Focus on Careers

L Robin Keller
L. Robin KellerINFORMS

As the academic job market ramps up for the 2015 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on Nov. 1-4, I focus this article on careers and career enhancements. Nominations were due Aug. 8 for those wishing to attend the annual meeting’s doctoral student colloquium, teaching effectiveness colloquium or new faculty colloquium [1].

Employers and job seekers should register with the INFORMS Career Center [2], which had 2,619 registered employer users and 5,211 registered job seeker users as of January 2015. Currently, we have well over a thousand live jobs and a thousand live resumes on the site. We reach out to potential employers and follow-up on leads on possible job postings for our Career Center from our community discussions on INFORMS Connect, such as the Job Board open community on INFORMS Connect [3].

INFORMS hosts two career fairs each year, on Sunday afternoons at the annual meeting in the fall (with 80-100 employers) and at the analytics conference in the spring (with 15-30 employers). Applicants can drop by employers’ tables for information and confirm plans for (or in some cases, set up) personal interviews for later in the meeting.

Academic job seekers should be polishing their resumes, websites, teaching philosophies and research interests, arranging recommendation letters and practicing their “elevator speeches” (one minute on why their work is important/exciting) and “job talks” (the 60-90 minute colloquium talks they’d make at a school during a finalist interview). After applying, they’ll receive some emailed invitations for short, 15- to 30-minute interviews at the annual meeting, with most personal interviews held Monday through Wednesday. Some schools will also talk with candidates in a drop-in format at the conference, especially during the job fair. Schools typically invite finalists to second-stage interviews on campus or via remote phone interviews. Finalist interviews are typically held January through March for jobs beginning the following fall.

Those seeking non-academic jobs go through a similar application process, but the jobs usually start just a few weeks after the offer is accepted. In addition, a professional colloquium for practice-oriented graduate students and the Richard E. Rosenthal Early Career Connection networking events are held at the analytics conference in the spring. Applications for both events are due in early March [4].
Following are quotes from brief interview profiles (courtesy of the INFORMS Career Center) of established O.R./analytics professionals [5] to consider for new career directions and in building pride in our professional identities.

Cynthia Barnhart, chancellor, MIT: “To me, operations research is fun because it involves creativity – there isn’t necessarily a single, cookie-cutter approach especially when trying to model large, complex systems like those in transportation.”

Deep Parekh, manager, Consulting Services, Ernst & Young LLP: “The base of knowledge that you can gain via consulting is extremely wide and gives you the opportunity to go as deep as you want to go in any vertical.”

Brenda Dietrich, IBM Fellow and vice president in the IBM Research Division: “Companies appreciate the business value of optimization and are investing in applications, and end users are becoming more computer literate and easier to satisfy.”

Leslie-Ann Asmus, supply chain product manager, Chesapeake Supply Chain Division, Aspen Technology, Inc.: “My title of supply chain project manager translates to being involved in everything from pre-sales technical support to industry template development to project management and support.”

For managing your ongoing career, in addition to conferences, publications, awards and volunteer opportunities, INFORMS has created the new Certified Analytics Professional (CAP®) certification and professional education courses [6]. For organizations, the Analytics Maturity Model [7] scorecard helps assess their internal analytics capabilities.

As you manage your professional identity, you can reach out to INFORMS members via our INFORMS Connect Communities (, create your own Google Scholar profile and connect via other social media options [8] including our INFORMS group on LinkedIn, which has around 19,000 members, INFORMS Facebook page, INFORMS Twitter channel, OR Exchange (question-and-answer site for INFORMS), INFORMS YouTube channel and Pinterest.

Reference Links

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