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Teaching is a Powerful Credential

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:15 am
by C. Gervich
Well said, Dr. Martine. I'd also emphasize the importance of the rarely discussed element of self-branding. Committees are looking for a way to categorize candidates: she's the "photovoltaic energy expert," he's the "beaver genetics researcher." Candidates should brand themselves before committees do it for them. Often, and especially if you are coming from any school other than the main research institutions, teaching reflects your expertise better than research. Why? Because research entails following money and opportunity, and for many early career post docs/faculty that means working in areas where we are stretching our knowledge and not entirely comfortable. But, we teach classes in areas where we are well grounded and often in areas that are broader than our narrowly defined research topics. For example, it's rare to see a class titled "photovoltaics" or "beaver genetics" but common to see classes titled "renewable energy" and "conservation biology." I believe that if candidates can effectively communicate their teaching loads as part of their academic identities they can brand themselves as having expertise in broader areas of their fields, perhaps as more interdisciplinary, and in ways that search committee members less familiar with the candidates' specific areas of scholarship can still connect with the job seekers' disciplines. No one wants to be pigeon holed, but you will be in a search process. Better to brand yourself in a way that reflects your connection to the school and position you're applying to, rather than allow a committee that has only just met you to do it for you.