Photo of a laptop, newspaper, notebook, and cup of coffee on a table.  There are two hands in the picture typing on the laptop.  The screen of the laptop says "job search"
A women conducting a job search at a computer.

About a year after the pilot of the SPARK program, we reached out to the participants to see how the program prepared them for their academic job search.  We published these results, details of the program, and other feedback at the 2023 ASEE Annual Conference in Baltimore.  The full paper is available on ASEE's website.


Many graduate students and post-doctoral scholars find the process of applying for faculty positions is very specific, time-consuming, and stressful. While books and university resources are available to guide candidates through the search, many still struggle with the process and make avoidable mistakes along the way. Many universities offer short workshops for faculty job searches, but they generally just disseminate information and may not be discipline specific.

In the summer of 2021, a pilot program was created to assist women in STEM fields in creating a portfolio of documents to jump-start their faculty job search process. The program lasted for 11 weeks. Each week participants learned about an aspect of the job search including background on how to draft each statement that is generally required to apply for a faculty position. The topics included the job application process, job posting searches and tailoring documents, cover letters, recommendations, teaching statement, interviews, research statements, job talks, and negotiations. The participants met via Zoom for 90-minutes each week to cover one of the topics. The format of each session varied. Some sessions were in a panel format with recently hired faculty providing advice related to the topic and others were in a workshop format with the program organizers. After covering a particular document such as a teaching statement or research statement, each participant drafted all the documents based on a job posting they identified so that they could practice tailoring documents for a position.

The pilot cohort was divided into three peer review groups to provide feedback on each document. Each peer group had a mentor from the organizing team to help coordinate reviews and answer more specific questions that came up during the drafting and reviewing phases. By the end of the program, each participant had a complete draft of documents that could be used as a starting point for a future faculty job search. The weekly format allowed for time in between sessions to draft and review documents which is a feature that is not usually an option for workshops that last only one or two days. The first cohort had 12 participants who all identified as women and are planning to apply for faculty positions sometime between fall 2021 and spring 2024. Ten of the participants successfully completed the program. Two of the participants had to drop from the program due to personal reasons. Feedback was solicited from participants after each session and at the end of the program. Additionally, an external evaluator reviewed materials and attended some sessions throughout the program. This paper will include details of this pilot program and summarize the feedback received throughout the pilot. The feedback was generally positive, however, some constructive feedback has driven some changes for future iterations which will also be discussed. Future work in the program will track participants through their job search process and solicit additional feedback during and after their search.


Reck, R. M., & Li, Y., & Thompson, S. R., & Jackson, N. D., & Dabetwar, S. (2023, June), Preparing Women in STEM for Faculty Careers through a Job Search Workshop Series Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore, Maryland.