Lingua Franca

by Julie Vick


Are you applying to a doctoral program because you feel teaching students and doing research would be an exciting career?  Perhaps you are already in a doctoral program and preparing to write your dissertation or maybe finishing it up.   Regardless of your stage, you are probably aware of the importance of learning the language of your discipline but did you also know that when you look for a job you need to learn the professional language of higher education?

Every occupation, whether it’s in an academic discipline or a professional field, has its own language and higher education is no exception.   An example you have probably come across is a “CV” as opposed to “resume.”

A CV, which stands for curriculum vitae, meaning “course of life” in Latin, is used by candidates seeking college and university teaching positions as well as by those applying for other research jobs and for fellowships.  A CV (which is also referred to as a “vita”) includes details about one’s academic work, including publications and presentations and is usually much lengthier than a résumé which should be tailored for a specific kind of job.  Of course, the purpose in preparing either is to interest a prospective employer enough to invite you for a personal interview.

As a career advisor who works with doctoral students, I co-author a column every 4-6 weeks for the Chronicle of Higher Education, a daily news website/weekly newspaper devoted to all aspects of higher education.  Because many Penn doctoral students and postdocs ask questions about terms and abbreviations used in the job search process I, with my co-writers have written three columns on the language of higher education that is important to master while applying for faculty jobs: If you want to find out the meaning of chalk talk, SLAC, soft money, ABD and degree in hand, as well as other terms, check out these articles: Learning the Lingo, Learning the Lingo, Part 2 and Learning the Lingo, Part 3.  And be sure to learn the language of your own field!

Author: Julie Miller Vick

Julie Miller Vick is the Senior Associate Director in Career Services for graduate students and post docs.