Paying it Forward

Gratefulness – a word adoptees hear often. And yet, the gratefulness I will be focusing on today is unrelated to adoption. Don’t worry readers, I will address the grateful, happy, well-adjusted mythic adoptee stereotype in the future. But today, I’m more interested in why I’m grateful for the constellation of mentors in my life. If you’re unfamiliar with cultivating a network of mentors and sponsors, you should check out the work of the National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development.

Please note: This is a lengthy blog post on formal avenues as I seek to create a one-stop shop for folks to find resources about mentoring, the job market, and transitioning from graduate student to junior faculty. I will be posting about informal avenues later this week.

Formal Mentoring Avenues

You should be proactive and consider whether or not you’re taking advantage of all the opportunities presented to you. While at The Ohio State University, I took advantage of the Preparing Future Faculty program offered by the graduate school. I also participated in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Dissertation Bootcamp. Both programs provided the opportunity for me to meet various faculty and staff from across the institution. Graduate students should check to see if their institution offers similar opportunities. You also may find that your Departments or members of your cohort know of workshops or retreats concerning completing the dissertation, the academic job market, or alt-ac careers.

As a Consortium for Faculty Diversity postdoc at Grinnell College, I took advantage of the early career faculty mentoring program. I also become a part of a close-knit group of non-tenure track colleagues. At the same time I created strong friendships with those in my building who provided advice concerning teaching, research, and my on campus interview. Currently, I have two department assigned mentors and am participating in the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center’s First Year Faculty Mentoring program. To complement these formal paths of mentorship, I have also sought the advice from colleagues in various departments across the university.

In addition to the formal avenues found at the above-mentioned institutions, I explored the various offerings for individuals in my field. While a doctoral candidate I attended the Social Science Research Council’s Korean Studies Dissertation Workshop. The faculty mentors provided sound advice concerning my scholarship, but also publishing and the academic job market. This past fall I participated in the National Women’s Studies Association Women of Color Leadership Project and began to make connections with women in the North American Asian Feminist Collective. I have also benefited from the Association for Asian American Studies’ graduate student/postdoc mentoring program at their annual conference in 2013 and 2014. Program participants sign up to meet with faculty members from institutions across the United States. During the past two years, I selected women whose cumulatively body of work (research, teaching, service) I admire. This year I look forward to participating in the conference’s pre-conference program, Association for Asian American Studies/East of California Junior Faculty Retreat. (I plan to write a post about the conference and the retreat in April.)

Resources to Share

Yet like all academics, I sometimes want to turn to the written page (whether print or online) for advice. While the information below is not a comprehensive list, it is a compilation of the sources that I tend to share with friends and colleagues. In many ways these recommendations should be a starting point rather than being viewed as the “only” available options.

For Graduate Students

  • Paul Gray and David E. Drew, What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career (Stylus Publishing, 2008)
  • Anne Curzan and Lisa Damour, First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student’s Guide to Teaching (University of Michigan Press, 2006)
  • Gregory M. Colón Semenza, Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century: How to Build an Academic Career in the Humanities (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010, Second Edition)
  • Lang, Sarah N. (2015, February 17) “Let’s give service a real role.” The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Academic Job Market Advice

On Writing

  • Wendy L. Belcher, Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success (Sage, 2009)
  • Paul J. Silvia, How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing (American Psychological Association, 2007)
  • William Germano, From Dissertation to Book (University of Chicago Press, 2005)
  • William Germano, Getting it Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books (University of Chicago Press, 2008, Second edition)
  • Eleanor Herman, Ian Montagnes, Siobhan McMenemy, and Chris Bucci, The Thesis and the Book: A guide to First-Time Academic Authors (University of Toronto Press, 2003)

For Postdocs/Early Career Faculty

  • Robert Boice, Advice for New Faculty Members (Pearson, 2000)
  • Kerry Ann Rockquemore and Tracey Laszloffy, The Black Academic’s Guide to Winning Tenure – Without Losing Your Soul (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2008)
  • Ellen A. Ensher and Susan E. Murphy, Power Mentoring: How Successful Mentors and Proteges Get the Most Out of Their Relationships (Jossey Bass, 2005)
  • Karen Kelsky at The Professor is In, “How to Write a Recommendation Letter”
  • Noah Berlatsky (2014, November 26) “My Nemesis, Jill Lepore.” The Chronicle of Higher Education.

For Faculty of Color and Allies

What I have found to be particularly helpful are the daily and/or weekly article digests from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Chronicle Vitae, Inside Higher Ed, and the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity.

As I noted at the beginning of this section, this is not an exhaustive list. Rather, my intention is to share the resources that I have found to be helpful and pass it along. And for those curious to know what’s on my bookshelf, these are the following professional development books that I am aiming to read in 2015 (and maybe 2016):

  • Dwayne Mack, Elwood D. Watson, and Michelle Madsen Camacho, Mentoring Faculty of Color: Essays on Professional Development and Advancement in Colleges and Universities, (McFarland, 2012)
  • Dwayne Mack, Elwood D. Watson, and Michelle Madsen Camacho, Beginning a Career in Academia: A Guide for Graduate Students of Color, (Routledge, 2014)
  • Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, Marie K. Norman, and Richard E. Mayer, How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (Jossey-Bass, 2010)
  • Therese Huston, Teaching What You Don’t Know (Harvard University Press, 2012)
  • Linda K. Shadiow, What Our Stories Teach Us: A Guide to Critical Reflection for College Faculty (John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2013)

So what do I mean by “pay it forward?”

I firmly believe in sharing the advice that I find to be particularly valuable. My intention is to create the beginnings of a dialogue where we discuss what it means to combine our collective knowledge. Pooling our resources is mutually beneficial for all involved. Sharing our experiences and advice demystifies the academy and breaks down walls of isolation that may occur. To that end, if you haven’t had the chance to the view the CFP for the edited volume I’m collaborating on with a colleague from Ohio State, check it out.

If you have suggestions of resources that you would like to share with me and my readers, please email me at mckeeki [at] gvsu [dot] edu. As I receive recommendations of resources, I will compile a new list.

I realize this post took a much different tone than my first post. If you’re interested in my thoughts on adoption, Asian American issues/activism, and popular culture, I hope you stay along for the ride.

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