After I finished my schooling I was lucky enough to receive a postdoctoral teaching fellowship. I needed it: I had very little classroom experience and very little sense of how to navigate the job market. In my first interview at the American Academy of Religion, I replied to a question about what I planned to teach with a question about the needs of the department. My interviewer sighed. “Ms. Paulsell, we all know this is not an idle exercise.” Ouch.
I never heard anything further from that school. But in a stroke of good fortune, the Lilly Fellows Program at Valparaiso University welcomed me into a cohort of five other recent graduates in the humanities and the arts, gave us mentors from the university’s senior faculty, assigned us to teach classes in our respective fields, and required our participation in a weekly colloquium on religion and higher education.