Friday, 21 September 2012

More failure in the academy ... Part 2

I'm going to do this by institution and date, so some universities will come up several times. I will also try to link to the person who got the job where I can reasonably work this out. In linking to these people I will make a comment about whether I think they were more experienced than me at the time and whether they were more relevant to the post than me. Just to emphasize, I’m not trying to cast aspersions on them in any way.
 

 So here goes … 

Job Application List (Early days when I had no clue!)

  • Edinburgh 1 (2004?): FAIL … applied for a sort of postdoc position at the Genomics Forum. Thought I’d be ideal but didn’t even get an interview. Still, it was supposedly only a one-year position so not that bad a result in the end. I can’t really remember if this was before or after the Glasgow application below but assume it was before. 
  • Glasgow 1 (2004): the job was research fellow at the Centre for Public Policy for Regions. Got an INTERVIEW! I was a pretty good fit, thinking back on it, and obviously did ok in the interview. One of the selection committee (SC) said that one thing I did well was talk about the relation between theory and empirics; on the other hand, one of the SC looked like he was falling asleep and another scowled quite a bit. Still, I go the job OFFER which was a boon for the rest of my career as it gave me four years as a researcher (without teaching duties) to build up my portfolio, as it were. SUCCESS!
  • Oxford 1 (2006): another FAIL … applied for an STS lecturer position in the Said Business School that was way out of my league. No interview. Also, Oxford has a great little criteria in its application pack that says something like “you need a PhD from a world-leading research university”, which should have given me the hint to buzz off. I think Javier Lezaun got this post and he was (and is) way more experienced and relevant than I ever was or could be.
  • Sussex (2006): another FAIL … this was a lecturing job again, but in medical sociology. No interview. Not sure why I bothered, but I think I liked Sussex and could think of myself living there (which is often the way I decide on making a job application – despite what some people think you should do, but is similar to what other people here and here think). I don’t know if anyone actually got this job, so not sure what happened – or I couldn’t work it out at least.
  • Northwestern, USA (2006): bigger FAIL … no idea why I applied for an assistant prof job in medical humanities. Totally out of my area, but my first journal publication was in bioethics so I guess I thought I could shift sideways or something. No response at all. Funniest thing about this was that my application letter Word file (which I sent to the committee) was titled something like, “northwestern ass prof” – I still have that letter. No idea who got this job but probably way more relevant and experienced than I was.
  • Wisconsin-Madison, USA 1 (2006): FAIL again … I had just visited Madison as part of the Summer Institute on Economic Geography and really liked the place. This was an economic sociology assistant prof position, which looked interesting, but I didn’t get an interview; unsurprisingly really at that time in my career.  No idea who did get it either.
  • Oxford 2 (2007): my second Oxford FAIL … a human geography lecturer position this time, can’t remember what motivated me to apply again. Maybe it was simply that I was willing to live in Oxford (see Sussex above). Didn’t get an interview, unsurprisingly, and made me realize that I would never get a job at Oxford with a PhD from Brookes. No bad thing necessarily … No idea who got the job.

 Job Application List (Upping my game with the help of others)
  • Lancaster 1 (2007): an interesting lecturer job at a research centre (Cesagen) which would have been ideal. Got an INTERVIEW! The most intimidating interview panel I’ve faced – think it had Bob Jessop, Brian Wynne, John Urry, Ruth Chadwick and Maureen McNeil on it. I didn’t think it went too badly, but I was definitely up against candidates with far more experience and relevance than me; the eventual appointee was Richard Tutton and he was appointed as a senior lecturer. Good overall experience if nothing else.
  • Bristol (2007): lecturer in human geography, and got an INTERVIEW! But everything else about the interview was a fail … I think it’s the worst one I’ve done. Largely the result of not preparing properly and hubris – thought I was a pretty good bet for the job. On the day of the interview I was incredibly flat – which I blamed on the two-day process involved but was more likely the result of lack of preparation. The eventual appointee was Malcolm Fairbrother who was probably similar experience and relevance as me.
  • Otago, New Zealand (2007): back to FAILING again, sigh … had visited the place over the Northern hemisphere winter of 2004-05 and liked it, hence why I applied, but no response to my application for a lecturer post out there. No idea who got the job.
  • Edinburgh 2 (2007): second attempt and similar result, FAIL … this time a lecturer job in geography. Not sure what they were looking for but I’ve heard since that a PhD from Oxford Brookes is probably not on that list. I think Elizabeth Olson was the eventual appointment – more experienced than me, for sure.
  • Melbourne, Australia (2007): applied for a Future Generation Fellowship; didn’t get it - FAIL. Managed to get one of the university's departments to sponsor me, which was good, but nothing after that.
Job Application List (Glasgow job running out so needed a new one fast!)
  • Toronto, Canada (2008): another FAIL, but useful because it was my first experience of the Canadian system. Assistant prof job in geography, but more of a focus on environment than I had (or have); no response to my application that I can remember. Eventual appointment was Kundan Kumar, who was way more relevant than me but probably less experience.
  • Wisconsin-Madison, USA 2 (2008): another stab at Madison – same result, FAIL … no interview and no response. Assistant prof job again, although in geography this time. Not sure I had much of a chance considering the field I was probably up against but hey … eventual appointment was Keith Woodward who was probably more experienced than me.
  • Sheffield (2008): got tapped up for this lecturer post so wasn’t surprised when I got an INTERVIEW! However, I eventually withdrew from the interview because I wanted to focus on applying for two jobs at Glasgow Uni (see below) and didn’t feel comfortable going through the motions with the idea that I would have to drop Sheffield if either of the Glasgow jobs came off.
  • Newcastle (2008): like Sheffield, I got an INTERVIEW! But I also withdrew for the same reasons. It was also a three-year temporary job so not that secure. Would have been good though.
  • Glasgow 2 & 3 (2008): I applied for a lecturer job in the geography department and for senior research fellow post. Got nothing … FAIL big time considering I was already in the university and attached to the department. Came to realize that insiders sometimes face a far bigger mountain than outsiders since there are always more people out there who are better than you and institutional loyalty is non-existent in academia. The people who got the jobs (Dave Featherstone, Deborah Bryceson and Danny MacKinnon) were far more experienced than me so was a more than fair result really.
  • Aberdeen (2008): applied as a sort of backup to the Glasgow jobs and had way more success – INTERVIEW and JOB OFFER! See below (Strathclyde 1) for the reasons I didn’t take this one. It taught me an important lesson about negotiating offers though – get two at once and the world is your oyster. Moreover, it’s helpful to always negotiate, even if it’s nail-biting stuff.
  • Strathclyde 1 (2008): heard about this job after the offer from Aberdeen. For personal reasons I wanted to stay in Glasgow so applied to Strathclyde anyway. What do you know … another INTERVIEW and JOB OFFER! Accepted it and started in early 2009.
Job Application List (Getting out of Strathclyde!)
  • Lancaster 2 (2010): saw the writing on the wall at Strathclyde, what with faculty retirements and no new hires after myself. By early 2010 I began looking for new jobs and saw this Lancaster lecturer job (lower grade than I was currently on) in environmental economic geography (which I wanted to focus on). Applied and got an INTERVIEW! Thought the interview went ok, but got some feedback from someone on the SC who said that it seemed like I was shoe-horning myself into the post and that it looked like I applied to get out of Strathclyde. Interestingly, they didn’t appoint anyone from this round of interviews and re-advertised the posts, although with less specific specialisms second-time around.
  • Strathclyde 2 (2010): I made a speculative application for a Reader / Professor post in the government department at Strathclyde; knew I wouldn’t get it so a FAIL in one sense. However, it did mean I got noticed by some folk in that department, which might have led somewhere interesting if my department hadn’t been canned some months later. Eventual appointee was David Charles so way more experienced and relevant than me.
  • Lancaster 3 & 4 (2010): re-advertisement of the job I applied for before (see above) plus another that wasn’t filled in that round – lecturer and senior lecturer posts. Both were more generic this time round. Applied for both, but got nothing except a FAIL ... I found this interesting considering I’d been invited to interview before so assume that it’s just a waste of time to re-apply somewhere you’ve been unsuccessful. I think Siobhan McGrath and Kathryn Yusoff got these jobs.
  • Edinburgh 3 (2010): applied for an STS lectureship, which I thought I might have a chance at – probably better chance now than then – but got nothing. FAIL. Probably a little too out of my field at the time, although since then I’ve managed to up my STS quotient, as it were. I think the eventual appointment was Gian Marco Campagnolo – not sure of his relevance or experience.
  • York, Canada (2010): worked my butt off for this one (my current job) and got an INTERVIEW. The whole interview preparation process was pretty physically shattering as I came down with a cold, tonsillitis and conjunctivitis before, during and after the interview date. I was a physical mess, but it all came off with the OFFER! My best interview by far, considering, in that I was most prepared.
That's it!

So my application record is:

  •  Applied: 26   
  • Interviews: 9 (36%)
  •  Offers: 4 (15%)


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