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Post Archive
2019 (0)
2010 (39)
December (3)

It's not "goodbye," it's...
Friday, December 17, 2010

I can haz music warz?
Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two weeks
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
November (10)

Interviews, for reals!
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can I get a pdf of this?
Thursday, November 18, 2010

SfN 2010 Day 5: A video featuring Tideliar and Dr Becca
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SfN 2010 Day 3: A video featuring Tideliar and Dr Becca
Monday, November 15, 2010

SfN Day 2 (better late than never)
Monday, November 15, 2010

SfN 2010, Day 1: a video blog featuring Tideliar and Dr Becca
Saturday, November 13, 2010

30,000 people is not actually that many people
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We have a winner, and a cocktail!
Sunday, November 7, 2010

You. Immortalized. In a cocktail.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time for BANTER!!!
Monday, November 1, 2010
October (8)

Your PowerPoint and You
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Have I told you lately that I love you?
Thursday, October 21, 2010

So I have an Interview.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's bribe time
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Research Blogging: The Postpartum Brain
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's Business Time
Friday, October 8, 2010

That time I was on TV
Thursday, October 7, 2010

What?! Only 300 thread-count and no robe? Two stars!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
September (5)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let me give you my card
Thursday, September 23, 2010

I gotta have some of your attention, give it to me!
Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Science Enemy
Monday, September 13, 2010

What I wish I knew before...I moved to New York City
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
August (9)July (4)
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Dr Becca, Ph.D.

Dr Becca can now be found at .

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Comment by marguerite in SABOTAGE!!!

So nice to know I'm not the only paranoid one. :-) But sad to know that sometimes "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean their not after you". :-( **Off to go check prices for tiny cam. . .Read More
Jan 10, 2011, 8:39pm
Comment by Lab Mom in It's not "goodbye," it's...

Best of luck over in your new digs! We'll miss you! . . .Read More
Dec 17, 2010, 9:32pm
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Awww...does this mean no ex-scientist restaurant? Google reader has been updated! . . .Read More
Dec 17, 2010, 8:41pm
Comment by NatC in It's not "goodbye," it's...

It's been an exciting few weeks for you! Congrats on this (and surviving your first TT interview), I'll definitely be commuting over to continue following your adventures! . . .Read More
Dec 17, 2010, 1:07pm
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Wow! Congratulations Becca! . . .Read More
Dec 17, 2010, 12:37pm
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

I am pleased to announce that the "towards" in "Fumbling Towards Tenure Track" is officially not wholly inaccurate, as the past week marked a very exciting milestone: my first invitations to interview for faculty positions! Yes, plural! I got one the eve before leaving for San Diego, and another yesterday morning, just after bidding a sad (but typically hilarious) farewell to Tideliar.

This is both thrilling and terrifying. I knew that my application package was much improved over last year's, but given the ridiculous market, I still wasn't sure how competitive I was. So I'm feeling a little validated, I have to say! I have just under a month before I fly out for the first one, and I want to do my absolute best! Please, leave any and all advice in the comments. It's probably worth noting that both of these jobs placed at least some emphasis on teaching, so if you have any knowledge in that arena, do speak up!

Finally, I'm just so grateful that I was first contacted by email, and not by surprise phone call. If you've been following me since the beginning, you know why I'm saying that--if not, please enjoy this repost from the early days of Dr Becca, "What Happened Last Year."


A lot of the job openings I hear about are forwarded to me by my graduate thesis advisor, who gets the ads from her colleagues at other schools. I realize that it's in her best interest for me, her progeny, to succeed as a scientist, but still it makes me feel good that she's thinking of me and my career five years after I've left her.

It was around this time last year that she forwarded me a job ad for an assistant professor position at a midwestern liberal arts college. Now, I am a real east coast kind of girl, and would not normally give much serious thought to moving to the midwest. I'm not even sure I could identify all of the midwestern states on a map. But this particular school is one of the absolute best in the country, and I had this romantic vision of myself, probably in a corduroy blazer, sprawled in an idyllic quad with 8-10 of the college's top neuroscience students. We're deep in conversation, and I'm challenging them and expanding their minds as autumn leaves fall quietly around us. 

So I applied. Applying for faculty jobs is actually not that difficult--most simply require your CV, a statement of some sort that outlines your experience and goals, and reference letters. Once your statement is written, you need only do minor alterations for each school, being careful to remove all mention of what a great addition you'd be to the Dept of Psychology at University of Central Springfield in your application to the Neuroscience Dept at Camden State College. It should be noted that at the time, I did not yet have any publications from my post-doc work, so my CV was...concise. I was not optimistic.

One day, I was on the subway when my phone rang. This is very rare, as there is no cell phone service in the NYC subways. Once in a while, though, the tracks are so shallow that you can pick up a signal, but the chances of this coinciding with you receiving a call are, I'd imagine, on the order of nano. I didn't answer it because I knew I'd lose the call within a few seconds, plus it was an unfamiliar area code so I figured it was my student loan provider or someone similar demanding money from me. When I got out of the train there was no message, confirming my suspicions. I missed another call from the same number later that day, again no message.

A bit later, though, an email popped up in my inbox that said this: "Dear Dr Becca, This is Dr ___ from Fancy Midwestern College (FMC). We've been calling you at (718) xxx-xxxx to ask you a few questions, but haven't been able to reach you. Please get in touch and let us know if there's a better number at which to contact you."


FMC has questions for me! This means that they (at the very least) were not snorting with laughter as they dragged my CV file into the Trash. But what does "a few questions" mean? It all seems very casual, no? 

As it turns out, no, "a few questions" is not very casual. When I called FMC back, they asked:

-What kind of research would you plan on doing here?
-How can you incorporate undergraduates into your research?
-What courses would you like to teach?
-Other Serious Interview questions

I was caught completely off guard, and that combined with the fact that I was FREAKING OUT with happiness that they'd actually found my application competitive enough to warrant a call made for a terrible, terrible phone interview. Like, really embarrassingly terrible. 

I got a letter a few months later informing me that they'd filled the position, which I expected, and was fine with, really. It was a great lesson, which is that you should, at all times, know who you are and what you want to do with your life. You should also be prepared to describe those things to people--without warning--in complete seriousness and sincerity. This year, if (and hopefully when) I'm asked for an interview, I'll allow myself to feel flattered for about half a second, and then I'm going to move on and tell my interviewer in concrete detail about what a great scientist I'm going to be.

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Doctor Zen
The University of Texas-Pan American
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You've heard me say it before, but I'll say it again for the wayward comment readers looking for suggestions.

1. Make your research seminar shine. (I was going to say "sing," but turning a job interview into an episode of Glee would not be good.)

2. Don't forget to smile.

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Prof-like Substance
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Yay on the interviews! Good luck.

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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We've all had "deer in the headlights" moments, Becca.  I'm sure these two interviews will go much better now that you've had time to prepare.  And don't forget the gratuitous ass shots. "Whoops, dropped my pointer."

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Excellent news Dr.Becca. Let your continuing education on the hiring process resume! (~hopefully with an enviable outcome~)

27 and a PhD
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Brian Krueger, PhD said:

We've all had "deer in the headlights" moments, Becca.  I'm sure these two interviews will go much better now that you've had time to prepare.  And don't forget the gratuitous ass shots. "Whoops, dropped my pointer."

Hahaha, that "whoops" ass shot is too funny ... but yes, a bit of that and a lot of excitement on your part about your talk are super, super important. Show them with your actions and your words that you can and will blow them away. My PhD PI said you needed to say things verbally, with your hands and with your slides and to be excited (but not insane) about your results and accomplishments. You are selling yourself (in a good way!) and you need to market the product accordingly. So, stand up proudly and smile, remember it's OK to pause and take a break between slides and make a point of showing them what you have contributed to the field. I know this is not nearly the same, but for my thesis talk I made a point of including the titles and a tiny picture of the cover of each one of my papers. It was easy to make (via Photoshop), and with my words, my actions and my slides I showed the committee that I was very committed to my research and that I had kicked ass for those 5 (almost) 6 years I'd been in grad school. Like I said on my tweet, best of luck with your interviews. I'm sure you'll kick ass!!!!

Dr. O
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Yay!!! How very awesome!!! And I'm sure you'll kick some interview ass! :)

the modern scientist
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Way to go, Becca!! I'm sure you're very prepared this time around. And thanks for the warning about "asking some questions".... That would have totally happened to me.

Prodigal Academic
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Congrats, Becca! My one piece of advice: keep in mind that if you don't have to prepare a separate teaching thing (unusual at an R1, but some places do sample classes, etc), your research talk will be used as a guide to how you would be as a teacher. You need to make sure your kick-ass science is clear, and make sure you don't lose all of the non-experts in the audience. They will expect you to cover details for experts as part of the talk, but make sure whole talk is not directed at experts in your sub-field. This is NOT a conference presentation, so you can't treat it like one.

Dr. Cynicism

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Congrats! Good luck with the job talk and interviews!

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So proud! All my hard work paid off!

Commenters, feel free to derail this thread about me being an awesome teacher and guide for Dr. Becca.


Khalil A.

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Woaw! Congrats!!! I hope it all goes for the best. There's no need to stress about teaching. Judging by your online personality you're going to be really great. We're only a bunch o' kids anyway (:

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Awesome. Great news. Good luck!

Dr Becca, Ph.D.
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Thanks, everyone! Great advice, all of you. I'm lucky because I have a talk mostly ready from my last post-doc interview, but it definitely needs some work to be turned into a kick-ass job talk. And these departments are slightly different from my original audience, so I've got to tweak things so that they're framed in the most appropriate way.

Here's a question--how much am I expected to know about each department member's own research? Also, I am scheduled at at least one of these interviews to meet with the Dean. What do they want to talk about with me?

Finally, yes. I couldn't have done ANY of this without Tideliar.

Dr. Koshary

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Sending good vibes your way!  I look forward to reading the installments detailing this heartwarming triumph you have mentioned...

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