AAA column: Reflecting the First Year as an Assistant Professor

This column was published in the Newsletter (Volume 13, No. 3) of the American Academy of Advertising in September 2018.

Summer 2018, I am looking back at my first year as an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. In June 2017, I defended my dissertation in Amsterdam. After that, I moved overseas, to a new country, a new culture, and a new educational system. Looking back, I realize how much I have learned already in one year. I would like to share 4 insights because I believe that this information can be useful to junior scholars (on the job market) and to institutions that want to support junior scholars.

1. Create healthy habits early on
It is important to create healthy work habits to increase your productivity while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Yes, that is possible. You can think of: writing at least for 30 minutes every weekday, making a strategic plan incl. SMART goals, having weekly calls with a small group of peers to build in accountability for research goals, and give yourself a treat every day. One way to learn those skills is through the Faculty Success Program of the NCFDD (highly recommended!).

2. Get to know the facilities of the institute
I learned that you don’t always have to do everything yourself. Sometimes universities have facilities that could support you with research, teaching and/or ICT. Your time is valuable and you can only spend it once. Therefore, getting to know the facilities of your institute and how they can support you, can advance your research/teaching and save you time.

3. Protecting junior scholars
I am very grateful that the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication is protecting their junior scholars. I am realizing that this is not standard, but it can make a world of a difference and help junior scholars build their career. Things you can think of – and discuss when applying for a job – are: course releases, no service in the first semester/year, a mentor program, teaching established classes, and limiting the amount of preps.

4. Give yourself time to get adjusted
Most of all, I want to say give yourself the time to get adjusted. Don’t pressure yourself too much. After all, it is a marathon, not a sprint. For example, you don’t necessarily have to collect data the first semester but focus on publishing your dissertation, working on a literature review, or collaborating with others instead. Work with what you already have while you get settled into your new environment.

 

Original column:

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EAA column: Insights from young scholars

Summer 2018, I am looking back at my first year as an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. In June 2017, I defended my dissertation at the University of Amsterdam. After that, I moved overseas, to a new country, a new culture, and a new educational system. In the United States, you have to move to another university after graduating when you want to stay in academia. In Europe, this is less common. I graduated in Europe and had the opportunity to move to a different university in a different country. I grabbed it with both hands. Looking back, I realize how much I have learned already in one year.

Besides looking good on your resume, it will help you grow professionally and personally. Professionally, it helps you to understand different systems. I noticed, for example, that many things work differently in the United States compared to the Netherlands. I am not saying that one of the other is better, but it is interesting to see that different approaches work and have their own advantages and disadvantages. Moving to a different university – whether or not in a different country – will also help you build your professional network, it can give you new opportunities, help you build new collaborations, and may give you new (research) ideas.

Personally, you learn a lot from different cultures, make new friends, and become more independent. You also learn more about yourself, for example, what things you value the most. Moving to a different university in a different country can be a very scary thing to do – I was definitely scared at first – but it was totally worth it. I do not regret it at all and if I had to make the decision again, I would do it in a heartbeat. Therefore, I would highly recommend other (early career) scholars to look for opportunities beyond their ‘safe’ environment. Moreover, if you do not want to move yet, you may want to seek for opportunities to do a short research visit at another institute first.

 

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Fig. 1 Original column published in EAA newsletter No. 40 (August 2018)