Tips for Starting a New Faculty Job

Decorative: "Welcome New Faculty"


"How to Start Off Right in Your New Job" (post) lists specific suggestions for "prepar[ing] to start work in [a new] department" and outlines "a few things ... [to] spen[d] the summer doing that might ... hel[p] [you] feel less behind before [your] job even start[s]."

See also

A. The Basics

1. Life in General

  • "Get comfortable."
  • "If ... relocating to a new town, try to arrive at least three weeks before the start of the academic year." 
  • "Give yourself time to get settled into your home and acquainted with the city."

2. Life on Campus: A Minimum

a. "Familiarize yourself with campus offices."

  • Visit "human resources, IT/technology support, faculty development [the Teaching Commons at Lakehead], the dean’s office, and the registrar."
  • "[K]now where to find them on the campus, [and] who is responsible for what in each office."

b. "Spend some time on the department’s website."

  • "[R]evie[w] its course schedule, curriculum, and staffing."
  • Review "your colleagues’ research agendas, graduate advisees, and sabbatical schedules."
  • "[U]nderstand the basics of the department before things get chaotic and people don’t have time to explain the logic behind course sequencing or how TAs are assigned."

c. "Set up your office." 

  • "Do what you can to make it a comfortable space that is conducive to meeting with students, but that also honors your workflow."
  • "[D]esign your office to maximize productivity and comfort."
  • "Don’t forget to create a list of office supplies you need and request them at the start of the year before the budget is depleted."

B. "Start Creating Your Local Network"

1. Start with Your Department

  • "Send an update to your department about your recent (or impending) arrival in the area."
  • "[I]f your colleagues don’t know you are around, you may not be invited to work-related events.

2. "Speak to people as you go about your business in your first weeks on the campus."

  • "[I]t is important that people know you."
  • "[O]pen the door to professional relationships that may come in handy later."

3. "Look up community organizations and local businesses that may be related to your new position."

  • "You might find opportunities to enhance your research or teaching via those groups."
  • "Or they might just be a place to do professional service work (e.g., serving on a local board)."

4. "Use your social-media accounts for professional purposes."

  • "Join local and national professional groups, and let them know about your new job."
  • "[M]eet other people who may be starting at your institution or who work in the area."
  • "Even if they don’t turn out to be a professional resource, you may make some new friends." 

C. Take Care of the "Professional Housekeeping"

1. "Get a Head Start," Department-wise 

  • "[C]heck in with your department head now to ask if there is anything special you should be doing to prepare."
  • "If the chair doesn’t respond, consider [the] advice here to be similar to what your chair might have said."

2. "Do a self-assessment." 

  • "What professional needs must be met in order for you to be successful?"
  • "If this isn’t your first faculty job, why did you leave your previous one?"
  • "What do you want to do differently in this job?"
  • "Make a plan to ensure you start this position the way you intend to proceed."

3. "Check with human resources about onboarding and orientation." 

  • "You may need to submit specific documents or complete online programs to process your hire."
  • "You don’t want to find out ... after you haven’t been paid ... that there were a bunch of things you were supposed to have done."

4. "Visit the IT experts on campus." 

  • "Get your ID and your computer set up and/or ordered."

5. "Confirm your fall teaching schedule." 

  • "If you will be teaching a course that’s been offered before, try to locate previous syllabi that you can use as a guide in creating your own version."

6. "Contact your department’s administrative assistant (if that person works in the summer)."

  • "[I]nquire about purchasing anything you may have negotiated in your contract."
  • "Often, department staff members have no idea what you worked out with the dean or provost, but they are responsible for making it happen." 
  • "[S]end a nice email to inform the staff members of these terms and inquire about any steps you need to take to order furniture or get reimbursed for moving expenses.

7. "Transition your research projects if you haven’t already." 

  • "[E]nvision yourself as a scholar in this place. How does a change of location change your research agenda?" 
  • "[L]ook at grants and fellowships offered by your new employer that might support your work or at least your conference travel."
  • "The first round of applications are often due in October, so it is best to know ahead of time if you plan to apply."

D. "[M]aintain Professional Ties with Your Prior Colleagues"

  • "[Y]ou don’t want to burn bridges" [and] "the academic world is small."
  • "You never know who will edit a journal you submit articles to, chair an organization you are involved with, or serve as an outside reviewer during your promotion process." 
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