August 3rd, 2015
Within a gloomy academic job market, at least one small corner is booming: academic career coaching. Capitalizing on the lack of career advice most graduate students receive while in grad school, Karen Kelsky — probably the biggest name in academic career advising —has built a successful business on helping graduate students practically prepare for the hunt.
But that doesn’t mean Kelsky preys on the hopes of the majority of Ph.D.s who’ll never land a tenure-track job. In fact, she’s made a name for herself — first on her blog, The Professor Is In, and then with private clients — by being blunt about their poor chances. But for those graduate students and Ph.D.s who decide to trod the path to a tenure-track position anyway, Kelsky offers intensely practical advice on such things as how to work a conference, how to tailor a curriculum vitae, how to answer outrageous questions in a job interview (and what not to wear) and even how to negotiate a job offer. Having led a number of tenure-track job searches as a tenured department head (of East Asian languages and literature) at a major Midwest research institution before leaving “the cult” of academe for good, Kelsky is both an insider and an outsider, seemingly breaking an unspoken code of silence for the greater good.