Tuesday, March 10, 2020

“Keep Your Job, Ken!” by Professor Kenneth Hanson, Florida State


(Chemjobber's note: Ken Hanson will be guest posting for the next seven weeks. I am honored to host his posts.) 

It’s hard to believe how much time has passed since my “Get a Job, Ken!” blog post debuted (circa 2013). The series covers my experience on the academic job market and shares tips and advice for future job seekers. The eight-part series proved surprisingly popular with a few of the posts garnering over 400,000 views. I credit many of these views to Chemjobber , who includes a link to the blog in the annual Faculty Jobs List he does with Andrew Spaeth. Drawing on conversations I’ve with people who’ve recognized me at conferences, it sounds like the blog has even helped secure a job or two!

I enjoy blogging but available time to do so has proven sparse. I think I have a reasonable excuse: For the last six years I’ve been trying to keep my job (i.e. get tenure). Hence, the demanding mantra looping in my brain (and conveniently lending itself to the title of this blog sequel) is “Keep your job, Ken!”

The journey offered high-highs, low-lows, and everything in between. Following my first year on the job, I wrote my memoir of a first year assistant professor recounting the dramatic life change that occurred when transitioning from a postdoc to a professor. And since then I’ve mentored an awesome group of students, hooded my first Ph.D. students, and sprouted a few branches on my academic family tree. We got some funding, published papers, and presented a bunch of seminars/conference talks. I also met and got to know some amazing colleagues and collaborators. And, while this may or may not be related to the job, my hairline began retreating and turning white.


 After all of this time, work, and visible aging, I am proud to share that I am officially a tenured associate professor. The donning of this title is a little anti-climactic as it involves many incremental hurdles. First, the department votes. Then there’s a college-level vote. And that’s followed by votes from a university-level committee, the provost, and president. I wasn’t initially sure when to celebrate my new status but settled on the date when my salary officially increased: August 2019.

With the journey “complete” I can’t help but look back and reflect on the successes and mistakes I experienced along the way. In line with my previous posts sharing advice for new graduate students, post-doc position seekers, and academic job candidates, this blog series will share insights for new assistant professors. Most of what I’ll share is based on my first-hand experiences and/or the advice I’ve received from others. Some of the content may be obvious and actual experiences will vary widely. My goal though is simply to help in whatever way I can and, in that same vein, I encourage new assistant professors to consult with as many people as possible, particularly senior colleagues at your own institution. Additional insights are also always welcome in the comment section.

I have a habit of generating too much content for just one blog post. So I’ve broken down my advice into seven posts that encompass:

3) Management (week of March 23)
4) Funding (week of March 30)
5) Gaining Prominence (week of April 6)
6) Teaching (week of April 13)
7) Other (week of April 20)

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looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20