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09/15/2013

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Helen

Hi Marcus: I think you are overthinking it. The market is brutal - that is the long and short of it. And people without a fabulous pedigree start at a serious disadvantage. To echo what Rachel said:
1. I don't think there is any advantage in working your tail off in becoming a fabulous teacher. It may be a good end in itself (it surely seems morally obligatory for us to try to do a good job for the students, given how much they have to invest in their education), but it doesn't help that much on the job market. People want some evidence that you won't be a terrible teacher. They want what I've heard a SC member call a "safe pair of teaching hands". But they don't require the best of the best. Just satisfice. SCs (especially of research-oriented universities) regularly hire people with little teaching experience and no formal teaching evals. Seeing a teaching demonstration, some syllabi, and asking some questions on the interview on how you plan to handle teaching usually gives them the sort of qualitative evidence they require (i.e., you care about teaching, care about students, are not a selfish person who is wholly absorbed in his/her research).
2. Similarly, the marginal value of 1 article if you already have 10 is, well, marginal, except if it's in something like Mind or Noûs. If you have no pedigree, branding is the thing you have to go for. We've talked about this before, where I mentioned that SCs are looking for someone with a well-articulated research program, so that they can consider whether that person would fit their department. A whole bunch of articles without overarching narrative doesn't bring you that. But you've got to aim for people talking about you like this: Oh, X? She's the one who does this stuff about Y. Getting yourself as a brand name in the community, i.e., someone they might think about for invited talks and such. It is very hard, but I think this is one of the best strategies to overcome a lack of pedigree.


Marcus Arvan

Hi Helen: thanks for your comment. Yeah, that was sort of what I was trying to get at with this new post -- that maybe it's best not to over-think all of this and simply try to be the best overall philosopher, teacher, and colleague one can be. That being said, I certainly appreciate your point about "branding."

Rachel

I still think you're working too hard!

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