Pregnancy + the Academic Job Search: Part II

March 2016: The morning of my campus interview

March 2016: The morning of my campus interview

If you haven’t had a chance to read (or skim!) my experiences on the academic job market while pregnant, you can find that post here. I did about 6 first round interviews when I was between 2 and 6 months pregnant. I then went on 1 campus interview when I was 7 months pregnant. I’ve put together a summary of my main takeaways from these experiences for those of you who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant and also navigating the academic job market.

To share or not to share: That’s a question you’ll have to answer for yourself
I’ll preface this with, I think you have to do what you’re most comfortable with. For me, that meant bringing my pregnancy up in conversation during my campus interview. There were a number of people who had children (and talked about them) on my search committee which made for an easy segue into me being pregnant. In my mind, the biggest question I kept coming back to was, if I share and all hell breaks loose, is this really the kind of place I want to work? For me, that answer was no. It also opened up the conversation to topics like child care and school systems and pediatricians, all important things to consider before you potentially move somewhere new. Since I wasn’t obviously pregnant during my first round interviews, I didn’t say anything and even if I had been further along, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it anyway as it felt like too early in the process for it to be a topic of conversation.

In terms of friends/family, if I had to do it all over again, I would share (earlier) with more than just Mike. There were a number of academic mamas in my program who would have been wonderful to commiserate with and talk through my job search strategy with.

Morning sickness: Be (over) prepared
Bring snacks and plastic bags with you everywhere. Bring more than you think you will need so that you don’t run out.

If you’re traveling, research food options nearby. I created a spreadsheet that included the names, addresses (with general directions), website, hours, and food options so that I didn’t have to spend time while I was there searching for something I could eat.

Think about what you’ll say if you end up throwing up or dry heaving during an interview! Thankfully this did not happen to me, but it easily could have! Having a plan can help an already stressful situation feel a little less chaotic.

Even if morning sickness hasn’t hit you yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t! If you’re traveling, take plastic bags and talk to your health care provider about potential med options so if it hits when you’re far from home you have a plan! You can easily pick up some B6/Unisom and throw it in your luggage for a just in case situation.

Timelines: Plan them out
Plan out your pregnancy timeline with the job search timeline (both a general timeline for how searches usually flow and also for the specific schools you’ve applied to). If you don’t know the school’s timeline after a first round interview, ask! It’s helpful to see everything side by side as you think through your travel plans. There will come a time when you won’t be able to or won’t want to be too far from home. Talk to your health care provider about their recommendations on when you should hold off on traveling.

If you have a partner, consider having them come with you on your campus visit
This one depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy when you go on your campus visit. I went at 7 months and knew that if I got the job that I would likely not make it back to check out housing until we moved. If Mike had come out with me he could have scoped out apartments and child care while I was interviewing. Instead we ended up doing our housing search online. This worked out for us but given the option we would have loved to see everything in person.

Get information on child care during your campus visit
Available and affordable child care is an issue in a lot of cities, infant care in particular given the lower teacher-child ratios. Even if you don’t want to share that you’re pregnant, it’s helpful to get info about the child care situation (you could potentially just say you’re eventually wanting to have kids and are wondering what child care is like... probably depends on the department/field though). We put Ellie on the waitlist for the university’s child care center when I got the job offer (about a month before she was born). I got an email this past summer (shortly after she turned 2) saying that a spot was opening up the following year... 2+ years on the waitlist! It’s helpful to know this info ahead of time. Also helpful to know child care costs so that you can figure out your budget once you have your job offer.

Don’t be afraid to ask for breaks during your visit
Campus visits are notoriously known for having candidates running from one meeting to the next with minimal breaks in between. Don’t feel bad about pausing for extra bathroom breaks or snack breaks.

Use your network
If there are newer faculty at your school with young kids, ask them if they have any experience with being pregnant and on the job market. Also ask around among your fellow grad students to see if they know of anyone who has been pregnant/on the job market. I talked to one other person who was pregnant while job searching and her advice was the most helpful out of anyone I talked with.

Clothing: Dresses are easy and shoes should accommodate swollen feet
During my first conference interviews I wasn’t showing at all and didn’t need to purchase any maternity clothes. Depending on where you are in your pregnancy and how your body changes you may be able to get away with just buying larger sizes.

When I had the informal chat at ~5 months I did purchase a maternity dress from Asos (see picture from my first job market post). I ordered a few different dresses in a few different sizes as they have free returns. I thought their maternity clothes had more variety than other brands, they didn’t scream “maternity,” and were reasonably priced. I paired the dress with a black blazer in a larger size - it didn’t button, but I didn’t need it to. I checked out a few department stores and maternity specific shops but was underwhelmed, especially given the prices. I wore regular stockings and bought some flexible black loafers from DSW to accommodate for my growing feet.

For my campus interview (7 months pregnant), I splurged (much to my chagrin) on a dress from Isabella Oliver (as of Dec 2018 it is $139, which for me is way more than I’d typically spend on one item of clothing). I wore the Ivybridge Maternity Dress in grey (doesn’t look like that option is available now). I also wore a blazer in a larger size, unbuttoned, and the generic black loafers I previously mentioned. I also picked up multiple pairs of maternity stockings in case one got a run. The picture above is from my campus visit.  

I did take a look at second hand shops (including some that had small maternity sections) but didn’t have any luck.

You can do it, mama!

pregnancy and the academic job search