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Author Topic: All travel expenses, up front  (Read 13770 times)
barred_owl
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« Reply #45 on: March 09, 2012, 3:17:35 AM »

I agree with something oldadjunct said earlier.  If paying for travel costs up-front is too much of a burden, why would anyone apply to positions that require potentially expensive interview travel?  The only explanation that I can fathom is that the applicant in such circumstances expected the inviting school to pay everything in advance--and, if that's true, then that applicant either (1) is rather naive about the search process, including the logistics of travel for interviews, (2) doesn't really want the far-away jobs and is holding out for that 'perfect' job closer to home, or...well, whatever.

If you can't afford to wait a few weeks for reimbursement for travel to a distant location, then don't apply in the first place.  There are plenty of others who will willingly make that sacrifice, just to have a shot at the job, and a search committe or two that will be grateful for the reduced workload.
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wet_blanket
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« Reply #46 on: March 09, 2012, 3:41:47 AM »

Honestly, we don't know enough about the OP's circumstances to make such a determination, and your fixation about privilege not particularly productive. Many posters are responding the way they do because it is simply unthinkable to them to turn down a job interview request in today's job market, whatever the cost might be to one's finances, and they're most certainly not doing this out of ignorance or privilege.

I'm not fixated on anything.  Apart from my first post on this thread, all my references to privilege have been in response to yours.

If there are some people for whom paying out of pocket simply isn't an option - and you acknowledged this was the case upthread - and we don't know enough about the OP's circumstances to know if she's part of that category, and we observe that she clearly thinks she's part of that category, is "suck it up, princess" really the ideal response?  

If you can't afford to wait a few weeks for reimbursement for travel to a distant location, then don't apply in the first place. 

I agree with this.

There are plenty of others who will willingly make that sacrifice, just to have a shot at the job.

The bolded is where I have a problem.  The plenty of others aren't in fact making that sacrifice; they're making some sacrifice in their own lives which may or may not be of the same magnitude as that made by the non-travelling applicant.  If someone earns $X/month and their rent and ramen together cost $X-0.99 a month,  then describing them as unwilling to make the sacrifice, as if it were about honor or duty or something, strikes me as unkind.

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mleok
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« Reply #47 on: March 09, 2012, 4:11:33 AM »

The bolded is where I have a problem.  The plenty of others aren't in fact making that sacrifice; they're making some sacrifice in their own lives which may or may not be of the same magnitude as that made by the non-travelling applicant.  If someone earns $X/month and their rent and ramen together cost $X-0.99 a month,  then describing them as unwilling to make the sacrifice, as if it were about honor or duty or something, strikes me as unkind.

The impression I get is that many of the posters who have responded were in far worse situations than the one you're describing above, and they were maxing out credit cards, taking out small loans from whomever was willing to lend them money, just so that they could attend their job interviews.

Maybe the OP truly has such badly damaged credit that she's unable to obtain a credit card, or maybe it's just that she's unwilling to pay the exorbitant interest rates on the cards she would qualify for. The point I'm trying to make is that without knowing all the financial details, it's possible that the OP is in a position to make a choice, even if she doesn't really think so, and the purpose of these suggestions it to have the OP reexamine her assumptions and options, to see if the situation is truly as inevitable as she believes.

I'm honestly not sure what the OP's intentions were in posting this thread, perhaps she was looking for affirmation, but I think many posters here are trying to provide a reality check, or tough love. While this might not be quite as pleasant, it is likely to be more helpful to the OP in the longer term.
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pink_
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« Reply #48 on: March 09, 2012, 8:32:10 AM »

Many people have already made the point that it is par for the course to expect candidates to pay travel expenses and be reimbursed thereafter. That's they way it was for me when I was interviewing 6+ years ago, and that's the way it is now for just about everyone I know in academe, both in my field and at my institution.


It's worth pointing out that this practice does not end once you are gainfully employed. That is, I still have to prepay my travel expenses and submit receipts for reimbursement. What is worse, our travel expenses are capped, so reimbursements often will not cover all of the costs. I don't point this out as a kind of woe-is-me solicitation but rather to reinforce an earlier poster's point that getting a job isn't the end of it--at least not if you want tenure and promotion.
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wet_blanket
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« Reply #49 on: March 09, 2012, 10:15:33 AM »

Maybe the OP truly has such badly damaged credit that she's unable to obtain a credit card, or maybe it's just that she's unwilling to pay the exorbitant interest rates on the cards she would qualify for. The point I'm trying to make is that without knowing all the financial details, it's possible that the OP is in a position to make a choice, even if she doesn't really think so, and the purpose of these suggestions it to have the OP reexamine her assumptions and options, to see if the situation is truly as inevitable as she believes.

I'm honestly not sure what the OP's intentions were in posting this thread, perhaps she was looking for affirmation, but I think many posters here are trying to provide a reality check, or tough love. While this might not be quite as pleasant, it is likely to be more helpful to the OP in the longer term.

A reality check or tough love, in the tone of this post, wouldn't have elicited any reaction from me.  What I was  taking issue with in this thread was the dismissal of the claim that the system can be prohibitive instead of merely inconvenient, and the attempt to frame the whole thing as a moral failing on the OP's part.

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tinyzombie
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« Reply #50 on: March 09, 2012, 10:30:31 AM »

Maybe the OP truly has such badly damaged credit that she's unable to obtain a credit card, or maybe it's just that she's unwilling to pay the exorbitant interest rates on the cards she would qualify for. The point I'm trying to make is that without knowing all the financial details, it's possible that the OP is in a position to make a choice, even if she doesn't really think so, and the purpose of these suggestions it to have the OP reexamine her assumptions and options, to see if the situation is truly as inevitable as she believes.

I'm honestly not sure what the OP's intentions were in posting this thread, perhaps she was looking for affirmation, but I think many posters here are trying to provide a reality check, or tough love. While this might not be quite as pleasant, it is likely to be more helpful to the OP in the longer term.

A reality check or tough love, in the tone of this post, wouldn't have elicited any reaction from me.  What I was  taking issue with in this thread was the dismissal of the claim that the system can be prohibitive instead of merely inconvenient, and the attempt to frame the whole thing as a moral failing on the OP's part.



I think you're reading way too much into people's comments.
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« Reply #51 on: March 09, 2012, 11:02:12 AM »

For some perspective from the institutional side, when I was chair of a department at a public university in Georgia, I worked for FIVE YEARS to figure out a way to get it so we could prepay at least the airfare of incoming candidates to avoid precisely the problem the OP is having.  It was virtually impossible--the concatenation of state spending rules, an insane control freak in the business office, and a lack of imagination in some other offices made it very difficult.

We did end up being able to make it happen in a couple of ways:  first, I had a discretionary fund of non-state money, and through a Byzantine process that involved a couple of weird steps (we fronted the money to buy the ticket from this fund in the candidate's name, got the candidate reimbursed, and asked the candidate to donate the money back to us...seriously, this is how we had to do it) we could get it done.  But that only worked because I had about $15,000 in this account from various fundraising activities that I could use as a slush fund for swing financing.

At the very end of my time, we did manage to figure out a way to do it through a floating of credit by a travel agency in town, which in turn challenged the travel agency's funding.  But since we were by far the biggest user of travel services in our small town, we had some leverage with them.

In short, it's not so easy as some seem to imagine to fix this stuff at an institutional level.  It is one of the reasons I am happy to work now at a private institution, where I run the budget and can get the business office pretty much to do what I want.  We do pay everything up front, though candidates still need a CC to pick up the rental car we generally get for them.
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madhatter
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« Reply #52 on: March 09, 2012, 11:09:41 AM »

The OP would have received a different response if she had posted that she couldn't afford interview trips and needed help figuring out what to do. Instead, she posted about how she was turning down interviews and writing chastising notes to SCs about their travel policies.
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txgalprof
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« Reply #53 on: March 09, 2012, 11:16:44 AM »

For some perspective from the institutional side, when I was chair of a department at a public university in Georgia, I worked for FIVE YEARS to figure out a way to get it so we could prepay at least the airfare of incoming candidates to avoid precisely the problem the OP is having.  It was virtually impossible--the concatenation of state spending rules, an insane control freak in the business office, and a lack of imagination in some other offices made it very difficult.

This. It is individual state laws/university policies that dictate the issues with travel funds for prospective faculty members.

Yes, it is difficult for graduate students/unemployed persons to arrange for travel up front.
I think most (reasonable) SCCs will realize this, and be sympathetic.

However, that doesn't change how the game is played.  And, yes, this is something that will come up when you take the faculty position. I, personally, don't have a lot of sympathy for young professionals in my field who can't make it to the big-yearly-conference because they don't have departmental funding. Personally paying for conference travel is an important business expense, that you should be planning for every year (especially if gainfully employed), even if your university budget is limited and it means some money out of pocket.

Just my 2 cents, FWIW.
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sagit
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« Reply #54 on: March 09, 2012, 11:26:53 AM »

The OP would have received a different response if she had posted that she couldn't afford interview trips and needed help figuring out what to do. Instead, she posted about how she was turning down interviews and writing chastising notes to SCs about their travel policies.

This is a very good point, madhatter.  I think people on the fora have a lot of useful advice when people ask for it, rather than bemoan the system that none of us can change.
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scion
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« Reply #55 on: March 09, 2012, 12:07:25 PM »

Yes, it is difficult for graduate students/unemployed persons to arrange for travel up front.
I think most (reasonable) SCCs will realize this, and be sympathetic.

However, that doesn't change how the game is played

Except "the game" is not played consistently. For example, I just returned from two campus interviews with very different approaches to expenses.  School A paid travel, lodging, everything in advance and even made the flight reservations for me (yes, this still happens). School B paid lodging in advance and is reimbursing travel and other out-of-pocket expenses.
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mleok
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« Reply #56 on: March 09, 2012, 12:33:34 PM »

Except "the game" is not played consistently. For example, I just returned from two campus interviews with very different approaches to expenses.  School A paid travel, lodging, everything in advance and even made the flight reservations for me (yes, this still happens). School B paid lodging in advance and is reimbursing travel and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Be that as it may, it doesn't change the fact that the individual travel reimbursement policies of schools are not something that can be changed at the departmental level, and while the search committee are likely to be just as frustrated about the situation as the OP is, it's probably something they've been fighting for years, or something they've tried and failed to change.
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mleok
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« Reply #57 on: March 09, 2012, 12:48:05 PM »

The OP would have received a different response if she had posted that she couldn't afford interview trips and needed help figuring out what to do. Instead, she posted about how she was turning down interviews and writing chastising notes to SCs about their travel policies.

I totally agree. This happens a great deal though with new job seekers, they'll come on the forum and bemoan the state of academia as it is, expecting that we commiserate with them. Ultimately, as immediately satisfying as that might be to complain about the state of the world, it is rather unproductive.

In practice, many forum members realize that it beyond their individual power to change many of the most frustrating aspects of academia, and in the grand scheme of things, byzantine travel reimbursement policies are relatively low on the totem pole. Most would be happy to receive professional travel funds of some sort, or be in the fortunate situation of having interviews.

I, for one, would be much more convinced that the financial situation was simply untenable if the OP had only one interview request, and she had to turn that down because of the travel policies. With the repeated emphasis on her many interview requests and that she's a highly sought after candidate adds to the "diva" interpretation, and adds to my feeling that it is a calculated (albeit difficult) decision on her part to turn the interview offers down.
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zyzzx
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« Reply #58 on: March 09, 2012, 12:54:03 PM »


It's worth pointing out that this practice does not end once you are gainfully employed. That is, I still have to prepay my travel expenses and submit receipts for reimbursement. What is worse, our travel expenses are capped, so reimbursements often will not cover all of the costs. I don't point this out as a kind of woe-is-me solicitation but rather to reinforce an earlier poster's point that getting a job isn't the end of it--at least not if you want tenure and promotion.

I'll second this. In my current position I have to prepay not only conferences (which are all international), but also field work, which can run to many thousands of dollars. And reimbursement takes many months. The first summer I was here, one more trip than I'd expected completely cleared out my bank account - I ended up having to borrow money from my advisor. Now I have enough savings to cover things, but I am pretty much constantly owed money by my department, usually to the tune of several thousand dollars. It just comes with the territory.
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merinoblue
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« Reply #59 on: March 09, 2012, 1:26:00 PM »

The OP would have received a different response if she had posted that she couldn't afford interview trips and needed help figuring out what to do. Instead, she posted about how she was turning down interviews and writing chastising notes to SCs about their travel policies.

Yes.

Like Lottie says, it costs money to put yourself on the job market, from the printing and postage costs of sending out applications, to the cost of buying some interview clothes, to travel.  Too bad.  If you want a job, beg, borrow, or steal the money to get to the interview. Every year, I fork out travel money from my own pocket and take a hit on my salary from unpaid work days off to attend conferences.  I don't get reimbursed for any of this by my employer.  I do it because it's the cost of keeping one foot in the academic world and trying to find a job.

OP, I have to wonder if you're complacent because you have five interviews, and you feel you can turn down two.  

And your odd capitalization and bizarre petulance for someone seeking a job who has little cash to spare (wouldn't that drive one to maximize interview opportunities?) sets my troll radar off.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2012, 1:27:09 PM by merinoblue » Logged

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