Navigating Pre-tenure Years: Highlights from Winter 2018

Michelle Kritselis, curator

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Key Takeaways

​What? Seasoned academics offered advice to pre-tenure colleauges at 2018 AMA WInter

So What? Topics included tenure packets, resource portfolios, and teaching-service obligation balance.

Now What? Finding a supportive community of peers is crucial.

​The Early Career Symposium was a pre-conference at 2018 Winter AMA aimed at faculty in the early years of their career, with the objective of offering mentorship, advice, and a safe environment to discuss challenges unique to this career stage. Participants were divided into table groups and discussed the following questions:

  • What do committees look for in a tenure packet?
  • How should I manage my resource portfolio?
  • When will I know that it’s time to move to a different institution?
  • How do I balance my research with my teaching and service obligations?

Two seasoned “mentor” academics were seated at each table, and participants rotated tables after a half-hour of discussion, allowing them an opportunity to talk with each mentor. Panel speakers included Michael Braun, Leigh McAlister, Richard Lutz, Bob Meyer, Maureen Morrin, Sha Yang, Donald Lehmann, and Andrew Stephen. Some notable themes emerged from their discussions:

Go to conferences.

“Never turn down an opportunity give a talk,” Michael Braun advised. Presenting at conferences has numerous benefits:

  • It’s a chance to articulate your research to a new audience, which will help you in clarifying your thoughts and findings.
  • The feedback offered at conference presentations is invaluable as you refine your article for publication.
  • Sharing your work with others allows for great “cross-pollination” of knowledge and can connect you with potential coauthors and future collaborators.

Network, network, network.

“The network is everything,” Leigh McAlister stated emphatically. Whether it be the job search, the tenure process, or a research project, it is integral to your career (not to mention mental health) to have a community of peers in the field who are invested in your success. Conferences are an obvious opportunity to connect with other academics based on respect for and interest in their body of work.

Don’t lose sight of your passions.

Andrew Stephen told participants, “Make sure every so often you ask yourself, ‘Are the things I’m working on still exciting to me?’” If not, you might want to cut your losses on some of that research—if it doesn’t interest you, that’s a bad sign. It’s essential to periodically take stock of your research and either cut a project from your portfolio or reprioritize to work on something that does excite you.

Michelle Kritselis, curator