At the April session of Mentoring Mosaic, there were many excellent suggestions for those seeking positions in higher education from the panel. Some of the “practical” tips of the process included the following,
1. Market Yourself. Think about what your role might be in the department you are applying to by learning about other faculty members' research and scholarship. How will you contribute to the success of the department?
2. Social Media. Be mindful of recognizing the growing importance of an online presence for academics and higher education institutions. Candidates should put themselves in the most professional light in social media spaces, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Scholar, and Academia.edu.
3. Know the University. Familiarize yourself with the university by learning about the vision and goals, resources, support for faculty, and any other helpful information. Examine the university’s social media in order gain a better sense of the higher education institution where you hope to work. Does the department and college have a social media presence? Who are the faculty in the department you are applying to? Who are the leaders in the university? What is their vision for the university? Who are the students? What about a faculty senate? What are the policies? Is the faculty represented by a union? What is the bargaining contract?
4. Interview. The campus visit is very important. Other faculty members who will not be from the hiring department may be asked to give feedback on your research talk, classroom lesson, and other meetings. It is always important to be clear in your presentations for those out-of-field folks.
5. Before Signing the Contract. Once you have been offered the position, be clear about what position you are accepting. If you have been a Lecturer, are you getting credit for those years? For example, if you were a Lecturer for three years at the same university or another, are you being hired as an Assistant Professor, Year 4?
5. My personal story. Like many in the field of educational leadership, I applied for a position in higher education after many years serving in p-12 schools. Oftentimes, universities will give years of service credit to new faculty hires with p-12 experience leading schools. In my case, I was part of a cluster hire that included myself and a former superintendent. Both of us had decades of leadership experience in p-12 schools. Our home department recommended that both of us be hired as Associate Professors in acknowledgment of our years of service. However, the new Provost did not agree with this practice, and we were offered positions as Assistant Professors. We both accepted the positions. My colleague left the university after one year. I remained, and I received tenure and promotion early due to getting service credit not for my years in p-12 but for the years I had been a Lecturer. As I reflect on that story now I wonder if I did not push back on the faculty rank appointment because of my status as a woman of color who did not have the skills to advocate for myself. I come from a farmworker background and still consider myself in the poverty class of scholars. Yet, thisbackground has helped me, both in p-12 and in higher education where I continue to prepare social justice leaders. My understanding about the socio-political context of the lives of students in our schools from similar backgrounds has provided me with a community cultural wealth that is invaluable in leadership preparation.
6. Serving on a Search Committee. It does not escape me that as a Latina Full Professor, I represent less than 1% of all full professors in the U.S. We in higher education have a moral imperative to increase the number of professors of color we bring into our universities. Once you get the position, consider serving on Search Committees and advocating for the hiring faculty of color.