One of the neat things about academia is that your social life often centers around the college or university. Because of that, couples (of any combination) often find each other and fall in love. Depending upon their aspirations, they can often both end up working in institutions of higher education. That has both advantages and pitfalls.
It is easy in cities like Boston, where a multitude of college positions, university jobsand community college adjunct jobs exist. But in smaller towns, you may not be so deep in choices and may very well end up having similar higher education careers. As mentioned earlier – that has both advantages and pitfalls.
We like to look for the positives and suggest you do also, but with a wary eye. In a smaller city, make sure that the social life will enrich your experience; these people will be your co-workers and your friends, and you will need to find the appropriate boundaries to keep the sanity. Ask a lot of questions during the interview process, since you will be interviewing them as much as vice versa.
Most of all – do your homework ahead of the interview. Study the environment of the institution, the town and most of all, yourself. A lot of time and wasted interviews, particularly for professor jobs, can be saved. In 25+ years, I have heard countless tales of interview horror, but the one which is worst of all was the person from a big school in Chicago interviewing for a faculty job in Eastern Washington, thinking it was near Seattle. Getting off of the airplane, and the ensuing 36 descriptive hours was enough to run chills up one’s spine.
This is not to denigrate small towns, because the problem happens just as much going in the other direction. Know yourself! Most of what I have discussed involves only one job-seeker. Add a second person (as in a dual career) and the issues can multiple four-fold. In the good-old-days when I was a kid, faculty families were very traditional; that has all changed.
Work as a team, both in fact-finding and interviewing. It is not always wise for one member of a couple to take a new position in a new locale without the other one being already situated. Plan it out ahead of time, and insist on having help in the form of employee assistance all along the way. And use organizations like the Higher Education Recruiting Consortium (HERC), which regional chapters covering many, but not all, parts of the county.
Your success will be easy to judge. Best wishes on a happy dual career.
RICK FRIEDMAN is President of ScholarlyHires.com, an academic job advertising website. He has over 25 years of recruiting related experience.