September Job Bootcamp Reflection

PhD student Jess McIvor (Southampton) shares her experience of our September 2018 PhD/ECR job ‘bootcamp’ at Hertford College, Oxford.

On 22 September, I attended the British Association of Irish Studies ECR and PhD job workshop in Oxford, organised by Dr Maggie Scull and Lloyd Meadhbh Houston. It was a great day, which sought to make clear the recruitment and hiring process for academic jobs, and to also show how researchers in Irish Studies can pitch themselves to different disciplines within British universities. It definitely succeeded in both these aims. The event was very well ran, and everyone involved was friendly and full of useful advice based off both their own experiences looking for jobs, and from being on interview panels. As everyone involved in the event was at different stages of their careers, ranging from postdocs to first lecturerships and established academics, it meant that there was a large variety of perspectives and experiences with the academic job market.

The afternoon was split into one to one sessions covering applications and cover letters, CVs, and interviews. I began with the interview segment, which was split into a mock interview, and then a meta interview where we went over the questions and my answers. It was useful to be able to hear the sort of questions that would be asked, especially as I hadn’t expected some of them. A good tip which I got from this was to bring in a copy of the job’s essential criteria, to make sure that you mention them in the interview.

After the interview, I had the CV session which was based on reviewing the CV I’d sent in earlier in the week. It was great to get such personalised feedback. As a second year student, it was really useful to talk about not only what I’ve currently got on my CV, but also what I should do to make myself more competitive in the next few years. As my research is interdisciplinary, I was also given very practical advice on publishing and teaching, and how to make my CV appeal to different departments. In the cover letter and application section, we reviewed examples of these done by people in BAIS. It was great to have specific examples of successful letters, rather than generic cover letters, and also to talk about how academic cover letters are different from cover letters for non academic posts.

We then had a round table discussion and Q&A, and it was great to hear the variety of experiences which people had had. We talked about successful and unsuccessful interviews, ways to appear confident but not arrogant, and general tips for interviewing well. The workshop was a very open and friendly environment, and the discussion flowed well.

To sum up, the BAIS job workshop was really useful for thinking about how we market ourselves for academic jobs. All the organisers had great advice, no matter if you were in the middle of your research, writing up or on the market already. Massive thanks to all involved! The next jobs workshop run by BAIS will be on 26 January in Liverpool, and I would definitely recommend going. Any interested members can register via this link:

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