Marginalia, Graduate Blog

You Ask, I’ll Answer

Jenn Tatum

Again, congratulations on being accepted into the program! I’ve been corresponding with a few admitted students over the past week, and I thought I would take a moment to answer another FAQ.

What do you plan do after you graduate? or What will you do with your degree?

This is kind of an eye-twitch-cuing question for a third-year MFA candidate who just turned in her thesis manuscript. By eye-twitch, I mean, when I am asked the question, the stress kicks in and travels straight to my eye. If you’ve read my blog posts before, you are familiar with this term. If not, welcome to the land of eye-twitch!

It is exciting to be graduating, and I’m looking forward to being done with school. (For now? Will I pursue that PhD?) I’ve been in school for 25 years now, pretty much the entire time, so I’m ready to be just working.

I am currently updating my CV, revising my Teaching Philosophy, and searching the MLA and AWP job boards, as well as the local university job boards. This semester, the College provided graduating Nonfiction and Poetry MFA students with access to the AWP job board for free, so that we can begin searching for jobs while we are still in the program. This is definitely a program perk, if you are someone who wants to continue teaching after you graduate.

I have applied to a few jobs in the area, without much success, but I’m trying not to let that break my spirits too much. I’m also applying for administrative jobs at local community colleges and universities and not just limiting myself to applying for teaching jobs. In order to land a tenure track, lecturer, or assistant professor position, you have to be an active member of the community in which you wish to teach. For Nonfiction and for Composition and Rhetoric, that means publishing books and presenting at conferences. If I can give one piece of advice to those who will be starting this program in the fall, take advantage of being active in the community. If you have an interest in submitting a paper for a conference—do it! Building up your CV while you’re in the program is far better than waiting until after you’ve got the degree. I’m using these last few months to do just that. Submit, submit, submit and be on the look out for conferences and opportunities to get more professionally involved.

My goal for this next year is to obtain a full-time job, either teaching or working in an administrative capacity at a university (a job that blends both would be ideal), and to be able to continue to work on my manuscript.

Job searches are never easy, and I think it would be a little silly to think that I will land my dream job right after graduation. However, I do feel that Columbia’s Nonfiction MFA program has given me the skills and the experience that I will need in order to continue my job search and to eventually land a job in my chosen field.

I will continue to answer your FAQs via email and on the blog right up until the April deadline to accept or decline Columbia’s offer. So, if you have more questions, keep ‘em coming!

You Ask, I’ll Answer

Again, congratulations on being accepted into the program! I’ve been corresponding with a few admitted students over the past week, and I thought I would take a moment to answer …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Graduate Experience