Friday, August 21, 2009

Top ten ways to NOT get a job when I'm hiring

10. Not having any ESH hours in your package.
9. Already having ten other on campus jobs (security desk, anyone?) so you don’t have enough hours left for this position.
8. Taking six classes and two labs, with no free time block longer than 1 hr.
7. Having a criminal record. Sorry, no drug dealers with access to the chemical stockroom!
6. Not answering my e-mails within a week.
5. Being a jerk to the faculty in previous classes.
4. Not including your name on your application and/or resume (yes, this happened).
3. Not meeting the requirements. There is a REASON you have to take a course in our area before you can work in the stockroom or teaching lab!
2. Not stating on your application or resume that you’ve met the requirements.
1. Not applying! (The stockroom manager knows someone is coming back, but he hasn’t applied!)

Hiring students

We have to go through the campus ESH program and post all positions on the campus employment website. This is a total pain because:
a) Not all students come packaged with ESH, so some excellent students aren’t eligible
b) ALL the students can see your listing…and don’t necessarily READ the text. So most of the applicants so far aren’t eligible (you can’t TA for a class you haven’t passed, and you can’t work in the stockroom when you’ve never taken a class in our department!)

I haven’t figured out how exactly to *do* the hires. Should I interview students myself? Have the stockroom manager interview the stockroom assistant applicants? Ask colleagues who know the students and/or are teaching the class for recommendations? Should I do “rolling” hiring, or wait until I have a selection to choose from?

I guess the answers to these questions depend on your institution. I’m at a small place—less than a thousand students, and six faculty members in my department. So my plan is:
--pre-screen applicants and decline unqualified candidates
--do informal interviews with the students who are interested, mostly to find out their schedules
--for lab assistants, ask the person who would be working directly with them if that applicant would be acceptable
--for stockroom assistants, have the students meet with the manager, and let him make the final call.

Any suggestions? Things I’m missing?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Department chair duties: hiring

There are three types of hiring I'll be in charge of as department chair:
--Faculty. We have someone retiring in the summer of 2011, so I have a while before I'll have to deal with a tenure track hire. We're also on a hiring freeze, so I'll have to push pretty hard to be able to hire a fill in for an area that we can't cover internally next year.

--Staff. I pray I won't have to do this--we've been blessed with an AWESOME administrate assistant and a very good lab prep person. I'll be working hard to retain them, despite our salary freeze (separate post later).

--Student assistants. Now is the season for hiring student assistants. Mercifully, we work with the Academic Services unit to hire tutors for the year in the spring, so that's taken care of. But I do need to hire lab teaching assistants and stockroom assistants...and I've never hired someone by myself...ever!

So any advice on hiring?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Becoming department chair: lessons learned (or attempted)

So I became department chair on July 1. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I'm supposed to be doing, but I thought I'd start chronicling my attempts, just in case it's useful for someone else. If so, great; if not, I'll have a record of what did and didn't work!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Baby in tow

If you're planning to take baby with you to a conference, planning is KEY. Besides the usual reservation making, you need to make special plans for baby, including:
1. Childcare
2. Accomodations
3. Gear
4. Transportation

I'll address these in separate posts so this doesn't get to be monolithic.

Baby in tow: transportation

Getting there can be stressful. Here are some things to think about:

1) How are you going to get to and from the airport on the home side?
2) How are you going to get to and from the airport at your destination?

For me, what worked well was having someone drop me off and pick me up at the airport at the "home" end. I used curbside checkin for my suitcase, and it was worth it. The thought of dealing with the shuttle to long term parking with all the gear would have been time consuming and difficult. My spouse wasn't able to help me, but a friend helped me get there, and a retired individual who does airport runs for his "fun job" brought me home.

On the destination end, public transportation means you do not need a car seat, butthen you're dealing with all the gear on your own.

Another option is renting a car, but in a major city that might be more hassle than its worth.

Taxis may be the happy medium. They're in the middle price-wise. They don't have the hassle of dealing with all your stuff on a potentially not very stroller friendly public transportation, but you do need to bring a car seat, adding to the stuff burden.

The best suggestion I can offer is GET HELP. If you know someone else attending the conference, ask them to car pool with you. If someone offers to open a door or pull your suitcase off the carosel, let them. This is not the time to be a martyr!

Have you survived traveling with a little one in tow? Do you have other suggestions?

Baby in tow: Childcare

This has to be the single biggest issue that restricts female faculty participation in conferences. While some societies have made efforts in helping with this, it's few and far between...and expensive. I did not go to my "big" national society meeting this spring, mainly because of childcare issues.

Here are some possible options:
1. Bring someone with you. The most common version of this is bringing a spouse to the meeting. However, if your spouse has limited time off or you have other children at home (particularly those that are in school), this might not be an option. A grandparent is another person to ask, especially if they're retired and enjoy traveling. There may also be a college age niece, nephew, cousin or friend.

The disadvantage to bringing someone with you is paying for their plane ticket. If you're not comfortable sharing a room with them, you might also have to pay for their room, in addition to pay (if it's a hired babysitter). This option can get expensive.

2. Find someone there. I've done this both times I've brought a baby with me to a meeting. Though nerve wracking, it can be done. So how do you find someone there?

a) If you're lucky, the conference will provide a list of babysitters. These may be pricey (the last conference I went to with suggested baby sitters had an hourly fee of $20/hr!) but they've generally been bonded/certified/etc.

b) Drop in daycare centers. Many cities have drop in daycare centers. These are generally licensed, so they will meet state standards on child:provider ratios and general care. Bright Horizons offers drop in care in a variety of cities. You will need to call ahead and see if they take reservations, how often they fill up, what kinds of registration forms you need to fill out (preferably ahead of time), and what you need to provide for your child. The disadvantage is travelling between the childcare center and the conference can eat a significant part of your time.

c) University daycare centers The first confence I brought a baby to was at a university. I called the university daycare, and they happened to have a slot for the week I needed due to a vacation. If they don't have openings, they may have local providers they can recommend.

d) Private individuals. You can find one of these just like you would find one at home, though you have the distinct disadvantage of not being able to visit them in person or use word of mouth referrals. You will need to conduct an extensive phone interview and check references. A couple of possible ways of finding individuals include newspaper want ads, state licensed provider lists, and college student employment services.

This trip I had a college student watch Chiquita during the meeting. I could not have asked for a better alignment of the planets--a colleague sent a general e-mail on behalf of his daughter, who was looking for odd jobs before returning to the city where my conference is. She happened to be available, so I had the triple advantage of meeting her before I left, strong personal recommendations, and had great flexibility. At break times I would call and meet her, and I gave her the keys to my room so Chiquita could nap in a consistent setting.

e) Trying to do it yourself. Unless your baby is very young (less than four months) and is a good sleeper in a stroller/car seat/carrier, I would not recommend this option. You'll probably end up roaming the halls outside the speaker you really want to hear and end up either being a distraction or incredibly frustrated. It's also not fair to ask your students to watch the baby--that's not why they came to the meeting.

If you've brought a baby to a conference, what childcare solution did you find?

Baby in tow: gear

One of the most difficult things in preparing for the trip was figuring out what to bring, what I could leave behind, and what I could buy there.

I brought:
--a stroller (indispensible--carried all the other stuff, and occasionally the baby)
--a carseat (which I didn't end up using--doesn't work on public transportation, but if I had ended up needing a taxi, would have wanted it)
--diaper bag (which doubled as a purse in the airport--I used the conference bag once we arrived)

I used the carrier car seat even though Chiquita was pushing the limits because it fit in the stroller. So going through the airport, I had the carseat on the stroller with Chiquita in the carseat, the diaper bag under the stroller, and was pulling the suitcase. Cumbersome but it worked. No way I could have maneuvered a pack and play too.

I also brought:
--a wrap carrier (an evening walking tour was part of the conference, and the location didn't look stroller-friendly)
--breast pump (but the one bottle I pumped was never consumed)
--two days of diapers and baby food
--a few favorite small toys and her "loveys"

I wished I had:
--my cell phone charger. I needed to have my cell phone on when the babysitter had Chiquita, so I didn't get to talk to my family as much as I would have liked.
--a good bib. The disposable ones were useless; the tabs on the back had no stickiness, and Chiquita ripped them off before I could get any food in her mouth.

My plan was to buy diapers and food when we got there. Turns out this was a bigger deal than I anticipated--there was NO shopping closer than a mile away. We found some, but it was a considerable time drain. So my advice is MAKE SURE THERE IS SOMEWHERE NEARBY TO BUY WHAT YOU PLAN TO BUY.

I didn't bring a pack n play. After striking out in the "borrow from friends or churches in the area" category, I "rented" one from someone on Craig's List. This worked out ridiculously well, as the person also gave me a ride to our accomodations (and back to the airport) for about the same price as cab fare.

If you've brought baby before, what gear was helpful? What didn't you use?

Baby in Tow: Accomodations

While not as big of a hurdle as childcare, accomodations can prove challenging. Hotels are fairly amenable to babies, but you may want to ask about:
--the availability of cribs (and whether there is a charge)
--distance to the conference
--"stroller-friendliness" of the area
If the handicap accessible rooms are available at check in, this might be a useful option, as they tend to have more room between items (and room for a place for baby to sleep).

The conference I'm at is housing us in dorms. This was somewhat challenging, as they don't have pack n plays or cribs on site and are NOT baby proof or even friendly. This trip Chiquita has:
--"baptised" her doll in the toilet (no lid, and the bathroom is the only overhead light so I can't leave the door closed)
--pulled open a cabinet and hit her head with the door
--opened a desk drawer and shut it on her fingers
--crawled under the bed and hit her head

(believe me, I've intercepted her more times than not, but I'm not perfect!)

Some recommendations:
--figure out a safe place for baby to sleep. You could bring a pack n play, but a) you'll already be hauling half the planet for this trip and b) by the time you pay the airplane luggage fees you might as well have bought one at your destination. Some strategies you could try:
*find a colleague, friend, ANYONE and see if they know someone who would loan you a pack n play for the week.
*Check with churches for the same
*Try Craig's list. I "rented" a pack and play from someone selling baby stuff, and ended up getting rides from her too, for not much more than the taxi alone would have cost (more on that in the transportation post!)

--bring childproofing supplies. I brought electrical plugs, but rubber bands would have also been helpful in securing potential finger pinching cabinets. I also re-arranged the furniture to block other tempting but potentially harmful items (like the fan cord, blind pulls, stove, etc.

--bring items to make your child comfortable and secure. Now, you don't want to bring EVERYTHING, but if baby sleeps best with her pink silky blanket and a pacifier, bring it!

What other things have you done to make conference accomodations safe and comfortable for your baby?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bringing baby to a conference

I recently brought my still-nursing, crawling, pulling up and climbing 9 month old to an out of town conference. This is my second adventure in bringing a baby to a meeting, and both were very successful. I thought it may possibly be helpful to other parents to hear what worked (and didn’t work) for me, so this will probably be a series of posts on various aspects of the joys and travails of attending a conference (and actually getting to participate!) with a baby in tow.