July 15 2018

I'm ABD in Pursuit of an Administration Job: What Should My Application Include?

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DEAR ABBY: I'm ABD and on the job market this year. There is a position I'd like to apply for that would "prefer campus administrative experience." In my pre-PhD life, I served as a campus minister for a nonprofit religious organization and worked closely with the campus chaplain and several other administrative groups on my campus. Should I break the protocol of ignoring non-academic work in this case to play that experience up as administrative experience? Perhaps even to the point of having one of those administrators who I kept in touch with to write one of my references (my other referrers would be my adviser and a scholar at another institution)? If it matters, I'm a religious studies scholar, so ministry experience is not a complete nonsequitur.

Signed,
Administratively Flummoxed

DEAR ADMINISTRATIVELY FLUMMOXED: I would definitely explain your previous work. You need to frame it in a way that does not diminish your academic strengths, rather enhances them. Today many positions available expect a certain amount of administrative work, so it is something to promote in a strategic way. In your application, first I would explain your scholarship and teaching, and then how you served as an administrator. There, you might be specific, talking about your experience with budgets, reports, and working well with administrators across and outside of your institution. I would also assert that my work in Campus Ministry helped to bridge the many difficult conversations about identity and mission by helping pluralistic academic communities move beyond the religious/secular impasse.

Best of luck,
Academic Abby


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