So….what is an adjunct faculty job fair?

So….what is an adjunct faculty job fair?

(Originally published on INALJ on May 1)

While searching for jobs, I ran across an intriguing posting for the City Colleges of Chicago. They were holding something called an adjunct career fair at one of the City Colleges, and the word “librarian” was nestled among the long list of other fields. I couldn’t quite tell from the listing whether they needed a librarian, or if they needed someone to teach the principles of librarianship for the CCC’s LTA program. In any case, it was a library job.

As I do for all jobs, I did some research. I researched the LTA program, and the classes. I researched exactly how to get to the community college where the LTA program was based. I researched the online program (It uses Blackboard? Awesome, I know how to use it!). The job fair listing said to print out 7 copies of my resume and transcript, so I did. I also read somewhere that adjuncts are expected to have a teaching philosophy, so I wrote up a simple one and printed 7 copies of that.

It still didn’t answer my main question: What is an adjunct faculty job fair? Is it like the career fairs I attended in undergrad, with a wide variety of companies and organizations standing at their assigned booths, giving away cheap highlighters, sticky notes, and candy? I couldn’t imagine a community college giving away goodies in order to entice people to teach. I thought they were always inundated with more job applications than they ever needed.

The adjunct career fair can probably be more accurately described as a recruiter event. I joined the other prospective adjunct faculty and took my seat along the chairs in the hall, waiting my turn for the preliminary interviews. Deans of the college conducted the interviews, checking to make sure that applicants hit all the major criteria for the position. (I presumed they were also checking to make sure applicants were not incompatible with the workplace environment, to put it politely.) Once the interview was over, the dean took a copy of the applicants’ resume and transcript, and slid the papers into extremely full manila envelopes marked English, Biology, and so on.

When it was my turn, the dean noted that they rarely got applicants who met all the criteria to become a library faculty member. (Woohoo! I silently thought.) She also said that it may take months before they even start considering all the applicants. Knowing how the City of Chicago operates, I was prepared for that. It was a very brief interview, and didn’t even get into any questions such as “So, why are you interested in working for us?” before she slid the application into the Librarian folder, which, I must note, was surprisingly thin. I’m taking that as a good sign.

Some takeaway lessons from my first and only adjunct job fair I’ve been to so far:

1) March, April, May, and June are prime seasons for academic or school library jobs. Schools are starting to get lists of applicants together for the upcoming academic year. Keep your eyes open, and always check any listing that says “Adjunct (or College) Career Fair” because they may need librarians or library paraprofessionals.

2) Be prepared. And then prepare some more. Just because I didn’t have any hard-hitting interview questions doesn’t mean that some adjunct career fair interviewers might be more thorough. I wowed a couple of people with my preparation because I had written a Statement of Teaching Philosophy even though it wasn’t specifically requested in the posting.

3) Be patient. In the government and academic world, the wheels can churn slowly. You could apply in March and get a call-back in August. In other words, you’re not going to get a job right away.

4) Ask questions. I was a little bit bewildered by the career fair and didn’t think to ask whether it was a librarian job that has the rank of adjunct, or an adjunct professor job. Or both. I still don’t know, but I’m prepared either way.


After writing this, I received a really helpful email from Reina Williams, a faculty librarian at Wilbur Wright College, which cleared up a lot of my confusion about how the City Colleges of Chicago hires librarians.

I was going to summarize it, but she says it so beautifully I’m going to simply quote it here:

“If there was a posting for the Library Technical Assistant program it would have been indicated in the job description. The LTA program is not across all CCC campuses but unique to our campus at Wright College. Each college of the City Colleges of Chicago has a different focus, and the courses taught may vary. Since librarians within the City Colleges of Chicago are considered faculty many teach courses. They are still performing library outreach, reference, library instruction, library administrative duties, committee work, etc. along with teaching credit courses.

“The application process for library faculty follows the same procedure as faculty within any other discipline at CCC. Of course, in other institutions that have faculty librarians the application may be different because it is overseen by the university library’s human resources department.

“In terms of applying for positions at CCC you can say positions are posted toward the end of the semester to have people in place for the next semester, but positions can pop up at any time depending on a college library’s need, and those job posting can be found at the site listed on your job board.”

Reina also acknowledged that the CCC job descriptions for library faculty is generic, and that  can make it difficult to write an application. But, simply put,
“CCC libraries are looking for librarians that can wear many hats such as cataloging, reference, library instruction, website management, teaching (credit courses), e-resources, social media management, library administration, professionally active, knowledgable about trends in library and academic technology, and creativity and innovation are a must.”

Many thanks to Reina for writing, and I hope this update helps you as much as it helped me!

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