Monday, June 20, 2011

Duke Philosophy Graduate Placement Guide (Great checklist!)

The following initial checklist is broken into three stages:  those several years from the market,  those one year from the market and those going on the market. I highly recommend the full PDF which can be found HERE. I wish I ran across this simple format and explanation earlier. 


Initial Checklist 

 For those several years from the Market: 

– Make a long-term plan for finishing your course and exam requirements,  
 coming up with a special area committee and a dissertation director, 
developing a dissertation proposal, etc.; 

– Present papers at conferences (there are a lot of them).  Make 

– Try to publish at least one paper (e.g., from a seminar or part of 

– Keep records of everything you do that may be in your CV or application 
(teaching evaluations, committees, service, etc.).  Think about what you 
can do now that will make your CV look good. 

– Go to the APA at least once; 

– Begin to think of yourself as a professional philosopher, not just a student 
of philosophy. 
 For those one year from the Market: 

– Determine that you will be at least halfway through your dissertation by 
the time you begin applying for jobs (i.e., the following October); 

– Start working on one central chapter that can serve as your writing 

– Start developing and writing a teaching dossier that includes a teaching 
statement along with a portfolio including syllabi, descriptions of courses 
you could teach, course evaluations and/or summaries of evaluations, 
letters from students, etc.);
– Determine who will write your letters of recommendation.  There should 
be at least 4.  Interdisciplinary folks will want a letter from a nonphilosopher in a relevant field.  If possible it would be good for people to 
have a letter from a philosopher external to our Department, although it is 
not unusual, and perhaps even is still the rule, for candidates to have recommenders only from their home institution.  In any event, you will 
need to approach your recommenders during the summer before they will 
write them, and then send materials to them by September 1. 

 For those going on the Market: 

– Make it absolutely clear to yourself and your recommenders that you will 
be done by May (if you can defend before the APA, it will help your 

– Arrange for your letters.  The best way to prod your recommenders is to 
give them two completed chapters from your dissertation in the late 
summer (as well as your CV) so that they can write detailed letters that 
can honestly say that you will be done by May and that your project is 

– Complete your CV (make it look good in both form and content): after 
education, short dissertation summary and AOS/AOC, try to get 
publications and presentations on page 1, then include teaching 
experience, course work, service and list of references;
– Have people read your writing sample and make sure it captures the 
reader’s attention quickly and has a self-contained and interesting 
argument.  It should be 15–20 pages; 

– Complete your teaching dossier (perhaps two versions, long and short, for 
different jobs). 

– Draft your dissertation abstract (1–2 pages), and work on your 
dissertation spiel; 

– Join the APA (the Department will pay the membership fees); 

– Get Jobs for Philosophers (available only to APA members) and make a 
list of all possible jobs to apply for.  Apply for any job you think you 
could possibly get and would possibly take.  Remember that the more 
interviews and offers you get, the better, even if they are ultimately jobs 
you might not take; 

– Find a way to keep your application materials organized so that you make 
sure that exactly what needs to be sent to each position is sent by the 

– Ask for help from family, staff, peers, friends, family, and your pet to 
make sure your application materials look as good as possible;  – Have a job talk complete by the end of November, for presentation to the 

– Prepare for your mock interview in December before the APA.  You will 
need to have your dissertation spiel ready and to work up something to say 
about your teaching “philosophy,” experience and abilities;  

– Try to treat the process as a game of chance and skill, like Blackjack.  
Know the rules and tricks to make your chances as good as possible but 
understand that there are many factors beyond your control.  Both the 
(very) few successes and the (very) many failures you will face should be 
viewed in this way.  The Stoics’ perspective may be the most appropriate 

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