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SCS Newsletter - July 2017 (Future Focus)

Career Planning and Development – Future Focus

by Alex Sens

Career Planning and Development Committee is working on two fronts this year. The first of these reflects the committee’s charge—as the successor to what had been the Placement Committee—to monitor the academic job market and the operation of the Placement Service; the second has more broadly to do with the changing realities of the academic economy and their effect on Classics PhDs.

Over the past few years, institutions advertising with the Placement Service have increasingly been conducting interviews via Skype and other digital platforms; the time is fast approaching when most initial interviews are conducted by these means. Over the years, the Placement Committee has developed a set of guidelines for face-to-face interviews, and these have been continually revised as the realities of the job market have changed—thus, for example, the most recent guidelines ask those advertising for non-tenure-line positions to be explicit about service and teaching loads—but the Committee now recognizes the need to provide greater and clearer guidance to both candidates and institutions on the best practices for Skype interviews.

It seems obvious, for instance, that institutions should try to create a level field for all interviews conducted remotely, in the same way that they already do for in-person interviews, and that the physical context for the interview should be professionally appropriate. But there are other issues that also need to be thought through (e.g. the need to make sure candidates can see interviewers, the importance of being aware that requests to record interviews place candidates in a difficult position). It will also be important to address the timing of the search process as interviews become less closely connected to the annual meetings. The committee is currently working on a draft and hopes to have guidelines in place for this cycle.

The Committee’s other project is wider-ranging and much more complex, and has to do with the reality that PhDs in our field are now less likely to land a tenure-line position than they are to work as contingent faculty or in another field altogether. As a Society, we need to do more to help students and contingent faculty prepare for and seek jobs outside of our discipline. The professional and interpersonal issues are tricky, and must be handled with sensitivity. It seems clear, for instance, that if we want to continue to attract students to PhD programs we must work to create an environment in which landing a tenure-track job is not the only measure of success. How to do this—and in particular how to accommodate new forms of training without sacrificing core professional competencies—is a more complicated question. There is room, among other things, for thinking about how the Placement Service can increase access to job ads outside of traditional research and teaching positions, and the Committee will attempt to address this more fully in the future. But above all else, conversations with both recent graduates and current students, and with graduate faculty, reveal that both groups crave more information about helping students land work in other fields. To this end, the Committee is working with a range of colleagues—including the SCS leadership, Jason Pedicone of the Paideia Institute, John Paulas of the Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC Berkeley, the chairs of PhD-granting institutions, and members of the Contingent Faculty Committee—to organize events at the Boston SCS. Our hope is to host a gathering in which graduate students and contingent faculty can meet with and learn from a representative group of Classics PhDs who have gone on to other careers. In addition, the regular meeting of PhD-granting department chairs will include DGSs and address issues of career planning for graduate students. These preliminary conversations will suggest other ways that the Society can increase the range of opportunities available to our students and colleagues.

More July 2017 Newsletter Content

For a breakdown of the SCS Placement Data for 2016-2017, read and download the data here.

To read about what changes were implemented to the Placement Service this summer, visit this page.

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