I got a job, guys.Posted: May 25, 2012
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# of offers: 1 (other applications withdrawn)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.