Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I Have a Job

So I've blogged my job market process since August as an ABD student.

The final tally was 84 jobs applied for. That's just the higher ed jobs, not including the Hasting applications, the NPS jobs, the federal jobs.
That's 36 definite higher ed "Nos" and 48 limbo jobs with no answer yet. Despite this, my thought is not that I'm still in the running for those 48 jobs, but that HR just hasn't gotten around to sending out the rejection letters.

And I've made my peace with the fact that I am not a unicorn, and there will be no higher ed job this year. For me this was maybe easier than others because I DID teach high school for 12 years and loved it. There's a lot I miss about it- the community, knowing your students over four years, all the support your provide them.
I'm trying NOT to listen to the mean voice in my head that tells me this is a failure on my part. I know that the job market is more about luck and chance than anything else.
I still spent some time last week talking both on the phone and on Twitter with colleagues about making my peace with what NOT getting a higher ed job really meant. And what it didn't mean.

I've written too about my back up plans which included applying for National Park jobs, Bureau of Indian Education jobs, applying to jobs at UNM in the dean's office, applying to TFA, and transferring my high school teaching certificate to New Mexico and applying for high school teaching jobs.

Last week I was starting to freak out a bit.
While I have lots still to do this semester I know that I will blink and it will be over. My TAship runs out in May and I've been facing the very scary reality of how I pay bills after 1 June. IF I get summer teaching that pushes back these fears to August, but that's still terrifying.

Most of the advice I've gotten has been supportive.
But a lot of what I've gotten are platitudes- you'll be fine. It'll work out. Just get an alt-ac job.
While I appreciate the sentiment behind these, they have not helped.

But I have tried not to freak out. I have tried to focus on the fact that I did everything I could to get a job and at this point I needed to not stress over things I had no control over. I knew that high school jobs generally didn't post job openings for the next school year until April-May when they knew who was retiring or not coming back, so since I've missed out (mostly) on the higher ed hiring cycle, that was what I was hanging my hat on.

Because as of last week, I had not made the cut. I had not heard from a single job.

I have an MS Ed, an MA, an (almost) PhD, and I'm a Nationally certified teacher, so I'll go to the top of most high school hirings, although I've written before that my concern was that also puts me at the top of the salary scale which could be a budget buster for some schools.
Most of the private schools weren't hiring, but I sent letters and CVs in anyway. One was, and I sent in my stuff, but never heard back.
I've put in for three separate public school jobs, heard a definite "No" from one nothing from another and then the following from the third.

Last Friday I received a phone call late in the day to schedule an interview at a high school on Monday.
I interviewed Monday afternoon. I think it went well.
I sent a thank you email to the principal Tuesday and he responded that they recommended that HR hire me, but the offer had to come from HR, not them.

Yesterday (Wednesday) was the first day of final edits on #DevilDiss2, and I had a hard time. One, because I started with the intro and since I did this and the conclusion last, this was really the first time my director  had seen them, and so they were ROUGH. The intro had all the pieces but needed serious revision. And I struggled with it all yesterday. Of course running in the background all day, checking my email and phone (I was convinced they were both broken) was waiting to hear about whether or not HR would take the recommendation. So there was that.

By 4p I had finished the introduction revisions, and since it was a hard day wrestling with the revisions, I took Nehi for our evening walk. I figured if I hadn't heard anything by then I probably wouldn't. As usual, I didn't take my phone. I like that our walks end my work day because it's a great way to let go of the day and clear my head.
I returned home to five missed calls and a voicemail that HR was hoping to get in touch with me, and to call them back. I did, but it was after 5p at that point. I admit to worrying- was this good news or bad news? Would they move onto the next person on the list since they didn't get me? It's all so stressful.
I woke up this morning to an email from the principal telling me that HR called and left me a voicemail.
I was finally able to catch up with HR this morning and was offered, and accepted the job.
This is a mid-semester replacement, and I start sometime in the next week. I'll complete hiring paperwork today. The school has work days tomorrow and Monday, so I'd love to get in there and start to get acclimated some but the actual start date depends on how quickly the background stuff goes through. Best estimate is about a week.

The position is for teaching English 9 and 10, which is what a lot of my experience is, so I'm excited about that. The two English teachers I met during my interview were very nice, so that bodes well.
I am very excited, for a lot of reasons. A teaching job means that I can pay rent and groceries and Nehi chewies. Even if this is just this semester, the money I can put aside will cover bills through February, which means I've gone from no safety net to a lot. If it's possibly renewed for next year that's even better. It buys me breathing room, it lowers my stress level. It means that a second round on the job market is possible. While the school is about a 40-45 minute commute, I don't have to move, so I save that expense.

It will also be an adjustment, not anything bad, just different.

Because I've been revising #DevilDiss and teaching online this semester I've enjoyed the ultimate privilege of higher ed- working from home, in sweatpants, working on my own schedule, taking breaks to play with Nehi. There's a lot about higher ed that's privileged, and gets attention, but the flexibility of HOW we're able to work is often not mentioned.

I already get up at 530a, but now I'll need to immediately walk Nehi, then get ready for work in order to leave by 630a to get to school, which starts at 735a. High school teaching is also different because it's teaching straight through all day, for eight hours with only a small break for lunch, maybe one period of prep. So that's also very different from teach 50 or 75 minutes once, maybe twice, a day.

The schedule also means that I need to find someone to come let Nehi out around lunchtime. She's crate trained, so she'll easily go back to that, but 9+ hours is too long for her, so she needs a break. I've emailed the dog walker/pet sitter my vet recommended. They're a little pricey, but there's nothing I can do about that she can't go that long (and that's not including if I have meetings or anything after school).

So far there is only one negative. I've had to write and cancel for a conference. It's simply too many days to take off just a few weeks into a new job. I feel AWFUL about this because it's a conference I look forward to, and people who have supported me, but it's three days in a row. I thought long and hard about this, trying to figure out a way around, and I just can't do it. I've only ever cancelled from a conference once before- AFS over the union issues, and I did it months in advance. Because of how quickly this all happened, it's less than a month notice, and I feel awful about it. But I just can't turn down or jeopardize this job. I need it.

Our daily schedule will change:

  • Getting up will be fine
  • Nehi might not like taking her morning walk in the dark, but she'll get over it. The walk will have to be shorter because of time limits, but there's nothing I can do about that
  • I KNOW the first week I'll collapse at 3p on Friday because it's exhausting to teach straight through all day (even if you love it) and it'll take me a bit to get back in the groove
  • I'll just switch grading my online class from mornings to evenings
  • Saturday mornings I'll still work on my online class, with afternoons set aside for dissertation revisions.
  • I've been taking Sundays off-off. At least the next month this probably won't happen as I finish dissertation revisions.

I'm not worried about juggling the work. When I last taught high school I taught my classes, acted as department chair, served on multiple school committees, ran extracurricular clubs, taught two online AP classes (with 50+ students), adjuncted at the local community college and still managed to publish.

But I admit, that I had a small freak out when I laid out the revisions schedule for the home stretch of the dissertation. I have until the end of March to complete a detailed, concise line edit of the entire dissertation. My director will then aim to have final notes to me by 1 May, so I can work on last looks in order to send the final draft to my committee by 15 May for my 17 June defense.
It works out to roughly two chapters a week. But while the intro needed a major overhaul the actual chapters need cutting, trimming, style work not complete reorganizations, so not awful.
And that last week is actual spring break for the high school, so I'd have off the whole week to finish.
That's a lot.
But because I'm a planner and a realist I asked myself- what's the worst case scenario?
I won't finish the edits in time. We reschedule my defense for August. That gives me all summer, when I won't be working full time, to finish. An early August defense still enables my committee to write job letters that I'm a Doctor, so it makes no difference to Job Market Round 2. It does mean paying an extra semester of dissertation tuition at $594 but if this teaching job extends to next year, that's less of an issue.

Don't get me wrong, that's not what I want. I WANT to be done in June. But if that's the worst case scenario? That's totally manageable.


  1. CONGRATULATIONS!!! That is such good news in this world of no-guarantees. I hope you will keep blogging about your new teaching adventures! :-)