Category Archives: Career Advice

Creative Writers Take Note: Our College Literary Journal Still Needs Prose, Re-Opens Submission Window through 12/3.

Mercy College’s literary journal, Red Hyacinth, is re-opening its submission window through Monday December 3rd in hopes of securing more student submissions in the area of prose (fiction and nonfiction). The editors are full-up with poetry submissions but there’s been a dearth of prose submissions, and so the editors are hoping that students (particularly our graduate English students) will rise to this new call for prose and submit something before the end of Monday 12/3. So, if you have a short story, or an excerpt from a longer creative work, or an experimental prose-piece, or any sort of creative non-fiction (really any prose other than scholarship as this is a creative journal and not a scholarly one) well get it together this weekend and send it to the journal editors at:

RedHyacinthJournal@gmail.com.

Further details about the submission requirements can be found by clicking here but basically if you’ve got a piece of short fiction or creative non-fiction the MA program faculty strongly encourage you to send it to the editors and see what happens.

Keep in mind that getting a work published in a collegiate literary journal would provide you with a line-item to list in the publication section of your curriculum vitae.

Call for Papers: NEMLA 2019 Panel

Mary Reading, a colleague of our Dr. Fritz, is chairing a panel at the 2019 NEMLA convention on the topic of: “In, Beyond, Between Bodies: Transgender Identity through Interpersonal Spaces in Visual Media.” The call for papers (CFP) for potential panelists is open until September 30. You can learn more about the CFP, including contact info and submission guidelines, here on the UPENN bulletin board (which if you didn’t know is pretty much where everyone in the profession goes to look for CFPs since the UPENN board collates CFPs from around the country and world.) You can learn more about the 2019 NEMLA convention here. Any Mercy grad students working in this area of inquiry (or interested in working in this area of inquiry) and who can be in Washington DC in March 2019 to attend the convention should put together a paper proposal and submit it before the deadline. Any questions about the panel should be directed to Mary Reading at: m.a.reading@iup.edu.

Your Curriculum Vitae (Not Your Resume):

If and when you apply to a faculty job listing, or when you “cold call” various college’s English programs seeking adjunct (part-time) work, and even sometimes when you apply to PhD programs after earning the MA, you will need to send them your curriculum vitae, or CV for short. A CV and a resume are similar but not the same, and in any academic job setting you will be expected to know the difference and to submit a CV, not a resume, with any job application. Both a CV and a resume have the same role: they present in a single document your work experience, educational experience, and other relevant background information to potential employers. A CV though needs to contain information and organize that information in a way that is relevant to professional academia. I’m going to share with you some basics here about how to organize your CV. For students in ENGL 599, the final course in the path toward the degree, it’s not a bad idea to put together a CV and share it with your 599 mentor, and ask for feedback.

You always want to have your contact information at the top. Make sure you list a phone number at which you can reliably be reached, and an email that you check regularly. Make sure that your email handle reads professionally. If your email is a nickname, or an odd series of letters and numbers, or anything other than simply your real name, you should consider creating a Gmail account that is simply [yourname]@gmail.com. The simple truth is that, as with any job, the hiring consideration begins the moment a person lays eyes upon your CV. Does it have a silly sounding email address? Not good. And on that point, recognize that your CV should be formatted cleanly and crisply, as the format too sends a message to your potential employer. Take ownership of that message.

After your contact info you typically list your education, with your highest degree at the top of the list. Only list your institutions of higher education (do NOT list your high school). If you’ve transferred around to a number of institutions, it’s often appropriate to list only your degree granting institutions. But this is an area of debate, with some thinking you should list every single institution at which you earned credits; so investigate the ethics of it on your own and figure out what seems right to you.

It’s appropriate beneath each degree to include bullet points listing pertinent relevant information. So for example under you MA degree’s mainlisting you should include the title of your master’s thesis (the one you write for 599). You might also include a line listing the literary fields, if any, that you concentrated on during your time in the program. Did you take all of your electives in American literature? Well you’d be justified in noting that you concentrated on American literature here in this part of your CV.

After education you typically want to list your relevant work experience. By relevant we mean teaching experience. The seeming catch-22 of college-level teaching is that you need college-level teaching experience to get a college-level teaching job. But then how is one to gain college-level teaching experience? Adjunct work is usually the answer. Before you get adjuncting work you won’t have much to list here on the CV. If you’ve got experience teaching any K-12 that can be useful and is definitely something to list here. But getting even a course or two of college adjuncting work under your belt is your main goal after securing the MA, if you’re aiming to teach long-term at the college level. See the links in the first sentence of this post for more on how to go about finding work.

Be careful about what else you list in your work experience. Once you get some teaching under your belt you want to list nothing else except that teaching on your CV. A CV that includes your time working at Barnes & Noble, the two years as a contractor, the three years you were a barista, is a CV that risks being tossed into the “no” pile immediately, because it bespeaks someone who doesn’t understand that a CV is not a resume. A resume lists every single job you’ve done; a CV is supposed to list work relevant to professional academia. When you’re just starting out, though, when you need to list something for your work experience, it’s not a bad idea to list significant jobs you’ve held as long as you can frame them in a way where you make it clear how this information is relevant to your potential employer. Use the space on the CV to provide a succinct explanation of your duties, and make sure those duties somehow coincide with things that might relate to teaching and academia. If for example you’re applying to a community college, and have experience working at a community center in the area, that can be relevant work experience to list if you take the time to describe how. You don’t want your CV to turn into a book, but it is okay to give several sentences that narrate how the work experience connects to the job for which you’re applying.

Your next section tends to be scholarship. Whenever you do get something published, you will want to lead with that in this section. Publications are the coin of the realm in English. List any publications first, making sure to employ a documentation style when you do (MLA, Chicago, etc.) and then list any conferences at which you’ve read a paper. This section might be empty for you right now: that just lets you know that you should really try to get out there and read a paper at a conference somewhere to earn an item to list in here.

You might include a section after this on other relevant activities, such as conferences you’ve attended, professional workshops you’ve been a part of, perhaps service you’ve done in the world which doesn’t quite fit under work experience or scholarship. That sort of thing. Make it relevant. People reading these can smell nonsense a mile away. If you’re working on turning your thesis paper into a published paper, or working on a book, or anything like that, you might take a few lines here to describe this. If it shows that you’re actively working toward something relevant and academic, it might be useful.

You want to include a section listing any awards or grants or scholarships you may have received at any time during your college career. For example each year we award one thesis paper with the Thesis of the Year award. That is something you would want to list here, if you were awarded that.

You want to include a section listing whatever professional associations you might be a member of. The Modern language Society is standard one that most professional English academics join, but there are dozens if not hundreds of others out there. Find organizations that are relevant to your area of interest, and join up. It shows potential employers that you’re committed to your field: e.g., if you hope to be an expert on Irish literature, well find and join scholarly societies related to Irish literature, and list them here.

Finally you’ll want to include a list of at least three professional references, which should be professors or other people in the field. Make sure that you’ve asked your references if they would in fact agree to be references, and whenever you apply to any job it’s a good idea to email your references and just let them know that you’ve applied. This way it won’t be a surprise if/when someone calls up asking to provide a reference on your behalf.

So that overall is how a CV tends to be structured. There are variations of course, and over time you often add categories to this, and move these around. But the main lesson here is to recognize that a CV and a resume are not the same thing, and that when you’re applying to any faculty position in higher education, they will expect you to send a CV and not a resume.

Where the Want-Ads Are: Job Listings for College Teaching Positions

All of you are here in the program because of your love for literature and academic study, and for many of you that intellectual enrichment is the point, is the reason why you pursue the MA. Some of you, though, are also here with career hopes. This post is for that latter group. There are a few “industry” job sites which you should know about, and some words of advice I can give you about hunting for jobs in the field. Read on, if interested:

First, be aware that the MA degree qualifies you to apply to most full-time junior college/community college professorships, and to adjunct (i.e. teach part-time) at most senior/4-year colleges. I say “most” because though I’ve never encountered a situation where the MA didn’t qualify you for these things, I’m sure that there are some exceptions somewhere out there in the world. In most cases though you’ll see in want-ads that community colleges require the MA in English for English professorships, same for senior college adjunct pools. To apply to full-time English professorships at senior/4-year colleges, the terminal degree, meaning the PhD, is required; except, upon occasion, for creative writing positions for which the MFA is sometimes considered the terminal degree.  Even that’s changing though.

Side note: the term “adjunct pool” refers to the pool of adjunct professors any particular college keeps on file, and from which it draws teachers each semester to staff many of its courses. Few institutions have enough full-time faculty to staff all their courses, and so most institutions rely (sometimes heavily) on adjunct professors to teach a significant portion of courses each semester. Some people adjunct to gain experience for when applying to full-time positions or PhD programs; some do it to provide a stimulating supplement to some other job they might hold; some do it as a secondary income source for a household; and some actually adjunct “full time” by which I mean they put themselves into multiple institutions’ adjunct pools and so weave together a full-time schedule each year teaching across different colleges.

So, where does one even begin to search for any of these teaching positions? The most popular and common job site is probably the Chronicle of Higher Ed. The Chronicle is the most popular news source for college academia, and maintains a popular job-board which I’ve linked there. Another popular site is Higher Ed Jobs. Both of those sites are free to use, and have a variety of search features which allow you to rarify your search, including by geographical region. A third site is the Job information List of the MLA however be advised that this is a paid subscription site. Those are the big three national job boards.

Additionally, all sorts of less centralized boards exist, and these you just have to discover by searching. For example California maintains the most brilliant example of a dedicated state-specific community college job board, the CCC Registry. And some institutions don’t necessarily post every job opening on the big national boards, but rather just post them on their Human Resources website (see for example Occidental College’s current faculty openings listed only on their HR site). Oftentimes calls for adjuncts will only be posted on a college’s HR site, and no-where else. Other local job boards exist, for example the California State Careers job board which lists all faculty openings in the Cal State system, some but not all of which are cross-listed on the national job boards. My examples are from California since that’s my old state, the one I know best, but the point is you should search the national job boards and also just do detective work and search around your state and local college websites to determine what more local job boards might exist near you. Always look for the Human Resources section of any college’s website; that’s almost always where they either list their job openings, or list a link to relevant job boards for their institution.

Here’s a final way to go about the job search, particularly in terms of adjuncting: the cold call. Many institutions don’t even post want-ads for adjuncts on any board or even on their HR site because it’s relatively common practice for people interested in adjuncting to simply put together the paperwork (a cover letter and a curriculum vitae, which is not the same thing as a resume) and cold-call a department or program head (or whomever does the course staffing, which you’d want to determine beforehand through your detective work). It’s not inappropriate to approach, either in person or through email/phone, the staffing person of a dept./program and simply present yourself for consideration for future adjunct work.

One last thing to explain is the annual hiring cycle. Full-time professorships for 4-year colleges typically post in the fall semester, starting in September. Community college professorships usually post in the spring semester, as early as January or February. Adjunct calls will post year round. Anomalous timing happens so it’s always good to keep an eye on the boards year-round if you’re in the job hunt. For example there’s often a small burst of job ads at the end of spring, early summer, which bespeak unsuccessful earlier searches they’re now trying to fill quickly prior to the start of the fall semester. Faculty positions almost always begin in whatever is the next/upcoming fall semester.

Okay, in a future post I’ll go into the difference between a curriculum vitae, or CV, and resume. For now, that’s your overview of how to search for a college teaching position. Best, -CL

Congratulations on the 2014-15 school year

I just want to congratulate each of you on the completion of another semester of graduate study, and on the completion of the 2014-15 school year here in the Mercy MA program. I hope that over the past year each of you has experienced something profound, read something fascinating and new, discussed something you’d never have discussed had you not been here together. I hope that each of you has experienced moments of awe, wonder, reflection, and epiphany over the course of the semester and school year.

In the next week or two we’ll be announcing the Thesis of the Year award for 2014-15 theses projects, and we’ll soon be starting up the summer session for those of you who have decided to take a summer course or two. Some of your are gearing up for your final semester and your final 599 Thesis Tutorial course. If you’re at all unsure what you’re supposed to be doing for this, or when, check out the blog posts related to the Comp Exam and the Thesis Tutorial, and read up on those sections in the Graduate Student Handbook. As always, if you’ve got any questions just ask me at cloots@mercy.edu.

To Sarah, Josh, and Nicole: it was great to  see you walk the stage at commencement this year. I hope you heard me and the other MA English faculty clapping our little hearts out up on the faculty bandstand as you walked past. Sarah it was wonderful talking to you when you found me before the ceremony. I’ll say to everyone what we talked about then: you are all a part of Mercy College, and you should always know that I and the faculty are here to help and guide you as best as we can, while you’re in the program and after. Don’t hesitate to contact me or other faculty with whom you’ve taken courses for advice or letters or recommendation or anything else of the sort. I hope each of you will take a moment now to congratulate yourself, treat yourself to something nice, here at the end of a year of graduate study and scholarship. I leave you with a shot from before the School of Liberal Arts and School of Social and Behavioral Science Commencement of our president Tim Hall with the keynote speaker JuJu Chang from ABC news. You can see a brief video she uploaded from the stage at the end of the ceremony on her Instagram account (it’s dated May 20, 2015).

JuJu Chang and Tim Hall

Adjunct Opportunities in the NY Metro Area (Pace University)

Hi all, I received the following note and am posting it here as it might be a great opportunity for some of you to get some experience:

The Pace University Department of English and Modern Language Studies, in Pleasantville, New York, has a number of adjunct faculty positions available for the 2015-2016 academic year, which begins September 2, 2015.  Successful candidates will teach freshman or sophomore-level composition courses, and will be mentored by the Director and Associate Director of Composition.  A Master of Arts in English is required; familiarity with composition and rhetoric pedagogy preferred.  Interested candidates may direct questions and application materials to Professor Andrew Stout, Associate Director of Composition, via email: astout@pace.edu.  A complete application will include a cover letter and CV in one PDF document.  The deadline for applications is June 1, 2015. 

Let me know at cloots@mercy.edu if you need any help or advice about putting together your CV or application, for Pace or for any teaching opportunity. I’m happy to review anyone’s CV and give you some pointers. You should note that all of us begin as adjuncts (part-time professor). Every professor you’ve ever had started at some point as an adjunct/part-time prof.