Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Urge Toward "Other Options"

After this year's job market experience, in which I expected nothing and got nothing, I'd decided not to enter into the spring job market so as not to take any time away from the dissertation. Though there are never any guarantees, I remain hopeful that, with PhD in hand, my next job market run (Dec 09) will be better (not like it could be worse, right?). The problem/issue is that I can't seem to shake the thought, feeling, or maybe urge is the best word, that I'm ready to be done and move on. By this I mean primarily to have a full-time job. A colleague put it best today when she described this urge as my way of disassociating myself from my department, school, and this town. I'm mentally preparing myself for the moving on that will happen when I get a job. The problem is that I'm not terribly patient when it comes to things other than my children. Maybe it's partly in my nature and partly a result from having two children and a third on the way, but I'm seriously wondering if I should consider "other options," options that depart from the traditional

Step 1: finish diss and hit job market in Dec w/PhD in hand, with the hope of
Step 2: landing a t-t job at the best 4-year school I can find and then
Step 3: publishing my way up to a better school, and so on, and so on.

For example, there are full-time, tenure-track positions open in my field AND my husband's field at a community college (the largest public institution of higher education) in his big, urban, hometown. The course load is 4-4, which would very likely be the course load at any school we'd land jobs at right after we finish. The cost of living is higher, but I'm guessing that the salary accounts for the cost of living. So, my dilemma is whether or not to consider options like this at this point.

On one hand: I have another year of funding as a grad student (teaching only one course per semester), though I won't need another academic year to finish. I have yet to see how the job market treats me with a PhD in hand (neither does my husband). I've been told by the "powers that be" in my department's graduate office that funding as a lecturer will very likely be available for 2-3 years after I finish. I have a history of short-changing myself and my work, thinking neither are good or smart enough; this especially happens when I get scared of unknown factors (i.e. an even worse economy next year, not getting a job even with a PhD in hand, not getting a publication out before or soon after I'm finished).

I'm not sure sure what's on the other hand....Maybe the possibility that I could hate teaching at a cc? Or worse, I'd hate it, but no 4-year would hire after I'd been at a cc? Is there a stigma associated with teaching at cc's that prevents you from moving on to good 4-year universities? What are the statistics for how many people move from a cc to a 4-year? I'm also pretty sure my advisor would expressly discourage me considering this option, at least at this point, unless there were extenuating circumstances (family, personal issues, etc.). I don't have a good sense of self-awareness in terms of knowing with any certainty where or at what kind of school I'd be happy. There are definitely some places I know I'd be miserable at, but how do I know if I'd be happy teaching at a cc (or any other school) if I haven't yet done so? I can't stand the thought of teaching nothing but introductory composition and literature forever, but I also shudder at the thought of the pressure to publish, publish, publish, OR ELSE!

I guess I have the academic equivalent of cold feet or something...I feel the urge to get a damn job now, as long as its one that I could be remotely comfortable with (full-time, tenure-track, not in the desert or CA, FL, ND, SD, WY, or several other states where I don't think I'd be happy living). But, I also recognize the sense it makes to chill out, relax, and follow the Traditional Path of Academic Progress, especially when there's absolutely nothing to lose (at this point) by doing so.

Ugh...this is one of those times where I really wish I had a wide audience who could wisely guide toward the light.


kenandbelly said...

Speaking on behalf of the "Oh, Wise Internets" (ha), I'd say that it makes more sense to just chill out this job season and get the dissertation finished. (I'm probably just saying this because that's a semblance of my own plan.) On the other hand, if you already have your application materials ready to go this season, what's it going to hurt to send out one more application to the cc in your partner's hometown? It's not like printing out one more batch of paper would be a dramatic break from the chill out option. Besides, you aren't going to know if you'd like it there unless you give it a closer look (IF you make it onto their short list-- there's no guarantee, but here's hoping). If you don't, you'll always wonder (well, at least, I would).

Lisa Dunick said...

I feel your pain-- that whole being in limbo and not knowing whether to charge forward or to hold back. But if I were you, I'd take any opportunity I could, because from what I'm hearing, the market isn't going to be any better next year. It's a depressing, depressing state of affairs.

AcadeMama said...

k&b and LD:
Hubby quickly put the kabos on my temporary freakout. He explained how I'd have to go through metal detectors just to get to class and, more importantly, that he'd rather work at any of the 100+ cc's that exist b/t here and his hometown before going back there.

But LD you're's the not knowing when to jump ship for anything that comes along or wait patiently until your own resources are exhausted.