Mentoring Blog

DIY Scholarship: Strategies for the WPA PhD

By Virginia Schwarz, University of Wisconsin-Madison


During my academic hiatus, I learned how to be a do-it-yourself scholar, and I 

think that approach can be helpful in PhD programs, especially for future writing 

program administrators (WPAs). The six years I spent in teaching and administrative 

roles at various community colleges helped me form a strong identity as a WPA, and I 

also learned to be very creative in finding—and making—opportunities. If you’re a new 

Keeping the Plates Spinning: Surviving as a Graduate WPA

By Katherine Daily, Arizona State University 


I’m sitting on the plane headed back to Wisconsin, throttled forward to a land of

cheese-shaped hats, my favorite beer (New Glarus Spotted Cow), and some of the 

nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet. I’m looking ahead to eight glorious 

days with family and friends: the baptism of my nephew and niece, an ugly sweater 

party (or two), meeting up with friends at my favorite cigar bar from my undergrad, 

and hopefully a snowstorm on Christmas eve. However, there’s a feeling of dread 

Negotiating WPA Service and Graduate Student Work

By Todd Ruecker, University of New Mexico


As the job market gets increasingly competitive, it is important for graduate students to build 

their professional profile in as many ways as possible.  Beyond completing a stellar dissertation 

and trying to get a few publications, students should seek varying service opportunities present at 

their institution.  As a doctoral student at the University of Texas at El Paso, I served at different 

times as the Assistant Director of the Rhetoric and Writing Graduate Program, Assistant Director 

But What Kind of WPA Am I?

By Melissa Ianetta, University of Delaware

Scene: MLA Convention, New Orleans, 2002.

A PhD candidate is interviewing for an Assistant Professor/WPA position at large state university in the west. The conversation, which thus far has examined her teaching and research, has been both genial and animated—which the intrepid job seeker takes as a good sign. The search chair then moves the discussion to the WPA portion of the job.

What Makes a Good (Virtual) Campus Visit to a Two-Year College?

By: Jeffrey Klausman, Whatcom Community College

Last spring, my colleagues and I successfully completed a hiring process for a new full-time faculty member in English. By “successful,” I mean not only that we made a hire, but that we hired the person whose experience and interests most closely matched our needs. How did this one person rise to the top? How was he, along with a half-dozen other candidates, selected for an interview? Here’s the best answer I can give: He brought us something we needed.

The Top Three Questions to Ask on a Campus Interview

By: Nicholas Behm, Assistant Professor, Elmhurst College,

When I talk to graduate students planning a career in the academy, I always speak candidly with them about the dearth of tenure-line opportunities and the seemingly relentless challenges of working in the academy. So, before I address questions that should be asked on campus interviews, I want to relate what I wish I had known about the market before I went on the market.