Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reflecting on Job Prospects in February (there are none btw)

Wednesday I received an end of day email from a local public high school asking for a phone number where they could reach me.
Wednesday night  I sat down with my writer's notebook and like I always do, planned out every possible contingency. There were some issues, the main one being that this job has a posted start date of Monday 22 February.
Funny enough, the biggest concern I had was not prepping a classroom, prepping lessons, or acclimating to a new school, it was who was going to let Nehi out at lunch time?
I woke up yesterday morning thinking I was a little mad for taking on a full time job while also completing line edits and prepping for a 15 June defense. So as I so often do, I took to Twitter and reached out for help and a sounding board.
First, I was again bowled over by the generosity of Twitter. Several people DMed me to talk when I asked. And one generously, so generously, offered to call and talk. Someone I know only through Twitter. It was this generosity as much as the listening that was so helpful.
A couple of things came out of this phone conversation, and the DM conversations:
  • I completed my MS Ed while not just working full time, but commuting three hours round trip several times a week to Staten Island for school from Brooklyn. I completed my MA while teaching full time during the year, and adjuncting, and teaching two classes for an online high school. I've finished my PhD in a shortened time period, so I have the organizational skills and dedication to get this done.
  • I love teaching. I know there are lots of posts about using this word, how it's gendered, how it so often is used as an excuse to take advantage of free labor. I am a teacher. So the idea that I would be a high school teacher again makes me happy.
  • A full time job, with a full time salary (and with fifteen years of teaching experience, National Board certification, two Masters and an almost PhD, I'm at the top of the salary scale) would take SO much stress off. Whether this job was just extra money this semester to set aside, whether it was a full time gig into the next year, or became my life, this would remove a lot of day to day stress.
  • Other than finding a lunchtime dog sitter for Nehi, I would probably have to cancel on at least one of the three conferences I'm supposed to attend. I can't very well take a job this semester and then take 9 days off. So the one conference where I'm gone 4 days I'd have to cancel on, hope they'd understand, and make due.
  • These conversations also made me realize that I've made my peace with this if this is how my life goes.
Also, now that February is winding down, it's time to check in on this year's job market. And do some reassessing.
So here are the stats:
  • Since August I have applied to 85 jobs. 
    • Most were medieval or early modern or pre-1800 literature jobs. 
    • Some were English Education jobs, as my high school teaching experience I think makes me a good fit for these types of jobs.
    • The last month or so popular culture, film, media studies jobs have posted and if they were in my wheelhouse and NOT film production or screenwriting, I've applied for them as well, as my publication record supports that.
    • Most were at four year colleges, some big unis, some SLACs, lately, many of them are community colleges. 
  • Almost all of these have been tenure track jobs. The last month or so, some have been full time lecturer positions. A handful are Visiting Assistant Professor jobs. 
  • Out of all of these jobs there are 47 that I have not heard back anything from.
  • Out of the remaining 36 jobs the academic jobs wiki says that 19 have moved onto MLA, Skype, phone, or campus interviews. 17 jobs have emailed me rejections.
  • I still set Fridays aside for job applications, but like today, there were two apps and that was it. I've added checking Albuquerque Public School listings to my Friday routine. 
    • Most  of those jobs though won't post until later in the semester, May or June even when retirements or firings are in.
    • I've also applied to one private school opening for the next school year.
    • For the other private schools not hiring, I made contact anyway, sending in cover letters and resumes.
So, where does this leave me?

From what I can gather, this is where the academic job market is:

  • Media studies and community college jobs are still posting
    • But a lot of these community college jobs also have in the ad that IF you make it to an interview I would have to pay my own way (for a 90 minute interview, as these are not the 2 day affairs others do).
  • SLACs and universities have moved onto the campus visit stage, so I'm out of these
  • VAP are trickling in, as sabbaticals and fellowships get approved and places realize they need subs for the upcoming year
Ideally I could find a job for the next year so I'm not stressed about paying bills past August.
I could prep for my second year on the job market, doctor in front of my name, graduated. If I had this, I could not stress about the market. But this would be it. I am unwilling to spend years and years on the market, scraping together pay.
Ideally this job would be here in Albuquerque to save me the cost of moving, which I don't know how I would pay. It cost me around $5000 to move out here from NC and I just don't have that. A job here let's me stay where I am, where I've been living off a budget of $14,400 a year so there's lots of room to save.

My university has a good track record of hiring graduated students as lecturers to help them fill time between graduation and getting jobs. And I know they'd TRY to help me. But UNM just announced a $6 million dollar shortfall for our campus. And it would depend on a lot of things- if professors are gone on fellowship or sabbatical, course enrollments, need, seniority. Because of all of these moving pieces, it could be a late decision, July, or August.
My lease is up in July.
If I get a summer class I have enough money to pay bills through August.

But after that, I don't know what I'm going to do.
I do not have a husband or partner who can cover bills until I figure things out.
I do not have a family that can cover me until it all works out.
I have put in applications at Hastings, but haven't heard anything, so guess that's a bust.
I have a back up plan that I'm hoping I won't have to use. I'm starting to have serious doubts about it, and really don't want to have to make a choice between eating or my morals. Plus this would require me to move, and teach, in a place where I have no say.
If by this summer I still don't have anything, my next step is temp jobs. I'm organized, I can follow directions, I work hard, so I'd be a good secretary. But with no safety net, I need to start working in May to save enough money up to cover the spread depending on whatever I get paid.
A lot of people, particularly people NOT in higher ed or academia, are telling me "it'll work out," "you'll be fine."
And my question to them is, okay, how?
How is it going to work out? How will I be fine? How will I pay bills? How will I pay rent? How will I pay for food? Or Nehi's stuff?

The other tirade is, just go alt-ac.

Like people are just handing out jobs. Like New Mexico was not just announced to have the highest unemployment in the nation. Like there weren't 19 year olds with more practical job experience than me at this point.
It's just not that easy.

I have been poor. I have wondered how I'm going to eat. I have counted pennies to buy food. I once only ate in college because the theatre department did a production of Suburbia which had a 7-11 as a set piece, and once the play closed the prop department let me take as many ramen noodles and Nutri-Grain bars as I could. To this day I can't eat either. I know what it's like to not know where I'm going to live.
So I'm afraid. I'm trying not to be. I'm trying to focus on the fact that I'm doing everything I can. That stressing about things I can't control won't help anything. But I am really scared.

So "it'll work out," and "you'll be fine" is not cutting it.
I still think getting a high school teaching job is my best bet. While my PhD might blow the budget line for a public school, this isn't necessarily true of the private school. And for a private school I'm a good catch. Given the teaching shortage in the public schools, the budget line might not end up being a big deal.
So I'm not giving up.
But I'm not dancing around either.

It's Friday morning, and I haven't heard from that school from Wednesday. With a Monday start date, I'm thinking they've decided to pass. But at least it solidified for me my thinking, so that's good.

So that's what my job prospects in February look like.
How's everyone else doing?

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