This book is aimed at, for the most part, those who are looking for tenure track positions. Generally, it explains how a graduate student should not self-sabotage in the application process and at the interview. Otherwise, I found many points of interest in this book.
The author, Karen Kelsky, begins this book strongly, opening with an idyllic scene (a retirement party for a professor), where wide-eyed graduate students are fed false expectations of grandeur. Dr. Kelsky then pours upon the reader the ice-cold reality that grad students will eventually have to face. She continues on with quantitative data and factual annual gross incomes, comparing that of a tenured position to an adjunct position. These are similar to that of a receptionist/front desk position and that of an administrative assistant. The receptionist (adjunct) does equal or more work than the admin assistant (tenure) with less pay, with no chance of climbing the proverbial ladder. What shocked me the most was that “adjuncts at institutions of ever rank often qualify for welfare and food stamps.”
Dr. Kelsky adds a bit of background of herself and how she came across the discovery that graduate students weren’t receiving the advice that would be needed for a grad student to succeed in their job search. The author basically bursts open the doors and reveals the real struggles that grad students often face during their final years in school and their first years of job search. The author reveals that grad students are simply sent off on their own, not just blindly reaching for something they might not get, but also lost and confused on how to obtain what it is they start out seeking.
The author provides great advice in this book, where she recommends that it can also be used by those who are planning to seek out graduate studies. It really does help knowing what to be aware of before, during, and after graduate studies.
She goes on to explain, and prepare the reader, of how a job ad is formed, what kind of candidates are favorable to a universtity search committee, and how to present yourself and your work to make it to the top “acceptable” candidate list.
Dr. Kelsky goes step by step in the process, detailing every process right down to the reference letter, providing pragmatic approaches for the graduate student, regardless of age and experience in job search. Of course, she throws in common sense, basic steps that every job seeker should already be aware of. For example, I found that Chapter Five was a basic tutelage on interview behavior that all job seekers of every level should already have learned and mastered. There are workshops on this subject that are readily available, even to those job-seekers who are in the low-income bracket. In Chapter Forty-Eight, she recommends to “get everything you negotiate in writing.” In Chapter 36, the author reminds the reader how to handle outrageous questions by stating, “You have control over your responses. Also remember that you are not obliged to volunteer information out of codependent concern for your questioner’s comfort.” In other words, you keep the focus on the purpose of what you are there for, even if you have to shift the focus back on that fact.
Lastly, the author touches on subjects of student debt, taking the step to leave an adjunct position, and what to skills can be used post-academically, and ends her book with a chapter on declaring independence, a subject that has been pronounced repeatedly within the book.
I recommend this book to anyone of any age, seasoned or beginner in job search techniques, graduate or undergraduate student, looking to put their prospective degree into use in the dog eat dog world that is the job market. It is a useful resource book that should be shelved in one’s own library. The author has used a “been there and done that” approach, and has contributed deeply useful information for those who want to take their passion to a place where it should be.
I received this book for review from Blogging for Books.