12 questions to help you thrive in your mid-career years

The “mid-career slump” is a well-documented dip in job satisfaction and direction that is common among recently tenured faculty members. You can read about the phenomenon in this collection of articles we’ve gathered for FAUW workshop participants over the last few years.

With some reflection and planning—and by using your new job security to take some risks and try new things—you can avoid, or at least mitigate, the mid-career slump. The articles in the folder linked above provide some practical suggestions, and the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, which UW just joined, has a one-hour webinar on “Getting to Mid-career and Beyond” coming up on March 23. (To activate your NCFDD membership, visit www.facultydiversity.org/join and follow the prompts.)

FAUW also offers a workshop on this topic. At the most recent session in December 2020, five mid-career faculty members shared advice for avoiding the mid-career slump and mapping out the years following tenure (or the lecturer equivalent at UW: a continuing appointment).

Based on the experiences and advice of these panelists, here are 12 questions to help you design and make the most of the next few (or many) years of your career by looking at where you are now, identifying new opportunities, and planning with the end in mind.

Continue reading “12 questions to help you thrive in your mid-career years”

8 Lessons from our ‘Making the Most of your Mid-career Years’ workshop

Here are some of the key lessons shared by experienced faculty members at our recent workshop for newly tenured/continuing faculty. Workshop slides, notes, and background reading are available on our website.

  1. The post-tenure slump is real. You need to plan how you’ll avoid it. Set goals; have a vision of what you want your career to look like in the end, and do things that move you toward that.
  2. Service work is not the dark side. Participating in collegial governance is “superb but challenging,” and it can be extremely rewarding to make a difference in your colleagues’ work lives. It’s also necessary: If we want the University to continue being run by academics (versus giving control over to administrators), we all need to take a turn. 
  3. You can still learn new things about teaching. Don’t be afraid of new technologies. 
  4. A scholarship slump is common. Imposter syndrome often kicks in hard now. Do what you can to stay active in scholarship in any way. Do something small. Learn new methodologies that allow you to start a project you’re excited about. Make use of the resources available (talk to the Office of Research!) to figure out how to keep doing research, whatever your specific situation. 
  5. Take chances and try new things. Lecturers, remember that you’ve gotten to this point because your chair/director has confidence in you. Don’t worry about the new things you’re trying until your chair/director complains. 
  6. Lecturers: Ask for the things you need. Chairs and directors are still getting used to the different needs of lecturers. If you have a project you want to do, figure out how to make it count as a teaching task. Explain how it adds value and renews your skills. 
  7. Be a complete colleague. Contribute and participate in all areas of your professional life.
  8. If things don’t go well, get help from FAUW