Last November, Tenured Radical wrote a post offering advice for job candidates interviewing via Skype. When I read it, I remember thinking she was at least a few years ahead of the curve. While I didn’t have that post in mind when I booked my first Skype class yesterday with my friend Scott Martelle, the first thing I thought when I saw this technology in action for the first time was, “There goes the convention interview as we know it.”
It took about fifteen minutes for my tech help around here to get me an account and set up a lab room where my students could see him. [Apparently, I’m the first professor on campus to ask for such a thing. Video conferencing is old hat, but Skype is new.] I have 12 students in my labor history class so a few people had to move so that Scott could see them when they were asking their questions but the angle was easily wide enough to fit three people in the whole shot if they were the only ones asking questions. In fact, leaving the question of whether you like visiting convention cities on your university’s expense account aside for a moment, the environment was a heck of a lot more comfortable than those stupid tables all crammed next to one another in yet another faceless Marriott somewhere.
Comfort, of course, goes both ways, and while you get to stay in a nice hotel somewhere with your meals comped and a bunch of free books, the people who you’re interviewing almost certainly have to pay for their entire trip out of their measly grad student (or perhaps even more measly) adjunct salaries. I realize that the AHA is a great social ritual, but it is expensive for EVERYONE involved, not just your Dean. So I say have a heart: Go Skype next time.
Besides, are you absolutely sure you want to go to AHA next year? We’re going to have a retirement then so I already checked where the convention is going to be long before yesterday. Chicago. In January. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I’m not that desperate to go to the Art Institute again, so I think if anyone bothers to ask me I’ll push for the high tech solution that really ought to make everyone happy if they think about it hard enough.