Tone for Tenure

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Tone for Tenure

Postby Paul » Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:48 am

I'm interested to hear some advice about attracting assistant professor positions, with a view on my own situation.

I've been an intructor for the last year in the same lab I was a postdoc fellow for the previous 4 years (5 years total). Its been productive (11 authorships- 2 first and 3 second (all in good journals)) and I attracted a fellowship funding and a society "research excellence" prize during that time. Recently, my partner moved to Atlanta and I am trying to find a position down there. My question concerns how best to go about this. Do I wait for job postings? Do I write to division chiefs? Should I submit a research proposal?
I have a few obvious negatives: I am European and therefore on an H1B visa. I currently don't have grant money to offer. I have three first author papers in preparation but not featuring on my cv as yet so my first author numbers seems low.

I am currently working at getting grant support but with my current institute as sponsor. Is it better to have the grant support to attract a new institute or to approach the new institute and, through them, go after the grant support??

My current chief and mentor are happy to provide good references for me and agree that I should be moving to an independent position but have always been "passive" in helping with career progression.

Thanks for any advice.

Re: Tone for Tenure

Postby Jim Austin » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:33 am


A geographically constrained faculty job search is always difficult. I would even say that if you're absolutely determined to end up in Atlanta, you should probably be willing to settle for jobs that may not yet be on the radar of a person with your credentials.

No disparagement of Atlanta is intended. It's a fine place to be scientist and there are several excellent institutions there (and close by). But if you're determined to find a high-level faculty post, the odds are against you if you're sampling such a small segment of the (inter)national job market. So: while you may find exactly what you're looking for at an Atlanta institution, be prepared to accept teaching-focused jobs at mid-level institutions, community colleges, and so on.

I won't go through your questions point by point, but I will hit some highlights.

* I don't think your visa status will be a problem. You don't qualify for most U.S. fellowships, but, once you have an eligible employer, you may compete for research grants on an equal footing with American citizens. If an institution wants to hire you, the visa thing is mostly a formality.

* Finish those papers and submit. Get them on your CV.

* Views on current grant support vary among institutions. For a few it's essential, just to get hired to an assistant professorship. For more, the main thing is to demonstrate fundability, which you should have no trouble doing.

* Research Atlanta. Know exactly what institutions are there. Go beyond the obvious choices: Georgia Tech; Emory; Georgia State. (Atlanta is a little more than an hour from Athens, where the University of Georgia is located. It's more than 2 hours from August, home of Georgia Health Sciences University.) Also consider the area's excellent minority-focused institutions: Clark Atlanta. Morehouse. Spelman. There are quite a few other institutions in the area. Figure out what they do there, what their programs are like. Could you be happy working there? You might want to set up some informational interviews, partly to let them know you're around. But this may not help you: If you become known as a "local" candidate you're more likely to attract offers of temporary teaching posts than tenure-track offers.

* Remember that there are alternatives to academia. Transitions can be difficult, and you need to be able to demonstrate that you're committed to whatever track you pursue. The Atlanta area does have some life-sciences companies: Vaxygen, a recent startup. Arbor pharmaceuticals. Iconic Therapeutics. Allergan has a few Atlanta-based openings: ... =101372523

Here's a list of biotech and pharma companies with a presence in or near Atlanta: ... taGA.shtml

For most people, there are many different ways to achieve professional satisfaction. Don't limit yourself to the ones you've already embraced.

Good luck.

Jim Austin, Editor
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Re: Tone for Tenure

Postby Chris » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:12 pm

Depending on your field, the assistant professor openings for the year should already be posted and deadlines may have already passed. You don't mention this, but I assume you've already checked these usual postings, right? Get on it and apply ASAP! I'd imagine that it's pretty rare for a position to go unadvertised (at my institution, we're required to advertise such positions), so I don't think you'd have much luck by just contacting departments. Although you could get insight into future openings that way.

The visa is a non-issue. Obviously it would be nice if you had dozens of fabulous first author C/N/S papers and a huge grant. It'd be nice if I was independently wealthy and had an apartment in Paris. But you can't wait until those things happen to apply. The time is now, so apply for anything that seems suitable, and be networking looking for other options you haven't thought of yet, as Jim suggests. The worst thing that can happen is that you don't get a position this year, and if you apply again next year, those papers should be out.
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Re: Tone for Tenure

Postby Derek McPhee » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:08 pm

A couple of responses have pointed out that the visa is not an issue, which is sort of true,but timing may be an issue. I assume you have an academic H1B - those can easily be transferred to another institution for the same job but can be tricky for a job title change (eg. to professor of some sort) - it all depends on how friendly your hiring institution is with the local USCIS bunch since getting or not the transfer is pretty much at their discretion. Other option is that the institution really wants you has decent lawyers who can craft a convincing E or O class application that passes muster. If you find an industry job that will sponsor you, then the visa is not the problem, but timing is - there are no more visas available for fiscal year 2013, so the earliest you can start work for a company is October 2014 on a visa for which your sponsor can apply in April 2013. All the 2013 visas were already allocated and you you cannot transfer from an academic H1B (quota exempt) to an industry H1B (subject to annual quotas)
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