How to Get a Job--Part I

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So you've received your Ph.D.?  Now what?  If you happen to be among the
lucky few who actually escape grad school you must begin the arduous
process of the job search.  There are two ways to approach this
problem:  The hard way or the smart way.  This Friday at 4pm, Good Time
Charley's will host a DanCo presentation, in association with C&P and
Don Bruckheimer Productions:  How to Get a Job: Advice for the Ph.D. (in
two acts)


Special Symposium:  How to Get a Job:  Advice for the Ph.D. - Part I:


At some point, all good things must come to an end.  Joe Dimaggio's
hitting streak ended at 56 games, Mr. Rourke and Tattoo were rescued
from Gilligan's Island, and Ginger Spice left the Spice Girls.  This is
true for you as well; someday you will leave graduate school.  That's
right, all that fun must come to an end.  No more extravagant parties on
your yacht, no more weekend treks to Aspen, no more personal audiences
with the queen. You're about to enter the real world.

To give you an idea of what the real world is like, try this:   Imagine
yourself in a pleasant green meadow.  Hear the birds chirping, feel the
wind blowing through your hair.  Now, imagine yourself on fire, with a
rabid raccoon biting your leg.  This is what the real world is like,
only more so. Your experiences in this strange and mysterious place
needn't be all bad.  If you play your cards right, it can be an almost
bearable experience.

The key to survival in the real world is to acquire a job.  Doing so
will greatly ease your life, as shown below:

Job:     Receive paycheck
No Job:  Receive pity

Job:     Pay taxes
No Job:  No taxes

Job:     Spend all day in an office
No Job:  Spend all day playing NHL Hockey on Sega Genesis

Job:     Responsibilities include conducting research, submitting
publications, and getting funding.
No Job:  Responsibilities include trying to take Montreal to the finals
in NHL Hockey on Sega Genesis, finally figuring out how many licks it
takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, reading lips
of cursing guests on Jerry Springer, and setting a world endurance
record for maintaining a strict Twinkie and Yoohoo diet.

As you can see, having no job has many more responsibilities, as well as
a higher risk of repetitive stress injury from hours of Sega Genesis
play.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that you get a job.  Of
course, as you've probably already guessed, there are some important
lessons to be learned about the job search.  This seminar has been
designed to help you through this process in a relatively painless way.


A well thought out job search begins a year or two before graduation. 
This gives you an opportunity to decide on the type of position you'd
like to hold.  Once you've decided what you want to do, you can decide
where you'd like to work, and focus your remaining graduate years on
producing work consistent with the theoretical views of the important
people at your target site.

Of course, being the lazy bum that you are (you are in grad school,
aren't you?), you've decided to wait until the last moment.  Most
likely, you hadn't even thought of your future until you were forced out
of your office to make room for the new first year students.  Things are
not hopeless though.  You must simply learn to adapt.  Like the wily
boy scout, you must be prepared (however, unlike the wily boy scout, it
is highly inadvisable for you to walk around in uniform, selling
cookies or whatever they sell).

The first step in your job search is to decide what type of job you
should apply for.  One of the biggest decisions is whether to apply for
a job in academia or industry.  Each has its own strengths, and

Academia - Strengths & Weaknesses

Strength:  Work hard 7 years and you'll have job security
Weakness:  Work hard 7 years and you'll have no life

Strength:  Lots of interaction with colleagues
Weakness:  Most of it comes at 11pm on Saturday night, at the office

Strength:  Work with bright, promising students
Weakness:  They're always in other labs.  You're students frequently get
themselves locked in bathroom stalls overnight.

Strength:  Conduct basic research
Weakness:  Your parents won't understand it

Strength:  Have the opportunity to advance science
Weakness:  Have no opportunity to advance your bank account

Industry - Strengths and Weaknesses

Strength:  Make lots of money
Weakness:  Be considered a sell-out by colleagues

Strength:  40 hour work week
Weakness:  How much can you get done in 40 hours?

Strength:  Plenty of funding
Weakness:  No RAs to do the work

Strength:  Stimulating environment
Weakness:  Non-disclosure contract gives company ownership of all your

Strength:  Dilbert seems funnier
Weakness:  Dilbert is you

Once you've decided on the type of job you're interested in, you should
prepare your CV.


The term curriculum vitaeaea (or CV) comes from the latin for
"curriculum vitamin."  The point of the CV is to make your curriculum,
or academic record, healthy (hence the vitamin).  The easiest way to do
this is to pad your vita.  Padding is more an art than a science.  Here
are a few tips:

* Papers written for class can be considered refereed publications if
the instructor returned them with comments

* Under "posters" list all those hanging on your office walls

* "In progress" means that you've come up with the idea, but haven't
published yet.  List all ideas as being in progress.

* Add your name to the end of the author lists of frequently cited
papers that are referred to as So-and-So, et. al.  Better yet, change
your name to Et. Al.

Your CV will be judged on two criteria:  Weight and Format.  Therefore,
you should only print your CV on parchment paper as thick as cardboard,
and use every font your word processor can muster up.  You want to be

Once you've printed up a bunch of copies of your CV, you should start
applying for every job opening you come across, whether you're qualified
or not.  This is known as circumventing the "base rate" (Tversky &
Kahneman).  Let's say that you have a one in a million chance of getting
a job.  This means that, if you were to apply for one million jobs, your
expected value would be one job.  However, if you concentrated on, let's
say, 10 jobs, and sent in one million applications to each, you would be
assured of 10 job offers.

Once the job offers inevitably start rolling in, you'll have to visit
the site.

Stay tuned for Part II:  The Visit

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