The day the MLA job list was released there were about 17 jobs that I qualified for, and I'm up to +/- 28 (there are a couple I'm not sure about, but more on that later).
Because I am who I am, I had color coded lists and plans for this job market season.
- I printed out all the ads from Vitae, MLA, and Higher Ed, highlighted all the pertinent information to address in cover letter, and made notes on each after researching their courses
- I then added each job to my tracking spreadsheet
- I put them in order of when the application was due
- I tried to put as much information as possible so that it was a solid "at-a-glance" spreadsheet
- I shared this, along with my other job market materials, with my committee members
- As I applied, I changed the color coding on the spreadsheet, as well as marking off my hard copy
- Many of the applications I completed two weeks ago, so I had notes to go back after 1 October (when I asked for recommendation letters by) to send off letters
There are a couple of jobs I'm still on the fence about applying for. I know with the statistics being what they are, that choosy is not something I can be. While there are some ads I've gotten more excited than others, I think I'd be happy at them all. The only thing I've been hesitant about were jobs in cities, because I do have a 70 lb. dog and I did promise her a yard, so I worry about that, but I still applied. That's a cross that bridge conversation.
A couple other jobs I'm still trying to figure out. Almost all the jobs I've applied for are early modern ones. Last year, and the year before there were a lot that straddled/collapsed the medieval and early modern periods, which I'm perfectly tailored for. But this year that trend reversed. So almost all of my jobs this year were early modern ones. There are a few medieval ones, which because of my dissertation and research interests, I could make an argument for. Except some of them say Middle English language versus medieval literature, and if they want someone who can teach language, Old English, and history of the English language, that's where my uncertainty comes in, despite finishing Old English fluency this semester. And unfortunately, I have gotten pretty conflicting advice on this, so I'm still mulling. Because I got an early start on these applications though, I have time to think and spare before deadlines, so we'll see.
At this point except for some of the medieval jobs which I'm still waiting on some stuff/info on, I've applied to all the early modern jobs posted.
I'm also checking the MLA joblist for updates (one was there today that wasn't when I last looked) and Vitae for anything not popping up in Higher Ed.
There are things that have helped this process:
- Having solid documents to start with, that were edited and revised by classmates, professors, and my social media support network for WEEKS and MONTHS before the jobs even posted, was really helpful. As ads have come in, and I've tailored documents I've felt confident doing that because the templates were so strong.
- Having a system (color coding, files) has helped me feel like I'm not missing anything.
- I am very grateful to my recommenders for getting stuff to me so quickly, particularly as one is on the East Coast and one is in Europe this year with another on sabbatical.
- Interfolio is great. But no one told me anything about it, and I could have used the help. I paid the yearly fee, and paid $42 dollars to send out recommendation letters this morning. Because I didn't know that applying through the MLA joblist meant I DIDN'T HAVE TO PAY. That would have been nice to know ahead of time.
- I wish I got more input/advice about which ads I could stretch for and which ones I shouldn't.
- As I said, prepping materials early has been a great help, but I wish there was more immediate advising once the job list came out. Having more ME as in tailored towards me not Middle English :-) specific advice also would have been nice.
- As with everything else, I'm trying to be transparent about my job hunt, as I am with my teaching and scholarship. But more than with those other topics, I'm getting a lot of negative responses to the job market. I'm trying to ignore it, but it's hard. I get people have been burned by the job market and academics but that's not MY fault, so people can take their crap elsewhere.
- Then of course, there's the very real, very simple fact that what I do the next couple of weeks will determine the entire course of my life.
One nice thing about only being on campus two days a week, and not during times others are is that I'm not having to answer any questions about how's it going? How many jobs? I think I'd do okay with those questions, but it's kind of nice not having any added stress.
The flip side of that though is there's no one to commiserate with!
I only know two others (who were in the job seekers' workshop) who are on the market this year, and I don't know how it's going. When we were still in the workshop I said I'd be willing to look at stuff, but no one has reached out. So...
But I do have a great social media network, particularly everyone on Twitter has been great.
At this point, with the bulk of things done, there's just the worrying in the down time.
- When will I hear about whether or not I made the first cut for interviews? One responded with 18 December.
- Were my recommendation letters good enough?
- Did I tailor cover letters enough?
- Did I explain my research context enough?
- I've booked MLA flight and hotel already, but how much prep time will I have? I've heard nightmare stories about people not notified until a few days before.
And the thing is, I can't control any of that. In fact, once the job applications are submitted, I can't really control anything.
I want to be a college professor. I think I'd be good at it. Obviously.
But I'm also prepping some back up plans. I am following @USAJOBS and I have it marked in my planner come January that if I don't have any academic interviews, to start applying for federal jobs so I can (hopefully) be employed come graduation.
I'm trying not to stress about anything past May- how I'm paying bills or where I'm going to live, or if I'll have a job. I'm admittedly not doing so great with all that, but I'm trying.
Here's to being a unicorn...