We’ve finally got the Rumor Mill turned over for the new season: Postdoc and Term and Faculty and Staff. The archives from previous years remain available.

Thanks to the couple of folks who nudged me about this and a huge thanks to Anže Slosar (Brookhaven National Laboratory) for stepping up, getting this done, and helping maintain this community resource.

I’d like to take this opportunity to promote the new Position Status feature of the recently revamped AAS Job Register 3.0. The value of this field (e.g., Accepting Applications, Shortlist Notified, Position Filled)  is visible in the last column of the job listing and under the deadlines in the individual job posts. Recruiters and Search Committees: as you proceed through the selection process, please take a moment to update the status of any open position so that applicants can know which jobs they are still being considered for. One of the most common complaints I hear from job applicants is the lack of communication about the status of positions for which they have applied. Want to put the Rumor Mill out of business? Encourage everyone to update the Position Status on the Job Register!

Also, I’d like to remind everyone about the AAS Policy on Postdoc positions:

The AAS Council has passed (1988) and reaffirmed (2003) a resolution stating that no postdoctoral position should require a candidate response prior to February 15 of each year. This policy applies to postdoctoral positions whose recruitment cycles follow the normal academic search timeline (offers in early spring to begin summer or fall of the same year). The text of this resolution is available on the Council Resolution webpage. Employers should take this policy into account in their recruitment process.

These innovations were brought to you by the AAS Staff and the volunteers on the AAS Committee on Employment. Want to help get even more improvements implemented to make the job market less stressful? Get in touch with the current chair and volunteer! Or at least become a AAS Member—I think a strong professional society is an important key to ensuring our community is always getting better.

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Is an R1 for you?

by Guest on February 13, 2017

This post is from an anonymous professor who has served as the chair of a faculty hiring committee.

I recently completed the experience of serving as a hiring committee chair for a research university. I hope you’ll consider advice from this hiring committee chair (to be considered in complement with many other similar pieces of advice). My main piece of advice is to seriously consider great jobs at places like my university, even though it is not one of the top ten schools in our field. There are many research-active institutions with great positions that would make you happy, even though they are schools you have never heard of.

Part of the problem is that we need to eliminate any classification in our own minds that certain careers in our fields are intrinsically better than others and are therefore much more desirable. It is not practical to ignore the broad continuum in research/teaching/service balance expected of faculty at a wide variety of institutions. Thus “R1” or “first-tier” become convenient shorthand for “at the research-heavy end of the academic spectrum.” Since astronomers love doing research, very naturally you might have a goal to work there, which is perfectly fine. The real issue is that R1 positions are perceived as being somehow “better” than positions at universities with slightly smaller research expectations and slightly larger teaching loads. Landing a faculty position at the research-heavy extreme of the spectrum is NOT necessarily better. We should replace this ranking mentality with how well certain careers match our needs and wants and provide us and our (current or future) families with overall happiness. (More on that below.) We can and should still rank job prospects and maybe R1s still pop up at the top of your list, but at least the list is now truly tailored to you. [Read more…]

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This post is from an anonymous professor who has served as the chair of a faculty hiring committee.

I was recently the chair of the hiring committee for a new faculty position. I am a junior faculty member and, based on my experience on both sides of the table, I wanted to pass along some advice (to be considered in complement with lots of other good advice available on AstroBetter’s blog and wiki).

In order to speak frankly, I’m posting anonymously, but I’ll give you a sense of the position we advertised. At my lesser-known institution, faculty are research active, teach 3-4 classes a year, and are expected to publish and get grants. We’re the kind of institution that focuses on research and teaching (which seems to be common today, even at institutions known for research prowess). However, much of my advice will apply to the whole spectrum of academic (and many non-academic) positions. [Read more…]

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It’s that time of year again. The 229th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society is nearly upon us. To make the most of your time at the meeting, we at AstroBetter would like to remind you of some resources available on the Wiki.

First, the post that everyone attending a winter AAS meeting should read (even if you’re not a first-timer), Jason Wright’s guide to Getting the Most Out of AAS Meetings. This resource is especially useful for students attending their first AAS meeting!

Jason has updated this post with specific sections regarding harassment and the wonderful Astronomy Allies program. ALL ATTENDEES need to familiarize themselves with the AAS Anti-Harassment Policy. AAS Meetings are meetings of professional astronomers (not a nightclub) and we should all behave as such.

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Register for Hack Together Day at AAS 229

by Guest December 9, 2016

Abigail Stevens is an astronomy PhD candidate at the Anton Pannekoek Institute, University of Amsterdam. Her research is on spectral-timing analysis of X-ray binaries. Meg Schwamb is an assistant scientist at Gemini Observatory, Northern Operations Center. Register now for Hack Together Day at AAS 229 on January 7th! Hack Together Day is a day to […]

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Learn Software Carpentry at #AAS229

by Guest September 27, 2016

Azalee Bostroem (@astro_az) is a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Davis. Do you find yourself reading code in Python, sometimes attempting to update it, and all the time wishing you had been taught some Python in undergrad or graduate school? As astronomers we find ourselves frequently […]

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Using Python for Astronomical Data Analysis in the Era of JWST

by Guest September 26, 2016

The Space Telescope Science Institute and core developers from the Astropy community are sponsoring a workshop at the January 2017 meeting of the American Astronomical Society #AAS229. This workshop will cover the use of Python tools for astronomical data analysis and visualization in the era of JWST, with the focus primarily on UV, Optical and […]

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The Performing Art of Science Presentation at AAS 229

by Guest September 14, 2016

This guest post is by Emily Rice and Chris Crockett on behalf of the AAS Employment Committee and is one of a series of posts advertising the activities at the upcoming #AAS229 Meeting in Grapevine, TX We’d like to encourage you to consider attending The Performing Art of Science Presentation Workshop on Tuesday, January 3, […]

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A Workshop for Early-Career Astronomers Who Want to Do Better Outreach

by Guest September 9, 2016

The American Astronomical Society is sponsoring a skill-building workshop — and an ongoing community — to support early-career astronomers (graduate students, post-docs, recent faculty) in doing effective outreach to schools, families, and the public.  Working with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and other outreach organizations, the AAS Astronomy Ambassadors program (now in its fifth […]

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Rumor Mill Update: 2016

by Danny Barringer September 7, 2016

Now that we’ve begun a new academic year, the AstroBetter Rumor Mill has been wiped clean in preparation for another year of job searching. You can find the Faculty and Staff Rumor Mill page here, and the Postdoc and Term Rumor Mill page here. Happy job hunting everyone!

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