Saturday, January 30, 2010

I'm Studying...Do I Need This?

I was checking my Yahoo email this evening. It has been about 5 days since I have looked at it and I am thinking that I should look at it more often because I got a very important email that I should have replied to by now. But my inattentiveness is not the purpose of this post. I writing this post because of the content in that email and I don't know what to say when I respond.

The email was an official invitation to do a seminar and interview for a faculty position at the university where I got my bachelor's degree. I would love to be back in my home state and working at that wonderful university. There is a problem though. This is a portion of the first sentence of the email: "...we understand that you are completing a PhD in Botany and the Department of ... would like to hear about your research." Do you see what the problem is now?

Heaven help me. How did this happen? I was in touch with one of the faculty a little over a year ago and thoroughly (or so I thought) discussed the nature of the doctoral program that I am in. I was told that they would be looking for someone that studies anything having to do with plants and that I would be the first one they thought of when they could fund the position. Somehow their need has morphed into botany.

They do not have a single female faculty member in the department and I suspect that they desperately need one to increase their diversity. They also do not have anyone doing any research on plants and desperately need to fill that gap as well. But I don't do research; I diagnose and manage plant health problems. That is what I told them a year ago and they said that was great.

Their preferred date for the seminar is March 1. So what am I going to say to them? I don't know. Any ideas?


makita said...

Well, it depends on what the job description says and not necessarily what they think your degree is in. I've known those who applied to positions where the job description didn't exactly match they're field of study, and I've known about position where someone was hired that didn't match. There is more to you than just your program, and there is more to the job than just the job description. There is rarely a perfect match for a job anyway, so there is always some compromise to be made. It's often something that involves you having the minimum requirements for the position that gets your application to the top of the stack. After that they don't look at that anymore, but focus on other factors such as your level of experience, or whether your personality is a good fit. So, if you fit the job description even remotely I say you should apply.

although an all-male department may be a bit overwhelming at first face value, maybe the fact that they're actively pursuing females is a good sign. If and when you get invited over for an interview, you can assess whether they're just trying to fulfill the requirements of their diversity office, or whether they genuinely want to expand their faculty base.

All the best! By the way, I would not respond from the yahoo account. You'd want to establish a level of professionality right from the beginning. Use the account affiliated with your current institution.

Joyce said...

Hi Makita,
Thank you. I responded from my university account today and I will post the results of that in a bit.

They actually haven't advertised for the position, so at the moment there is no application. Because it is a private institution they can recruit and hire without advertising. However, I was told that they have been searching for someone who knows something about plants for several years but just haven't found the right person yet. I hope they will think that I am the right person.

makita said...

Good luck with that. You sure could use the break. You do know something about plants. In fact you know quite a bit about plants from many different disciplines, so don't sell yourself short. So on March 1, tell them about some of the t hings you know about plants. I would cast a nice wide net, and show off your versatility. What have you got to lose?