Workshop 5: Making a Career in Rhetoric Studies
Denise Bostdorff and Stephanie Kerschbaum
An academic career can span a long arc, with different challenges and pressures emerging at every stage. For young faculty members, the challenge is that graduate school, which has relatively specific and focused goals at every stage (coursework, preliminary exams, dissertation proposal, dissertation defense) is quite different than navigating a career as a professor, which involves relatively few clear-cut and explicit goals; guidelines for promotion and/or making career choices that meet your personal and career goals are not always easy for young faculty members to navigate. As professors reach mid- and late-career status, they face increasing demands to provide departmental and institutional service and to mentor younger faculty and staff; these roles, while fulfilling, can keep faculty members so busy that they have little time to consider their own personal and career goals and how best to fulfill them. The pressures many academics face may include: navigating new terrain at the start of an academic career (new geographic location, new institutional contexts and roles); making transitions to new types of institutions and/or to new professional roles; getting clear on your own priorities and using those priorities to determine when and how to say yes; planning effectively for promotions, tenure, and/or the longer arc of your professional career; identifying the choices available to you and making choices that fit your needs and goals; building a strong and robust support network of mentors and peers; determining where and how to invest in service (and how this matters differently at different stages of your career) and looking ahead to retirement.
This career planning workshop will be co-led by two scholars at different career stages and who have worked at different institution types—Kerschbaum has taught at Texas A&M and currently the University of Delaware, while Bostdorff has taught at Purdue University and now The College of Wooster—and will take an explicit focus on identifying career stages, mapping out next steps, and determining individual priorities. Over the course of the 2.5-day workshop, participants will engage in a series of activities, individual consultations, small-group discussions, and future-oriented goal-setting as well as reflective consideration of career, personal, and institutional priorities.
Participants will leave the workshop having identified their most pressing needs, created a list of career and personal priorities that will shape the next 3-5 year stage of their career, and created a list of resources (people, funding, materials, opportunities) aimed at addressing those priorities. In addition, the workshop leaders and participants will also share their own strategies for career success and balance, materials (e.g., semester and 5-year planning documents, “mentor maps” such as the ones modeled by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, resources for negotiating and securing what you need to meet your goals, and materials for building a support network within and outside of your own institution).