Monday, December 20, 2010

Even When It's Good It's Bad

I've been having a pretty decent year on the market for the first time this year (my fourth year on the market). I've got a couple of nibbles, one of which I'm extremely excited about and the other of which is very close to my Platonic ideal. I'm really happy about these developments and I would love--LOVE--to have either one of these jobs.

But in spite of that, my overall experience over the last month or so has been decidedly negative. Part of that is that there is a moment where the elation that comes from having snagged an interview turns to dread that I will now have to convince these people to hire me. Another is that for every interview I've been granted, there are at least 15 I've missed. Getting one or two interviews and then seeing 15 or 30 jobs go down the drain has a way of taking the wind out of my sails. And then I start to think about how an interview isn't a job, it's a 1 in 4 chance of getting a campus visit. And a campus visit isn't a job, it's a 1 in 3 chance of getting an offer. And then I think, fuck.

To be clear, I am not trying to complain about my interviews. I am making an observation complaining about my own fucked up emotions. Even when I'm doing well, I can't make myself feel good about it. I'm stressed about my interviews, stressed about getting campus visits, and stressed about how I don't have more interviews.

Gotta love the job market.

--Mr. Zero


Anonymous said...

I'd say 'gotta love being an aspiring academic philosopher'. This isn't a criticism; I feel your pain.

- great I passed my qualifying exams.

- fuck I have to actually write a dissertation.

-great I finished my dissertation.

-fuck I have to defend and get job.

-great I've secured job.

-fuck I have to get tenure.

-great - I have a publication.

-fuck - I need more to get more. get the idea

Anonymous said...

Getting interviews in this market is an accomplishment not to lose sight of.

Anonymous said...

@12:47: You just need two more steps:

-great- I have tenure

-fuck- it all. I have tenure. I don't feel anything. I don't want to do anything. Fuckitall. The closest thing to a coma you'll ever be. Fuckitall.

Anonymous said...


>> I have tenure. ... I don't want to do anything <<

You're right - that's often the case. But then there is only slightly differently worded yet vastly more rewarding sounding prospect:

I have tenure. ... I can do whatever the fuck I want!


Anonymous said...

-Great, I have tenure.
-Fuck, I need to be a full professor.

zombie said...

Congrats on the interviews, Mr. Zero.

I'm actually feeling pretty damn good about the interviews I've got. One reason is that some of the PFOs I received were good enough to tell me that they had over 400 applicants. Some of the interviews I've got are with schools that I know had to have at least that many applications. So already, I've beat the odds. So have you. You should feel good about that.

As for the pre-interview anxiety, well, I got nothin' for that.

Anonymous said...

Hm, yeah, no, that's wrong, about tenure. Sure, full prof is a raise, and I'd love the extra money, but there's no angst involved in that quest. And I guess there was a semester or so when I felt like maybe I didn't want to do any work and fuck everything, but that got old fast and I moved into the best phase of my working life. Just fantastic. If I feel like I want to throw myself into teaching and blow of the publishing for a while, I do that. And so on.
I honestly don't know anyone who sank into anomie because of getting tenure. Although there was this one guy who was here when I got here. But of my rough contemporaries, none.
So, hang in there, Mr. Z (and cohort). The road is rough, but the destination really is as good as it looks.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:08,
I call your bullshit. If you're really so happy with tenure, why are you frequenting this site? Back on the market, are we?

Asstro said...


Believe it or not, some of us TT and T folk frequent this site because it's a level playing field for us to communicate with grad students. We also frequent to get a sense of what's going on with the market nowadays. I actively advise my own grad students on the market, so I like to hear what people are thinking; and I like to offer advice to others. I'm not leaving my job anytime soon... and those readers who know my identity will attest to that.

Frankly, I think this is an important meeting point for grad students and faculty to come and air their issues. I love this site. I hope it keeps going long after Mr. Zero, Zombie, and others get jobs.

Anonymous said...

sometimes when i read these comments, i think to myself of socrates' dictum that it is best to care for one's soul; and this leaves me wondering about the claim that philosophy has done this to you all.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:09.

Stop reading Plato and go back to grading papers.

--Tenured Professor who you're TA ing for

Anonymous said...

8:24, I can see why you'd be suspicious. But no, I'm not on the market, and I don't actually post here much. I read this site because it's interesting, that's all. (Asstro's reasons are also good ones.)


Anonymous said...

You say an interview is a 1/4 chance at a fly-out, and a fly-out is a 1/3 chance at a job. I assume you're thinking there are probably 12 interviewees, and 3 fly-outs.

If so, then I don't agree with the probabilities. You've given the probability that you'll be a school's first offer. But I would've thought that the probability of of getting an offer (perhaps after their first and maybe second offer is turned down -- I've heard of schools going down to as low as 7th on their list) is higher. Maybe even much higher.

modus said...

Mr. Zero,

I struggle with feelings of self-doubt constantly and tend to put myself down on a regular basis. Even when things are going well, dark pessimism is always right there telling me it's just a matter of time that I'm going to fail - and fail hard. In similar situations, I've tended to reject myself before I get rejected. It's not a preemptive strategy to lessen the blow of an expected failure or rejection, but an expression of my feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing.

In the end, though, you just have to say 'fuck it'. The world is going to grind you down, and the philosophy world is going to do so even more. Leave that task to them, and give yourself a break. Take a deep breath, and just do your best, and you'll be just fine.

Anonymous said...

I think that tenured and tenure track people who are not on the job market frequent this site to feel better about themselves. They enjoy witnessing others' suffering. Too bad we cannot get them in trouble with their bosses for spending work time on The Smoker rather than grading papers or meeting with students. They are almost like mean voyeurs.

zombie said...

On the assumption that the people who claim to be TT are in fact TT, I appreciate their input. I want to hear from people who have served on search committees. I want to hear from people who have navigated the minefield that is the philosophy job search, and come out alive, because they can presumably offer me some meaningful advice about navigating it myself.
If and when I finally get that dream job (*faint*), I'll try to hang out here anyway.

Anonymous said...

10:35, some of the tenured people who read and occasionally post here reveal their names. So you could phone Doug Portmore's "boss", and Fritz Warfield's, and see if you can "get them in trouble."

I think I remember you from middle school, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I'm really curious about how many first-round interviews top candidates receive on average. Five? Ten?
Of course, we're all happy to have anything-- but at what point can you say that you're really one of the more attractive candidates?

Anonymous said...

@12:43 I think it probably matters a lot where you're getting interviews.

And, speaking of Doug Portmore, anyone have any info on the ASU search?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:43 - I'd say 10-15 during a normal year, maybe 8ish in a year like this? Though I'd say it's more the prestige of the schools you're interviewing with, not the quantity, that makes you a 'top' candidate in the sense I take it is under discussion.

I currently have 5 interviews and a flyout, but I wouldn't consider myself a 'top' candidate, since none of my interviews are at Leiter ranked institutions. (Not that I'm complaining in any sense - I'm thrilled to have the interviews)

729 said...

Candidates coming to Boston might be interested:

Anonymous said...

A report from US Dept of Education about to come out suggests that tenure is pretty much a thing of the past:

Another reason for grievously underemployed adjuncts and vistors to shout a resounding "FUCK YOU!" to the consumer-oriented diploma factories previously known as "colleges and universities"...

zombie said...

I think it's time to cease waiting for APA interviews. Relax and enjoy the holidays, philosophers! See you in Boston.


BunnyHugger said...

Anon 7:26:

That's why part of me thinks I should be counting my blessings and hanging onto my yearly-renewed lecturer position with a death grip, especially now that we've unionized. Yet something impels me to fling myself at the job market every year. I suppose admitting I've given up would be too painful.

No APA interviews for me this year; I'm at least as much relieved as disappointed.

Lloyd Dobler said...

8:08 PM on 12/20 and 10:35 AM on 12/21: Seriously?

Look, TT and T readers know the stresses of being on the job market, so might be inclined to chalk these comments up to the effects of unrelenting anxiety. But there are lots and lots of questions that people on the market raise on this blog asking for advice from people who've already been through this. You sure you wouldn't rather have that advice than cast aspersions? I've posted anonymously on a few occasions, but the only reason I bother is because I've seen that, in general, the entire blog (of which I have been a long time enthusiast) generally provides opportunities for mutual support. And sometimes it's snarky and funny, but usually only when someone leaves a comment like yours and needs to be called out for pissing in the swimming pool (hope my metaphor is appropriately snarky and funny here... I don't usually do this).

So, without really knowing, I would bet that a good number of readers are T or TT, but that only *some* of these are themselves on the market. But, be that as it may, I would be very surprised if any TT or T readers were getting off on witnessing other people suffering. It's perhaps a tempting fantasy because, were it true, it would suggest that the people who already have jobs are bad and the people who don't are good. But this does not seem to me to be a good way to alleviate the anxiety about not having a job.

So, in the immortal words of Lloyd Dobler, you must chill!

[Full disclosure so that you don't have to face the anxiety of not knowing: I happen to love my TT job and feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to interview for it a few years ago. I'm past final review and have already met standards for tenure. I'm also on the market, though I'm not sure I'd leave my present institution (a decent SLAC) even if an offer came along from one of the few R1 schools to which I've applied. In any case, I also seriously doubt that I'll have the luxury of facing such a decision.

Oh... and just for good measure, I'll borrow Lloyd Dobler as a handle so that all my future comments can be tagged back to the same otherwise anonymous TT reader. Happy?]

Anonymous said...

Job market strategy: Since flights will be canceled and delayed to Boston, request interviews with schools with candidates who don't show. Steal interviews! Steal jobs! Merry X-mas!

Anonymous said...

How about a new post for all the stranded interviewees in airports around the country? Maybe a play-by-play of what the scene looks like at the moment in the hotel, or some other kind of observation would be welcome for the strandees.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry too much. It's Sunday afternoon and it hasn't even started snowing yet (I'm in Boston now). SCs will be just as delayed as candidates. And there's always Skype. Good luck, everyone, we're all in this shit together.