Skip to main content

Seven Tips for Early Career Faculty

1. Identify awards that you would like to apply for in the future and build them into your career map

Consider awards that will allow you to receive the types of experiences that are important for you and your work (ie. travel awards, residencies, industry and/or government appointments).  

Ask yourself: When do you want to apply? And when might you be most competitive? Are there awards that one should receive prior to the award in question? Consult with the Director of External Faculty Awards to see the medium time from degree for recipients. This can help you gauge when you might be most competitive. We can, likewise, review the profile of past awardees to get a better sense of who makes for a competitive applicant.

Early career awards are particularly important for junior faculty to research ahead of time because of eligibility requirements, including time-from-degree. 

2. Check eligibility requirements ahead of time. 

Do this to see how much lead time you need to prepare your application. Do you need to join a particular society? Is there a time-from-degree cut-off? Is this a pre-tenure award? Is the award administered through an internal nomination process? When is the internal deadline?

3. Speak with faculty in your department from all career stages about awards and society memberships. 

Your senior colleagues may be able to point you to relevant societies and awards within your discipline based on their knowledge of the field. Early on in your career it can be helpful to work with a mentor to assist you with your career plan. Make sure that awards are part of that larger conversation.

4. Discuss award goals with your department head.

During your annual meeting, make your department head aware of awards that you are interested in applying to. This can prompt a larger conversation about awards, but will also be important for those awards that require a nomination from a department head. A number of early career awards are limited submission. In this case, the department head is often responsible for nominating one or more individuals from their department. Early career awards such as the Sloan Fellowship, likewise, require a letter of nomination from your department head. 

5. Research similar scholars. 

Faculty often have a sense of individuals at other universities who are working on similar areas of study–either through past collaborations or from professional conferences. It never hurts to research your peers. Review their cv and see what societies they are a member of and identify awards they have received. This can help you consider what awards you might be competitive for in the future. 

If you’ve won an award, check out who else has won the award. What other awards have they won? You may also be competitive for these awards. This can be a good starting place for identifying awards. 

6. When you’ve identified awards that you’d like to apply to, build in internal deadlines for yourself and put them on your calendar. 

When do you need to reach out to letter writers? Provide a significant amount of time. When do you need to follow up with letter writers? When should you prepare draft materials in order to get feedback from colleagues? Create alerts on your calendar to help you with this step.

7. When preparing materials for an award, search for faculty on campus who may already be recipients.

Ask them if they would be willing to share materials with you or would have the time to review your materials. Even having a coffee or talking on the phone can provide crucial insight into the process and application materials. The Director of External Awards can ask on your behalf, if you feel uncomfortable doing so. Knowing about an award deadline well ahead of time can be particularly important to provide time to reach out to these individuals.