I interviewed at two R1 schools this year and, now that the searches are wrapping up, it looks like I am in second place at both - e.g., offers have been made to other candidates and I'm the backup person. I know that in some ways this is a great result, in that I could still have a shot at getting a position. And both SCs seemed enthusiastic about me and said it came down to 'fit' more than my qualifications. At the same time, I'm having a hard time not getting really discouraged about this. I have spent so much time and energy on the job search over the last six months or so, it's frustrating to feel like a runner-up - and to realize that I will probably be going back on the market again next year and going through all the same stress and anxiety yet again. I'm starting to question this whole career path - why have I spent the last 10 years (grad school + post-doc) training for a very specific type of position, only to not be able to get that position? And then I think about the fact that I'm pouring all my energy into getting a job that doesn't pay particularly amazing money, is stressful and demanding, and will put yet more hurdles in my path (e.g. tenure). I think in a way if I had completely struck out on the market this year it might feel easier because I would refocus my efforts on other career possibilities. But I came thisclose and that feels like a reason to do it all over again - but after how hard this year was, I am not chomping at the bit to repeat this process. Not to mention that I have now spent so much time on job stuff this year that I feel like I will need to be in overdrive to get papers submitted so I am in a competitive position for fall. Ugh. Does anyone have a pep talk or just some commiseration for me? Or a good lead on an LSAT tutor?
Date: 23 Feb 2012 22:37
Number of posts: 7
RSS: New posts
well, lawyers are facing the same issues as academics at the moment (i.e. no jobs, lots of qualified applicants). I can sympathize, though. Looks like I'll be searching again next year, and I'm not sure where I'll draw the energy to do it again. Good luck on getting one of the two positions—here's to hoping the first choices go for other options (that's the hope I'm holding on to, at least).
Last year I had 5 interviews. I came in 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, and ???. It was a little discouraging at first, but then when I saw who the top choice was it made perfect sense to me. I would have made the same choice they did, in several cases because of "fit" (i.e., what the other person did and what the current strengths of the department were). But, on the other hand it was reassuring to know that I was considered a strong candidate at good schools.
Last year, interviews were nerve wracking because it's all a new experience. This year, interviews were drastically different experience. This year, interviewing was so much easier because I knew exactly what to expect. I knew what the meetings with the Deans were like. I had my talk materials prepared. I knew exactly what questions people would ask. So, it was just so much easier and I was much more at ease, which made a big difference in terms of coming in 1st at various places rather than 2nd+.
So, pep talk: it gets easier, the experience you had this year is invaluable for helping you think about how to prepare for next year, and now you are in an even better position to take academia by storm next fall.
You had a strong showing in a really tough market. But coming in second or not quite getting across the finish line will of course leave you feeling exhausted and like there's nothing to show for it. Take some time, let yourself feel sad for a bit. It's completely natural.
After some time, you might feel like you have more energy for another run. From what you've said it sounds like you're a strong candidate. Give it another year, your performance on the market this year will definitely build positive buzz next year. I'm sorry it didn't work out this year, but I'm hopeful for you.
It took me a few times through the market, with a year like the one you just had. It left me totally exhausted. I gave myself one more shot and it worked out. Hope you have similar luck.
Also, it's really tough for fresh law grads too, it's tough for almost everyone. Hang in there, you're probably among the strongest candidates out there.
p.s. also, it helps you are flexible with R1 vs. other types of schools. For example, some private universities will pay higher salaries and give you more research start up funds than R1 schools, even schools that are designated liberal arts or regional colleges.
I got a job where I was in 2nd place. And I had another offer, so that means at that school the 2nd or 3rd choice person got to go. It's kind of a pain to wait so long for a decision but a lot of the people who are 1st choice are 1st choice several places, so 2nd has a real shot at getting it. I've heard of people getting jobs in April or so.
Anyway, you heard that you were 2nd choice. That means you were really good. If you were called right after your interview for them to say you were rejected or something, then you would have to worry about being likeable. But they loved you. If it doesn't work out this year it will next year. I would actually not switch to apply to a broader range of schools. You are so close to getting the ones you want; stick it out. Don't settle next year, if there is a next year. The right place will come.
Cog is right, a lot of 2nd place candidates will probably be getting offers in the coming weeks. I got two offers this year and I imagine that within a few days the one I turned down will be making an offer to their second choice. So don't give up hope yet! But even if you don't get an offer this year, being short-listed and getting interviews this year means you'll be in a good place next year - think of the 100+ people who didn't even get an interview at each of those places where you came in 2nd! And next year's applications will likely be way less work as you can just update what you put together this year. This was my second year on the market (and I didn't get any interviews last year, so you're doing way better than me) and the whole application process was much less daunting this time around. So yeah, like everyone else has been saying, hang in there! You are obviously a strong candidate or you wouldn't have gotten to 2nd place.