This recent comic from Jorge Cham, where the joke is about your postdoc really being a time for applying for jobs, seemed fitting right now as I am working on my applications. Well, partly.
For most tenure track academic jobs in science you need to have a cover letter, CV, research statement, and a teaching statement. Various schools may have different requirements for the content of each of these, and may request additional materials, but these form the base of your application package.
My CV is updated, and I recently finished my research and teaching statements, and am now working on my cover letter. Yay! It is a lot of work, but will be worth it (or at least that's what I need to tell myself). I might even share them here, if there's any interest in seeing/reading them. Let me know!
These statements are valuable because there are so many applicants, and each of us needs to distinguish ourselves, and show the search committee what we'll be bringing to the table. But, they are only the beginning of the story. After submitting all of your materials, if you are lucky enough to get a job interview, you prepare one, or two, presentations to show your past research, and perhaps your future research plans. You also get to spend one to three days meeting with lots of awesome scientists at the University where you are interviewing. Yes, you get to. When else will you have such a tremendous opportunity to sit down and have 30-60 minutes of undivided attention of such a diverse group of researchers?
Then, you wait. And hope.
You still have a life.
But, you'll notice I said "partly" above. And that recent comic only partly describes my current state because I really don't see applying to jobs as my full-time job. I still have research to do, revisions to submit, papers and grants to write, students to mentor, and, a life to live! Yes, I am definitely spending a lot of time preparing my materials, and I won't be as productive in lab because of it, but job applications are not my only goal. Yes, I am really hoping I get a job this year (please, please, please), but I understand that it is intensely competitive, and there is a chance (however much I don't want to admit it) that I won't be a fit at the Universities that have openings this year. Sure, it would stink to be rejected, again, and again, and again. Yeah, it will stink a lot. But, I'm a scientist; it's part of the gig. I feel like, if I'm able to make some modicum of progress on my projects during this time, then regardless of the job outcome, the process would only be a failure if I let it distract me so much that I drop the ball completely on all my other responsibilities. It will be a failure if I stop enjoying this:
|Riding the steam trains at Tilden Park|
|Family playtime at Children's Fairyland in Oakland |
after a run around Lake Merritt
|Just goofing off, because we can.|