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Academic job market reflections

Earlier this week, I was asked to talk to PhD students at American University as part of a panel about the academic job market. I wanted to share a few thoughts from that panel for those who couldn’t make it. These observations are, of course, based on my own experiences, which probably aren’t typical. However, during that process, I also sought out advice from dozens of professors and colleagues. In particular, however, I want to focus on what the academic job market looks like for first-time applicants who are graduating from non-elite doctoral programs (that is, outside the privileged circle of ten or so programs from which the majority of new, tenure-track professors are hired), and especially those with degrees in International Relations. The market is tough, but it’s not hopeless!

Tom Long, Sebastian Bitar, Ryan Briggs

With my classmates, Sebastian Bitar and Ryan Briggs, now on faculty at Universidad de los Andes and Virginia Tech, respectively.

My experience, by the numbers:

  • I applied for about 75 positions over a three-year period. I would say that I was semi-selective about where I applied (that is, I wasn’t automatically firing off applications to every vacancy). I customized every one of those applications to at least some extent. Keep in mind, this takes a lot of time.
  • About 35 of those applications were to tenure-track or permanent jobs. About 20 were for fellowships and postdocs. About 15 were for visiting/term positions.
  • I received three interviews (and three offers) for permanent positions, though none was at a traditional academic institution in the United States. Two were abroad. I was interviewed for one postdoc, also abroad (no offer). I interviewed for four visiting/term jobs (two offers, including my alma mater in odd circumstances).

My thoughts: (more…)

Book update: Proofs sent!

LatAm Confronts-title pageJust a quick update on the progress of my first book, Latin America Confronts the United States. I just sent the final round of proofs to the publisher, Cambridge University Press. Including this project’s beginning as a dissertation, I have been working on it since early 2011. It is now out of my hands…until the first copies are quite literally in my hands. That process included fieldwork trips to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Panama, and Mexico. Thanks for all the support along the way! The book aims to provide a new look at U.S.-Latin American relations by focusing on some crucial moments from the post-WWII period.

As a very rough guide to the contents:

Ch. 1: Highlighting Latin America in studies of U.S.-Latin American relations
Ch. 2: Operation Pan-America, a Brazilian precursor to the John F. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress
Ch. 3: Panama Canal Treaty Negotiations, with a focus on Panama’s strategy.
Ch. 4: North American Free Trade Agreement and Mexican foreign policy
Ch. 5: Plan Colombia and U.S. counternarcotics policy
Ch. 6: Latin American influence in a context of asymmetrical power relations

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now. The hardcover price is steep, and the paperback won’t be out for a while. However, if you could ask your library to place an order, that would be great!

Article in The National Interest

My new policy piece with Max Paul Friedman is online at The National Interest: Why U.S. Leaders Don’t Need to Fear Latin American ‘Soft Balancers.”


From the article: “Commentators have largely overlooked the important role Latin American diplomacy played in pushing Washington to change its fifty-six-year-old policy. This is a mistake, because Latin America’s role in influencing U.S.-Cuban relations holds larger implications for how the United States views diplomatic opposition from Latin America and elsewhere. During the last two decades, Latin American states undermined the legitimacy of Washington’s policies, raised their costs and pressured for a new approach. As Kerry noted more diplomatically in his press conference with his Cuban peer, “I thank our friends from around the hemisphere who have urged us—in some cases, for decades—to restore our diplomatic ties and who have warmly welcomed our decision to do so.” Cuba was more than a symbolic issue. The embargo’s unilateralism, and the extraterritoriality with which it was often implemented, damaged Latin Americans’ interests and offended their commitment to the principle of national sovereignty. For the United States, the opening to Cuba improves the U.S. position vis-à-vis rising Chinese influence by creating new investment opportunities and enhancing U.S. prestige. The dramatic policy change, made under Latin American pressure, is the most recent example of how U.S. interests can benefit, paradoxically, from successful opposition by foreign countries pursuing the “soft balancing” of U.S. power.”

Read the rest at The National Interest.