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How to Get a Job


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Title: How to Get a Job

How to Get a Job
  • Brad Chamberlain, Tessa Lau, and quite
    possibly Jeremy Buhler ?

Another fine grad seminar May 23, 2001
  • Today were concentrating on
  • academic positions (research schools)
  • research labs
  • Structure
  • chronological overview (with interrupts)
  • Variations on the theme
  • Canadian schools
  • Teaching schools
  • Industry jobs

The Timeline
  • December do your homework
  • January send in application
  • schools impressed, asks references for letters
  • references send letters
  • February set up interviews, prepare talk
  • after applying, start working on your talk
  • schools impressed, invites you for interview
  • OK, now you really have to work on your talk
  • you might start interviewing by late February
  • MarchApril bulk of interviewing
  • AprilMay hear back, negotiate, decide

December Get Ready, Get Set…
  • Approach your references to ask them about
    writing you a letter
  • scary, but dont put it off
  • you should have four people on deck, and a sense
    of the one youd be least likely to use
  • Start forcing yourself to think about where you
    want to apply, what you want in a job
  • determine your priorities (they may conflict)
  • geography, prestige, student quality,
    expectations, ???
  • do some web surfing as a catalyst

Searching the web
  • Theres no algorithm for finding positions
  • go to web sites of places youd like to work
    mail department chair if you dont see
  • use the US News/World Report survey as a source
    of info, brainstorming tool
  • check CRA, CACM web pages for fairly complete
    list (most depts will post on their site first)
  • at a given page, look around hard positions are
    not always as visible as youd guess
  • bookmark, grab URLs… Its a lot of work to get
    back to that cool listing I saw last week…

January Applying
  • Make a table of where youre going to apply
  • what they want, when they want it, who to send to
  • the URL where you found this info (!)
  • Ask references to start working on their letters
    two weeks before sending apps.
  • give them a list of where youre applying,
    divided into schools wanting letters now vs.
  • Get your application materials together
  • this takes longer than you would ever expect!!
    (a month?)

The Application
  • Contents
  • CV
  • Research Statement
  • Teaching Statement
  • Cover Letter
  • Publications (if requested)
  • Letters of Reference (if requested)
  • Applying earlier has advantages (?)
  • Exercise contacts (ask advisor, chair, alumni to
    alert faculty there to watch for your app)
  • Apply to as many places as youre comfortable (we
    each did 15)

The CV
  • As many different formats as there are people
  • check recent grads for some examples
  • A glorified resume
  • Try not to exceed 45 pages front-load
  • Have advisor, friends proofread
  • Ideally, have a printable (PS, PDF) and online
  • if this requires supporting multiple sources,
    wait until all edits are done before dealing with
    the second!!

The Research Statement
  • A 23 page summary of your past research and plan
    for future research
  • summarize past research succinctly, but make sure
    that it sounds substantial too
  • having a plan for future research is crucial (15
    years out?)
  • future plans should depart from past work in an
    interesting way (not simply the next step)
  • you need to give the impression that you have
    done great work, that you have more to do, and
    that youre not tied to your advisors apron

The Teaching Statement
  • A 1-page summary that touches on any or all of
  • your teaching experience (briefly, its on your
  • why you like to teach
  • your teaching philosophy
  • what makes you a good teacher
  • specific examples from your experience that back
    these things up

The Cover Letter
  • Short, polite to the point
  • Business letter format
  • State…
  • …who you are
  • …what position youre applying for
  • …whats in your packet
  • …that you hope to hear from them (pleasantries)

Letters of Reference
  • You never see or touch them
  • Ask people that will write strong letters give
    them a way out if youre not certain (and you
    have a backup plan).
  • Two scenarios
  • letters requested with app pass out addressed,
    stamped envelopes, emphasize due date
  • otherwise, they will request letters directly
    using the addresses on your CV (easier for you!)
  • in either case, keep communicating with writers

February The Job Talk
  • 45 minute description of your research
  • clear, persuasive introduction (why this is
    interesting even if youre not in my field)
  • 12 of your results in a reasonable amount of
    depth (a good conference talk or two)
  • at some point, list your contributions/publication
    s (I did lots of cool stuff)
  • Some Strategies
  • dubious lose more and more of your audience as
    the talk goes on to show how smart you are
  • much better help everyone understand something
    they didnt, to demonstrate your effectiveness as
    an educator, speaker, researcher

Preparing the Job Talk
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • start early give an affiliates talk every year
  • also participate in 590s, teach, etc.
  • give practice talks for friends, advisor
  • mentally critique other talks
  • videotape yourself
  • Ensure that the pace is comfortable
  • Your Goals clarity, impressiveness, enthusiasm

February Scheduling Interviews
  • School calls or mails you
  • You negotiate a date to interview (12 days)
  • Try to pack these into a 67 week period
  • BUT, try to schedule downtime
  • no more than 810 total? no more than 23 per
  • Youll tend to set up the travel arrangements
  • Use contract fares (youre representing UW)
  • Use UW credit card
  • Strategize your scheduling
  • dangerous to put favorite school first?
  • dangerous to put it last too, due to burnout

Approaching the Interview
  • Things to ask/tell your host sometime between the
    initial contact and your actual visit
  • expected length of talk?
  • your A/V requirements
  • any other special needs (dietary restrictions,
  • request meeting(s) with students
  • request schedule a day or two before leaving
  • (a great host will take care of these things
    before you ask)
  • (also be gracious in doing all this)
  • Do some background research on school, people

March The Visit (a.k.a. Interview)
  • For the most part, this is surprisingly fun
    (youre the star!)
  • Day packed
  • mostly 0.51 hour 1-on-1 visits (maybe 2-on-1)
    with faculty, students, chair, administrators(?)
  • 23 meals
  • your talk
  • youll be exhausted by the end of a day dont
    plan on doing anything very constructive while on
    the road (do plan some fun things read books,
    watch cable TV)

Talking to professors/students
  • Most people will be very friendly, warm, eager to
    get to know you
  • A few will be more challenging, either by nature,
    or as a test
  • Tough questions
  • why do you want to come here?
  • what classes do you want to teach?
  • what will your research be?
  • Try to avoid unenthusiastic canned answers
  • If stumped, dont panic
  • Id say thats interesting / challenging / the
    first time Ive been asked that, think about
    it, respond as best you can

Talking to professors/students
  • These conversations are a 2-way street
  • Ask questions back
  • any technical details about the school
  • things that are likely to differ between people
  • ask new faculty questions that put you in their
    shoes (since they were just in yours)
  • ask about their research
  • Social skills go a long way

Questions Brad asked at schools
  • Where else did you consider working?
  • Why did you come here?
  • What do you like best about this place?
  • What would you change?
  • What kinds of social events/traditions does the
    department have?
  • Does this town have my favorite hobby?
  • Are the students political? social? curious?
  • Do the students have jobs outside of school?
  • What kinds of extracurriculars do you do?
  • See also Mike Ernsts question list…

Questions Tessa asked at Labs
  • Whats your long-term research vision?
  • What is the companys long-term vision?
  • How do you decide what projects to work on?
  • How does funding work?
  • Who do you collaborate with?
  • Do you know what your neighbors are working on?
  • What do you think of the future of the company?
  • How does this research bring value to the
  • What could I work on if I came here?
  • Who do you think is your top competitor?

The Startup Package
  • This is the thing I was least aware of...
  • a signing bonus to help you establish yourself
  • may include any or all of the following
  • money to furnish your office, buy personal
  • money to establish a lab, buy research equipment
  • travel funds
  • summer funding
  • funding for students
  • teaching waivers
  • Youll be asked what will you require?
  • During interview, admit youre not quite sure,
    give qualitative descriptions for research
    startup (a Cray SV-2), and avoid numbers

After the interview
  • Mail your contact and any people you especially
    enjoyed to tell them you enjoyed your visit
  • Especially if you did!
  • If you didnt, still send a gracious follow-up
    mail, though dont be misleadingly warm
  • Dont expect to hear back right away (in fact,
    while interviewing, feel free to ask what their
    time schedule is like…)
  • Prepare for rejection. Its bound to happen.

April Getting Offers
  • When your offers start coming in, play it cool
  • Their goal get you to accept or reject their
    offer ASAP so they can celebrate or make another
  • Result schools with limited positions will put
    pressure on you to decide fast (within 2 weeks)
  • Reality most places that like you enough to make
    you an offer will like you enough to wait for you
  • Your goal collect as many offers as you can
    before being forced to respond to any of them
  • BUT dont lie, lead on more than is polite
    these people will be your colleagues wherever you

Evaluating Offers
  • GSC (currently Anna) keeps record of offers from
    previous year(s)
  • Compare notes with others who are interviewing
  • Feel free to use schools offers against one
    another if youre serious about both of them
  • How many live offers should you juggle?
  • (Sometime in here youll have to start thinking
    more seriously about startup packages. My
    recommendation ask recent UW grads (or recent
    hires at the school youre negotiating with or
    UW?) for their numbers/proposals to use as a

Turning Down Offers
  • Its really hard. Youll make friends along the
    way who are disappointed youre not joining them.
  • I tried to call the dept. chair first (or whoever
    made the offer), then followed up quickly with
    people I enjoyed meeting so they might hear it
    from me first
  • I also often followed up with a (gracious!)
    letter giving an in-depth explanation of my
    decision for the department chair to circulate to
    those interested
  • It really isnt much fun, but dont put it off
    overlong once youve decided against a place (for
    their sake)

Canadian Schools
  • Some generalizations
  • they tend to be big
  • funding/grant-writing tends to be less of an
  • salaries are 12-months, and in Canadian dollars
  • research quality tends to be emphasized over
    quantity in tenure decisions
  • tenure-track teaching positions are more
    prevalent than at US schools
  • I really liked the schools I visited

Teaching Schools
  • Being a UW grad does not hurt one bit
  • Depending on the school, research will either
    still be crucial, or be a very nice bonus. In
    any case, dont slack off on your research
    because you want to teach.
  • Completely different feel than research schools
    in all the obvious ways
  • Interview format may vary
  • meet with non-CS faculty, more administrators
  • students may play a bigger role in hiring
  • talk may be a research talk geared toward
  • or a fake lecture to faculty
  • or a real lecture to a real class

Coastal Pacific Northwest Schools
  • Research
  • U Victoria
  • UBC
  • Simon-Frasier (?)
  • Western Washington
  • UW
  • Portland State University
  • University of Portland(?)
  • Oregon State
  • U Oregon
  • Liberal Arts
  • Reed
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Evergreen
  • Willamette
  • Pacific U
  • Linfield
  • U Puget Sound
  • Pacific Lutheran
  • Seattle University (Jesuit)
  • Seattle Pacific U (Christian)
  • more?

Industry/Start-up jobs
  • To find out about jobs, ask faculty, recent
    grads, check the affiliates list, etc.
  • Interview schedule is completely fluid
  • Interview format is different
  • often no talk
  • meetings with people may be more like tests
  • Job offers can turn around faster, may put more
    pressure on you to decide
  • Obvious compensation/freedom tradeoffs

Some Final Thoughts
  • There is no formula
  • while this talk was chock-full of good advice,
    its merely advice. You can fail to follow it
    and still land some mighty fine jobs.
  • Its simply the next step
  • this may all seem overwhelming now, but its just
    the next step forward, and no bigger than ones
    youve taken to get here
  • slightly longer talk with higher stakes
  • slightly more discerning audience for your work
  • slightly higher expectations of you once you get
    the job
  • grad school should be the training transition
    to be ready

Im a 2nd year… what should I be doing?
  • learn more than you need to
  • attend talks
  • remain curious
  • talk about your research
  • to officemates, visitors, faculty other than
  • helps debug the work, and your explanations of it
  • make contacts
  • schmooze, if you can
  • make friends, keep in touch with people if you
  • keep track of where key research is happening in
    your area
  • have a life

Other Resources
  • Michael Ernsts job-hunting advice
  • http//
  • Ellen Spertus job-hunting advice
  • How to create a research network page
  • http//
  • Friends whove graduated recently