In the comments to my recent post about the third-year review gone awry, both skookumchick and PhD Mom asked if I had any advice for new faculty and/or faculty going into mid-tenure review. Knowing what I know now, what would I have done differently?
Well, first, I probably wouldn't have taken the job if I had known what I was in for...but that gets more into questions of "what questions should I ask on an interview, and of whom", which is an entirely different post. But let's remove that possibility, and assume that I would have taken this job anyway, known warts and all. In that case, here's what I've found to be most valuable, and/or realize now was infinitely valuable, in no particular order.
* Forming a network of women, both senior and junior, outside my department. The junior women are vital because some of them have become very close girlfriends, and because it's been such a sanity check knowing that the crazy things that happen to me are also happening to my female junior colleagues in other disciplines. The senior women are vital because *they can be advocates*. They can lean on people and get things done and help you get perspective in a way your male colleagues can't or won't give you.
* Identifying at least one trusted colleague in your department who can and will be straight with you. This person will help you navigate the tricky politics. S/he will, ideally, also let you know early on if you are screwing up. This is one thing I thought I had that I clearly didn't, and it definitely hurt me.
* Be persistent about obtaining mentoring and feedback from colleagues. Again, this was something that I was actively doing that didn't end up helping me, but I still maintain that this is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you are seen as someone who is eager to learn and to improve and can take criticism, that is valuable.
* Find and use available resources. If your school is big on teaching, make friends with the learning and teaching center people, utilize classroom observation programs, etc. Even if you think your teaching is just fine, do it anyway. If your school is big on research, make friends with the grants people, and/or a really prolific researcher in your field or in a related field. Figure out how your school can help you do your job. Because often, the resources are there.
* Document, document, document. Make sure your chair knows what you're up to. Make sure your colleagues know when you've published something, or when you're serving on an interesting and important committee. Meet with your chair once a year. Keep a folder of every little thing you've done that might count for tenure.
Those are the main ones. I would love to hear suggestions from others in the comments! Anything you would add that I've left out? Anything here you disagree with?