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English Department

Professionalization

Vanderbilt's PhD Program in English offers professionalization training and sessions aimed at the job market from the student's first year in our program.

  • A pro seminar in year one (required for all first year students) begins training students in important skills like writing conference abstracts and papers, presenting public papers, and developing the kind of research and argumentative and theoretical skills that will lead to publishable writing.
  • The English Graduate Student Association (EGSA) hosts a conference for the first year students that gives them a valuable opportunity to practice their conference presentation skills, with feedback from fellow students and faculty across the College.
  • EGSA also hosts an array of events for graduate students aimed at developing research, pedagogical, grant application and paper performance skills every year, and keeps an up-to-date data base of job application materials—from c.v.s and application letters to teaching philosophies—to support students as they begin to prepare for the market.
  •  All graduate seminars throughout the student's course training are designed with an eye not just toward content but also to aspects of professionalization.
  • In year four, the English Graduate Program offers students the opportunity to participate in Project: Publish!, a year long series of sessions, peer-group work , one-on-one draft feedback from various faculty, and finally careful editing, aimed at getting a seminar paper or dissertation chapter into publishable essay form. Participants submit their finely-honed essay to their target journal at the end of April.
  • In years four and five, Vanderbilt English's Job Placement Service provides advanced Ph.D. students and recent degree recipients the resources they need for success on the academic job market. Every fall semester, Job Placement organizes a series of workshops designed to help job candidates meet the challenges of gaining academic employment, from the first draft of the cover letter to the negotiation of a job offer. There are sessions on the job market timeline, on crafting c.v.s, abstracts and application letters, and assembling dossiers, on interviewing at MLA and on-campus, as well as on applying for post-docs. They keep a substantial archive of resources for job seekers, including resource files on every aspect of the application process, and they centralize all job postings on their site, which all Vanderbilt English Ph.Ds can access. Each year they host a "speed dating" program where multiple faculty have brief one-on-one sessions with students entering the market so that students get feedback from several different faculty. Job Placement also runs mock interviews as well as practice job talks and teaching presentations for job candidates.

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