Guest writer Laura Zirbel is finishing her fifth year in the UCSB Mathematics PhD program and her research interest is applied knot theory. She also writes for the American Mathematical Society Graduate Student Blog.
I’ve started to worry about applying for jobs and finishing my dissertation, even though two years seems like a lot of time. But in a year from now, one short little year, I will be applying for jobs. Watching those a year ahead of me, I’ve began to make a list of things I can do now to make my life easier next year. While this is tailored to an academic job search, many of these items are applicable to those going into industry as well.
- Make a website. It’s not that hard, and if you have a Wizard of Oz IT guy, he can probably help you.
- Write stuff up. Write up background, write down little ideas and bits of progress you make. It’s difficult to imagine that these trivial, inconsequential bits will make it to your dissertation. But recreating a week’s or month’s worth of ideas is way more time-consuming that just writing them down now. Or better yet, TeX it up.
- If you need a little extra motivation to write stuff up, speak in seminars, both at your home institution and away. Make a poster for a poster session. Preparing for these will help you record your thoughts and work. It’s also great networking!
- The above are really subsets of this next one: get organized. Keep a research journal. Post your work to your website. Keep a binder with notes from all your meetings with your advisor. Do what works for you to keep track of what you’ve done.
- Think about your research statement.
- Think about and begin writing your teaching statement.
- You may have a clear idea about who is going to do your research recommendations, but what about teaching recommendations? A professor you have worked well with? Maybe you were a head TA or did TA training and the lead faculty member could write you a recommendation. If you can’t think of anyone, maybe you can start building a relationship with the professor you are working with this term.
- Keep your CV updated.
- Meet with a career counselor or some other wise job-finding-sage about your CV and do mock interviews.
- Look for programs to beef up that CV and prepare you for college teaching. CCUT, classes in education at the college level, programs about using technology in the classroom, and reviewing your teaching methods and student feedback with a faculty mentor can inform your teaching statement and are good interview topics as well.
- Find out the requirements for filing your dissertation, including formatting and due dates. If you are including work that you submitted as a journal article, you may need written permission to include it in your thesis.
- Find out where job postings are posted, and when you need to start applying.
- More generally, make a timeline of your final year, including job application seasons, conferences, dissertation deadlines and so on.
I’m sure there are many more things to do, and not all professional. What kind of job do I want? Where can I live? Can my partner get a job in the area? What are you doing to prep for finding a job and graduating?