January 7, 2015

We Survived the Econ Job Market

I just finished a marathon in Boston. No – not the Boston Marathon (yet!), the 2014 ASSA Econ Job Market marathon. The Boy is on the Job Market this year and it has been an interesting and exciting experience. For those of you outside of the Econ world, I feel like I need to explain how the job market works.

I’m writing this post as the soon-to-be-spouse AKA an outside observer AKA not an expert on the job market or economics (although I was forced to take 2 econ classes in my MBA program haha). There are plenty of resources out there in the interwebs for information on the Econ Job Market. I hope that someday, someone might find mine useful…but these might be even more useful:
When a PhD candidate is in the 5th year of their program, they begin to apply for jobs. The Boy is on the academic job market but obviously economists can have jobs outside of academia as well.  The Boy applied for almost 100 jobs (you can read about that HERE). He’s a micro guy and enjoys research on environmental and education topics. Teaching is his passion and applied to smaller liberal arts schools as well as larger research institutions. The Boy landed TWENTY-FIVE interviews. TWENTY-FIVE. Considering the average is 6 or 7, I’d say that’s pretty good :)

What’s cool about this round of interviews is that they are all held in one place – this year it was Boston. The interviews take place during the 3-day AEA conference. We weren’t able to get a room at the official conference hotel (they sell out fast!), but we were about two blocks away. ADVICE: hotel location is clutch. There are 25+ conference hotels and a candidate can have interviews at any of the locations. We were lucky to be right in the mix which made it easy to get from interview to interview. We arrived in Boston a day early and took the time to map out our routes for the 3 days. We knew there were a couple of transitions that would be tight so we walked them the night before so that we would be prepared. Before we walked the route, we had a Sam Adams (Boston, duh).

There are 100ish schools that host their interviews in “the big zoo.” Each school had a table in this huge conference room and we were given a map when we registered for the conference. I laughed at the awkwardness of it. It is so weird that you could interview with a school and a few hours later be interviewing with another school WITHIN EARSHOT of the first interview. Oh well – I guess it works!

The Boy (should I start calling him The Professor?) also had interviews at other hotels. In the other hotels, the interviews were held in the actual hotel rooms. At most places, I was able to camp out in the lobby while he interviewed. At some hotels, the lobby was PACKED with other candidates and we had to camp out in hallways. #classy

Interviews lasted an average of 30-45 minutes. This gave us 15-30 minutes to get from hotel to hotel. ADVICE: try to schedule interviews happening at the same hotel next to each other. The Boy did this and it was a lifesaver. It worked out well because he usually had a few minutes in between interviews to read his notes and prep. There were 2 interviews on Saturday that we literally had to run to. It was late in the day, we were tired, and it was snowing. I was laughing so hard, I could barely run! We were late to one of his interviews, but he called beforehand and the school was really understanding.

We were so tired at the end of each day it was all we could do to eat dinner and change into our pajamas. I am so proud of this guy – I don’t know how he survived. I was exhausted and all I had to do was keep the coffee coming and read my book :) He actually had to interview!

Our next step is to wait for flyouts. Over the next 2-3 weeks, the schools will be calling candidates for second interviews. Most schools interview 15-20 candidates in the first round and they fly their top 3 candidates out to visit the campus, meet the rest of the department, and present their research. The average number of flyouts a candidate receives is 2-3 (based on the 6-7 average first interviews). I have a feeling The Boy (The Professor?) will get more than that!

We have silver stars waiting to go on the map and are so ready to find out where we might be living next year. In the meantime, it’s back to the real world after a whirlwind “vacation.” Work for me – teaching and dissertation writing for The Boy.

Here are a few Job Market tips from the candidate himself
 (reworded and written by me):
  • Be prepared for slow elevators. Interviews begin and end at the same time which means candidates are trying to enter and exit at the same time. Take the escalator if you can!
  • Schedule your most important interviews earlier in the day when the interview committee {and you!} are fresh and energized.
  • Take a travel buddy and make sure they have a copy of your schedule. Your brain will start to get fried and it’s nice to have someone who can get you to the next place on time.
  • Have a backpack stocked with water, snacks, cell phone charger, towel, extra tie (The Boy is a spiller), etc
  • Know about the people who will be interviewing you and be prepared with a list of specific questions for each school.
  • Be yourself (but smooth your rough edges!). Remember that this is a match program and fitting in at the school and with the people is key to success.
  • Have fun, laugh, and drink a beer at the end of the day.

Good luck to everyone on the market this year (and to everyone who is currently in the job search process).

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