Welcome to my ever-expanding collection of academic professionalization resources. The goal is to render the opaque parts of the job as transparent as possible.
These pages are designed with the critical media studies scholar in mind. They have an American and Canadian bias since there are more resources online for Americans and since I started this page while living in the U.S. Others may also find it useful. Since media studies / communication(s / studies) is a field and not a discipline, there isn’t a central publication or conference where to people go look for jobs. Our friends in lit have the MLA job list. Our friends in Philosophy have the brilliantly named “Jobs for Philosophers.” We have, well, a bunch of stuff. More than likely, anybody serious about hiring someone will have their ad appear in more than one place, but in my experience there’s no one place you can go to make sure all your bases are covered.
I offer these resources in the hope that people might take a gander at what’s out there before they need them. Originally, this page was derived from the resources that I used on my own first job search out of graduate school (in 1998 — it’s changed a lot since then), and is updated once a year. In the years since, I have gradually added material on a wide range of career issues facing academics. More materials will come as I have time and motivation.
Suggestions for additional links or topics are always welcome. This page was last updated in August 2022 and links constantly change. Feel free to contact me (jonathan [at] sterneworks [dot] org) if you have suggestions.
FREE PROFESSIONALIZATION RESOURCES
Tom Mullaney published an amazing book on the Chinese typewriter. He also made this amazing collection of YouTube videos explaining all sorts of things about academia.
Great post by Christian Sandvig: “your more senior professors probably didn’t exchange information on job wikis, struggle with Homeland Security restrictions, and haven’t installed Typinator, so they’re less likely to give you advice about these things.”
This is an amazing project by Karra Shimabukuro. A lot is not humanities specific but it’s worth reading whether you’re poor or not. Social class is something academic rarely talk about, but all the demands to “act professional” are demands about class behaviour. A lot of our expectations about proper academic behaviour behind the scenes are also tied to class (when do you ask for resources, how do you ask for them?). If you’re poor, this is great advice. If you’re a middle class Jewish kid from the suburbs (and a prof’s kid to boot) like me, this is also a manual on how to be a good person and not expect all your students come from bourgeois backgrounds.
Get your life together with this schedule. [Note: I have seen applications due as early as August. An updated timeline is forthcoming.]
You found a job, now what?
What every academic couple should know before they go on the market together. See also this excellent Stanford report.
New for 2018, and overdue. I hate that this has to be here, but it’s a good idea to make sure your online existence is as safe and secure as possible. This is definitely a work in progress.
Want to start a blog? Wonder how it will relate to your career? Read this.
Links to a couple blogs with good advice for first-time academic book authors. I’ll add my $.02 at a later date.
There is a lot of talk of embargoing dissertations because of fears about academic presses refusing to publish an open access dissertation. This article examines the evidence and reveals those fears to be unfounded. Except for University of Toronto Press, which makes them both naive (who refuses to buy a book to read the dissertation instead?) and potentially damaging to emerging scholars’ careers.
Great advice from Courtney Berger, one of my editors at Duke University Press, on how to handle a difficult peer review.
Seems lots of people want and need accountability to get their own writing done. This is one highly-effective-looking model. I like it because it’s got a little bit of everything. I’ve done timed-writing groups when in residence with others, and it’s always fun and productive. Though to be honest, I mostly just block out time and write; sadly that doesn’t seem to work for a lot of people.
Someday I’ll sort this out to make it more useful. Right now there are posts about interviewing, class politics among academics and how to apply for a job when you have one mixed in with all manner of inanity (including such gems as what a PhD comprehensive question on “habitus” might look like if it were multiple choice). I will clearly need to disambiguate (as they say in the business) the category at a later date. In the meantime, happy surfing. Here are a few relevant posts in reverse-chronological order:
On Resistance to Better Academic Writing
On Professional Websites
The Politics of Journal Publishing in Cultural Studies
Reconsidering the Barometer of “Placement”
On Spreading It Around
On Interdisciplinarity and On Managed Interdisciplinarity
Applying for a Job When You Have One
Grad Students: Record Your Meetings With Your Profs
Why Have Graduate Students?
Thoughts on the Virginia Tech Massacre and Mental Illness in Academia
Academics and Social Class
I wrote this for the International Communication Association Newsletter.
I’ve never trusted them, and neither should you. Want to use a social network for academics? Try Humanities Commons and/or HASTAC. Of course, I also set up my own website, but admittedly that’s more work.
This is a slightly too-improvised talk I gave for McGill’s Career and Placement Services in 2009 for a panel on tenure. My contribution focused on separating myth and fact, understanding the difference between real and fake tenure requirements at your institution and some thoughts on the process. It is just under 15 minutes in length and I say “um” too much because I’m working from notes without practice. On the upside, it’s one of the last recorded hurrahs of my old voice.
This is a great podcast series put together by anthropologist Ilana Gershon. It covers hiring practices in different countries. Right now (Sept 2022) there is only one episode, but more are coming on Norway, Sweden, Australia and South Africa, and other places too. This sort of thing is really needed, and there is nothing else like it out there.
A rare example of an administrator actually providing some useful perspective on the jobsearch process for all to see. Also an interesting exercise in transparency and the limits thereof. I wish I’d thought of it when I ran 3 searches, but then I would have agonized over what I could or couldn’t have made public.
I haven’t systematically looked online for good pedagogy support, but I know there’s a lot out there. Here are a few things I like (or wrote) to hold a place for whenever more stuff comes across my desk.
From the University of Arizona Committee on the Status of Women. This is a recurring problem. I actually have a lot to add on this subject (I write hundreds of letters each year, so have thought about it a lot). But this will be a good placeholder for now.
There is a lot of writing advice out there, but in lieu of me going into my own process here, I will only say it involves exactly what she describes in this piece: a shitty first draft and a lot of revision. I do not worry that the first draft isn’t any good and neither should you.
Phil Agre has produced a very useful discussion of professional networking in the electronic age. It’s a nice professionalization primer for those who want a better sense of how to navigate the field.
Another stellar career resource online. This link takes you to an archive of posts from the listserv “Tomorrow’s Professor.” You can also subscribe.
Written by technology historian Paul Edwards, this is a nice, short primer on presenting at conferences. His most important piece of advice? Practice! He’s also got a nice piece called, simply, How to Read a Book.
A lengthy and clearly written program for novices on how to break into the world of book reviews, journal articles and edited books.
When my friend Charley Stivale heard I was doing this page, he sent me this article. The pieces has a lot of great advice about interviewing at conferences. It was written for people in the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, so the disciplinary presuppositions are different, but the stakes are the same if you’re doing a conference interview (though conference interviews aren’t a precondition to getting jobs in Communication Studies the way they are in MLA disciplines).
Costs vs. income, debt, investing, own vs. rent, social class, and more. New and in-progress.
This .pdf guide is the best and most exhaustive resource I’ve seen for thinking about what to do when you get the job offer. Read it BEFORE you get a job offer. Though it’s pitched to Canadians, this is relevant to anyone in Canada or the U.S. who just got offered a job. I know it says “negotiating starting salaries” but there’s a whole lot on other aspects of the job as well.
A useful list of questions that should should ask on the way to your first–or any–academic job.
These are specifically geared toward American Studies students and their market (for instance, people still get jobs in Communication Studies without having books under contract) but the advice is still very good and the list of interview questions is priceless. It reminds me of questions that caught me by surprise when I was first on the market.
This is a great starting point, a kind of “mad libs for cover letters” that will get you writing your first application quickly. Of course, it’s written for ABD students but could easily be adapted for the recent PhD. I would, however, push on two things. 1) If you follow the advice exactly, the letter will look formulaic (as a search committee chair I got real tired of the “people have argued X but I show Y” line, for instance). So mix it up a little once you’ve followed the template. 2) I strongly discourage people from going on to a 3rd page of their cover letter. There are plenty of other opportunities to say stuff about yourself. If you have a reader who says “this person doesn’t get it if they’re going onto a 3rd page of the cover letter” you’ve done yourself a disservice.
This piece from University Affairs, Canada’s Chronicle of Higher Ed, contains advice I often give my students. Whether it’s an application for a job or a fellowship, the committee members who will be reading your application will likely be doing so under conditions of stress or fatigue. Make it easy for them! This piece even recommends fonts, and I agree that you should never go below an easy-to-read 12 point font. Middle aged readers often forget their reading glasses, lose them, or need to update their prescriptions (or so I hear….).
Don’t let the title fool you. This .pdf is also required reading. The first part is pitched to administrators, but the middle part (pp. 14-21) is pitched to job candidates and assistant professors. Highly recommended. Courtesy the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The title is self-explanatory. My friend Haidee Wasson designed this for her students and passed it on to me when she heard I was doing a grantwriting seminar for our students. Canadian humanists apply for grants all the time, and this is becoming more and more the case for humanists in other countries as well. Grantwriting is an art and a skill, and the writing quirks that get you ahead in other areas can trip you up in this one.
This is an 8-page manual from the Social Science Research Council (US). It’s very useful and standard reading in many disciplines.
Wrting abstracts, publishing articles, organizing conferences, slide presentations and more. Eszter’s audience is social scientists, but apart from the list of journals, the basic advice is the same.
More from Eszter, this time for the tenured set. This is simple and straightforward, yet most people don’t do it. My summer approach is slightly different: enter with overambitious goals, fail to meet all them, make progress in the meantime. But that doesn’t work for most people. This probably would, though.
My British counterpart? A list of job- and professionalization- related links on his bookmark site. Lots of adjunct resources as well as tenure track.
Covers both the mechanics of contribution and how to represent it on your CV. Lots of good tips. Here’s hoping that some of this advice is totally dated in a few years because online publication will be considered a normal part of what we do.
Shannon Mattern, a great media studies scholar and a prof at The New School, breaks down her schedule. For people starting out, this is a great exposition of how academics spend their time. Everyone is different, of course, and the New School is not Every School, but it gives you a sense of the many different demands on a faculty member’s time. I certainly had no idea when I was a grad student!
This is an amazing and comprehensive resource, and probably the best out there for the moment. Lots of great stories and advice. See, for instance, “Making PhD Life Easier,” which goes through concrete things you can do to, well, make your life easier. This is a huge issue in our field, and at least around intellectual disabilities of various sorts, still not something well handled or accommodated. And let’s face it, it’s not like profs are trained to deal with it (we’re hardly trained to deal with our own issues, much less the other stuff we are asked to do like manage and counsel). As a grad teacher, I’ve seen all manner of issues. Almost all of them (not all) can be accommodated within the university context, but they have to be acknowledged first. Unfortunately and unfairly, often it’s on the person with a disability to take a leadership role and work out their own solutions. It shouldn’t be, but at least if you know that, you can not worry too much about the fact that your campus’ disability office is probably better equipped to help undergrads get accommodations on tests or for note taking in lectures. There will be more on this subject in this space, hopefully much more.
Because of what I do for a living, I am perhaps disproportionately outraged by shitty graduate supervision. Here’s a post about what to do if you’re living it as a grad student.
[Ms Magazine is down and I can’t find this anywhere else–will see if I can get it back online). This is not the kind of thing you usually find on career advice websites, but it is perhaps one of the most important things you can read. Stabile’s “The Rusty Taste of Shame” documents the wide range of ways in which campus rape culture continues to exist for undergraduates, graduate students and faculty (both permanent and contingent). Part of being a professional academic will likely involve encountering it at some point. And part of being a responsible scholar will involve standing up to some form of male domination at some point. This piece doesn’t have a ton of advice on that, but I will keep my eyes out for a companion that might give some useful tips.
This is not a typical career advice column or a typical case. Instead, the writer is a computer scientist in an assistant professor position at Harvard (Harvard tenures about 15% of their junior faculty, give or take, meaning their assistant professorships are not “tenure track” like at most other schools). Yet, a lot of what she writes is quite applicable to anyone in a high-powered junior job with lots of pressure to perform in one way or another.
There are probably lots of other good organizations for adjuncts/sessionals/part-timers but New Faculty Majority seems to be the most high-profile. They are not particularly international in outlook but any university system with tenure and part-timers has similar problems, and they know what they’re doing. Their Facebook page seems to be more active than their website.
There is a huge amount of literature out there on transitioning out of the “grand narrative” of the traditional academic career. This is a nice, short, to-the-point list of things to do when you decide to stop pursuing a traditional academic career. Better than a lot of the “quit lit” out there.
Assembled by the Graduate Assembly at UC-Berkeley in 2014. It’s still very interesting reading.
Definitely not your normal article on happiness and graduate school! “The sample (N=1) was analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods, including statistical analysis, in-depth interviews with the subject, content analysis of emails and social media activity, and dream interpretation.”
On the continued over-citation of cis-, hetero-, white men by communication scholars.This paper grew out of a discussion among the first three coauthors at ICA, and a general problem feminists have noted for some time. I came on later in the process and added a few things, but deserve the least credit of the four coauthors. The essay documents the extent of the problem, and offers some potential solutions. Tl;dr: stop letting people pass comps, publish papers and books, and offer syllabi with all white-male or nearly-all white male bibliographies. Or at least require a justification. The paper doesn’t get into it, but we should be equally attentive to geographical diversity in our examples. Media studies as a field is heavily Eurocentric. I will write more on this in the future.
FREE JOB SEARCH RESOURCES
This is probably the most encyclopedic resource, and bless their souls, it’s sort of free (see below for details). They list jobs for communication people under a number of categories — but “communications” is listed under “professional” instead of humanities or social science. It’s all arbitrary. You may want to surf the humanities and social science listings anyway, since sometimes appropriate jobs come up there as well. The way the page works is that nonsubscribers can get the previous week’s listings online. Note that the Chronicle does NOT archive, so check the site regularly (I believe stuff now stays up there for a month). But everything in the print copy of the chronicle for that week is also on their site. If you’re in the mood to read Ms. Mentor’s advice for surviving the job search or whatever writers the Chronicle has drummed up to serve you the latest version of job market gloom and doom, it’s all here. Also, there is now a feature where you can have them email you every time job listings appear in a particular category. Very handy! I do recommend a dose of caution before perusing their “first person” columns, however.
I don’t know how I missed this one, but NCA has catapulted into the 21st century, offering free and searchable job listings in Communication Studies for all comers. Way to go NCA!
The title says it all. I recommend a full surfing of their listings, which are updated weekly and archived.
ICA’s newsletter has a great range of communication jobs, and for now it appears to be free. It is not, however, encyclopedic.
AEJMC’s job listing service is biased toward journalism and “strategic communication” (advertising, PR, production, etc.) positions but again, lots of good stuff gets listed over the course of the year.
So you sent off a letter in October and it’s February and you wonder if you’ve got a chance: these wikis might tell you. They can also be incredibly useful for seeing what jobs are available–one of my colleagues believes they are currently the most complete resource in our field. BUT: in my experience as a prof watching these over the years, I’ve seen them become a source of psychic pain for students, inaccurate information about the state of searches, and in one case there was even a racist attack that had to be cleaned up. So BE CAREFUL WITH THESE. These are collective resources to counter the vast abyss that your job application enters between the day you drop off the letter and the day you get the interview or the rejection letter. Right now these two are US-centric, but they wouldn’t be if job seekers in other countries joined in.
NOTES: 1) the link address changes each year and 2) the site now features extremely annoying pop up ads in the lower left hand corner. And here’s a critique of the the academic jobs wiki from a job-searcher.
Again, I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, this is a super-useful resource. as far as I know, job candidates have really no recourse for bad behavior by search committees, so this is a place they can at least warn one another. On the other, stories are unverified and largely personal. For instance, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign entry features evidence from a single blog post from Karen Kelsky about her time there. Her experience is so different from mine we might as well have been at different schools. I’m not saying that to defend UIUC–I left in 1999. It’s just that one person’s experience can’t really encapsulate the spirit of an entire campus with tens of thousands of people. All this is to say the site is the most useful when it is the most specific and confirmed (see, e.g., Mississippi State in History for an example).
Again, I recommend surfing their listings, rather than spending a lot of time trying to land a gig in American Studies. This link takes you to their home page. Job listings are listed under “Current Issue of Newsletter.”
Not exhaustive, but lets you search by location.
Just for postdocs.
OUTSIDE THE U.S.
This is hardly an exhaustive list, but it should help get you started. If you know about job markets outside the US and want to suggest some links, drop me a line (jonathan [at] sterneworks [dot] org).
It’s standard practice for departments in Canada to list their positions in University Affairs; it should be as comprehensive for Canadian Jobs as the Chronicle of Higher Ed is for US jobs.
CAUT has also re-launched academicwork.ca.
It’s cheap for students to join these two organizations, and most of the jobs in the field in Canada (though certainly not all of them) pop up on their listservs.
The Times Higher Ed Supplement actually has listings from all over the world, so it’s probably the best single general source for jobs outside the U.S. I’m also told people generally look in The Guardian.
Academic, hospital and other vacancies relevant to people with advanced degrees.
A clearinghouse for academic jobs in the EU
I would welcome suggestions for links to job listings in other countries, especially Australia, New Zealand and other Anglophone countries.
PAY TO PLAY PROFESSIONALIZATION RESOURCES
There’s a lot about academia that’s not obvious. Sometimes reading helps, sometimes you actually need mentoring or coaching your teachers and colleagues can’t offer (or that you don’t want from them). A number of professional services have come into their own over the past few years.
They provide coaching and mentoring around planning, productivity, relationships and work-life balance. One person told me that while it was nice to read Robert Boice’s advice on academic writing, they really only learned how to write regularly and without so much anxiety through working with NCFDD and highly recommends them. I first learned of it maybe a decade ago when Kerry Ann Rockquemore was running it, and everyone who went through their writing training sang its praises. Especially recommended for racialized, first-generation, and other professors who don’t fit the standard university narrative. They have institutional memberships, so it’s possible your institution might pay for it. Individual membership is $495US per year which sounds like a lot but probably cheaper than weekly meetings with a therapist. I have heard them critiqued for essentially presupposing the demands/situation of the neoliberal university, but if you’re working in one, this might be really helpful.
Laura Portwood-Stacer helps scholars develop books, book proposals, and plans for getting published. She’s also got a PhD in media studies from USC and knows media and cultural studies.
Karen Kelsky exists because of so much bad advising, and she provides a needed service. And she is also on the right side of discussions of academic labour and the casualization of the professoriate, university sexism and sexual harassment, structural racism in the academy, ableism, and other issues academics face. Her blog has helpful tips on interviewing, job searching, managing emotions, and all sorts of other things. She circulates funny memes on social media. At the same time, sometimes her headlines are clickbaity, she sometimes writes things I find glib or cruel and gives advice I find cynical and not really correct (“I tell you the truth” is sometimes her opinion and not a universal truth), and many of the materials that used to be available for free are paywalled. A few years back we had a running joke where some of my grad students would quote something glib she wrote about job searching to get me going, and then we’d have a discussion of why I disagreed. So even when she’s wrong, she’s at least asking the right questions and prompting them in other people.
PAY TO PLAY JOB SEARCH RESOURCES
The people most likely to search for jobs are the very people least likely to be able to afford the steep membership fees for scholarly organizations — even at so-called “reduced” graduate student rates (many cost graduate students over $100 just for membership and conference attendance, leaving aside hotel and travel costs; people with PhDs but part-time salaries, meanwhile, often have no discount at all). So I think it’s a crime that three of America’s largest scholarly organizations in Communication require membership before you can see their job listings. Take a hint from your colleagues at AEJMC and the two ASAs, folks!
As with sociology or American Studies, I don’t really recommend applying for film jobs unless you’re a film scholar with film people writing for you, but other departments looking for media and communication scholars do advertise here.
CIOS/Commserve is pretty social sciency but they are dedicated to developing communication research online. This link takes you to their job network. They post job listnings as they come up, or you can subscribe to a listserv to receive updates as they appear. I was able to procure this service for free in 1999, but they have since started charging for membership (grad students pay less than faculty). You’ll have to decide
if you think it’s worth it.
The CCA has a new and improved website, but it is now pay-to-play, which means you can’t access most of the good stuff (like the listserv) without joining. The good news is that a student membership is only $30 and probably worth it. The bad news is that a part-time (or sessional, which is Canadian for “adjunct”) is charged a whopping $70, which is only $10 less than a full-time prof, even though the adjuncts are probably bringing in less than the grads. I am seriously going to write to the executive board about this.
The American Sociological Association used to publish a newsletter with job info in it but it now appears defunct. Their new site is pay-to-play. Boo! Tips on where to find media sociology positions will be posted should someone send some my way.
Since NCA starting posting their job listings online, this is no longer as essential.
Another possible resource:
One kind friend tipped me off to the American Philosophical Association; they occasionally lists positions of interest to philosophers of communication and rhetoricians, but their publication — “Jobs for Philosophers” (a great title, IMO) — is only available online to members. So you’ll have to make friends with a philosopher or pay up if you want a peek.
My own scholarship on academic labor politics and the job market:
“The Politics of Academic Labor in Communication Studies”, Feature Special Section of the International Journal of Communication, Volume 5 (2011). (now also available in epub format if that’s your thing).