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The Professor Is In

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The Professor Is In answers all your questions about the academic career. Dr. Karen Kelsky and productivity coach Kel Weinhold, with their trademark combination of candor, humor, and compassion (and a healthy dose of critique), tell you the truth about how the academy works, with strategies for reaching your goals while prioritizing your emotional well being. We go where others don't, breaking down the unspoken rules of academic culture, including all the ways it centers white folks and marginalizes everyone else. Our mission: whether you're in grad school, on the job market, on the tenure track, adjuncting, or deciding to leave the academy and do something else, we are here to support you with insights, advice, and real talk.
61 Episodes
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We talk breaking points. Kel suggests to anyone feeling they’ve reached the breaking point at the end of the semester: pause, and appreciate that it’s showing you, you DO have a limit. Sit with that. What’s it mean to hit your limit and really admit it? That is, rather than judging yourself, or scrambling to get past it. Instead, embrace the breaking point. And use it as, conversely, a strength. That is, the place where you say no. No to more expectations, more to more demands, no to more work. And yes to stepping away, taking a break, seeing a friend, resting yourself.  When it makes you finally just stop, your breaking point can be an ally.     [Become a supporting member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like a permanent 50% off code for almost all webinars and courses, free monthly webinar recordings ($50 value), AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, and early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to support monthly? Donate here to send along some one-time support.  
Today we are joined by the remarkable Deja Rollins, speaking about performative allyship. Deja, a graduate student in Communications at UIUC, was the standout star of Karen’s TedX event hosted by U of Arkansas Monticello, and we’ve been working on getting her on the podcast for almost a year. In this conversation Deja talks about how white folks, particularly in the academy, talk the talk of “allyship” (especially during summer 2020) without taking any meaningful action, or sacrificing any of our money, ego, status, or institutional power.  She makes the point that identifying as an “ally” is a self-identification actively claimed BY certain white folks (and not requested by Black folks), and, she says, if we’re “about that life then it’s on us to actually show up and do the work.”  Don’t wait for Black bodies to be headlines to show up with hashtags.  Don’t tell Black scholars their work on Black trauma needs to be “sexier.”  White people: Recognize our continued possessive investment in whiteness, especially in academic spaces. We own space all the time; so the task is sit down and listen.  White people: we own spaces of ease, so feel uncomfortable. Prioritizing white folks feeling “safe” (in all the endless anti-racism workshops) is a further violence and silencing.  White people: we own the standards of evaluation, so vocally question the standards by which you are evaluating graduate students, job candidates, tenure candidates. Deja’s message: “If I can’t say outright this is bullshit, whiteness as a normative structure is whack as hell, a lot of performance and no action, if you can’t hear that, if i make you uncomfortable, that’s not where I need to be.” [Become a supporting member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like a permanent 50% off code for almost all webinars and courses, free monthly webinar recordings ($50 value), AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, and early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to support monthly? Donate here to send along some one-time support.  
Dr. Samira Rajabi, Assistant Professor of Media Studies at U of Colorado Boulder,  joins us for a discussion of navigating ambiguous grief and trauma in the pandemic academy and the rest of life. Drawing from her research for her new book, All My Friends Live in the Computer: Tactical Media, Trauma, and Meaning Making, as well as her own personal stories, Samira talks with us about the importance of social media communities in navigating suffering, and ways to interrupt capitalist narratives of productivity and success/failure, in order to reconnect with genuine loss, and move through and past it to what comes next.  Sometimes all it takes is a kazoo!   [Become a supporting member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like a permanent 50% off code for almost all webinars and courses, free monthly webinar recordings ($50 value), AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, and early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to support monthly? Donate here to send along some one-time support.  
The Professor Is In Ep 3:9 The Key to Interviews and Grants Play Episode Pause Episode Mute/Unmute Episode Rewind 10 Seconds 1x Fast Forward 30 seconds 00:00 / 00:32:54 Subscribe Share Apple Podcasts Google Podcasts Stitcher RSS Feed di
Part three in our three-part series about getting Unstuck. So much of the academic experience is about feelings of failure.  It’s central to normally functioning academia (in the sense of job, grant and article rejections), but it’s far more relevant nowadays to the effort to leave the academy.  Not getting the coveted job is still widely considered a “failure” and academics who have their identity wrapped up in academic achievement so easily take on the identity of “failure” – as in, I’M a failure – in the face of not getting an academic job, and deciding to depart for other career directions. How are you stuck in the quagmire by attaching narratives of the past  – like bungie cords pulling you backward – and how do you break free?  Kel and Karen offer some methods to move beyond these quagmire of failure feelings:  1) Spend time with your grief, and 2) stop expecting an apology (because the university will never give you one). As you do this, you learn to just pause, sit, stop striving, process your feelings of fear, rage, bitterness, and grief, identify the story you’re attached to, recognize where firm ground actually lies, and crawl forward one tiny step. *Like the new Art of Leaving program, which starts this month!  And the Professor Is Out private FB group.) [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.  
Ep 3:6 Sea of Change

Ep 3:6 Sea of Change

2021-10-1931:01

We continue with the three-part examination of getting stuck and unstuck. Last week we talked about the Island of Perfectionism. Today we talk the Sea of Change (next week, we talk the Quagmire of Failure).  The individualism of the (American) academy puts all responsibility for struggle on the individual. But we remind you, you didn’t just “fall” off your path–in the words of Dr. Roxanne Donovan of The Well Academic, something pushed you off.  The pandemic and the Great Resignation are currently pushing unprecedented numbers of academics (especially women) off their planned path. But change is scary! And academics are profoundly risk-averse. We talk about turning toward a mindset of process not outcome (“‘to be’ is not the question in the Sea of Change,” quoth Karen), and querying the conviction of “nobility” that so many academics attach to the academic enterprise and that keeps people stuck in untenable academic places – exploited, endangered, miserable. Pushing the sea-metaphor way past its likely utility (!), Karen and Kel talk about befriending the fear, setting out on your little dinghy – maybe with some help pulling it past the break* – and paddling out into unknown waters! *Like the new Art of Leaving program, which starts next month!  And the Professor Is Out private FB group.) [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.  
It’s The Great Resignation, and people are departing their shitty jobs in droves. This includes academics, and not just adjuncts. Tenured and tenure track faculty are proactively departing to a degree never before seen. (Find many of them on the Professor Is Out private FB group!) Karen and Kel talk about ways that perfectionism–always the bugbear of academia–can hamper your transition out of the academy just as much as it might hamper your process of finishing that paper, dissertation, or book project. It’s all kind of the same thing: you feel like you have to know EXACTLY where you’re going and EXACTLY what you have to do, before you take a step. But, you don’t. You only need to take the first step. And that first step may well feel like a “misstep” but that is not a mistake, it’s just more information! Opening yourself to process – through Kel’s method of always asking, “….and…?” relieves you from the outcome-centrism of academic thinking, and frees you to move forward. [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.  
We are joined by Dr. Jane Jones of UpIn Consulting (@JaneJoanne) to talk about 5 reasons that your article manuscripts might be getting rejected, drawn from Kel and Jane’s Art of the Article program. Here’s the list: 1) not finishing out of fear [of reactions, reviews, etc.]; 2) submitting to the wrong journal [meaning a journal that is a poor match for your work, discipline, or level]; 3) not demonstrating the import/significance of your work in relation to the field or fields prioritized by the journal [separate from “nobody has studied this before”]; 4) Clear and precise signposting of topic, methods, theory, questions, analysis and conclusion [this includes you, humanities folks!];  5) an excellent abstract, that in about 6 crisp sentences sketches topic, methods, conclusion and import [that you write first, but then revise as you complete the mss.]. On the way we remind you that publishing requires strategizing, that you are allowed to refuse some reviewer comments, that outlining works, and that abstracts are far from an afterthought–they matter! The upshot is: article-writing is a skill you can gain with training and practice, and rejections are not proof that you don’t belong in academia–they just mean you might not yet have mastered all the skills you need to get your work accepted. [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.  
What do you do when you get stuck? Kel has found that her coaching clients tend to devolve into a spiral of self-loathing. But that doesn’t work; it’s just not very motivating! So Kel asks: why does the academy tell us we must automatically be good at every single thing we try in the academic career, and how can we get past that when we find ourselves stuck? Drawing from their newfound love of lap swimming this past summer, Karen and Kel talk about taking an inventory of your strengths and your places needing development, and then learning to use places of strength to explicitly shore up and development the weaker skills. Basically, when you are pushing and pushing and getting no results, draw from a different set of resources. Both resources within yourself, and those offered by external sources of help. [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.    
Ep 3:2 The Chair

Ep 3:2 The Chair

2021-09-2335:27

Karen insisted that we watch The Chair, and insisted we devote a podcast episode to it. So here it is. At this point in time there are no more “hot” takes to be had, so in this episode we offer our tepid takes.  Even so, there is a lot to say. Karen and Kel talk the many painful accuracies of the show: the terror of senior faculty in the face of threats to their power; the overt and covert racism directed at Yaz, the sole Black faculty member; the puritanical dress code and terrible hair; cost-cutting as the department Chair’s #1 job; the Dean’s relentless gaslighting; liability avoidance as the university mission. We note in particular Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein’s point that Yaz is the only character with no interiority – she is rendered as a plot device and never shown, in contrast to all the other main characters, outside a narrow work setting. We have quibbles, inevitably: this Chair could not have been as naive as she was written; no tenured white male professor ever loses his job over racism; and it’s honestly doubtful this Chair would have thrown away her position for a man, least of all this man. Also: are we to believe Yaz turns down Yale to stay at Pembroke? Puleeze. But overall: wow. And suffice to say, as a former Chair of a humanities department, Karen came out of the series fairly traumatized. [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.    
Karen and Kel are back from their summer hiatus, and they talk re-entry. Re-entry, that is, to a shitshow academic year in a pandemic that, in the US, has been mismanaged to a degree that almost defies belief.  Academics are coming back to campuses that are for the most part totally unprepared and unwilling to deal with actual student and staff vulnerabilities to COVID-19, and confronting a level of lethal indifference from many administration and students both that has shocked even the most jaded among us (ie, Karen). Drawing from a re-entry model developed by an Australian academic, Karen and Kel talk about ways that administrators can improve re-entry processes, and ways that vulnerable and burnt out faculty and grad students can think about how best to proceed. [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.  
An episode recorded pre-pandemic but even more relevant now.  Karen and Kel talk resisting overwork, and recovering your joy.  The key here is detachment from your work: neither misery nor joy; just a set of tasks. Put another way:  it’s what you do, not who you are. Drawing from the work of Brene Brown, we dig into the culture of scarcity and the nature of resiliency. In our world of scarcity we wake up in “not enough” (sleep, work, time with kids, writing, etc etc.) and the competitive struggle of academia (“I only slept four hours last night!”).  But accepting the reality of finitude (ie finite time, space, and energy), and gathering your own No Committee, you too can reduce what you agree to do, trim excess, and prioritize your own well being. Put on your own oxygen mask first.   [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.  
We are delighted to bring back Allante Whitmore, PhD candidate in Civil Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, impresario behind the podcast and website Blk+In Grad School, and founder of the 4-years-running virtual Grad School Success Summit, coming up June 14-16. Allante tells us all about the Summit, and how it covers all the things she wished she had known as a first-gen, Black graduate student when she was starting out–especially about how to prepare for grad school, managing finances, and staying healthy. As she explains: it’s not just the knowledge that is critical, but the community, and knowing you’re not alone. New and current BIPOC grad students welcome for an amazing, TOTALLY FREE, lineup of speakers and some “wine down” time afterward on IG Live. The Professor Is In is thrilled to be able to sponsor the Summit this year. [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.    
Summer is imminent… but, are you even ready? How to even think about it after the trauma of the past year or more? Karen and Kel talk about lightening your load, taking things off your list, and keeping an eye on your BIG goal, which might be “getting healthy” or “leaving the academy,” or “finding gainful employment.”  The key is to keep reducing the demands on yourself until you’ve targeted the least you can do, and the most you can rest, while still moving incrementally toward that larger goal. Most of all: just rest.       [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.
  Grant-writing is a craft and it can be learned. The challenge is getting your head in the right space. Just like job applications, it’s not about your hopes, dreams, wishes, and preoccupations. It’s about marketing yourself in an intensely competitive environment. In this episode Karen and Kel walk you through Karen’s Foolproof Grant Template, showing you how to grab the reviewer’s attention with a vivid topic, substantiating that with references to current literature, showing a gap in the literature and the catastrophic repercussions of that gap, and finally demonstrating that your proposed project will heroically intervene to rescue us from devastating ignorance. when you’re at the point of seeking money for research, you ARE the hero of that research and that story, and your writing can show that in a host of direct and indirect ways.  Show the funder that their money will make a difference by funding specific, concrete deliverables (sorry!) that advance their agenda. [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.
We are delighted to host Fobazi Ettarh, who first created the term “Vocational Awe” and has written extensively on its threats to the health and well being of librarians in particular and those employed in “calling” fields in general. Vocational awe refers to “the set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in beliefs that libraries as institutions are inherently good and sacred, and therefore beyond critique.” In today’s conversation Fobazi illustrates how the idea of a “sacred calling,” so often ascribed to librarians and faculty alike, mystifies the fact that it is labor within a capitalist system, and makes it almost impossible to push for fair compensation, or non-exploitative working conditions. In addition, it prevents acknowledging the degree that libraries are, like other institutions, foundations of white supremacy. Fobazi breaks down all the ways that racism permeates both access to libraries (and the academy more broadly), and working conditions of the professionals who staff them. [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.
We are delighted to host Sarah Jaffe, the author of the new book, Work Won’t Love You Back: How Our Devotion to Our Work Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone (2021). Sarah’s book talks about academics (“Proletarian Professionals”) as one among many groups of laborers in fields that include art, sports, non-profits, teaching, domestic work and more, that try to make laborers substitute “love” for adequate compensation. Sarah brilliantly and energetically breaks down just how, if the neoliberal turn hinges on choice and freedom, then the apparatus for choice is an apparatus for blame. And, as labor conditions got worse, the more you are supposed to perform your “love” for the job. About the academy specifically she observes that just as white women and people of color are scratching their way in, the conditions collapse and a rhetoric of self-sacrifice, austerity and martyrdom is supposed to prevail.  Drawing inspiration from Ettarh’s concept of “vocational awe” (2018),  Karen and Sarah* talk about resisting the coercive nature of uncompensated and unsafe (in the pandemic) work, and how to improve these conditions by replacing individual competition with an investment in our wider community. *Kel was down for the count after vaccine dose #2 [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.  
If you’ve been wondering how to bring some semblance of productivity back to your life, this episode is for you. Karen and Kel introduce Kel’s Unstuck: The Art of Productivity, a 12-module program that combines daily emails, coaching videos, awareness exercises like time-maps, and writing techniques, as well as a community support page, to help you discover what is blocking you from getting your writing (and submitting) done, and learn how to overcome it. And at the end, we give you a way to get a major (and shareable!) discount to join the new May cohort. We talk through the three pillars of the program – telling the truth, realistic expectations, and small measurable goals — and why and how they work to interrupt self-defeating habits, and help you recover a writing life, all with evenings and weekends free.  Unstuck is about getting your writing done, and it’s about reclaiming your confidence and trust in yourself and your work.   [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.
Self-promotion is a dirty word for academics but it shouldn’t be. People won’t invite you to be part of their scholarly community if they don’t know who they are. And if you don’t curate your digital profile then Google will do it for you–and you don’t want that. Self-promotion encompasses all of these things. Karen and Kel talk tactics for sharing your work with scholars, networking, using social media effectively, highlighting press contacts, and why you need your own website. They also confront the dreaded idea of “building your brand.” Beyond that, though, they talk about the judgment about ambition, especially for women, and how owning your ambition is essential to taking control of your own professional fate, whether in or outside the academy.   [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support.
Karen and Kel talk to Professor Erin Cech (Sociology, U of Michigan), the author of the forthcoming book, The Problem with Passion (U California Press, 2021), about why our national obsession with “following your passion” actually intensifies inequality. Erin explains how passion leads to “choice-washing,” in which unequal outcomes are justified  by claiming they were freely chosen, even while those without privilege and resources struggle to get access to “passion”-driven work.  She shows how the passion principle came hand in hand with the erosion of worker rights–if there is no more stable work, we may as well do “what we love” and do only the work that “fulfills us” and “expresses our deepest self.”  The passion principle permeates academia, of course, and fuels all manner of exploitation, especially around the issue of adjuncting. If you’re “passionate” about your subject, surely that will carry you through any trials and tribulations… and if you object, then surely you just aren’t passionate enough?  And so adjuncts are told/tell themselves that if they’re still in academia, they’re still fulfilling their passion and therefore well-compensated… no matter how little they’re paid and how much they’re exploited.  Which, as Erin Cech notes, launches a vicious circle, as overwork forecloses the time needed to critique the passion economy and find meaningful alternatives.   [Become a subscribing member for just $3.99 a month and get access to our subscriber only goodies like free webinar recordings, AMAs, the chance to suggest topics, early access to the podcast video that we record in our house in Oregon, and — new from this week – live videos with Karen and Kel on Friday mornings, all on our dedicated podcast member page on Mighty Networks! Not ready to subscribe? Donate here to send along some support–it goes straight to the production team!]      
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Comments (1)

MEHDI ZAHED

With all this news of budget cuts and layoffs, how do you see the direction of academia and higher education? What are the career directions for Ph.D.s?

Feb 9th
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