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The definitive career guide for grad students, adjuncts, post-docs and anyone else eager to get tenure or turn their Ph.D.  into their ideal job
 
Each year tens of thousands of students will, after years of hard work and enormous amounts of money, earn their Ph.D. And each year only a small percentage of them will land a job that justifies and rewards their investment. For every comfortably tenured professor or well-paid former academic, there are countless underpaid and overworked adjuncts, and many more who simply give up in frustration.
 
Those who do make it share an important asset that separates them from the pack: they have a plan. They understand exactly what they need to do to set themselves up for success.  They know what really moves the needle in academic job searches, how to avoid the all-too-common mistakes that sink so many of their peers, and how to decide when to point their Ph.D. toward other, non-academic options.
 
Karen Kelsky has made it her mission to help readers join the select few who get the most out of their Ph.D. As a former tenured professor and department head who oversaw numerous academic job searches, she knows from experience exactly what gets an academic applicant a job. And as the creator of the popular and widely respected advice site The Professor is In, she has helped countless Ph.D.’s turn themselves into stronger applicants and land their dream careers.
 
Now, for the first time ever, Karen has poured all her best advice into a single handy guide that addresses the most important issues facing any Ph.D., including:
 
-When, where, and what to publish
-Writing a foolproof grant application
-Cultivating references and crafting the perfect CV
-Acing the job talk and campus interview
-Avoiding the adjunct trap
-Making the leap to nonacademic work, when the time is right
 
The Professor Is In addresses all of these issues, and many more.

Review

“Kelsky offers wide-ranging, valuable advice and an important perspective for job seekers.” - Booklist

“Every graduate student in academe should read this book
. But also: if you teach graduate students, if you mentor graduate students, if you worry about graduate students, and even if you’re thinking about becoming a graduate student, you should read this book too. It’s just that indispensable.”– Michael Bérubé, Director, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, Penn State University
 
"Kelsky offers smart, frank, and often witty advice to lead applicants through the complicated process of securing a tenure-track position..this cogent, illuminating book will be indispensable." - Kirkus Reviews
 
“It''s tough out there, but no one understands how academic jobs are landed better than Karen Kelsky. If you are a graduate student, The Professor Is In offers sound, realistic advice, and it may be the most valuable book you ever read if you intend to have an academic career.  – William Pannapacker, Professor of English at Hope College and columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education
 
Karen Kelsky levels the playing field, providing practical insider knowledge to demystify the job market and help you improve the odds. - David M. Perry, Columnist, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Director of Undergraduate Research, Dominican University
 
Explains in exquisite detail exactly how to land a tenure track job. In her genial yet unabashedly thorough book, Kelsky coaches readers through the critical topics they need to know. I wouldn’t want to navigate the inhospitable weirdness of the academic job market without it.” – Adam Ruben, author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School
 
 
“Getting a job is about more than being smart; read this book if you want to be prepared, professional, and on your game.”-Elizabeth Reis, Professor and Chair, Women''s and Gender Studies Department, University of Oregon
 
“A realistic account of what it takes to turn a Ph.D. into a job when all the jobs seem to be disappearing, The Professor is In offers sobering, impeccable advice from one of the most honest voices in higher education today.”--Greg M. Colón Semenza, Author, with Garrett Sullivan, of How to Build a Life in the Humanities: Meditations on the Academic Work-Life Balance
 
This is the book I wish I had when I was a grad student. As The Professor Is In, Karen Kelsky delivers generous, savvy advice for academic job seekers. Unflinching, supportive, and honest, there is no other book like it. All Ph.D. students (and their advisors) should have a copy on their shelf.” -Carole McGranahan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado
 
 
 
 

About the Author

KAREN KELSKY has run The Professor Is In blog and business since 2010, and today, she is the most widely recognized expert in the highly engaged world of Ph.D.''s attempting to navigate the transition to the job market. A former tenured professor and department head at two major research institutions, she knows (and shares) the insider knowledge of academic hiring.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

One

The End of an Era

It’s a balmy fall evening in Eugene, Oregon. The air is soft, the setting sun glows, and the leaves shimmer in shades of red, yellow, and orange. A murmur of voices blends with the clink of glasses as a crowd of professors, staff, and graduate students gathers on the spacious deck of a senior faculty member’s elegant house. It is a retirement party. A longtime professor is bidding ­good-­bye after ­twenty-­five years at the University of Oregon. The ceremony unfolds as the professor and his colleagues regale the assembled crowd with stories of the students he taught, the programs he built, the family he raised, and the pleasures of his years of sabbatical travel. One of the resident faculty eccentrics (decked out in mauve velvet beret and dashing smoking jacket) laughingly recalls the professor’s fierce affection for ­white-­water rafting, and the many, many faculty meetings missed as a result.

As they talk, I pause to ponder the event through the eyes of the graduate students in the crowd. It looks beautiful and soothing, a vision of a career and a life lived at a peaceful, gracious pace, filled with teaching and leisure, colleagues and family. I wonder if they know that the life being feted here this evening is already a relic of the past. I suspect they do not. I suspect that they come to this party, and others like it, mingle in the lovely faculty home, drink the wine, eat the food, hear the stories, and believe that this, too, will someday be theirs.

Nobody will tell them that they are wrong.

The American academy is in crisis. Decades of shrinking funding and shifting administrative priorities have left public universities strapped for cash and unable to sustain their basic educational mission. As state legislatures have slashed funding to their state university systems, what money remains increasingly goes to pay for bloated administrative ranks, and the expensive dorms and recreational facilities that can be used to attract students and justify skyrocketing tuition dollars. A few facts and figures tell the story.

States spent 28 percent less per student on higher education in 2013 than they did in 2008. Eleven states have cut funding by more than ­one-­third per student, and two ­states—­Arizona and New ­Hampshire—­have cut their higher education spending per student in half. Graph 1, from a 2014 report by the Center on Policy and Budget Priorities, illustrates.

To compensate for declining state funding, public colleges and universities across the country have drastically raised tuition. Tuition growth has outpaced inflation for the past thirty years. Annual ­inflation-­adjusted tuition at ­four-­year public colleges grew by $1,850, or 27 percent, between 2008 and 2014, with states such as Arizona and California increasing tuition at ­four-­year schools more than 70 percent. Graph 2 from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrates.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 1975, a University of Minnesota undergraduate could cover tuition by working six hours a week ­year-­round at a ­minimum-­wage job. Today, a student would have to work ­thirty-­two hours a ­week—­close to ­full-­time—­to cover the cost.

The result of these hikes to tuition is escalating student debt. The Institute for College Access and Success reported that 71 percent of the class of 2012 had debt at graduation, and the average debt of $29,400 was up 25 percent compared to 2008 figures.3 Currently student debt in America totals approximately $1 trillion, and default rates on these loans have climbed for six straight years.

Astoundingly, in the midst of this crisis, universities have chosen to vastly increase hires at the highest end of the pay ­scale—­university administrators such as deans, provosts, and the like. According to the U.S. Department of Education, between 2001 and 2011, the number of administrators hired by colleges and universities increased 50 percent faster than the number of instructors. Between 2008 and 2012, university spending on administrator salaries increased 61 percent, while spending on students increased only 39 percent. The University of Minnesota system added more than one thousand administrators between 2001 and 2012, for an increase of 37 percent, two times the growth of both teaching staff and student body.

To balance the loss of funding combined with the added salary burden of new administrative positions, colleges and universities have slashed educational programs, cut faculty positions, eliminated course offerings, closed campuses, shut down computer labs, and reduced library services. Arizona’s university system, for example, cut more than 2,100 positions between 2008 and 2013, and merged, consolidated, or eliminated 182 colleges, schools, programs, and departments, while closing eight extension campuses entirely. During the same period the University of California laid off 4,200 staff and eliminated or left unfilled another 9,500 positions; instituted a ­system-­wide furlough program, reducing salaries 4 to 10 percent; consolidated or eliminated more than 180 programs; and cut funding for campus administrative and academic departments by as much as 35 percent.

With fewer faculty and more students, who is teaching the classes? Temporary, contingent faculty known as adjuncts. Adjuncts have replaced traditional tenure track professors as the majority of instructional staff on campuses: in 2013 approximately 75 percent of university faculty were contingent and only 25 percent permanent tenure line. Forty years ago, these proportions were exactly the reverse. Between 1975 and 2011, the number of ­full-­time tenured or tenure track positions increased just 23 percent, to about 310,000, but ­part-­time appointments rose almost 300 percent to 762,000, according to the 2012–13 annual report of the American Association of University Professors. Graph 3 from the AAUP shows the shift.

Adjuncts, who are also sometimes called instructors, lecturers, teaching professors, teaching postdocs, or visiting assistant professors, often have Ph.D.’s and scholarly records equivalent to those on the tenure track, and teach the same classes. However, they are paid a fraction of the salary. Where a tenure line faculty member in 2014 could expect to earn an average salary (encompassing all ranks) of close to $102,000 at doctoral institutions, and $75,317 at liberal arts colleges, an adjunct was likely to be paid a mere $1,800 to $2,700 per course for a maximum annual salary of around $23,000 per year. When the hours of required work are factored in, adjuncts’ hourly ­take-­home pay of about $9 is less than that earned by a typical Walmart worker. ­Seventy-­nine percent of adjuncts do not receive health insurance at work, and 86 percent do not receive retirement benefits. Adjuncts at institutions of every rank often qualify for welfare and food stamps. The number of people with advanced degrees receiving public assistance more than doubled between 2007 and 2010, from 111,458 to 272,684. Washington Post writer Coleman McCarthy wrote of the “hordes of adjuncts” who “slog like migrant workers from campus to campus.” “Teaching four fall and four spring courses at $2,700 each,” he continued, “generates an annual salary of $21,600, below the national poverty line for a family of four.” As the Los Angeles Times recently observed, “The lives of many adjunct professors are ones of Dickensian misery.”

Added to this financial struggle is the escalating student debt borne by those with advanced degrees. Graduate student debt is the fastest growing type of student debt, and graduate students now owe an average of $57,600. One in four graduate students owes almost $100,000.

Adjuncts also lack access to the basic resources and tools of university teaching, such as an office, a phone line, a library card, or even photocopying privileges. They are typically told of their teaching assignment just days or weeks before the first day of class, and must scramble to prepare. When adjuncts arrive on campus, 94 percent receive no campus or department orientation. Despite their qualifications, skills, and dedication, adjuncts cannot manage, with their impoverished resources and precarious employment status, to provide a quality of student experience equivalent to that provided by professors with job security and full access to university resources.

As tenure track faculty member turned adjunct Alice Umber (a pseudonym) wrote in her Chronicle of Higher Education column “I Used to Be a Good Teacher”: “I’m not suggesting that adjuncts are poorer teachers than ­tenure-­track professors (except in the fiscal sense), only that the very limited institutional support so many of us receive undermines our teaching; at least it has mine. No matter how dedicated I am to my teaching or how hard I work, I simply can’t do for students as an adjunct what I could when I was an integral part of a department and a university.”

She elaborated on how adjunct teaching falls short, hampered by isolation and exclusion. While adjunct professors usually bring great passion and dedication to their work, the lack of institutional inclusion means that they have little knowledge of, or impact on, the integrated curriculum that is supposed to govern the content and sequence of courses in a major. “I teach in a vacuum,” she explained. “While I’m assigned classes and (sometimes) given course outlines or sample syllabi, after that initial exchange of information, I teach my courses in almost total isolation. In my previous job, one of the first things I learned was how the sequence of required courses in the major fit together to create a foundation, continuity, and a ­discipline-­specific education for our majors. That I ever possessed such knowledge now seems like such a luxury to me.”

In order to survive, adjuncts usually must cobble together a set of courses at several different universities, ­driv­ing frantically across the city or state to assemble a piecemeal income from three or four different campuses. Called “freeway flyers,” they have no time or space to conduct the research necessary to keep their courses vibrant and demanding, to meet with students, or to publish the kind of work that is required to get a permanent position and leave behind adjuncting once and for all.

Students (and their ­tuition-­paying parents), of course, have no ability to discern the difference between a tenure line and an adjunct professor. To students and parents, they are both “professors.” The adjunctification of the university has flourished as an open secret, hollowing out the university education even as the costs of that education have skyrocketed.

The cost of adjunctification for undergraduate students may be hidden, but the costs for those earning Ph.D.’s are anything but. Adjunctification has openly decimated the career prospects of new Ph.D.’s, particularly in the traditional humanities and social sciences, where nonacademic uses of advanced degrees are still relatively unusual. Thousands of Ph.D.’s emerge onto the tenure track job market each year, expecting to find permanent and secure tenure line work at a university commensurate with their years of advanced training, only to discover that there is almost no such work to be had.

In some corners of a field such as ­En­glish, a single job opening can draw nine hundred to one thousand applications. In less overcrowded fields, the number may be closer to three hundred to five hundred. In all fields, candidates grow increasingly desperate. They stay on the job market for years, eking out a living by adjuncting. They quickly become enmeshed in a ­self-­destructive adjunct ­cycle—­adjuncting to make ends meet while searching for a tenure track job, but unable to research and publish enough to compete for a tenure track job due to the time demands of adjuncting.

The tenure track job market in recent years has been likened to a lottery system, a Ponzi scheme, the Hunger Games, and a drug gang. In response to this state of affairs, increasing numbers of adjuncts are organizing in advocacy groups such as New Faculty Majority, Adjunct Action, and Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL). Because agitation for better working conditions can lead to the immediate dismissal of individual adjuncts, they have also begun to unionize. Adjuncts and other contingent faculty have successfully unionized at American University and Georgetown, among other institutions, and have been incorporated into faculty unions at the University of Oregon and a few other places. Progress, however, has been slow, for reasons I’ll discuss in chapter 2. In all cases, the universities have fought these efforts. Northeastern University retained one of the country’s most aggressive antiunion law firms to fight adjuncts’ unionization efforts there.

Despite these upheavals, most ranking graduate programs still consider any Ph.D. who ­doesn’t land a tenure track job a failure or an aberration. “Doctoral education in the humanities socializes idealistic, naïve, and psychologically vulnerable people into a profession with a very clear set of values,” critic and columnist William Pannapacker wrote. “It teaches them that life outside of academe means failure, which explains the large numbers of graduates who labor for decades as adjuncts, just so they can stay on the periphery of academe.”

Graduate students absorb this value system and judge themselves harshly. Adjuncts and those who can’t find tenure track positions suffer not just from debt and poverty, but debilitating feelings of shame and failure. As Robert Oprisko observed, “A substantial and deeply meaningful of your core identity is tied to your profession [and] losing your position represents the death of your identity, the annihilation of your self. Your identity is contingent not on publishing or getting high marks in teaching. . . . It is contingent on being employed, which is beyond your power to control.”

Many tenured faculty advisors in the departments that produce all of these Ph.D.’s maintain a studied silence on the question of, in Oprisko’s words, “being employed.” Rare is the advisor or department that acknowledges the employment needs of their Ph.D.’s. or provides ­hands-­on training in the tactical professionalization graduate students need to either compete for scarce positions, or retool themselves for nonacademic work.

That is where this book comes in.

The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. into a Job reveals the unspoken norms and expectations of the job market so that graduate students, Ph.D.’s, and adjuncts can grasp exactly what is required in the tenure track job search, and accurately weigh both their chances of success and the risks of continuing to try.

With this book I hope to empower you, whether you’re a current or future Ph.D. job seeker, to understand how the job market works, make informed choices about your career, and protect your financial security and mental health.

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Top reviews from the United States

Jeff
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I got multiple job offers following the recommendations made in ...
Reviewed in the United States on February 26, 2017
I got multiple job offers following the recommendations made in this book. It takes the mystery out of going on the academic market and determining what schools want. Covers what academics searching for research intensive AND teaching schools need to know.
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Sandra Keesler
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Helpful Book with Useful Advice
Reviewed in the United States on November 27, 2016
I am working on getting together my application for faculty positions and this book has been invaluable so far. There is a lot of great advice in this book, and the author''s voice is blunt, easy to read, and to the point. While I probably won''t choose to follow all of the... See more
I am working on getting together my application for faculty positions and this book has been invaluable so far. There is a lot of great advice in this book, and the author''s voice is blunt, easy to read, and to the point. While I probably won''t choose to follow all of the advice given (as there are so many discipline specific nuances that my mentors have warned me about), just reading her chapter titled "Just Say No to the Weeping Teaching Statement" (Chapter 25), and her other chapters in the section titled "Job Documents that Work" have cleaned my teaching and research statements up immeasureably. Apart from useful advice on the more well known aspects of the job application process, the real value from this book reminds me of the value I got from being able to reference a book my mom got me while going through puberty to avoid awkward conversations. While I have a fantastic mentor, there are just some things I wouldn''t dream of wasting her time with -- like what not to wear to a campus visit. However, this book has answered that question and more! I actually found this book while searching online some questions that I was too embarrassed to ask anyone in person (ex. If making a personal website, what are the implications of ".com" versus ".net" versus ".org"?). I found the author''s website [...] and based on her useful advice, decided to buy the book. I''m happily suprised and I know it will be my go-to guide in this next year of intimidating faculty job searching.
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Jacob S. Dingman
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Didactic and harmful, sexist, anecdotal
Reviewed in the United States on October 22, 2020
I got this book on the advice of a friend who is also nearing the end of her PhD program and navigating the job market. She says this book is her "bible," and I can see where it would be useful to some. If you''re looking for clear advice on discreet topics such as writing a... See more
I got this book on the advice of a friend who is also nearing the end of her PhD program and navigating the job market. She says this book is her "bible," and I can see where it would be useful to some. If you''re looking for clear advice on discreet topics such as writing a diversity statement or negotiating an offer, you''ll certainly find that here. But like any guidebook, the question is whether the author''s advice is actually worthwhile or useful to the reader. That''s where my opinion diverges from my friend''s.

As background, Dr. Karen Kelsky worked for fifteen years as a tenured professor (including five years as chair) and now runs a consulting firm helping grad students find jobs. I''ll start by saying that while fifteen years certainly isn''t shabby, it''s not enough to convince me that she knows every aspect of the academic job marked as solidly (and narrowly) as she claims to, especially since academia changes fairly quickly. This is compounded by the fact that Kelsky tends to back up her advice with single anecdotes that do little to convince me that the issue she identifies is actually representative.

But my bigger issue with this book is its generally judgmental tone and the author''s encouragement of aggressiveness not just in the job search, but in one''s academic career. She explicitly says that "being nice" is harmful when it comes to advising students, deciding instead that "the truth is empowering." Sure, I''m all for truth, but does that mean I want to be part of a profession where advisors make their mentees cry on a regular basis? This appears to be the world Kelsky is advocating (from outside the profession, I might add): "If you''ve never cried before, during, or after a meeting with your advisor, something is amiss" (pp. 365 - 366). Kelsky is not being tongue-in-cheek here, she actually believes that this is how things should be and in fact repeats this sentiment elsewhere in the book. She justifies this by asking, "Do athletes make the Olympics by working with nice trainers who tell them everything they do is great?" It''s a patently ridiculous comparison, and I''m thankful that this attitude hasn''t taken hold on a large scale.

Oddly, much of Kelsky''s opinion on academia stems from her conclusion that the very existence of her consultancy customers proves that both professors and graduate students are failures. She quotes an article she wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education: "I sell Ph.D advising services on the open market. And your students are buying. Why? Because you''re not doing your job." She is thus relying on selection bias (of course the students who seek her out are going to be those who are unhappy with their advisors) while compounding the problem of privilege in academia by giving a leg up to those who can afford to pay more. What''s even worse is that Kelsky is selective in who she deems deserving of both her advice and these highly coveted jobs: on her website, her response to the Black Lives Matter movement is to note that she gives discounts to Black and Indigenous women.

This highlights another, more pernicious trait of the book: it is implicitly written for women but fails to advertise that fact. This is clear when she lists examples of "outrageous questions" interviewees might be asked by committees, most of which have to do with being pregnant or lesbian. In one of her more egregious uses of anecdote, a section titled "don''t be arrogant" is based entirely on one instance (which Kelsky didn''t even witness but heard about from a colleague) in which a male presenter went over his allotted time and then failed to ask questions of female faculty. Do I agree that this hypothetical candidate acted inappropriately? Of course. Does that mean that arrogance is a shortcoming of the male gender? No. To be fair, Kelsky is pretty equitable in making negative generalizations about both men and women: she''s keen to point out that women tend to be "overtly emotional" in their writing, which for Kelsky means writing a sentence like "I love teaching." To me that seems a bit extreme. I agree with her that search committees want something substantive, but I don''t see the problem with injecting a little passion into that.

There''s some sound advice to be found here, but that''s all information I''ve heard from other sources. For now I think I''ll just stick with the network I''ve built during my time in grad school. And I''m thankful that it''s made up of nice people who have never made me cry.
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D. Picard
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Indispensable for those considering graduate school, those in it, and those who are considering leaving it (plus their mentors)
Reviewed in the United States on August 4, 2015
I''m an avid reader of Kelsky''s blog and purchased this book fairly certain of what it would contain, My high expectations were certainly met. While the book did not contain much information that was "startlingly new," its breadth and depth earn the book its place on... See more
I''m an avid reader of Kelsky''s blog and purchased this book fairly certain of what it would contain, My high expectations were certainly met. While the book did not contain much information that was "startlingly new," its breadth and depth earn the book its place on my bookshelf. I''m certainly happy to have all of this information in one place so that I can share chapters with colleagues, friends, and students.

Kelsky has written a book designed to empower PhD students who are facing a bleak academic job market. She doesn''t guarantee that her readers will earn a "coveted" tenure-track position by reading the book - nor is that her goal. Her mission is to help PhDs get a job, be it academia, alt-ac, or non-ac; and she does this by detailing what job candidates need to know about academia. The readers of her blog or columns in The Chronicle will not be surprised by this goal, nor should they be. Kelsky is an avowed advocate for PhD students and recent graduates who are struggling on the market because they need more guidance.

The book is written for all academic fields, but Kelsky also calls attention to some of the dire conditions in the humanities, and how that may affect PhD candidates and job seekers.

The bulk of the book focuses on preparing for jobs in academia, but it also provides information on leaving academia and finding other ways to utilize the PhD. The book is broken down into ten parts covering everything those looking at the tenure-track need to know, including types of academic institutions (R1/SLACs/R2/etc.), job market documents, offer negotiations, grant writing, and how/when/why to leave academia altogether.

For those who are familiar with her blog, here are the biggest bonuses of her book:
* More real-life examples from emails, letters, and in person conversations Kelsky has had over the years.
* Chapter 4 details how the academic search process works from the university/department side - a land few grads may know as intimately as Kelsky explains.
* Figuring out a 5-year plan and determining what issues of the minutiae of graduate school life will distract you from the goal of making your CV the strongest it can be for the job market.
* Creating your “campaign platform” for the job market
* More specific information on crafting your elevator speech
* Key questions to prepare for in an academic interview (and how to tackle Skype and on-campus interviews)
* Answers the question of what to do when you don’t feel like you belong in academia, for myriad reasons including elitism, racism, gender, sexuality, imposter syndrome, and more

Most importantly for me, having all of this information in one compact book means I have a go-to present for my favorite students who giddily tell me that they want to become a professor. I don''t want to discourage them like my undergraduate advisers tried to do to me, but I do want them to be well-informed about what the graduate-school-to-tenure-track life is like. I love having genuinely curious and bright students be interested in becoming a professional in my field (history), but I don''t think it necessary that they see "professor" as the only meaningful way to study history or be a historian. I''m glad Kelsky has deepened my understanding of the nuances involved in mentoring students and being a student myself, as well as giving practical and thoughtful advice.

On another note, the book also provides me with a good stocking-stuffer for my non-academic parents who still wonder why I’m “in school” after so many years, and why my work schedule doesn''t follow the 9-5 they''re used to. I may even send a copy to my adviser.
108 people found this helpful
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a human being
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If you want to be talked to like a stupid grad student then buy this book...
Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2018
Lot''s of useful advice in one place, but as others have stated, much is a direct lift from her blog posts, but honestly, the overall tone just kills this book. She talks to students (her intended audience) like they are stupid for not knowing stuff, then tells them it''s not... See more
Lot''s of useful advice in one place, but as others have stated, much is a direct lift from her blog posts, but honestly, the overall tone just kills this book. She talks to students (her intended audience) like they are stupid for not knowing stuff, then tells them it''s not their fault, and still treats them with contempt. In parts my heart would be racing because of her excessive snark or unnecessary demeaning language. The "Stop Acting Like a Grad Student!" chapter was especially egregious and exemplary of her tone. For example, point #4 on pg. 41, "You Constantly Repeat Your Main Point" offers advice that starts like this: "Grad students are insecure..." and continues..."A myopic obsession with your dissertation topic, the overuse of examples to prove its significance, and the pleading insistence on its importance are all hallmarks of immaturity as a scholar and potential colleague..." Even if this is true who needs the attitude? She reminds me of some fellow TA''s and faculty members I''ve met who hate teaching and deride their students like that''s cool instead of supporting them. I''m trying to get away from that kind of negativity in my life, especially in academia, and here she is dishing it out in a double dose. Of course, it''s rather unfortunate as the info is good. Certainly handy. She should try again with more info not found on her website and a changed attitude.
15 people found this helpful
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O.Rodriguest
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not for the faint of heart
Reviewed in the United States on October 27, 2016
Here''s the thing with this book: you won''t get half the info in here until you''ve spent a few years in academia when you''re still in the haze and optimism of classes, and so it''s worth revisiting every few months. If you have decent mentors, they''ll say this stuff to you,... See more
Here''s the thing with this book: you won''t get half the info in here until you''ve spent a few years in academia when you''re still in the haze and optimism of classes, and so it''s worth revisiting every few months. If you have decent mentors, they''ll say this stuff to you, but they won''t present it in the cohesive way Kelsky does. Kelsky''s writing style is forceful and commanding, and may induce a panic attack about a 1/4 through. It''s the wake-up call you''ve been avoiding, but the honesty is liberating. This isn''t "How to finish your thesis." This is, "You''ve made an irrational choice in your life. Here''s how to make the most of a bad situation and stop acting like submissive underling, and barring that, how to get out and capitalize on the skills you''ve gained."
24 people found this helpful
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SFL
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
It''s a scam
Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2018
I wish I had read reviews of Kelsky''s book before now. This book is full of basic advice that you''d know if you''ve ever had a job (dress for the job, be professional, etc). Her advice is easily attainable from talking with other professional colleagues (or just having a... See more
I wish I had read reviews of Kelsky''s book before now. This book is full of basic advice that you''d know if you''ve ever had a job (dress for the job, be professional, etc). Her advice is easily attainable from talking with other professional colleagues (or just having a job) and her writing advice is minimal. No one needs to tell me to wear a well-fitting suit to an interview or to look professional (pretty sure I got that lesson in undergrad). I purchased the book hoping for some advice on how to write my job docs. She offers none of that information (unless you pay her money). I do not recommend this book (unless you don''t know how to look professional - though you could watch What Not to Wear if you are so clueless).

The kicker is that she considers that job materials need to be delivered in the fall (Sept/Oct). Not accurate for many social science positions - most need to be delivered in late summer (July/August). She also thinks postdocs need to be delivered in Dec/Jan (nope, Oct/Nov). On its own that would not be problematic, but she claims to provide the best advice. It''s not the best. It''s dated. If you have no idea about professionalism, this is a great book. If you''ve had a job or otherwise understand current job market practices, this is not worth your money.

Kelsky will tell you to wear a suit. But that''s about it. But I''m sure you could have saved yourself the money.
8 people found this helpful
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Lee Hendrickson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
should be mandatory
Reviewed in the United States on November 27, 2016
I found Dr. Karen''s blog during a VAP appointment, and I realized why I had received so many rejection letters. I worked with her, and in one year, I had eight interviews. Since the book came out, I have given it to friends, both graduate students and people in the field,... See more
I found Dr. Karen''s blog during a VAP appointment, and I realized why I had received so many rejection letters. I worked with her, and in one year, I had eight interviews. Since the book came out, I have given it to friends, both graduate students and people in the field, who have found it immensely helpful, for writing their own letters but also for supporting grad students. From five year plans to managing an online presence, Kelsky covers it all. Finally, it has given me back my feeling of self-worth, especially when she lists all of the skills I actually did acquire in grad school (see ch. 60). It should be mandatory reading for all grad students and their advisers.
19 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

JC
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent read, I wish it had been given to me when I started my PhD!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 11, 2019
Don''t get fooled, just because the title talks about what happens after your PhD, this book is best read during, or even better: before. It goes into just enough details to give an overview of academia that a prospective or beginning grad student desperately needs. Having...See more
Don''t get fooled, just because the title talks about what happens after your PhD, this book is best read during, or even better: before. It goes into just enough details to give an overview of academia that a prospective or beginning grad student desperately needs. Having read this book a few years earlier would have saved me a lot of embarrassment when preparing my CV, writing letters or trying to approach eminent professors. The only reason it got 4 starts instead of 5 is that the paperback is one of the most fragile paperbacks I have ever held. It''s still largely worth the money and the read, but be careful.
2 people found this helpful
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Kai
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fantastic - if you doing a PhD stop writing it and read this
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 1, 2019
This book means business, whether you are in the US or Europe, like me. It does exactly what it says. Dr Kelsky gives you a boot up the backside and you will be glad she did. I read the book in November, followed her advice to the LETTER and put my shoulder to the wheel. I...See more
This book means business, whether you are in the US or Europe, like me. It does exactly what it says. Dr Kelsky gives you a boot up the backside and you will be glad she did. I read the book in November, followed her advice to the LETTER and put my shoulder to the wheel. I certainly got results. I got a trade book contract and became employable. I only hope that one day I can meet the author in person, because I really cannot thank her enough. That said, her words aren''t for the fainthearted but grit your teeth and listen hard.
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Lorna
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Couldn''t live without it...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 1, 2017
This book happens to be US specific but it has been invaluable so far in securing international funding for conferences, writing conference papers/ abstracts and considering post doc applications in the future. Cannot recommend it highly enough. The author provides a no...See more
This book happens to be US specific but it has been invaluable so far in securing international funding for conferences, writing conference papers/ abstracts and considering post doc applications in the future. Cannot recommend it highly enough. The author provides a no nonsense guide to achieving in academia.
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Hilary Moss
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Book for PhD students
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 18, 2018
The book feels good to hold and is easy reading so well presented and I think (& hope) the recipient of the book will be pleased too.
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Ras
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
very verbose
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 20, 2017
The explanations are very verbose and not to the point. It could have been much more succinct. I did not enjoy reading it.
2 people found this helpful
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