Monthly Archives: November 2009

NCA: The Second Year’s Perspective

It’s taken me way too long to post this, but I wanted to share my NCA experience, too. First, a big shout-out to Anna and Amy, who were on the job market this year. Y’all are great and you’re going to find fantastic jobs. Since I’m posting nearly a week after Anna, I’ve had the luxury of reading hers and want to pick up on something she mentioned, about talking to people at NCA. One of the things I love about NCA is being able to meet and chat with people. Kathy and Dawn, whom I did ICA with this spring, also in Chicago, were giving me a hard time about my proclivity to chat up whoever is around. They joke about me being a “networker” and have entertained the thought of letting me loose in a room full of strangers and just watching “Sutko do his thing.” (Their words, not mine, whatever they mean.) I don’t think of myself as a networker or anything like that. (I have a “friend request” backlog of about 30. Sorry to you 30 out there!) But I do like talking to people, and I get really psyched about conferences like NCA, or even better, this past fall’s CRDM symposium on Materializing Communication and Rhetoric, both of which provided fantastic chances to engage in face-to-face conversation with people who share similar interests. Getting that face-time with people is really valuable to me, because, well, that’s when you can really engage in some good discussions in a way you can’t through email or other means. At NCA and at the Materializing Communication and Rhetoric symposium, I met people whose work I want to emulate — people who we read in class and who are at the top of the field. I’m no sycophant, but anyone whose ever been through grad school can attest to meeting someone whose work had an impact (for better or worse, I suppose!) on their intellectual development. Through reading them, we get to know them as authors, but in meeting them, we get to know them as people / past graduate students / future professors and colleagues. You just can’t put a price on that.

So, one tidbit for advice I have for everyone is in line with what Anna already wrote, but I really want to highlight how you need to take advantage of conferences like NCA to chat with people, because when else are you going to get that chance? The Materializing Communication and Rhetoric symposium was huge for me and for others I spoke with, because it gave us the chance to meet people who are at the top of the field in theorizing communication, rhetoric, and materiality. And then, when I saw some of those same folks at NCA, it was like picking up a conversation we’d left off just the other day. And that’s a role that conferences in general provide, which is a different way of extending our scholarly and disciplinary conversations that are normally and sometimes unfortunately bound by journals.

All in all, NCA this year was just a huge success for me personally and for our program. I presented on two top paper panels (won the top student paper in Rhetoric of Science and Technology and presented, with Adam Rottinghaus from UNC, on the New Voices in Critical Cultural studies). And the paper I presented at the Urban Communication Foundation preconference was very well received; I got good feedback throughout the weekend when I re-ran into folks from that preconference. I also heard great things about the CRDM program from students and faculty at other universities. There was an overwhelming amount of interest in our program at the grad student fair, and I had a lot of good chats with people who noticed the strong showing we had, with over 20 papers, spread over 13 student presenters. That’s just great, and I have to say that it felt really great to see our program getting noticed that way. Now our job as students and faculty is to just keep on doing what we’re doing, because our formula is working well and gaining national recognition. So, I know that I won’t feel this way a year from now, because the week leading up to NCA is so hectic, but I can’t wait for San Francisco next year. Of course, I might also be punchy from the fact that I’ve got final paper deadlines staring me down. But hopefully at least some of these will make it to NCA next year, where I can “do my Sutko thing” all over again.

Dan Sutko, 2012

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NCA on the Job Market

I’ll have to say I cringe every time I use that word “market” when referring to a job search in academia. So, I’ll avoid any further use of it here. I will have to say, though, that in some ways, last weekend brought back not-so-fond memories of my days in corporate America. The entire weekend for a PhD student searching for a faculty position at NCA feels in some ways like one big meet-and-greet, “please-hire-me” extravaganza of the most exhausting kind. You hope that you will have preliminary interviews set up with some of the schools to which you have applied. Then there is the job fair, where many schools willingly sit there waiting for you to appear, ready and willing to talk about yourself. If not, though, you spend the rest of the weekend trying to get face time with people from those schools to “sell” yourself (oops, caught myself again using the commodification metaphor) and your expertise to them. Going to parties, therefore, is not near as much fun as it usually is, because you have to be “on” the entire time, ready to talk when someone appears. In fact, you really have to be “on” no matter where you are, since you could run into anybody at any given time. And it’s pretty tough to be “on” when your feet hurt and you are exhausted and hungry from not having had a decent meal in two days.

Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? To be truthful, it really wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t that bad partly because we have very dedicated faculty members who are willing to bend over backwards to help us meet people, going out of their way to introduce you to those they know, even going to parties with you, talking you up to everyone they know. It isn’t like that everywhere folks – just ask students from other programs. For that reason, I made some very key contacts that I really needed to make over the weekend. I also scored an interview on Saturday. So, all-in-all, I had a good run for what was referred to as “what will be your hardest NCA ever.” The other reason it wasn’t that bad is because I got to meet some really great people, and have some really engaging intellectual discussions about my work and theirs. This is what it’s really about, whether you get the job or not. These are people who are indeed interested in your work, and could very well be people you will want to collaborate with on future projects. In addition, talking to all those folks really made me think more deeply about who I am as a scholar and what I want to do. I can’t express how important it is to keep that in mind.

The best advice I can give to my CRDM brethren who will be doing this at future NCAs is some advice my amazing advisor gave me – be true to yourself and your scholarly identity, remember that you are smart and talented or you wouldn’t even be there, and lastly, keep it all in perspective. Making contacts at NCA is important, but it is likely not going to make or break your chances of landing a job. In short, take it seriously, but not too seriously. I’ll end off with this quote from my man Aristotle – “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” That pretty much says it all.

Anna Turnage, 2010

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NCSU @ NCA 2009

NC State brought a significant contingent to Chicago for the annual National Communication Association conference, and of the 36 presenters from NCSU, 14 were students in the CRDM program:

  • Christopher Cummings, “The Public and Scary Science: Biotechnology to Synthetic Biology”
  • Jacob A. Dickerson, “A Framework for the Rhetorical Examination of Digital Technologies Over Time”
  • Jordan Frith, “Locative media and urban spaces: New discourses on politics, community construction, journalism, and individualization”
  • Amy L. Housley Gaffney, “Class participation and syllabus expectations: An examination of disciplinary expectations with implications for communication”
    • “Keeping your Communication Across the Curriculum Program Afloat: Funding, Assessment, and Innovation during Economic Instability”
    • “The Dissertation as Product of Stability and Change: Experiences of Graduate Education, Mentoring and Being Mentored”
  • Jason Kalin, “Synthetic or Sin-thetic Biology? Rhetoric, Religion, and Emerging Technologies” — (Nominated for Top Student Paper in The Rhetoric of Science)
  • Kelly Martin, “Monumental Argument: Arguments about Monuments and Public Art and Counter-monuments and Public Art as Argument”
    • Visual Discourse and Pedagogy – How Visual Communication Teaches and is Taught”
    • “Novel Forms of Visual Communication”
  • Kathy Oswald, “Communication in Transition: Rethinking Raymond Williams’ ‘Mobile Privatization'”
  • Shayne Pepper, “HBO and the AIDS Epidemic: Subscribing to a Neoliberal Solution”
    • “Invisible Children and the Cyberactivist Spectator”
  • Christin Phelps, “Advancing Online Community: The Internet, Artificial Intelligence, and Religion”
  • Zach Rash, “One Conflict, Two Stories: Practitioners’ and Scientists’ Incommensurable Narratives about APA’s History”
  • Dawn Shepherd, “Professional Matchmaking and the Problem of Being Single”
  • Daniel M. Sutko, “My mobile maneuver: Technology, the rhetorical maneuver, and kairotic subjectification” — (Winner, Top Student Papers in The Rhetoric of Science)
    • “Decibels of Control: Colors of Control, Disciplinarity, Control and Disaster Management
    • “Locative Media and the Democratization, Disconnection, and Destabilization of Urban Communities”
  • Anna Turnage, “Public Art, Symbolism and Social Hierarchical Order”

Additionally, two second-year students, Jason Kalin and Dan Sutko, received nominations for “Best Student Paper” in the Rhetoric of Science division. Dan won the award for his paper, “My mobile maneuver: Technology, the rhetorical maneuver, and kairotic subjectification.”

Congrats to all students for making NCA another big success this year.

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