Should I tell them I eventually want to teach?
April 29, 2012 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Should I mention my plan to continue academic research in my interview for a fundraising management job at a small college that is part of a major research university? I have a lot of industry experience and raised strong results. I want to stress that I understand the time pressures but I also do not want to overload myself with more than one back-story. What are your thoughts?

I am going for an annual fund manager job in the hopes of doing team management and research about how people donate money. I could make all of the research proprietary if need be and work for the reference.

Alternatively, I could decide to put away my research for a year and do journal articles until 2014. It would allow me to save some money and take a long vacation but a vacation is not exactly what I need. I could just get a better mattress and some roof insulation to be a little more happy.

So, I am really going back to work because I would like to do something else than sit around on my ass thinking about graduate school. I have invites to apply to most of the best places in my country but I also feel trapped by not working. I have not worked for 11 weeks since resigning my last job. I had saved up for several months to take time off and I am comfortable, in a great relationship with a woman I have a great sexual and social accord with, and I have low housing costs.

My anxiety lies in the supposition that if I put off doing a PhD this year, I am going to continue this cycle of putting big decisions off "because of the job" rather than for the sake of it. I have unfortunately always worked as a fundraiser for people who did not take education seriously, so I mainly learned from my mistakes. I think most fundraisers really do wait for the phone to ring because they are tired of the task of cold-calling. I understand that mentality because it can be menacing. I think that telephone fundraisers can be trained into excellent customer service while also learning fundraising and perhaps take part much more in other development activities.

So here you have someone who is basically a scholar who takes fundraising seriously. A paradox to be addressed or best left unsaid?

I know that I should not give them any reason to say no. Are charities really liberal enough to understand continuing education at personal expense or am I living a pipe dream? I know this mindset of the 'entrepreneur' that is currently thriving that says a person should get out of college and go right into seizing life by the horns and making an investment. But I know the reality is that education is a not a bad thing to continue if are able to apply the skills to the workplace.

I believe I would be able to work without crossing the lines of practice. I have worked part-time as a company's managing director while doing my master's degree full time and only being able to work 20 hours a week legally and I still raised a lot of clients and money. I don't think it could be so different this time except that I would be required to be hands-on in a phone room three or four nights a week if necessary. That's possible and might present good brain food.

Would I make a big mistake talking about advancing my academic potential?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (4 answers total)
The phrasing of this question doesn't really make sense to me.

As I understand it, you want to go back to grad school, and you're interviewing for a new job. You're not sure if you should tell them that you want to go to grad school eventually, is that right?

If that is the case, here are some answers.

- Don't tell your new job interview that you want to go to graduate school.

- I doubt that in this job that you'll get to do "research" about how people donate money. Sorry. Plus "research" without theory and methods really will only get you so far.

- What do you mean by "do journal articles until 2014"? Read them? Write them?

- If you want to go to graduate school, just find a way to pay the bills while you apply. PhD programs won't care about your job experience.
posted by k8t at 2:22 PM on April 29, 2012

Generally speaking, jobs want to know you'll be focused on the job, not on "your research" that you're not being paid to do.

If I were interviewing lawyers for my firm, and one started talking about how he/she is going to be doing research on top of the job I'm hiring them to do, I'd think the person is a kook.

And the way your question is written -- it's all over the place (mattress? roof insulation? great sexual/social accord with a woman?) -- I'm thinking you're not going to present your idiosyncratic plan very winningly.

Get the job first. Look into tuition reimbursement. Work on Ph.D. part time in the evenings if you can work it out. If it turns out that there's nice synergy between your work and your Ph.D. research, great. But don't try to sell that in the interview stage. It will make you sound weird, over ambitious, flaky and scattered.
posted by jayder at 3:33 PM on April 29, 2012

Should I mention my plan to continue academic research in my interview for a fundraising management job at a small college that is part of a major research university?

So you're interviewing for a college fundraising job, and worried about their attitude on education? Realistically, their biggest concern is that you'll take the job as temp job until a tenure track position opens up. Maybe that is your goal, and if so you should be loathe to expose it. Perhaps just say you previously studied fundraising and wish to find opportunities to employ it the job, and leave it at that. As jayder says, if it turns out you can collect the data you need, great.

If your goal is to both teach and work, if they ask you the standard "why do you want to work for us?", then you can safely mention your teaching goal. I'd mention something along the lines of wanting a stable job that's open to the option to adjunct a very light (1 course) that won't interfere much with your schedule.

In general universities tend to be more open to research, teaching and education -- many of the programmers I worked with previously were FT programmers and PT MS in CS students, and their manager was working on an MBA. Before that, I had a boss who adjunct taught a class on PHP. My boss now occasionally guest lectures CS students on his area of expertise. It's properly viewed as a way to train and retain talented staff.
posted by pwnguin at 5:06 PM on April 29, 2012

I work tangentially with the development office of the college where I work. DO NOT DO THIS. As an annual fund manager, you will be expected to increase annual giving from alumni and other constituency groups. This will be a more than 40 hour a week job. I see our annual giving director bust their ass bringing in consistent gifts. Even though your potential job is with a small college as a part of a large university, you will be doing everyone a dis-service by not focusing strictly on your fundraising responsibilities.

As an annual giving director, the money that you raise generally goes (more or less, YMMV depending on institution) into the general operating fund, thus freeing up more money for scholarships rather than general operating costs. Do you want deserving students, who for need of financial assistance lacking because of your divided priorities in your job, unable to attend? That's a heavy and loaded question, but if you want to get down to brass tacks, is exactly what you are proposing. Either raise money for an institution and take what you have learned into a research phase later, or go right to school for yourself. I can assure you that your ability as a fundraiser will be tracked down to the very jot and tittle by your institution. You'll get that data. Either choose one or the other.

Best of luck.
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 6:32 PM on April 29, 2012

« Older Kate MIddleton probably doesn't need to ask this.   |   What is the name of an old comic book arcade game? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.