I am a faculty member in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. I have had what, for these times, is an unusual academic career—teaching and researching primarily at one institution. I arrived at Maryland in 1988 after a short stint teaching at Michigan, my Ph.D. institution. The Director of my home program, American Culture, bailed me out of joblessness by giving me a Visiting Assistant Professor position for a semester, enabling me to be able to continue to afford to stay on the market. It was a wonderful and sorely needed gift. Once I landed the job at Maryland, my partner and I commuted between Gainesville, FL and College Park, MD for twelve years; subsequently we have managed to live in the same town here in Maryland.
I was on the job market between 1984 and 1987 (Ph.D. 1987), a grim period for academic job hunting, not unlike today. During those years I applied for about 140 jobs, participated in maybe two dozen convention interviews and about six campus interviews. More than a third of those 140 search committees never bothered to acknowledge my applications. Because in those days, our professors didn’t help prepare us for the job market—and it was a vastly different one than the multiple-offer situation those white men had known–I created the first version of this academic job advice site and put it on the web during the mid-1990s at www.otal.umd.edu/~sies. Everything here I learned the hard way and I just hoped others might get a clue from my experiences.
I have functioned as a kind of below-the-radar academic jobs advisor since then, though I was too busy most of the time to put resources into maintaining the site. This summer my Academic Jobs Advice site came down when UMD rearranged its servers. I am using this opportunity to relaunch the site as unlockingacademia. I have learned a good deal from serving on and chairing search committees and interviewing many job candidates. Those experiences are reflected here, too. I hope you get better advice about building your credentials for an academic career than I did (and some of the most sound advice today might be “don’t attempt it”).
For those on the market anyway, I hope unlockingacademia helps. This academic jobs advice website is back in business and your feedback is welcome!