Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Friday, September 11, 2015

MLA Job List 2015 Reflections

The last two years I've looked at the MLA joblist as a way of seeing what trends were in my fields, what the ads were asking for, and if there was a way for me to tailor my work towards these requirements.

Last year the initial list had 23 jobs that I would have qualified for. And a lot of them were a medieval/early modern split. That was more jobs than the year before, not by much, but a few. There were a few trickle jobs after the initial list but not many.

Today's list had 17 jobs. Most of them are early modern. There are a couple that say medieval but in the additional details want someone who can teach Old and Middle English and I'm not sure if I can sell that.
About half of these jobs were posted earlier so I'd already seen them.

On the plus side, most of these jobs are tenure track. Only one was a lecturer, and one is a VAP.

I made a spreadsheet of all the jobs, notes from the job ads, deadlines, materials required, and how to submit.
A lot want teaching philosophies. A lot want diversity statements. Writing samples vary from 15 pages to 25. I'm still not sure how this functions- 15 pages isn't an article or chapter, so it'll have to be PART of something, and not sure how to frame that. I have at least identified that I'll be creating this out of my Shakespeare chapter, so there's that.

A couple of the ads do not identify how to submit materials so that's a little confusing.
Quite a few don't list any contact information.
There is a job listed from a place that's been in the news a lot lately for their issues with tenure and treatment of their faculty. So I'm on the fence about whether or not to apply. It's a good fit description wise, but is it stupid to walk into that?

A few said they'd be Skype interviewing in December which is interesting. I already booked my MLA hotel and flight, so if I get any interviews that's all taken care of.

I then divided the jobs into October and November deadlines. I have two folders. Today I'll put the jobs in order or due date, start tailoring letters, and creating folders for those materials.

I know that the market being what it is, and less jobs this year than last in the initial posting, that it's not an improvement. I know too that wanting to live somewhere is not a factor in jobs, because we just can't afford to be that picky.

But there are three jobs in Oregon, which I am excited about.
There's one in Vancouver but it's one of those Old/Middle English ones, so bummer on that.
There's one job in a big city which I'll apply to, but I'm not sure if I'd want to live in a big city again.
The fact is I'm applying to all of these jobs.

But a friend posted this morning about thinking about the type of life you want in addition to the type of job you want. And I hear that. But with the market what it is, I don't know how picky we can afford to be. It may be a case of get the job, pay the bills, and work around quality of life.

I've written some here, about my stress levels the past month. I've worked stressful jobs, and I've been under a lot of stress in my life, and I've never felt as bad as I have this past month. Constantly feeling sick, chugging Pepto to get through days, these are not good things.
Like I told a friend, I don't FEEL stressed, but maybe I'm internalizing it. I think the source of the stress is that I don't know what I'm going to be doing in a year. I don't know if I'll have a job, be able to pay rent, buy food, all the necessary things. I'd like not to be worried about that $300 per month student loan payment I'll have to start making as soon as I graduate.
For anyone who has ever struggled with those things, that's a HUGE deal. And a huge source of stress. I'm not 22 anymore. I'll be 40 in February and I'd like to go back to having an adult life with a steady paycheck where I can pay all my bills and not worry about money. I'd like to have a home, not worrying about moving. I'd like to be settled.

Now that being said, I'll take any job I get. I'll pack Nehi in the truck and move anywhere. The benefits of being a homebody are as long as Nehi has a nice yard, with a park nearby, we're pretty much set. We don't require much.
But I don't have any control over that. And there's no savings left after three years of my PhD program. So there's no safety net. And I worry about things like even IF I get a job, where will the money to move come from? Do universities pay that? If I have to move every couple of years from job to job, will they pay every time?

There's no way for me to know who I'm competing against other than knowing there will be PhDs who graduated last year, the year before that, and current grads. Some will have had time to publish more in the specific field.

I feel good about my publication record but they are all in the folklore and popular culture range. Which makes sense because I apply folklore to medieval, early modern, and current culture. But it's not specifically in medieval or early modern and I'm sure I'll be going against people who have.

I do have a strong teaching record, and teaching at UNM, I certainly check that "be able to teach diverse populations" box.

I have a strong conference presentation record. 

Two of my four references have seen me teach, and I think all will write me strong recommendation letters. I still don't have a defense date, but I'm in the revision stage which I think says a lot. I'm ABD and on the market, but with a complete draft of all six chapters and through the first round of revisions I think puts me in a good place. I'm still aiming for a spring/summer defense.

I think I'd be happy in a variety of positions, so I have more possibilities than some who are limited by what they think they want, or issues of family ties or requirements that dictate what jobs can be applied to.

If I'd known I would have focused more on publishing in medieval and early modern fields. But there's nothing I can do about that now, and I think my explanation in my materials works. As does the fact that my next big project is turning my dissertation into a book, which is nothing BUT medieval and early modern work.
In short, I think I've done everything I can to make myself a good candidate. And that's all you can do.
For now I have concrete goals to accomplish- the next month I'll focus on tailoring my materials, putting in my applications, and then we'll just have to wait and see.

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