 3. Courage 4. Organization 5. Writing

20  Yes, there’s lots of luck in every aspect of your career  But you should ignore the effect of luck  Act as if it’s all in your control  People who dwell on luck have bad luck  People who ignore luck have good luck

21  You’re a volunteer, not a conscript

22  Don’t be a slave to an ideology or an idea  You are here to seek the truth, not to defend a pre-existing belief  Surefire way to burn out is to become a spokesperson for someone else’s project

23  “Here I stand, I can do no other.”  Find a project that you feel you must do.  Find a project so gripping that you feel you have no choice but to pursue it.  Oddly, that feels liberating.

24  Earn rewards, then take them  Set goals—real accomplishments, and reward yourself for them.  E.g., Write for 20 hours M-F? ▪ Go to bar Friday night  Get a book contract? ▪ Buy a new guitar

25  Do you have a significant other?  Academics can easily alienate their partners  Organization is key to being a good partner as an academic  If you burn out your partner, you’ll probably burn out yourself

26  Be willing to say something!  Typical grad student paper: 25 pages of summarizing field, plus 2 pages making a minor original point.  Be willing to challenge status quo  “Clearly” “Obviously” “Of course”

27  Respect your colleagues  They are not at war with you  Being courageous does not mean defiantly calling everyone else an ideologue  If you think everyone else is too corrupt to be worth talking to, you probably aren’t worth talking to.  At any rate, quit now and go do something else.

28  Success is all about time management  You will never be caught up  There is always more to do  It only gets worse  As a grad student, you have it easy.

29  The urgent vs. the important  Emails, committees, meetings with students, administrative stuff is urgent  Research and perfecting the art of teaching is important.  Never sacrifice the important for the sake of the urgent

30  Schmidtz’s advice:  Writing log  20 hours/week, no matter what  Important thing: Set concrete goals:  “I will write X pages per day.”  “I will write one chapter per month.”  Earn breaks, then take them  Earn rewards, then take them  If you can write 2 pages/day, you’ll have your dissertation drafted in 6 months.

31  If you find yourself cramming for a comp exam, show respect for your advisors and quit.

32  Don’t write like a graduate student  Don’t write for your seminar classmates  Don’t write to prove you’re a scholar who has read all the background literature

33  Your professors are paid to read your writing  Journal readers are not  Have a hook ▪ Try to write in such a way that you could convince a non- academic to read your paper  Put cool ideas up front ▪ The first paragraph sells the paper  Have fun! Don’t be boring.  Be clear, not obscure.

34  Write first, revise later.  A draft is a draft  Common mistake/excuse: “I won’t put type a sentence unless I’m sure it’s perfect.”  If you do that, you’ll never write anything.  Write first, read later  Common mistake/excuse: “I shouldn’t start writing until I’ve read all the background literature.”

35  For better or worse, the days of waiting to professionalize are over  Success now is about doing what it takes to succeed in the future

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