I've been doing a post-doc in physics for the past 5.5 years or so and have unsuccessfully tried to obtain a faculty job at a University for the past 3 of them. On a whim I applied to a visiting prof. job at a nearby (pretty highly regarded) liberal arts school and got an offer. It's for a year with maybe extensions.

I am wondering if I should take it and if I do, do I shoot myself in the foot when applying for University positions in the fall? How will they look at it? The job entails one class and 2 labs/semester so I'm somewhat hopeful that I can continue a reasonably good research output in the year.

On the other hand, this experience will give me, hopefully, the necessary requesites to break into the lib. arts academic setting which I'm not to adverse to either.

1 Answer 1


This is ultimately a personal choice, but if you've spent the last five years as a research postdoc with no success in landing a tenure track position at a research university, then it's probably time to change your career strategy.

There are lots of permanent or tenure track positions at liberal arts colleges, regional comprehensive universities, and community colleges where little or no research will be expected of you and PhD and teaching experience are necessary to get a job. If you want one of those jobs, then now would be a good time to start getting more teaching experience.

  • yes, I understand that. But regardless I will be in the job hunt again, so I will apply for PhD-granting schools as well. Do you think my experience as this visiting prof will reflect poorly on my application?
    – BeauGeste
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 10:53
  • 2
    @user5419 I'm with Brian Borchers in thinking that it might be time to re-evaluate your strategy. Why would having more teaching experience reflect poorly on your application? If your research output falls out as a consequence of having to teach more, then I can see how that would harm you. But that isn't a necessary consequence of taking the visiting position. A second possible benefit of the VAP. You could ask for an external teaching letter of rec. If you decide to go into SLACs, teaching is very important there. chroniclevitae.com/news/…
    – user10636
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 12:33
  • No, I don't think that a year is a visiting assistant prof is going to look worse on your vita than another year in your postdoc. Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 13:50
  • @shane I'm just basing what I said off what seems to be the conventional wisdom: that you can't go from a SLAC up to a University.
    – BeauGeste
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 4:30
  • for the CW, see the first answer to academia.stackexchange.com/questions/61825/…
    – BeauGeste
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 5:13

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