The Philosophers' Cocoon Job-Market Mentoring Project

Project Organizers: 

Project Description:
This project, associated with The Philosophers’ Cocoon, aims to complement The Job Candidate Mentoring Program for Women in Philosophy by providing academic job-market mentoring to all those in need (regardless of background) who cannot utilize the Mentoring Program for Women in Philosophy. The aim of this mentoring project is just what it sounds like: a scheme to enable job candidates in philosophy who face special challenges, including those with little access to mentoring (e.g., because their department or advisor does not offer this), to receive advice and support from more experienced members of the profession.

Project Details:
  1. Prospective mentors and mentees are invited to sign up on this survey [enrollment for this year's job-market will begin on June 1st and end on August 1st, 2017]
  2. Since this is a job market mentoring project, mentees need to be ABDs or PhDs in philosophy. The scheme will be open to all job candidates in philosophy, from every background, regardless of geographic location, gender, age, etc.
  3. Although the program is open to job-candidates of any gender, we encourage women candidates to approach The Job Candidate Mentoring Program for Women in Philosophy first, as our program is intended to complement rather than compete with that program.
  4. Although we will do our best to accommodate all candidates in need, the program will prioritize candidates with special job-market challenges, for example, bi, gay, and trans* candidates, candidates with disabilities, non-white candidates, candidates with controversial political views, and candidates with inadequate access to job-market mentoring (e.g., candidates out of graduate school lacking access to their grad program’s placement director/mentoring, etc.).
  5. Provided we can find a suitable match, we will match mentees with mentors who are either tenure-track or tenured professors.
  6. What happens then is up to the mentor and mentee.
  7. However, in order not to overburden mentors and to follow best practices, people who enroll in this program would commit to the following:
    • Mentees are encouraged to clearly discuss with their mentor at the beginning of the mentoring relationship a clear picture (and perhaps rough time-table) of the kind(s) of mentoring they are looking for. On the same note, mentees should also not be afraid to clarify precisely what kind of mentoring help they are looking for!
    • The mentoring is focused on the job market, including such things like looking at CV, cover letter and other materials, strategizing which jobs to apply to, thinking about which writing sample to send, considering what would work best for a teaching demonstration. The aim is not to help improve/comment on papers of the mentee.
    • Standardly, the mentor commits to the mentoring for one job season only (i.e., until next summer) (this can be extended by mutual agreement, but the mentor should not feel pressure to do so).
    • Everything that mentors and mentees discuss is strictly confidential, and will not be discussed with anybody outside the mentoring agreement.
    • If there is any potential conflict of interest (see Mentor-Mentee Guidelines below), it is in the best interest of mentor and mentee to let the organizers (Helen & Marcus) know at the earliest possible date, to discuss an appropriate resolution.
    • Mentors may not serve if they are on a search committee during the current job-season.

Mentor-Mentee Guidelines

In order to ensure that participants have a positive, productive experience, the program organizers ask mentors and mentees to respect the following guidelines:

  • Mentees are expected to actively utilize their mentor: Because our program routinely has more job-candidates in need than mentors available, mentees who are matched with a mentor are expected to use them. If a mentee matched does not effectively seek help from their mentor, we ask the mentor to let us know ASAP so that we can address the issue, up to and including matching the mentor with a different mentee. 
  • Prompt disclosure and resolution of potential conflicts of interest: If mentors become aware of any potential conflict of interest (viz. they are appointed to a search committee, or have candidates in their own home department that may be competing for the same jobs as their mentee), they should let their mentee and program organizers know immediately. Not all potential conflicts of interest may require ending a mentorship. For instance, a mentor and mentee pair may both be comfortable working with each other despite there being candidates in the mentor’s home department who may compete with the mentee. However, other potential conflicts of interest (e.g. a candidate the mentor advises in their home department competing directly with the mentor’s mentee at the first-round interview or on-campus interview stages) arguably raise much more serious challenges. We, the organizers, ask that mentors and mentees report all potential conflicts of interests to each other, and to us (the program organizers), at the earliest opportunity.
  • Open, professional lines of communication: Mentors and mentees are asked to mutually commit to professional standards of communication, such as reasonably prompt responses to emails and clear expression of expectations moving forward. For instance, if a mentee receives dossier feedback from a mentor, the mentee should confirm receipt of the feedback and give some indication of whether they may be looking for further help moving forward (e.g. at the interview stage). Additionally, if a mentee no longer desires mentoring (as a result of accepting a job-offer, etc.), the mentor should let their mentor know, so that the mentor has some idea of the mentee’s situation. This is simply to ensure open, professional communication both ways. Finally, if there are significant problems in communication (which in some cases are due to email spam filters), the organizers ask to be informed as soon as possible, so as to resolve the issue positively.
  • Mentors and mentees should let the Program organizers know ASAP of any other issues that, in their judgment, are important to address and cannot be adequately addressed between the mentor and mentee. Our aim, again, is to ensure a good experience for everyone!