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Thread: working with young professors

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    monetary
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    working with young professors

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    Is it a downside if the professors you are most interested in working with at a program are young and recently hired? I feel like plus side is they're actively engaged in research, at the edge of the field, and probably interested in working together, which all seem like huge advantages. But, if they have little experience advising and no history placing advisees in good positions is that a big risk?

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    Re: working with young professors

    The advice I've received is that younger professors are more willing to advise you/your JMP on methods and specific areas (ie framing a topic or how to do some sort of modeling), but that it's best to have more senior professors pushing for you on the market as your main advisor. That's not to say you shouldn't get involved in research with younger professors, it's just worth knowing that they won't have as much pull when it comes to helping you land a job. From talking to students, it seems like the optimal committee is one senior faculty who is dedicated to their students and has a history of placing them coupled with two younger faculty you can go to for specific advice.

    Of course, I'm no expert and only passing along what I've heard from others so hopefully someone more experienced will chime in.

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    Re: working with young professors

    Quote Originally Posted by yitz15 View Post
    The advice I've received is that younger professors are more willing to advise you/your JMP on methods and specific areas (ie framing a topic or how to do some sort of modeling), but that it's best to have more senior professors pushing for you on the market as your main advisor. That's not to say you shouldn't get involved in research with younger professors, it's just worth knowing that they won't have as much pull when it comes to helping you land a job. From talking to students, it seems like the optimal committee is one senior faculty who is dedicated to their students and has a history of placing them coupled with two younger faculty you can go to for specific advice.

    Of course, I'm no expert and only passing along what I've heard from others so hopefully someone more experienced will chime in.
    Iím not more experienced (applying this cycle), but an advisor of mine (young AP from a top school) and I were discussing my acceptances/options last week, and this is exactly the advice he gave me.

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    Re: working with young professors

    Another risk with APs is that they might simply not get tenure, and have to leave in the middle of your PhD. (Senior profs could obviously leave too, but that's rarer and seniors who intend to leave probably won't eagerly take new advisees.) So you should try to find out the tenure rate at your school to know how much of a risk that is.

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    Re: working with young professors

    I'll add a few thoughts to the very good replies above. First, it certainly goes without saying that all of this is second order to finding a department with good teachers and advisers, whether they are junior or senior. But I realize it is hard to figure out who are good teachers and mentors without experiencing it yourself. These are good questions to ask current students.

    Also, don't think about who your "advisor" will be. Tou will ultimately have a dissertation committee with four or five people on it (the minimum number is generally set by the university). All of these people are your advisers. One of them is the Chair of the committee and sometimes people refer to the Chair as their advisor. But you want to work with all of them. Ideally you have a mixture of senior and junior people on the committee. They tend to have different strengths. Usually people choose a senior person as the Chair, but it really doesn't matter. I think students overthink a bit who should be the Chair of their committee. It really doesn't matter that much. Ultimately three people will write letters for you on the job market. Perhaps employers will put a little more weight on the letter from the Chair, but who knows.

    Diversity on the committee is important in other ways besides having a mixture of junior and senior faculty. Some faculty will spend a lot of time working on your writing. Some have more expertise in econometrics, or theory, or the particular topic you are interested in, etc. Remember that you are picking a department now, not a single faculty member.

    You generally don't formally name your committee until your third or, more commonly, fourth year. By that time you've gotten to know the professors in your department well (hopefully) and have been talking to multiple people for feedback on your work.

    Finally, when someone says "work with" a faculty member, they could mean be a research assistant for a faculty member, which is separate from who your dissertation committee members are. Definitely try to get a job as a research assistant for a professor who works in your area and is doing high level work. Don't worry so much about the person's age, since that may not be correlated with the quality of the job. But just because you work as an RA for someone, doesn't mean that person is the Chair of your committee (or even on the committee).

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    Re: working with young professors

    Thanks to all for the great insight on this question. I think a lot of my schools have a good combination of experienced older profs with good placements and younger profs who I am excited to work with. I have several visit days over next 3 weeks so this will help guide me through that.

    I've also been a little stressed about not having my research interests clear enough so thanks tbe for putting me at ease as far as not knowing exactly who I want to work with/what I want to do.

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