Episode #84

What Pre-Tenure Should Feel Like

What does the early career, pre-tenure period usually feel like for academic womxn? What should it feel like? With intention, we can steer ourselves toward a better experience. 


The early career period of proving yourself to gain that stamp of approval, whether you call it permanence or tenure, is a pivotal time in our careers. What does this pre-tenure period often feel like? What should it feel like? And perhaps most importantly, what do you believe it can be like for you?

What the Pre-Tenure Process Feels Like

1. Scary

It can feel like your whole career is on the line, and the pressure is enormous. You might worry that if you don’t do enough, or if you aren’t fast enough, you’ll fail. 


2. Insecure

It might feel like you’re walking on eggshells, afraid to say no, or to say the wrong thing and upset someone on your tenure review team. 


3. Exhausting

There’s so much to learn when you start a tenure-track position! Course preps, service, admin duties, department politics, and unspoken expectations can all be piled on top of your actual tenure requirements. Maybe you’ve moved to a new town, or had to change family schedules as well.

“A lot of our actions pre-tenure are, understandably, motivated by fear.” -Cathy Mazak

What the Pre-Tenure Process Should Feel Like

  1. Fulfilling

You are in the developmental process of becoming who you want to be as a scholar. This should be a time of figuring out your next steps for your best career and finding out what lights you up as you contribute to your field.


2. Exciting

It’s a time of huge growth! You are meeting new people in your field, and creating knowledge. You are creating something new and stepping into your potential. That should be exciting!

“I would love for everyone to feel excited pre-tenure…excited about what they are going to create.” -Cathy Mazak


3. Strategic

During this period you are working to align your teaching, research and service to your academic mission. It’s a time to make connections, meet people in your field, and get strategic about what you are creating and what path you are taking to success.


4. Spacious and Easeful 

Let me be clear: pre-tenure is not easy. You are solving scholarly problems that do not have easy solutions. However, I truly believe it can be easeful. You can and should have spaciousness and ease in the process. You should not be obligated to work 60 hour work weeks or nights and weekends to stay afloat. You should have room to think. Your whole job is about thinking, so it’s important! 

This is the hardest idea for many to wrap their brains around, and I admit, it’s revolutionary…the best kind of rebellious. And I believe it can change knowledge-making in the best possible way. It’s time for academia to change, and it can start with us!

“I really believe that pre-tenure should and can feel spacious and easeful.”

Getting Intentional With Amplify

Giving you the tools to plan your career with intentionality is what we do! It’s my jam, and I am always thinking about ways to help you shift your mindset, get strategic, and have the career you want. In our 6 month Amplify program, we use a combination of coaching, training and community to help you make your pre-tenure experience feel more like it should.

Enrollment is open now, so head to scholarsvoice.org/amplify for more information and to apply. Our 3 cohorts will be running September through February, but once you’re approved, you’ll get access to our first event, an invite-only training in August to give you a taste of what the program is like. Don’t wait, spots are filling fast! Click here to apply.


Connect with me:

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Follow me on Clubhouse: @cathymazak 


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