I got a job, guys.

Happy Dance

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.

I recently heard from a grad student who related to me a faculty member’s comment that the academic job market requires living with uncertainty. Life is uncertain, it is true, but living on year-to-year poverty-level job contracts with no promise of renewal is a special kind of hell. That this kind of stress is now accepted as just part of the academic job path is awful and sad. On top of the uncertain funding humanities grad students often face, the fact that they are then expected to work a series of 1-3 year temporary, visiting, adjunct, or postdoc positions before hoping to land a tenure-track position is madness and often not worth it. You might eventually land a permanent faculty position . . . or you might find yourself creeping up on 40 with approximately $0 in your retirement account (I’ve been planning my pre-tax retirement contribution, can you tell?). Don’t do it, people.

For kicks, I did some math based on my own academic vs. non-academic job hunts:

# of academic jobs applied for over the past 3 years (including TT-positions, temporary, visiting, and postdoc positions; excluding internal funding and dissertation completion fellowships): 123

# of academic job interviews: 2

# of offers: 0


# of non-academic or alt-academic jobs applied to over the past month and a half (including internships): 4

# of interviews: 3 (for 2 jobs)

# of offers: 1 (other applications withdrawn)

Universe, I hear you and I am listening.

Apparently, my personal odds of finding an academic position are somewhere in the less than 1/123 range while my odds on the non-academic job market seem to be 1/4. That’s a 25% success rate over 48 days. During a recession. I should have done this two years ago. Seriously.

I am resisting the urge to be all, “look how easy leaving academia is! Everyone should do it all the time always!” because, of course, it wasn’t easy. It was emotionally difficult and occasionally heartbreaking and certainly very stressful. It also would have been much, much harder without the strong support network that I am lucky to have. I am fully aware that not all humanities PhDs have such a network in place. I’m also sure that transitioning to a new type of job (albeit in familiar surroundings) will offer its own challenges. Now that I’m in my 30s, however, I prefer my career challenges to be appropriately compensated (with cash money, people, not with some abstract sense of love and devotion).

Now, I’m trying to figure out what to do with this blog. On the one hand, I want to continue to blog about the transition to my new job, because I think that could be helpful in some way. What is it like to make the move into an #alt-ac career (am I alt-ac now? I think so.)? Will having weekends off be as awesome as it sounds? Will it be weird or awesome (both?) to work as a staff member at my old graduate school? I also think I might want to blog about professional issues in the field and the academy, since I’ll be experiencing things from the admin side now. On the other hand, I feel like I should be a bit cautious. I don’t want to get dooced and lose my job by blogging about it. So, I’m on the fence. What do you think? Feel free to weigh in below in the comments.

20 Comments on “I got a job, guys.”

  1. Currer Bell says:


    As for keeping up the blog…hmm, I guess it might depend. Anonymity would be key. And not saying negative things about your job/co-workers, etc. Might depend on how you take to the new gig and how authentic you decide you need/want to be in your posts.

  2. “I prefer my career challenges to be appropriately compensated (with cash money, people, not with some abstract sense of love and devotion).”

    THIS!!! And I am imagining stick figure you smiling maniacally with fistfulls of cash and a tooth diamond. Congratulations on the new job. fantastic news.

    I don’t think you need to worry about doocing yourself- at that time, she was naming names right? and making fun of her boss. I think someone would have a hard time identifying you from your stick figure portrait.

    keep blogging, fo sho.

    • I was thinking of simply swimming through my cash room (which is a thing all employed people have, I hear) Scrooge McDuck style.

      I believe she was indeed making fun of her boss by name. Not a very smart interwebs move. The problem is more that this isn’t a 100% anonymous blog (i.e. many people who know me IRL know about it). This makes things trickier, I think.

  3. Chris Llano says:

    Congrats!!!!! Yay!!!! Don’t ever forget to keep blogging, please, plus your stick figures are awesome/priceless, yay!!!

  4. Caitlin says:

    Yes, keep blogging! For your own sake as well as ours! Transitioning from the professor track to the alt-ac track can be a journey of a thousand cuts, particularly if you’ll be working with faculty in your new job. I, too, am a humanities PhD working in faculty development, and I am frequently blown away by the fact that the only way some faculty can think to compliment me for a job well done is to suggest that I should go *back* on the academic job market. Erp?
    This is not to be a Debbie Downer about your job–or mine! I’m partnered with some lovely faculty now (one is taking me to China as her assistant on what can only be described as a junket because I don’t speak a word of Chinese!) and because I’m at a rich professional school I’m paid better than humanities profs at Tier 2 & 3 institutions, and I don’t work too much, and can do it wherever and whenever I like. In many ways, life is sweet. But I am still a little closer to academia than I’d like, and my 3-5-year plan involves building the skills to move a little further from the academy (that’s why I keep reading these dang post-academic blogs…) Thankfully, my lovely benefits plan involves free coursework!
    Anyway, enough blathering about me–my point is simply that your journey hasn’t ended, it’s just in a happier phase!
    And do stop to pat yourself on the back for being so gracious in your interviews. I botched a lot of early ones because I still had a lot of unprocessed ego/emotional stuff stuck in my craw. Academic affairs and student affairs jobs are VERY over-subscribed, so the fact that you got one means that you’ve successfully convinced your new co-workers that you’re not going to be bitter and cranky all the time about the fact that you’re not going to be a professor. And that, in many ways, is the hardest thing of all about the transition.

    • Thanks for this comment; it’s very helpful (really!). I’ve been wondering about this aspect of the job–whether working off the faculty-track inside academia will feel odd or uncomfortable. I’m hopeful that since I’ll be in familiar surroundings at my former institution the transition might be easier than it would be otherwise. I am kind of itching to blog about this transition, but (as I mentioned in a comment above) I’m not 100% anonymous here. I would have to assume that anything I posted would find its way back to my real work life. Which might be okay, depending. I plan to mull things over for a while.

  5. JC says:

    Ahhh, congrats!!! What awesome news!!!

    I still sort of cling to the possibility that I might land in academic affairs some day, after I finish up on the “just doing it for the money” job contract I’m on now. So I know that I, for one, would love if you kept blogging … if only so I can mine you for tips about possibly breaking into the field. :)

    Also, speaking from experience as someone fully out of academia and into a new job … just see how you feel about blogging over the next few months. I seem to really like it, so I’ve continued doing it. And since I still live in a college town and have friends who are academics, I still hear about things happening in academia … and since I’m now fully removed and can see the whole dirty, ugly picture of academia, I tend to get fired up and motivated to post.

    So just play it by ear … but personally, I’ll be shocked if (at least at first) you don’t still feel compelled to write a little bit as you learn the world of nonacademic work and see academia from the outside. :)

    Good luck!!!

    • Thanks! This is useful–I think I will need to kind of feel things out once I start. I might also just start posting things I wouldn’t mind having my real name attached to and make the blog some kind of cartoon/digital scholarship hybrid. That’s a thing, right? I’ll make it a thing.

  6. Fan******tastic! I am so giddy for you! Gym membership, benefits, real money — salary, did you say retirement savings?, oh retirement savings. Those of us who are at the 4-0 doorstep and whose retirement savings are watered by their spousal units can certainly understand your joy.

    Your blog is really important: it’s funny and refreshingly honest about the this side of life. Please do continue it, if you can.

    Make sure you and my brother celebrate well. I’ll raise a glass to you later.

  7. Ken says:

    Congratulations! Every success story is a cause for joy. I’d be cautious about blogging about the job, myself. If you blog about what’s happening to you in enough detail for it to be satisfying for you and interesting for readers, then anyone who’s in the same circle will know right away who you are, if they happen to stumble across this. You may think you’re being nice, but unless you’re saccharine sweet then you can’t guarantee how someone is going to react to seeing themselves described on your blog.

    But keep cartooning! The cartoons are hilarious. And congrats again!

    • Thanks! That’s one idea–move to a cartoon-only format. I’m also toying with the idea of posting about alt-ac issues under my real name over on one of the scholarly blogs devoted to such things. The tone would be different, of course, but I think I’d still be reaching at least part of the same audience. I’ll probably wait a few months to decide (but will be cartooning in the meantime!).

  8. Oh yay for you!!! It is exciting. I could not wipe the smile off my face for days when I finally landed a job, so I totally get how super happy you must be feeling right now. It is a MASSIVE relief to realise that you are actually totally employable. and yes, I have been calculating my retirement savings too. and yes, weekends off are as TOTALLY awesome as they sound. Remember when you used to go out til 5am and sleep all day the next day? I don’t think i’d done that since before graduate school – and then I got my weekends back. Will you might not want to do that EVERY weekend (if at all) the fact that you can will make it all so much jucier. Woot woot! (and you don’t have to wait for the bus – with all that actual cash salary, you can afford a cab!)…ok ok enough from me – just enjoy each day as it comes is my advice and learn as much as you can from your new gig.

    • Thanks! It is exciting! I’m having problems wrapping my mind around the concept of weekends as play time and not “scramble to meet deadlines/prepare for the week” time. It does sound glorious though, and I’m sure I’ll have no problems adjusting to my new, gainfully employed lifestyle (I say this now . . .).

  9. Jet says:

    I’m sorry I missed this announcement when you posted it, but was reminded from JC’s post about it today. Big congratulations to you. I have also just got a job offer at the same university where I did my PhD, quite possibly in a similar ‘academic affairs’ staff role as you. It’s funny because, as I said in my post about it, I wouldn’t have applied for this two years or a year a half ago for fear of coming out to people who know me there and would question why I was bailing out etc. But all of that has changed now, and I’m very pleased I’ve allowed myself to give it a go! So much more opportunity to find decent, secure employment once we finally let go of the weight of academic promises, dreams, wishes, etc. Hope you’re enjoying the job, if you’ve started already!

  10. […] lovelies! It’s been too long! Neglected blog is neglected! My intention when I started my new alt-ac position (over 6 months ago, now!), was to continue to document my transition into the land of para-academia. […]

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