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A Timeline for a Job Search in Mathematics - TO DO NOW

Cameron Sawyer

Your first step is to read the article The Academic Job Search in Mathematics by Thomas Rishel. You should do this NOW, no matter where you are in graduate school or your job search.  It helps to know how to prepare for each stage ahead. This article gives advice on the entire job process from your application packet to the job offer. (For other comprehensive articles see the Additional Reading section on page 13 .)  Rishel's article also gives suggestions of things to do while in graduate school to improve your curriculum vitae (CV).  A few additional suggestions of things you should do while in graduate school:

  1. Attend at least one Joint Mathematics Meeting in the year before you interview.  This will give you a chance to get the lay of the land, so you will know what you are in for.  Also attend the Joint Committee on Employment Opportunities Workshop, which provides helpful information and advice on the job search process and interviewing.  However, if you wait to go until the year you are interviewing, much of it is too late.
  2. Make a web site with your syllabi, CV, abstract of your dissertation, and other information that you would like a prospective employer to know.  For examples, look around your department or see mine.  In addition, the Web Monkey Job Site has some good pointers.
  3. Since mathematicians are generally expected to be nerdy, you can demonstrate that you are well rounded by being involved in activities outside of the math department (e.g. church, sports, volunteer work, tutoring).
Knowing your own inclinations and abilities -- and talking to others in your department -- you probably have an idea of the type of institution (research, teaching, or some mixture of these) where you plan to work.  There are some articles that address the specifics of finding a job at different types of schools:  Ph.D. Granting, Primarily Undergraduate, and Two-Year.  Most academic careers require that you do some teaching and some research/professional activity.  Here are further recommendations for improving your CV in these areas:
  • Teaching:
    1. Be a good teacher. Read How To Teach Mathematics by Steven Krantz. Your department probably has a copy -- if not, you can buy it through the AMS Bookstore.
    2. Ask your advisor and one or two other faculty members to come and observe you in class.
    3. Introduce technology in your teaching: graphing calculators, CAS assignments (see the Connected Curriculum Project), and WEB assignments. One easy idea is to make a class eBoard where your students can post questions/comments to you and each other.
    4. Try new teaching techniques, such as active/cooperative learning strategies (see the UCSB site on Collaborative Learning).
  • Research:
    1. Attend conferences in your subject areas so that you can meet mentors and collaborators from outside your university.
    2. Give talks at your university, at your local section of the MAA, to high school math clubs, to nearby colleges, and at national meetings. You can find all the nearby colleges by using Yahoo! Get Local as described in the September entry on page 4 -- call or e-mail their math departments and offer your services -- they will likely be thrilled to hear from you.

Cameron Sawyer, "A Timeline for a Job Search in Mathematics - TO DO NOW," Convergence (November 2004)


Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications