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Tenure Track Interview

March 02, 2021 9:17 AM | Keshia Ross-Williams (Administrator)

I had my “On-Campus” Tenure-Track Faculty Interview from my Bedroom         (Blog Post by, Justin Jordan)

This was not what I envisioned when I started my doc program more than three years ago. When I began my studies, I was excited to hear stories from more senior doctoral students in our program about being flown to other states, staying in a nice hotel, and being taken to breakfast, lunch, and dinner with faculty as Universities courted them during their on-campus interviews. From Fall 2017 through 2019, friends traveled to Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, and places in between. I looked forward to this experience, as the most exciting interview I had been a part of to this point was my interview for the doc program, because it was ALL DAY! The idea that an employer would set aside time for two days and spend money to pay for travel and meals to see if I fit with their position sounded amazing.

These mental images feel like a distant memory in 2021. Faculty interviews are merely one part of the “end-game” of my doctoral experience that I had looked forward to, but it certainly sounded like one of the fun parts (and maybe a little stressful). Now, I am just grateful that there are jobs available amidst the pandemic. With the financial uncertainty and strain on institutions to keep their programs moving in safe ways, while meeting licensing standards, I am more than grateful for every interview or even to see jobs posted that fit my expertise. In fact, I was able to visit one campus for an interview and it was odd to meet with staff from a distance, wear masks for two days, and decline an in-person dinner (which they completely supported and understood).

All that said, this interview was different. Sure, it was nice to not have to leave my wife hanging with our two young children for multiple days while I traveled and to prep for the interview in the comfort of my home… but I can’t say I slept better at home with the little ones crawling into bed with us in the middle of the night. But there I was, wearing a suit, sitting at my desk in my bedroom, with my bed in the background, as I waited to be “let in” to the first virtual meeting of the two-day interview. For more than five hours, I was digitally shuffled from Web-ex, to Blackboard Collaborate, to Microsoft Teams rooms to meet with staff, search committee members, and give a presentation. This process repeated on day two, with a shorter time frame. All of this happened while I sat in the same chair, at the same desk that I have been seeing clients in, writing my dissertation in, and responding to many program related emails over the last eight months, since everything moved online due to COVID-19.

Again, in some ways, I felt more comfortable being in my space, with my normal routine, and not be worrying about being away from my family. And I really feel like the search committee did an amazing job simulating the informal and formal aspects of being on campus. I think both the search committee and I would prefer that we were walking around campus, discussing the local area, and meeting in conference rooms, restaurants, and maybe even a coffee shop. It all seems so cushy for a counselor who spent seven years in a tiny office with no windows at a community agency serving uninsured or low-income clients, with my farthest work-related travel being two hours away.

But I am grateful. Deeply grateful! I have the opportunity to interview for tenure-track clinical mental health counseling jobs because I am mere weeks from defending my dissertation. All of the travel, that I mostly paid for out of pocket, to conferences (including driving to SACES Conference in a hurricane in 2018), hours spent engaging my state counseling organization for weekend board meetings and division meetings, the hours of late-night homework after the kids went to bed, and the “extra” research work to develop those skills… all of it has led to this. And I feel ready for the next step, and I think that shined through in this interview, albeit through videoconferencing. If 2020 has taught me anything, it is to be flexible, grateful, and embrace that things look and feel different this year. I hope that 2021 brings relief from many struggles of this year and is the new beginning of my career as a counselor educator.

Update: I was hired for a tenure track faculty position in Counselor Education at an institution that I consider a good fit. Finding a matching fit with an institution and department is important for long-term success and job satisfaction (Coaston, 2019). While I can only know so much about a location I've never been to or a campus I’ve never set foot on, the job expectations, teaching balance, positive interactions with department faculty, and location near two major cities were all factors that made this job feel right. And now, to prepare to defend my dissertation this week and move half-way across the country with my family. Again, I am grateful for this journey into my new career!

References

Coaston, S. C. (2019). The Happy Professor: Optimizing Faculty Fit in Counselor Education. The Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision, 12(1). Retrieved from https://repository.wcsu.edu/jcps/vol12/ iss1/6


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