Tomorrow's Professor Msg.#56 The Right Start-Up Package - ItAs Not Just About Money

 
Folks:

The following note from Hy D. Tran, assistant professor of Mechanical

Engineering and of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico gives some important insights on negotiating for a successful start-up package for beginning professors.

Regards,

Rick Reis

UP NEXT: Interesting Statistics on Higher Education

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THE RIGHT START-UP PACKAGE: IT'S NOT ABOUT MONEY

It is generally accepted that one has the best negotiation position before accepting an offer, and vice-versa. It is also accepted that offers are virtual (vaporware, if you will), unless they are in writing. However, a lot of verbal exploration is a part of any negotiation process. Regardless of how careful you are, there will always be surprises--promises made in writing may be subject to "interpretation" (e.g. you thought you had a 2000 sq. ft lab promised to you, but it's really a broom closet...) The most important thing is the people--do you feel that you will be comfortable in the environment that you've been interviewing. You must realize that your future department is always putting its best foot forward (these are all truisms, even in non-academic environments).

The most important part about negotiating a startup package is to realize that it's not about money! It's about getting your career launched as quickly and effectively as possible. Insofar as money is useful (e.g. you can now afford to buy lunch, dinner, and use a laundry service) money is important. But in addition to salary, you have to ask for laboratory/office space, professional development support, equipment money, student support funds, and reduced teaching commitments. If you are expected to do research, the reduced teaching load is probably the most important part of your startup! Try to get (in writing in your offer) a reduced teaching load for as long as you can. In addition, a departmental or school commitment to reduce your teaching load can be used to demonstrate to funding agencies the "institutional commitment" This is time that you can use to write proposals, publications, and do research. You can (and should) also use this time during your first year to prepare a "career roadmap." If you can sketch out a career roadmap prior to getting a written offer, all the better.

So, while you're out interviewing (or before), think about what is it that you want, and what you *really* need. (I want a salary in 6 digits, but can make do with 5; but I *really* need parking, etc.) For me, a very important consideration was child care. Classify those desires--compensation; work environment; expectations; support--and think about what contribution *you* are making to your department. Why are they interviewing you? What is it that they're looking for? Will you be happy fulfilling their expectations? Then, negotiate for the things that you will need in order to succeed.

That said, you should not offer to take less $$ than they're willing to give :-)

Dr Hy D. Tran, PE
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mechanical Engineering Building Room 330
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

E-mail: tran@me.unm.edu
Tel:(505)277-2831
http://me.unm.edu
Fax:(505)277-1571

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