Episode #49

5 Myths About Your Post Tenure Career

Are you wondering what your career will be like once you reach that ultimate milestone of tenure? I’m busting 5 myths about the post tenure experience to give you a realistic picture.


Getting tenure is a goal that most academics have had throughout their entire careers. If you are in the pre-tenure process right now, you may be believing one or more of these 5 myths about what it will be like if and when you are granted tenure. I’m busting these myths to give you a clearer picture of the post tenure life, so you can make the best decisions going forward.

Myth #1: Your Workload Will Decrease

If you were not able to say no, speak up, and avoid creep during your pre-tenure process, it’s not going to be any different once you are tenured. You might find that you’re expected to take on new responsibilities, your admin duties increase, you have more meetings, etc. You can help alleviate this issue by starting to practice saying no, setting up boundaries, and speaking up right now.

“If you haven’t been flexing your ‘say no’ muscle pre-tenure, you are going to have to radically change and develop that muscle post-tenure.”

Myth #2: You Can Finally Focus on Your Own Work

You might think that once you get tenure, all the other things that have been pushed onto your plate will magically fall away. Alas, no. It’s a process; you will have to get focused and make sure that you put time and energy into self-directed projects that are important for your career. It won’t happen on it’s own, and if you spent your pre-tenure time keeping quiet and taking whatever extra work was given to you, it may take a little longer to pare down.

“You have to…be proactive about focusing on your own work.”

Myth #3: You’ll Actually Get Paid What You Deserve

This one hurts. Sadly, most tenure awards come with only a small pay bump. Many women I talk to tell me that they have been working so hard for so long, and even after tenure they still struggle. If your pay increase at tenure was underwhelming, do a little reflection to see if you want to move in a new direction. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you want to move into a more administrative position that typically comes with higher pay?
  • Can you look for external funding?
  • Do you want to move from faculty to researcher, or make another move?
  • Is it time to switch institutions?

Myth #4: What Got You to Tenure Will Get You to Full

Every stage you go through in your academic career needs to see you grow. Your systems, processes and practices need to change and develop to support each new stage of your life and career. The things you did to succeed as a grad student probably don’t work now. The way you approached your work before you had a family likely doesn’t serve you once you do. We need to grow and adapt at each new stage to find what works.

Myth #5: Your Next Steps Will Be Clear

This giant (overly-hyped) milestone of tenure has likely been a goal you have been striving toward your entire academic life. Once you finally achieve it, it can feel a little disorienting. What now? The bad news, and the good news, is that you have to figure it out. You may move on to getting full, you may decide to do something completely different. The steps will not be clear, but the world is your oyster at this point. Envision your ideal circumstances, and work toward them.

“Your next steps aren’t clear. It’s your job to dream them.”


Elevate is Open for Enrollment for a Limited Time!

Our Elevate program is for post-tenure people who are ready to up-level their careers. Over a six month period we will help you create and implement a personalized plan to reach your career goals, using workshops, one-on-one and group coaching, and supportive community. 

We start in February, but join now and receive:

  • 2 extra coaching calls to use now, in 2020
  • Early entrance into our supportive and beneficial community
  • Access to our January virtual writing retreat

Click here to learn more and start the vetting process so you can get started right away!

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