My #1 Takeaway from the Campus Interview Process

A few weeks ago, you may have seen that I shared some big news. The news? I landed a tenure-track position as an assistant professor in the Department of Classics at Randolph-Macon College – that is, of course, after preparing and submitting a slew of application materials and surviving a nerve-wracking campus interview.

Black woman with curly dark hair and glasses, wearing a black turtleneck and black cardigan, sitting in front of a wall of magazines. Hands are clasped in front of her.

Due to the timing of everything, I couldn’t benefit from what must have been an incredible series of workshops on the job search offered by the WCC.

Instead, most of what I learned about how to be successful on the job market came from two sources.

First, my incredible mentors. From drafting and revising and practicing job talks to setting up mock interviews to giving me advice on negotiating a contract, I couldn’t have done any of this without my support system.

Second, I spent a lot – and I mean a lot – of time reading posts across the internet relating to the academic job search. My Google search history can probably attest to that. I also spent an indeterminate amount of time combing through posts on Twitter, like this one:

My key takeaway from the whole experience?

Always. Ask. Questions.

It makes you seem interested in the position and the institution (even if you’re not). It’s also a great way to take a break from talking and let someone else take over.

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Round-Up: The Hidden Curriculum

Happy November! In case you missed it, in August I decided to make my blogging comeback with a round-up of resources centered around a back-to-school theme. In honor of last month’s installment bringing us to ten posts on the topic, this month’s round-up is all about the hidden curriculum.

The hidden curriculum series began nearly two years ago (the first post went live on January 28, 2021). As each post reminds us, the series was borne from the observation that there is a lot that we, as academics, are expected to know but are never taught.

Black dog with blue collar sitting at a desk with two computer monitors. White text with black border superimposed over the image in top right corner reads: I have no idea what I'm doing.

I figured it might be helpful to have all the posts in the series to date all in one place for ease of access.

In addition, you will find related posts providing general advice and resources, as well as links to other resources I’ve found useful from around the internet (mostly Twitter).

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Conquer the Cold Email (Hidden Curriculum #10)

For those of you who are new here, the hidden curriculum includes a set of things we’re expected to know how to do, from attending a conference for the first time to applying for funding to going on the job market, without actually being taught them. This month’s installment is all about sending cold emails!

Raise your hand if you absolutely loathe sending emails? Raise your other hand if you especially hate cold-emailing people you’ve never met?

If you have both of your hands in the air, I bet you probably look pretty silly.

But I can tell you that I’ve been where you are, and just the thought of sending any kind of email (especially to a large audience or to someone I don’t know) gives me a little bit of anxiety.

I can also tell you that, like most things, it gets better with practice.

In this post, I’m sharing a few tips for how to make you a cold-emailing pro.

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Round-Up: Back to School

“Back to school” hits different when you’re a final year grad student…

Black woman with curly hair, dark glasses, and gold upside down U earrings wearing a black turtleneck and black cardigan. Looking at shelves full of books. Computer screen in the background.

Did you know that a common side-effect of being a PhD candidate is time blindness?

Okay, I don’t know that for sure, but I have been in this boat for a while. When you’re not teaching or taking classes, the days and weeks really start to blur together. Is it Monday? Thursday? Sunday?

The only way I keep track these days is by scheduling meetings, planning events, or being reminded that a new episode of a TV show I’m watching is on.

Usually, not knowing what day of the week it is isn’t that big of a problem. All I really need to know is whether it’s a weekday or the weekend, so I can decide whether I should be working or not.

Occasionally, I find it important to be aware of the beginning and end of the academic term. As a graduate student this helps me determine how frequently I should be in contact with my advisor and committee (more during the academic year, less in the summer). Right now, it’s also useful for deciding when to schedule my thesis defense (y i k e s).

As the person who’s running this blog, knowing when classes start is important for deciding when to get this post out.

After a nearly four-month break, I thought this was an easy way to get back into blogging.

If something feels super overwhelming, break it into small, easy steps. First step to reviving the blog? Make a round-up (or two, or three).

This month’s theme is back-to-school.

As it turns out, I’ve written a lot about pedagogy. So, I figured I’d put all those posts in one place, for folks who want to check them out before term starts.

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Treat Yo’ Self: Athens, Greece 2022

If you’re an archaeologist, the fact that you spend your summers working in a foreign country has probably often been (mis)interpreted as a leisurely vacation.

Don’t get me wrong – working in Greece for four to eight weeks of the year *is* something I am privileged to be able to experience. But it’s still work. And working five or six days a week in the heat of the day takes its toll, mentally and physically, after a while.

Many people have already recognized this, and schedule in a vacation at some point during their trip. I, on the other hand, have been coming to Greece for six summers and have not once taken any time to myself.

This year, however, I had a little extra time in Athens and thought, “Hey, what the hell? No time like the present.”

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Get Rid of Writer’s Block Once and For All

The worst advice I’ve ever been given to beat writer’s block can be summed up in two words: just start. Let me tell you why that advice sucks.

First, there is nothing more terrifying than a blinking cursor on a blank page combined with high expectations.

Do you have a million ideas and no idea which one to choose?

Do you have a quickly approaching deadline?

Are you a perfectionist?

Whatever form your high expectations take, being told to just start is a recipe for disaster. Staring at a blank page is the surest way for me to do just about anything else instead.

Writer's block affects all of us

Second, when someone tells you to just start, they rarely if ever tell you where to start. Put another way, they never tell you what to start with. It’s like giving you a box of furniture parts and some tools, but no instruction manual.

There are two ways to approach this situation.

You might abandon the task entirely, which is entirely fair. They put you in an impossible situation!

Alternatively, you might break down and choose a place to start that looks straightforward enough. But it would be a lot easier if you had a piece of paper that enumerated each of the steps for you.

For most of us, the stakes are too high to go with the first option, so we figure out where to start eventually.

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Notes from AIA-SCS 2022

Last year I summarized the highs (and lows) of the annual joint meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the Society for Classical Studies (SCS). I figured, why not do it again?

The 2022 AIA-SCS conference was virtual again this year.

I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find out that this year’s meeting did not proceed without incident. 

Most egregious, I think, was when it was brought to everyone’s attention that the title of one paper was both inappropriate and wholly unprofessional in its exposure and trivializing of a student’s mental health issues. The matter was seemingly quickly resolved, with a change in the paper’s title and an apology issued by the presenter.

I think the issue raises three larger problems, however:

  1. Why would anyone think that such an approach would be appropriate?
  2. How the heck did a paper with such a title and premise get accepted in the first place?
  3. When will our relationships with our students be such that making light of serious issues in conference papers and on social media becomes far less commonplace?

I’m not going to go into any of these points, but they’re just things that have been on my mind since it blew up on Twitter.

Instead, this post will focus more on the highlights of the conference for me. It will also include a list of sessions that I wish I’d had the time or energy to attend while the conference was happening.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s more exhausting: physically running between rooms in a conference hall or the mental effort it takes to shift from Zoom session to Zoom session. Right now, I’m sensing it’s the latter.

You may sense a theme in the talks and sessions that I managed to make it to (and even some of the ones I’m planning to watch later). Sorry not sorry.

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Notes from the Apotheke Turns One: Here’s What I Learned

I think we can all agree that this year was not all that much better than 2020. I don’t know if anyone expected it to be better. But I feel like the vibes were pretty much the same, even though starting this blog gave me some hope that things would change.

As always, however, many people have tried to look on the bright side of things.

They’ve sought the light in the almost overwhelming darkness.

I think in particular of one thread going around last week that asked people to share their 3 biggest accomplishments of the year:

A lot of people made light of this – and that’s understandable. Sometimes the only way to get through the hard things is to find a way to laugh about it.

But I think it’s good to stop sometimes and really appreciate the wins, no matter how big or small.

I struggle with doing this myself, and thought that a little celebratory post was in order here. And what, exactly, am I celebrating?

The one year anniversary of this little blog.

If you listened to the podcast episode I was featured on last week, then you’ll know that I started Notes from the Apotheke exactly one year ago.

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