Navigating the tenure-track….

You’ve got a tenure-track position….now what? Don’t ask me, I’m still trying to figure it out myself. I’m not going to lie—based on my limited experience, most people find the first few years of a faculty position rough. When I started my first faculty position, I remember being up at 3am, preparing for a new course I was teaching, and literally googling “first year faculty biology miserable”… and getting lots of hits! There are so many things that I didn’t realize were part of the job of a faculty member. The problem is, most of us are not really trained to be faculty members. We’re not told how to set up a new lab, how to pick undergrads and graduate students, how to manage a lab full of graduate and undergraduate students, how to hold lab meetings, how to teach a new course (or maybe, how to teach at all), how to develop a research program, how to write grants, what journals to publish in, and the list goes on.

My biggest piece of advice would be: find a mentor inside the department, and one outside the department. Finding mentors to get advice on these types of questions will make your life much easier. You also have to figure out the minutia of functioning in a new department within a new institution…how do you order things? How do you hire undergrads? How do you assign a textbook for a class? Again, finding people you can trust within your department to teach you these things is extremely important. Outside your department, a mentor can tell you what’s normal and what’s not. Or can give you advice about things that it might be important to have an outsider’s perspective on.

This book helped me out my first couple of years. I also found participating in many of the workshops, etc., offered by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity to be very helpful. This website has some good advice: