Graduate training in literary scholarship can lead to any number of career paths, both expected and unexpected. The Department supports its students in a variety of ways; most particularly, our support centers on the attainment of a tenure-track job at a research university or liberal arts college. The current job market is challenging, but we believe that three vital milestones, ideally achieved during the course of the Ph.D. program, will put students in the strongest possible position when competing for jobs: 1) the presentation of a paper at a national conference; 2) the publication of an article in an important journal in the field; and 3) the authorship of a provocative and original dissertation.
The placement director, along with each student's dissertation director, other committee members, and the departmental faculty at large, aim to give all possible assistance to Ph.D. candidates seeking academic positions. In the spring, in advance of each job market season, a preliminary placement meeting is held where we provide job candidates with a Placement Handbook, complete with a range of sample materials supplied by successful graduate students in the department. All those who plan to go on the job market in the fall should begin compiling the various documents required to compete successfully for an academic job (which include a CV, job letter, dissertation abstract, and teaching statement) during the preceding summer, in consultation with their dissertation directors and committees.
Meeting intensively with the group as a whole in the fall, the placement director arranges workshops to address the polishing and revision of these job market materials. The placement director also reviews each candidates dossier at the Placement Office, coordinates practice interviews to help candidates prepare for interviews at MLA, and is available for consultation about any other specific matters as they arise. For candidates asked to give a job talk as a part of an on-campus visit, we arrange for the presentation of a practice talk before an audience, an experience that has proven invaluable to our students -- as a way to get past the normal nervousness inspired by such an event and also as a source of constructive feedback when it matters most. Finally, we are available to consult with candidates in the conversations and institutional negotiations preceding their acceptance of a job offer.
We are strongly committed to training graduate students to become creative teachers and researchers, and we are also dedicated to helping them to become vigorous and viable candidates in a challenging academic job market.