It’s been ages since my last post. My bad, guys. Since accepting my full-time alt-ac job, I’ve been busy moving back to the U.S. and attempting to not be homeless. New job is located in my old town, so I am intimately familiar with the dismal rental market ’round these parts. Essentially the options are: 1) over-priced apartments for college students with wealthy families (think NYC rents for NYC-size apartments in a middle-of-nowhere college town); 2) cheap, fire-trap apartments for college students who do not have wealthy families; 3) over-priced, slumlord-managed dwellings in various states of disrepair for non-college students. I’m exaggerating a bit, but the rental market ain’t good. Complicating matters, we’re coming in off-season to a town that runs on the academic calendar (people rent in Feb-April for leases starting the following summer/fall) *and* we have a pet. This left us with slim pickings. A side rant: it makes me very sad to move from a culture where pets–dogs especially–are such an accepted fact of life that one wouldn’t think to question whether or not one’s dog would be “allowed” to be somewhere to a community that seems dog-friendly on the surface (there’s a dog park, etc.), but makes it extremely difficult to actually find housing while owning one.
This is all to say that we decided to buy a house. I know! Turning on a dime here, folks. I had been frantically stuffing money under the mattress when I thought that I might be unemployed, well, forever. Now that I have secured gainful employment, investing in a house seemed like a good option for those funds. So we took a week, looked at some houses, and picked one. Then things got complicated. Having never bought a house before, I thought that job + down payment = mortgage. As it turns out, this is not necessarily the case.
So, I accepted a job offer this week for an academic affairs position at one of my former universities (!). It’s a full-time, permanent position with benefits (good benefits! Like dental, yo! And a gym membership and stuff). I cannot even tell you how excited I am about this. The job is in instructional/faculty development, which I’ve been working in/around for years as a grad student (serving on curriculum committees, teaching pedagogy courses, presenting at teaching conferences, etc.). The hiring committee’s preference was for a PhD, which was exciting. I was hired (and am being well-compensated), in part, because of the degree. No burying my education section at the end of my resume for this gig! I’m psyched about the actual job duties, but I cannot overestimate the effect the promise of stable employment has had on my mental and physical well-being.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, one of the fields I’ve been investigating is management consulting. I did a few informational interviews with management consultants several weeks ago (both in big firms and smaller boutique ones). I was initially drawn to consulting for a number of reasons. I like the teamwork and problem-solving aspects. I like the idea of a fast-paced work environment (but not necessarily the reality of it, as I’ve mentioned). I like the earning potential. I could be earning more after 5 years as a consultant than I would ever make as a professor, even a tenured, full professor. I was also drawn to the fact that many (but not all) firms tend to recognize the PhD–even when it’s in a Humanities field. By this I mean that PhDs don’t necessarily have to start in entry-level positions with recent BAs/BSs. A downside, for me, is the need for quantitative skills (I do not have them, and I do not really want to learn them). I think my inability to perform back-of-the-envelope-fourth-grade-math might be a dealbreaker. There is also the question of work/life balance. The consultants I talked with emphasized the long hours (60+ hour weeks) and travel time, but were quick to assert that they had a fine work/life balance. One person noted that the people he knew who had quit over these kinds of issues had problems in their next jobs as well; they just weren’t good at establishing boundaries. I think this is probably true. Any task can expand to fill the time you have, and if you’re not good at fiercely defending your free time it’s easy to wind up without any.