I’m so excited to finally be able to tell you: I have a job! A professor job! I am so excited. But also a little emotionally exhausted. Before I got the job, I was 95% worry every waking hour (and most of the night…). After, I just have to keep reminding myself that the search is over. But the challenges of trying to graduate are not. I will be starting as an assistant professor in the fall.
I wouldn’t let myself hope for the best–the academic job market is tough (understatement)–so I hadn’t processed any of the exciting parts of having a professor job. And finally getting to talk with you all about the academic job hunting process is one of those things! So, let’s start today with the easy stuff: every outfit I wore to an academic interview.
Suits: Most final round professor interviews are 2 days long, so I packed 2 outfits. The first set out outfits was suiting–on the day of your actual in-person interview and the day you present on your research, it’s best to be in a suit (even though the professors you are presenting your research to will probably be casual). I bought 2 suits–one secondhand off Poshmark (pics 3-4) and one new during a J. Crew sale (pic 1). My shoe choices for these days were either Frye flats or boots, depending on weather. I don’t think you need 2 suits–but I found myself with a back-to-back situation and panicked and bought a second one.
I felt very “not me” in my suit (and had to remember our unofficial department job hunt slogan “just put on the damn blazer!”–once yelled at a job hunter by her advisor)–but it turns out once the interview got going I no longer cared about how I looked and was just focused on learning as much as I could about the department. This is a good disposition to go into an interview with (thanks whoever gave me that advice)–it grants you more power and it made me more relaxed and focused on following my natural curiosity and asking questions.
A word about under-suit tops: I found that the best ones 1) don’t have buttons (risk of gaping), 2) are a contrasting color (so you’re not wearing all black), and 3) have some sort of sleeve (so you can take your jacket off at dinner if you wanna be more casual). My favorites were this Vince Camuto shell, a J. Crew bodysuit (!!!! worked so well but sold out), and this utility shirt (yes, there were buttons, but the fabric wasn’t stiff so it was comfier).
Day 2: In addition, I packed a “day 2” outfit for each interview–this was a business casual outfit for meeting with faculty, deans, going out to dinner, and whatever else the department had planned for me that wasn’t the official interview. Some favorites for this day: my Loft dress pants, my favorite Banana Republic sweater, and a J. Crew button up.
Highs and lows: People told me that the academic job market “will destroy you.” I didn’t really know what they meant by this, and now I don’t know how to put it into words. The problem with the academic job market is that nothing makes sense and you shouldn’t try to make it make sense, either. Some people will call you for final interviews, some won’t. There’s no way to know why things happen or when they will happen or what you could have done differently. Once I realized this and stopped trying to analyze why things were going the way they were, I was mentally freed up to just focus on what I could actually control.
There is, however, no greater joy than being dropped off at the airport after 2 days of being “on” 24/7. When this happened, I changed into my comfiest Vetta sweater and sweatpants and promptly started downloading trash TV episodes to watch on the plane ride home (so much NCIS). On the way to interviews, I wore my “day 2” outfit and sneakers, then swapped into dress shoes at the airport before I got picked up by whatever faculty member was sent my way.
There’s lots more coming about transitioning into being a prof–goal setting, moving, wardrobe clean outs, and prepping my closet for a whole different set of temperatures. But that’s a story for another day when I don’t have a bunch of dissertation to work on 🙂