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Church of Agia Foteini.

If you get as busy as the church of Agia Foteini, you, too, can be everything!

Disclaimer: I am not everything, nor do I have a job yet.

I, like most graduate students I know in the humanities, feel the beginnings of an anxiety attack whenever I think about future employment. Job ads are looking for candidates capable of teaching archaeology, history of art, ancient history, and two ancient languages. They want a high research profile but also evidence of extensive and impeccable teaching. It’s scary, and I have days when I just don’t know what to do. On the days I do, I try to keep in mind the example of a few of my peers who “made it.”

A fellow student who graduated a short while ago and got a job in our field, possessing of a much more analytical and calm mind than yours truly, figured out early on in her education what most universities are looking for in faculty: research, teaching, and academic/administrative service. (One also hopes these would be valuable skills in the non-academic world.) She then made a point of doing a little bit of each every semester. Importantly, she pointed out that not all of these need be huge commitments, and some of them are easiest to realize while still a pre-candidate (so start early!). Part-taking in the running of a graduate student organization will give you valuable experience with organizing, fund-raising, the bureaucracy involved, running meetings, and perhaps organizing conferences. Some of my friends are student representatives on departmental committees. You might also need to go outside of the university for more experience: my program does not have a need for a lot of GSIs or lecturers, so I am currently applying to teach short study-abroad courses in the summers to boost my teaching profile.

Another student had less experience by way of “service,” but had consciously written not only on her core research but also on a broad range of topics within and outside her field. Not all of these articles were as profound, thorough, and ground-breaking as her main research project, but they show she is capable of speaking intelligently about different topics and is familiar with some debates and issues within subfields. It’s in no one’s interest to write articles or present papers that are subpar, but maybe you can identify a small issue that interests you that you can worry at without devoting your life to it. I am not an art historian, but I am publishing a small set of terracotta figurines found in an excavation I participated in. It will not revolutionize the field, but it’s also not going to take me years to publish. It is teaching me a whole lot about basic skills art historians use on a daily basis, and will not only add a line to my CV but will allow me to talk to art historians without sounding like a complete bumbling idiot. It can be difficult to write outside of your comfort zone, but I try to remind myself that it’s okay to dabble.

Other ways to boost your CV, sometimes without even realizing, is to get a bit more serious about your past-times, passions, and hobbies. I am interested in gender, intersectionality, and inequality. Visiting feminist discussion forums, reading articles and blogs online, and writing occasional contributions myself feels like a break from academics and research, but without realizing it, I have been doing research on these topics for years. Again, this does not mean I am an expert or a specialist in the field, but I am now capable of having a somewhat informed discussion about gender and can, to a degree, incorporate it into my research and teaching.

Oh and, start a website. This was the one and only piece of advice given to me by someone I greatly admire, so I quickly did as told. I can’t say I have been inundated with job offers yet, but I have already run into people who know my name because my website popped up when they were googling projects I have worked on. (Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, it’s elinasalminen.wordpress.com.)