Finding Your Dream Job: A Grace Hopper Experience

dream jobWhile at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women and Computing, I attended a panel session aimed at explaining the academic job search and some of the differences between working in the academic field and working in industry.

Looking for the ‘right’ next step can be difficult. Because a dream is so personal, each situation can be different. While some women might be looking to travel or for a new location and challenges away from home, others might be looking to stay within the area. There may be complications including looking for jobs for two people or looking for flexibility in order to raise a family. The real question in defining a dream job is determining what you value. Some of the priorities mentioned included teaching, balanced lifestyle, community outreach, research, money, and the possibility of earning awards.

What do employers value? This depends upon the field. Research and industry employers value papers in top conferences or journals, great letters of recommendation, and spark. Teaching colleges are also looking for papers within conferences, teaching experience, and experience in the content areas. Advanced research and development companies are inclined to look for coding skills and research experience.

While beginning an academic job search, it’s important to consider the timeline. In the early fall, plan to plan your materials, ask for recommendation letters, and begin searching for places you might be interested in working. From September to December, begin applying to places you’re interested in working. An iSchools’s website might have potential openings, the Chronicle of Higher Education is a great place to start, and often has computer science jobs within university settings. The ACM jobs list is also a recommended place to look for potential positions.

Application materials often include a research statement, a teaching statement, a cover letter and recommendations letters. career whelmedPanelists within this section recommended searching for multiple teaching statements and research statements before writing your own. Additionally they suggested serving as a student representative on a search committee and asking experts and non-experts to read your materials.

Managing the process of searching for a job can be a little daunting. It was recommended that you use a program like excel to keep track of the places you apply, the positions you apply for, and the communication chain so that you can view deadlines, rejections, interviews, and other important notes in one common area. Sometimes lots of things can be out of your control. It’s important to take care of yourself during the process. One of the key concepts within this session was to remember that the hiring process is a two-way street. Asking questions that are important to you and learning about your potential employer are essential steps that can help you to ensure you’ve found the job of your dreams.

Ashley Smolinski
MSIS Student at UAlbany
Image 2: Abigail Garner on Books for Better Living via Muharrem Oner {link to}

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