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Not on the Job Market

NOPE, not this year. 

October 22, 2014

It sort of snuck up on me this year; I am in a new position, I’m not really teaching, and so the creeping inevitability stayed off of my radar for a change. So while I wasn’t surprised when the first job-advice tweets and think-pieces started showing up on my screen, I was surprised by how vehemently negatively I reacted.

Exhibit A.

Maybe being freed from actually being on the market allowed me to unleash my … frustrations. Maybe it’s because I feel some survivor’s guilt for getting off of the contingent merry-go-round and am instead in a satisfying, rewarding, enjoyable alt-ac position, so I am particularly sensitive to job advice pieces that ignore adjuncts on the market.

(I even toyed with the idea of offering my own job advice to adjuncts, but really, I know not nearly enough. And, again, I think they would end up being entirely too ragey.)

Inevitably, however, because I am friends with academics and graduate students and member of a number of academic listservs, plenty of academic jobs, both traditional and alt-ac, come into my field of view (not to mention the ones that are algorithmically selected for me here on IHE). 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my new job. I love my new city. I don’t relish the idea of moving again. But old habits die hard; this is the first year in almost a decade that I haven’t been actively looking for a job of some kind. I see a job, both tenure-track and alt-ac cross my path, and my brain kicks into its well-worn routine. Does it fit? Is it in a good location? Do I get a little kick of excitement about the possibility of said position? Yes? APPLY APPLY APPLY!

However, I can’t and won’t pull the trigger. It’s a position of privilege, but it is also a position of self-care and self-preservation. I could barely bring myself to update my C.V. for my current boss for record-keeping purposes. I never want to look at my C.V., my cover letter, my teaching statement, or any other piece of job-application ephemera again. Well, probably not never, but not for a while.

Oh, boo-hoo, you might say, you have a job and you’re complaining about not being able to apply for more.

It’s not a complaint. But it’s more unexpected reactions to a long, and in a lot of ways, traumatic process that I’ve been undertaking over the past 7+ years. It’s a process that many others are still going through, with less positive results than I’ve experience. With less support. With less success. With more abuse. And even those of us who come out the other side successfully do no do so without deep scars, scars we often don’t even know about. 

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Lee Skallerup Bessette

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