Faculty life at a smaller college...
[Excellent advice from Dr. Williams]
I would like to add a few comments to the discussion on the relative importance of research and service ("being a department member") at smaller universities and colleges.
If you are applying for a job right out of graduate school or a postdoc, you won't be expected to have a strong record of service-- just a positive attitude and some ideas. Once you have a job, look for things you can do to help make the department the sort of place you want it to be. Routine committee service will not get you tenured, so try to pick a few areas where you can make an impact. When I got my current job in what was then a rapidly growing department, I volunteered for the next hiring committee during my job interview. Since then I have had more than my fill of that assignment, thanks to rules that require female representation on all such committees. My reward is my colleagues.
Which leads me to my second point. There are many mathematicians in small and isolated places who are struggling to stay active in research. What they want is a colleague to work with. Seek out the lonely hearts in your field at the places that have openings. Write to express interest in their work and bring your application to their attention. When it comes to an interview or an actual job, throw away your scruples about field. Try to make connections with the people who are there. If your colleagues care enough to give seminars or colloquia, go to them. We all need encouragement, and you just might hear something really interesting.
Susan G. Williams <email@example.com>
University of South Alabama