Early Career Mentoring Events at AAA 2016: Turning Heads and Making News

By Christine Hegel-Cantarella, Ieva Jusionyte, and Kedron Thomas

apla-early-career-event

Participants at the “Writing for the Media” workshop. Photo by Ieva Jusionyte.

Each year, APLA’s Early Career Mentoring Committee plans a series of events that focus on the particular interests and needs of scholars in the early stages of their careers. This year, the committee held two events designed to help early career scholars cultivate a public persona and successfully draw attention to their research findings from colleagues and the general public.

The first workshop, facilitated by Sameena Mulla and Christine Hegel-Cantarella, took place on Thursday, November 17. Titled “Crafting a Scholarly Profile and Building Your Professional Network,” the event invited participants to bring a 300-word draft scholarly profile, the kind that might appear on a professional webpage, for feedback from peers on how to best represent their interests and research. Scholarly profiles and professional bios are the kind of writing that often gets put together quickly, and we rarely get feedback from others on its form or content. Yet, such blurbs are often the first thing that a student, colleague, potential employer, or publisher might read to learn more about us and our work. The workshop was thus an opportunity to get supportive feedback and editorial suggestions on a small but significant piece of writing.

Nine people in various career stages – recent graduates, post-docs, tenure-track faculty – attended the workshop and shared their profiles for feedback. Participants were incredibly generous as they helped each other identify missing elements and areas where edits could help to highlight achievements and clarify research interests, for example. Thanks to all those in attendance for engaging in such a fruitful exchange.

The second workshop, “Writing for the Media,” organized by Ieva Jusionyte, took place on Friday, November 18, and drew sixteen participants. The event featured presentations by two anthropologists who have successfully straddled the worlds of academic and popular publishing. Tanya Luhrmann (Watkins University Professor in the Anthropology Department at Stanford University) has been a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and appeared on other national media. Alex Fattal (Assistant Professor in the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies at Penn State University) frequently blogs for Huffington Post and has written for The Atlantic. Both speakers shared their experiences and gave tips and advice to those interested in writing their first op-ed or feature article. During the Q&A, participants wanted to know how to pitch an article, how to choose the venue, and how to balance time and effort between public engagement and scholarly work.  Thanks to the presenters and attendees for a lively and informative conversation.

Finally, thank you to APLA for continuing to support Early Career Mentoring events!

About Jennifer Curtis

Jennifer Curtis is an Honorary Fellow in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh: http://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/staff/social_anthropology/curtis_jennifer.

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