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Shaping Your Career: A Guide for Early Career Faculty

reviewed by Lindsey Dippold

coverTitle: Shaping Your Career: A Guide for Early Career Faculty
Author(s): Don Haviland, Anna M. Ortiz, & Laura Henriques
Publisher: Stylus, Sterling, VA
ISBN: 1620364441, Pages: 276, Year: 2017
Search for book at Amazon.com

Shaping Your Career is full of essential tools and advice to help early career faculty members navigate many confusing processes, such as grant writing, promotion, and tenure. This book is one that can be read cover to cover or used as a quick reference guide that covers the full range of issues we confront as we begin our careers in the professoriate. While the audience is limited to those connected to 4-year institutions, this specific focus seems necessary in order for the book to remain direct and concise.


The purpose of the book is fourfold:


To provide you with resources, tips, and strategies that you can use to develop a strong, healthy career as a faculty member;


To empower you to take ownership for and be an active agent in shaping your faculty career;


To provide advice and strategies to help women and members of traditionally underrepresented groups navigate institutional structures that affect these faculty members differently; and


To contribute to a changed narrative around faculty work and offer concrete strategies for faculty to grow and succeed.


The authors act as guides to clear up some of the uncertainty around processes that are not given much, if any, attention during graduate training programs. The content is divided into three separate parts, “Understanding Your Career in Context,” “Thriving in Your Faculty Work,” and “Navigating Challenges and Creating Your Sweet Spot,” and this organization allows the authors to address a variety of topics in both broad and detailed ways. The text evolves logically, with background and foundational information leading to specific exercises and questions to consider.  


Personally, as a clinical faculty member, I spend some of my time educating graduate students and other faculty members regarding my own role; this is covered well in the first chapter of this book. The authors draw attention to recent trends over the past two to three decades that have impacted the landscape of higher education and, more specifically, the role of the faculty member. This is done with unparalleled clarity and is especially helpful to those still considering graduate programs or those early in their careers as they consider their potential priorities and activities. The information provided also informs readers about the vast differences between and within institution types. Because full-time faculty members’ duties and activities can vary widely, the authors describe two polar opposite examples to paint a picture of the variety found within the role. The authors are direct and accurate, and include examples to give additional context to readers, such as: “Today’s professors are often moving from a meeting to a class session to office hours before fitting in some grading and working on a grant application” (p. 25).  


The authors cite key statistics early in the work to draw attention to the troublingly modest growth in the number of full-time faculty members of color. It is especially useful that the authors devote a full chapter to women and minority faculty members as these individuals face specific professional development and campus climate issues that are important to consider but that are often overlooked. One of my favorite parts of the book is the guide to assessing institutional culture and climate included in this chapter. It includes both questions to pose (Are there faculty associations or groups organized around social identities? Who are the influential people on campus?) and tips for how and where to find answers to these questions. Overall, this chapter offers great tools for those visiting new campuses or seeking to better understand their own. There are also a few useful pieces of advice on how to best work with your current campus climate.


Throughout the text, the authors insert boxes with text describing strategies for success and words of wisdom; quick tips and reflection points which act as an extra guide for clarity. These little gems break up the content with action items and helpful reminders. There’s even a short chapter designed for deans and chairs to review in order to better support their own early career faculty (although readers may have varying comfort levels regarding the suggestion that they copy and share this chapter directly with their deans and department chairs).  

In conclusion, the authors of Shaping Your Career weave exercises, strategies, data, and anecdotes into the narrative in a way that makes this both a useful and enjoyable resource. The authors have produced a high-quality text that effectively fills a gap in the available literature centered on professional development for early career faculty. I highly recommend this book for those planning, pursuing, or supporting newer faculty appointments within 4-year institutions.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, 2018, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22360, Date Accessed: 10/18/2018 12:21:52 AM

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