My posting on the Cocoon has been a bit sparse lately, for several reasons. First, I've been unusually busy--with the beginning of the semester, a bunch of deadlines, etc. I haven't had much free time, and when I have had some, I've been exhausted! Second, I've still been struggling a bit with the blogging trilemma I discussed here a while back. My primary aim at the Cocoon has always been to be helpful to early-career people. However, now that years have gone by and I find myself transitioning to what feels more like a more of a mid-career standpoint--I am no longer in grad school, on the job-market, etc.--I am no longer directly grappling with the early-career struggles I once was. Although I am still grappling with many things, they just don't seem quite as important to me to discuss. As most of us already know--and threads like these and mental health studies like these indicate--grad students, job-marketeers, and other early-career people are in a particularly difficult position. While some people may make it through grad school and the job-market pretty cleanly as it were (without great difficulty), indications are that all too many of us have a rough go of it (to put it mildly). Depending on how things go (and a lot of unexpected things can happen), navigating early-career issues in philosophy--everything from developing and maintaining positive, productive relationships with faculty, to dissertating, publishing, and the job-market--can be a real gauntlet. I know, I went through it myself! Further, as these Daily Nous threads indicate (and I also know from experience), it can be a gauntlet that early-career people suffer alone in silence. This is why I've always wanted the Cocoon to be about and for early-career people. I've known too many early-career people who felt lost and alone in their struggles--and so my hope has always been that the Cocoon might help early-career people in whatever way we can.
Anyway, this brings me to a third main reason my posting has been a bit sparse. Although I am going to sound a bit like a broken record here (as I've given similar lines of encouragement in the past), my feeling is that for the Cocoon to really be helpful to early-career people (or, at least, as helpful as it can be), our early-career readers need to get involved! After all, as the Daily Nous thread I linked to above indicates, the people who know your struggles are you! If you find yourself struggling with things in grad school, or with publishing, the j0b-market, and so on, the Cocoon is a place that can potentially help. But, in order for the community to help, we need to know what you're grappling with! Every once in a while I try to back off of posting so much in the hope that other contributors might post more--and it is has been nice to see Helen, Trevor, and JG contribute some excellent posts lately. But still, we are only a few voices and perspectives.
In the past, when I've discussed these issues, I've issued a new call for contributors--and I'd like to do that again (indeed, I just did!). If you're an early-career philosopher interested in contributing to the Cocoon, either publicly or anonymously, please just let me know at email@example.com. However, since these calls haven't worked incredibly well in the past (though I'm a perennial optimist), I would also like to begin a new feature, "How can we help you?" This feature will be simple, and we'll see how it goes. Each week, I will simply post an open thread asking how our community can help you! Each thread will be chance for you, our readers, to share in the comment's section--in whatever way you feel comfortable (consistent with the blog's mission)--whatever issues you are struggling with and could use help with (viz. grad school, the job-market, whatever!). My hope is that when we receive submissions, our contributors can then pick up and compose posts on those topics for further discussion. My hope, additionally, is that this will be a good way for those of us (such as Helen and I) who are transitioning out of early-career stage to be as helpful as we can. Anyway, we'll see how it goes...starting now!
So then, how can we help you? What are you struggling with as an early-career person? Which early-career issue(s) could use some help navigating right now?