In recent months, we have occasionally been featuring guest blogs by participants in the Rackham-CRLT Intercampus Mentorship Program, which you can learn more about here. In this post, Alicia Hofelich, a recent graduate of the Psychology Ph.D. program, writes of the many personal and professional benefits stemming from her experience in the program.   

By the time I finished my fourth year in grad school, I knew two things for certain. One, I loved teaching, and two, I had to go on the job market next year. The latter certainty terrified me:  what’s the right next step? How do I successfully navigate the world of research post-docs, teaching post-docs, tenure-track, non-tenure track, and visiting positions?
Having graduated from a small liberal arts college, I had envisioned my ideal future self as a professor at such a college, teaching interesting classes and still being active in research. But as the reality of the job market approached, I realized I had no idea what that job would really be like or what it would take to get there. I knew the Rackham-CRLT Intercampus Mentorship program would fulfill a requirement for my Graduate Teacher Certificate, but it also ended up filling in a lot of questions I had about life as a liberal arts professor and how to survive on the job market.  

In recent months, we have been featuring guest blogs from participants in the Rackham-CRLT Intercampus Mentorship Program. You can learn more about the program--open to any U-M graduate student or postdoc--by following this link. In today's post, English Language and Literature Ph.D. student Adam Mazel reflects upon the crucial lessons about teaching that he learned from observing his mentor at nearby Albion College teach Melville's Moby Dick

I first met Jess Roberts, Associate Professor of English at Albion College, in 2008, when she guest lectured on American women poets in a graduate seminar I was taking here at Michigan.  I did not know then that four years later, I would contact Jess to ask her to mentor me as part of the Rackham-CRLT Intercampus Mentorship program.  But when I saw her on the list of possible mentors, I was excited.  I knew that there was no one I would rather work with.  When she agreed to mentor me, I was through the roof.

Since then, our meetings have taken a number of forms: from discussions over coffee regarding how to manage the hardships of the humanities job market, to visits to Albion to observe her teach.  I single out these latter meetings as particularly helpful.  I entered Michigan’s PhD program in English never having taught—or even tutored—before.  For that reason, I have sought out any opportunity I could to practice my teaching.  Having already experienced Jess in a Michigan classroom, I knew that I could learn a lot from observing her Albion classroom.  I was right.

One classroom visit, in particular, stands out to me.  In November 2012, I observed Jess teach Melville’s Moby-Dick to a seminar of freshman and sophomores, most of whom were non-English majors.  How was she going to excite these young skeptics about one of the most complex novels ever published, I wondered? Read more »


In recent months, we have been featuring stories by past participants in the Rackham-CRLT Intercampus Mentorship Program, which you can learn more about here. In this post, U-M Psychology Ph.D. student Katy Goldey describes her visit to a nearby liberal arts college, which was funded by the program. Her story speaks to the range of experiences a single campus visit might entail and gives a glimpse into the kinds of conversations with college faculty that the Intercampus Mentorship Program makes possible. The program is open to any U-M graduate student or postdoc.

In Fall 2011 I spent a day at Oberlin College as part of the Rackham-CRLT Intercampus Mentorship Program. My interest in the program stemmed from my own experience as an undergraduate student at a liberal arts college (Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX) and my eventual goal to become a professor at a teaching-focused university. I chose Dr. Jan Thornton as my mentor because of our shared interests in hormones and behavior, and Jan enthusiastically agreed to meet with me for a very full day at Oberlin.

A few weeks ago, in a post about the Rackham-CRLT Intercampus Mentorship Program, we promised to share stories from some of the program's former participants. This guest post from Sarah Gerk tells what an amazing professional development opportunity the program can be. For more details about the program--open to any U-M graduate student or postdoc--see this page

It was only about a year ago now that I nervously sent an email to Charles McGuire, Professor of Musicology at Oberlin College, to ask if he would be interested in becoming my mentor. Little did I know then that the relationship initiated with that email would become one of the most helpful of my career--not only because it provided me invaluable experience with and advice about teaching, but also because I was lucky enough to get an amazing job out of it.

I chose Oberlin for my mentorship experience because of its unique combination of a small liberal arts school and music conservatory. Having attended large public schools my entire life, I wanted to explore different models before entering the job market. My mentorship involved a series of monthly visits to the Oberlin campus. I guest lectured in classes, spoke with faculty members about their teaching, and got to know a few students who were thinking about pursuing musicology in graduate school. From the beginning, Charles McGuire was a generous, kind, and valuable mentor. We spent hours hashing out the finer points of my teaching philosophy, debating the possibilities of large lectures versus small discussions, and discussing the benefits of Oberlin’s model of higher education.

Calling all U-M graduate students and postdocs! Would you like to talk over lunch with faculty in your field about what teaching and research are like at schools other than U-M? Or give a guest lecture to undergrads at a liberal arts college? Or get feedback on your teaching portfolio from someone who has recently been on the job market or served on a search committee? 

The Rackham-CRLT Intercampus Mentorship Program can help you achieve these goals.  Participants in the program meet with faculty mentors at nearby colleges and universities to discuss and even collaborate on teaching, research, the job search, faculty worklife, and much more. The cost of travel and meals with a mentor is reimbursed by Rackham. Read more »