Sunday, April 12, 2009

Making Use of the Faculty

This past Friday a couple of UAF professors put on a CV and Cover Letter Workshop for interested graduate students. The timing for this workshop couldn’t have been better for me, since I’m currently trying to put together a CV and cover letter to apply for adjunct jobs in Ohio. I have to admit, I felt like a fool because the CV I had previously put together (with which, by the way, I applied to graduate programs this past time around) was not at all what a CV should be. It didn’t even look like a proper CV – too fancy. To put together that CV I had looked up information on the internet, looked at some samples, and downloaded a template. Boy did these things lead me wrong!

At the workshop the faculty members answered questions, and one of them passed around copies of his current CV (with which he recently applied for and received tenure). These professors also recently went through a hiring process at our university, sifting through the applicant pool to try to find the best applicants for a few open positions. They gave us concrete, specific, and immensely useful information about what they were looking for on the hiring committee, what they do as applicants, and how we could put our experience in graduate school to the best possible use on our CVs and cover letters.

In addition to the fact that this was extremely helpful for me as I get ready to apply for my first non-TA teaching positions, this workshop really got me thinking about how much you can gain from just tapping into the professors’ wealth of knowledge about both writing and academia. This is one HUGE plus about MFA programs; you can learn all kinds of things about how to become a professor and you also get some good references to use when applying for future jobs.

I’ve said before that one of the major things you get from MFA programs is preparation and experience for a career in academia, and while this might not seem directly relevant to creative writing, consider how good a job teaching is for writers. How many writers work as teachers to support their writing addiction? Quite a lot, actually. Teaching is a great job for writers because it encourages you to keep working on your writing and affords you ample time to do it (can you say summers and winters off?) – in fact, if you don’t keep getting quality publications you won’t even stand a chance at ever getting tenure. Learning how to get your foot in the academic door is important, then, and I don’t know that there is any better way of preparing yourself for this sort of career than asking people questions who have been through it themselves. People like the professors in an MFA program.

1 comment:

Justus said...

Dang, I wish they'd done that CV / Cover Letter workshop while I was there. I did speak with a faculty member and see his CV to get an idea of how to put it together and had the same experience. My first effort was more like a traditional resume than an academic CV.