OK, so I'm not really a single parent (props to those who are!), but my partner is frequently away for work and can't watch our newly-one-year-old daughter when he's gone. I don't currently live near family, and most of the places I've applied to work are both a several-hour plane trip from home and from family. It's looking like my partner will be gone for weeks at a time during prime job-talk time. Here's my question: if I get invited for a campus interview, what are some options for childcare? My baby is too young for me to be across the country from her without either parent around (so leaving her with a trusted person at home wouldn't be an option). Do I tell the schools that I need childcare/help finding a sitter/a temporary slot at the daycare? Find a way to fly a family member to the interview site and sneakily have them take care of her while I interview? Has anyone had experience with any of these issues? I'd love to think that childcare (and having children) isn't a problem in academia, but I know that — to some committees — this whole issue might reduce my viability as a candidate. I know it's early still, but I just thought of this today and was like "oh shit, I have NO CLUE what to do". Any advice?
Date: 16 Oct 2013 00:30
Number of posts: 13
RSS: New posts
Here are are couple of suggestions. I would not ask the department about childcare. Can you get a family member to fly in to help while you are gone? Alternatively, you could bring someone (family member, friend) with you to watch your daughter at the hotel? Is it possible for your partner to help? I know it's tough. But, in this job market, I wouldn't risk discussing childcare while interviewing. In fact, I've never seen this happen at any University that I've been affiliated with (All R-1s). Again, I would try to find an alternative solution that you're comfortable with.
Although I would also love to think that the right school would love to help you out, I think you are better off trying to arrange something on your own. I don't think it is necessary that you hide that you have brought your child with you but I think that you should either have a family member join you or you should contact the University day care (if they have one) to see if they take drop-ins. I know that my daycare does this but they are only open during the day and it is likely that you will have a dinner or two to attend during your campus visit. You could also check with the hotel that you are staying at to see if they have a babysitting service you could call. Care.com or Sittercity are nation-wide so you could also use those services. Although I understand that you may not be comfortable with this, I would seriously consider whether it is a possibility to have a family member come to your house and stay with your daughter. This would allow you to concentrate more at the interview on the task at hand and not be worrying about a new sitter or something like that. I have a 2 year old and had some interviews last year and it is totally reasonable to schedule your interviews so that you are only gone for one night due to child care concerns. I definitely told the secretaries who were scheduling that I would prefer to fly in the morning of the interview and out the next morning or ideally come in the night before in time for dinner with faculty and then leave the evening after the interview. You also are usually given a choice of dates over a 2-3 week range so you might be able to find one day that your partner isn't out of town? I'm not sure if this was helpful but good luck!
Okay, so I actually have had an experience with this situation. I was a faculty member in a department years ago in which a person* being interviewed had a very young child (still nursing). The candidate couldn't possibly not have her child with her and so, the questions was, what to do? She told the chair about the situation and yes, the department worked stuff out. We had graduate students and undergrads who tended to the child during the job talk. We added times in the day for nursing in a private comfortable room. I do not recall what happened during meals, but I think the candidate was able to go to at least one dinner while someone watched her baby. (Seriously). The thing is that I think it can be intimidating to broach these kinds of issues but it is not out of the question to do so at all. You might talk to the chair of your current department to see what they would do. Now, I actually think a younger infant is easier to handle than a toddler (like a baby might just snooze in a carrier during a meal, although mine never did, but a burgeoning walker can be an adorable pain in the neck). Just ask them. It is possible that a university might have on site daycare you could use or again simply arrange some ad hoc helpers.
*By the way, the woman got the job and is now a super famous clinical psychologist and her kid is, I think, a junior in college .
I don't have any specific advice, just wanted to say thanks to those that have offered suggestions. I am likely to find myself in this situation as well if I receive any on-campus interviews. I have a little boy that is still nursing and refuses bottles, plus a husband in a master's program that will not allow him to leave with me often. So again thanks for the suggestions offered so far, and you are not alone with these issues Babymama! :)
one more thought: I have a friend who is very comfortable demanding things. When she interviewed at a school, she basically insisted that they provide airfare and accommodations for her au pair to travel with her and her child and attend to her kid during the interview. In this case she didn't get the job but the department did accommodate her "request". :) And I would note that I heard through the grapevine the reason for her not being hired and it had nothing at all to do with this request or anything personal at all for that matter.
I would say demanding airfare for another person is awful advice—unless you are a super duper star, this is sure to be a poison pill.
I don't see a problem with you telling them that you need to bring your child with you given the child's age and the lack of alternative care given your partner's situation. If you are nursing, that's an even more important reason to bring your child with you. If they have a problem with it, then you'll know how the faculty deal with family issues to a certain extent and that might be important information for you in your consideration in taking a position if offered. In addition, I would not mention this until they offer you an on campus interview (for example don't ask this if they do a phone interview first). When a candidate gets to an on campus interview, that means the search committee, faculty and dean have invested a lot of time in considering you as a candidate and will usually accommodate requests. I wouldn't advise asking for an additional seat on a flight though since your child should be able to sit on your lap.
I agree with the other posters to be polite, clear, and upfront with your need for child care and a flexible flight schedule *if* you receive an invitation for a campus interview. The manner in which this request is received and handled will tell you a lot about what it might be like to work there with a young child(ren) and whether you'll be happy and productive in that climate.
I agree 100 percent with Science Mom. Remember that this whole thing is not only about places judging you. You are judging them as well. I know everyone feels like they just want a job, any job. But seriously, if a place cannot accommodate a clearly justifiable need, do you really want a job there?