Job Talk: Karen Kelsky’s Advice for the First Year on the Tenure Track


I adore Dr. Karen Kelsky over at The Professor is In.  I met her at an MLA conference a few years ago and geeked out on her and she was very gracious.  But more importantly, her advice (along with the amazing and patient and brilliant guidance of my dissertation committee co-director Dr. Stephanie Foote WHO IS THE BEST) helped me to navigate the job market without sinking into despair.

I realize that most of the people who read this blog are not junior faculty, but I wanted to share this recent post by Dr. Karen that really spoke to me.

I start teaching for the first time as a Real Professor (as opposed to a graduate student TA) in 9 days.

I still don’t have a departmental email address (though I have been reassured that it is forthcoming) which means I can’t set up my course website yet.  Or order a parking pass or a campus meal ticket.

I have a full draft of my book due to an editor for evaluation at the end of September.

My student loans will finally be coming due in November.

I am living apart from my husband of 8 years as he finishes up his job and tries to sell our home in Illinois.  This winter, he will join me in Texas and go on the hunt for a job, but for a while we will be down to just one income.

I miss my dog and my parents and my in-laws and my friends and my routines in Illinois.

In short, it can feel very overwhelming at times.

But, as Dr. Karen points out, that is to be expected.  That is Normal and It Is Okay.

I am making friends with my colleagues here in Texas, who have gone out of their way to be supportive and helpful and welcoming and kind.

I am making sure to eat well and exercise regularly and take my medicine and sleep as best as I can.

I can do this.

I am doing this.

I am a Real Professor.

I can’t wait to begin!

tiny cactus

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