Joint Session ORAM/QSR/Practice Curated: Panel Discussion on Academic Job Application and Interview Process
By Yeawon Yoo
ORAM, QSR, and the Practice sections jointly provided Tuesday’s session titled, “Panel Discussion on Academic Job Application and Interview Process.”
Janis Terpenny, department head at Penn State University, started the session with the overall review of academic job application and process, from writing a cover letter to negotiation after having a job offer. She said that industry resumes usually requires a shorter resume, but for academia, more is the better. She also suggested having a consistent format style throughout your resume, starting with your name and contact information, education (what, where, title, chairperson), professional memberships, list of teaching & research interests, honors and awards, positions held, publication and presentations – be sure not to mix information. Also, don’t list too many papers that are in preparation, one or two will do. Dr. Terpenny also recommended asking the advisors and new faculty in your department to review the cover letter and research statement. She said to put your passions into the teaching and research statements. “You might want to talk about your collaboration. It might help you to apply for CAREER proposal later. Since you’re going to have your own graduate students and postdoc students, you should present how you are going to manage this,” she said.
Dr. Terpenny also gave advice on the interview, which can be an exhausting process But, she said, an interview usually means that you have a foot in the door because they see a match with their needs and they see potential. For the presentation, make sure to practice beforehand with current lab partners, your advisor, whoever will listen, and tell the story, not just the technical content. Also, be humble and respectful when answering the questions. At the end of the presentation show a list of publications. Dr. Terpenny would also recommend listing teaching interests and course titles and ending with where you will seek funding and where you plan to publish.
After her brief talk, there was a panel discussion. Mohammed Shafae, who started his career at the University of Arizona just this summer, gave advice to ask for advice from mentors as well as your advisor. Rachel Cummings from Georgia Tech said that you will get a lot of advice, but not to take it all because we all have different backgrounds. Murat Yildirim from Wayne State University said, “Understand the product that you are selling. When you are speaking about your research, every sentence that you make has to be interesting. When you are in the interview, you really show your clear motivation.”
All speakers recommended that students develop their professional network, such as chairing a session. Moreover, in order to have time to review the applicants’ packets before coming to INFORMS and have an opportunity to make a connection with applicants, they also recommend applying two weeks before the INFORMS Annual Meeting.
The panels leave the last piece of messages to the students. Rachel said, “Enjoy the process even if it is tough” and Murat said, “You have to be patient and psychologically strong.” Mohammed said, “Enjoy the process. Don’t compare to your peers. Trust yourself and be proud of what you did.”