Saturday, November 5, 2011

Deep Thought

I don't like being on the job market very much and I look forward to a time when I don't have to do it any more.

--Mr. Zero

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

A-fuckin-MEN

Joshua Harwood said...

You could always join the discouraged workforce.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Zero!

Anonymous said...

I have a tenure track job and it sucks. I never left the job market. So don't get your hopes up too high.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to burst your not yet made bubble, but unless you land your dream job and continue to think it's your dream job, this process will continue.

I can add, however, that applying for jobs when you have one isn't nearly as exhausting as when you don't, and takes far less emotional investment.

Anonymous said...

I have a decent tenure track job, and while I'm sort of on the market this year, I wasn't last year. It was wonderful not to be on the market. And it's wonderful to be on the market with the knowledge that, even if I don't get a better job, I'll still have one that's secure. So don't let 3:09 and 3:41 get you down.

Anonymous said...

Whether I get a shitty TT job or a good one, I don't care. At least you don't have to wait until mid to late summer to find out where your next paycheck is coming from. I will maintain my bubble of belief about the benefits of a TT job then. At least you know you can feed yourself! Poor you that you don't like your TT job. I mean I can't say I feel your pain, I do kind of understand and I am sort of sorry to be a bitch, but please take your self-pity to the rest of the people with TT jobs from now on. OK?

YFNA

Anonymous said...

ps: if you don't like your job, I'll take it off your hands for you.

YFNA

Anonymous said...

Right on, 8:48.

Anonymous said...

I have tenure at a completely shitty place but I'd rather have tenure somewhere shitty than go out on the job market again. The job market was BRUTAL in my experience 7-8 years ago. I wish all job seekers good luck.

Mr. Zero said...

You could always join the discouraged workforce.

I suspect that would be worse. All things considered, I have it pretty good.

I have a tenure track job and it sucks.

and

Sorry to burst your not yet made bubble, but unless you land your dream job and continue to think it's your dream job, this process will continue.

I have thought about this possibility. Although I can't be sure how I'll feel about it until it happens (if it happens at all), I have developed several coping strategies.

For one thing, I think it would be a bad idea to get a TT job and then go back on the job market in a serious way during the first year. It seems to me that, having fought tooth and claw for five years (at a minimum, if I am hired this year) to get the job in the first place, I owe it to myself, my family, and the department that hires me to really make a go of it. And that means not mailing applications for outside positions in the first semester of the new job. So if I get a TT job, I'll take at least a year off the market.

For another thing, being on the job market in a serious way takes a lot of time and effort. It takes the kind of time and effort that has the potential to interfere with a person's ability to do the things she needs to do to get tenure. So I think that even if my family and I were pretty unhappy with the TT situation, I would want to focus on putting myself in a position to get tenure and apply out only if doing so wouldn't interfere with that.

Now, I see room for some give-and-take here, but I don't think I'd go on the job market again until I was up for tenure. I also think I'd go on the job market when I was up for tenure whether I was happy with the current job or not. Safety first, I always say. But I guess I'd say that having a TT job would probably buy me at least one year away from the job market, and probably more like five or six.

And as anon 8:19 and YFNA point out, being on the job market without a TT job is a lot different than being on the market with one.

Anonymous said...

Things I like about the job market:

Sense of possibility
Landing interviews
Interviewers asking about my work
Getting feedback on job talks

Things I hate about the job market:
Sense of impossibility
Pestering my letter writers
Filling out online job apps
Paying for the flights and hotels and APA
Waiting
The APA and smoker
Waiting
Depression

Anonymous said...

I got my dream tt job and still think its my dream job and spent the first two years in a hazy delirium of really, I don't have to go through that again? Ignore the grumps! Keep the the dream alive!

Anonymous said...

I had a job that I tried to leave, and I'm now glad I didn't. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good.

Good luck to all on the market this year!

CTS said...

@ November 6, 2011 8:48 AM:

Is this blog only for those who do not have tt positions? I was not aware of that restriction. Are all job-search threads only for those who do not have tt positions? I was not aware of that restriction.

I understand that you might wish to correspond only with those in your own situation. I understand, although I would not approve of, your resentment towards those who are in a better position than you.

Nonetheless, at this job-searching time of year, I would encourage my fellow philosophers to be charitable, generous, sympathetic, and open-minded.

There are not many philosophy blogs that focus on the plight of job-seekers. This one does. Let’s not divide and allow conquering among ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Hey look, I have nothing against people with TT jobs. Some of them are my best friends ;)

It's just hard to have sympathy for someone whining about their own TT job given the job market. It seems to lack, uh, grace, yeah, grace.

YFNA

Anonymous said...

It's just hard to have sympathy for someone whining about their own TT job given the job market. It seems to lack, uh, grace, yeah, grace.

Given the job market, many academics probably feel compelled to take chances on less than optimal positions (bad location/high teaching loads etc.). These jobs may in the long run not make many people happy. Given the job market, *your* lack of grace is also potentially troubling. Given that you probably live in a wealthy, liberal democracy that allows you to take a chance on making a career in philosophy, where the risks of failing probably mean, I don't know, becoming an office worker of some kind, rather than say, allowing your entire extended family to starve to death, is suggestive of something too. And my point IS that arguments based on relative degrees of suffering are pretty annoying and not very nice.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I would then think that whining about one's TT job, given the starving people, would be even worse than complaining about the possibility of being unemployed? So I still would be less ungracious, would I not? I don't understand your reasoning, but neither do I care to.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Asshole (YFNA)

Anonymous said...

Oh come on. It sucks not having a TT job. It also sucks having a crappy TT job. But it sucks a lot less.

Those of us with TT jobs should remember what how absolutely shitty it was when we didn't have them.

And those of us who don't shouldn't pretend like we KNOW we'll so happy if and when that TT job comes along. Are you really that sure you'll *love* teaching hundreds of hopeless students in 10 courses per year? Are you so sure you'll be bffs with your coworkers? Will you be forever content with living in East Bumfock, KS?

Let's stop pretending like we're immune to the hedonic treadmill. Can we please get back to bitching about the job market, and stop bitching about each other?

zombie said...

I have a TT job. It is not an ideal or "dream job," but it is pretty. damn. close. I don't see myself leaving any time soon. I'd rather have another root canal than go on the job market again, and uproot my family again.

I have a friend (not a philosopher) who was laid off from her job and spent more than a year unemployed, and as soon as she got a good job, with good pay and good benefits, she started complaining that it was boring and not creative enough. She started thinking about looking for another job. I think it's a mistake to think that your job or career has to be perfect. There is life outside work, unless your job is so bad that it makes the rest of your life terrible too, and makes it impossible to find fulfillment anywhere. I've had plenty of bad jobs, but none of them were that bad. I'm willing to bet that very few TT jobs are that bad. It beats working in a coal mine, or a nucelar power plant, or being an underemployed, underpaid, overworked sessional facing chronic uncertainty.

Good luck Mr Zero, and the rest o' ya!

Anonymous said...

"unless your job is so bad that it makes the rest of your life terrible too, and makes it impossible to find fulfillment"

"It's just hard to have sympathy for someone whining about their own TT job given the job market. It seems to lack, uh, grace, yeah, grace."

Admittedly, some people with tt positions might moan for less reason that others (e.g., "What do you mean I have to teach three courses a year and actually bother to comment on the work these awful students turn in?"). But some tenure track jobs really are that bad. Not all of them, true, but some of them.

Do not assume that because people have tenure track jobs, they have no business being on the job market, or that their situations are not worthy of at least some degree of compassion.

Anonymous said...

Yet another *possible* option: Find oneself "blessed," "fortunate," or whatever in landing a TT job, even one that is not so great, and building the program, curriculum and environment such that it is a much, much better job, and a great place to work.

It is not always possible to engage in Program Building. Not every department one lands in would be open to making changes. Yet, this was something no one ever mentioned to me while a grad. student and job-seeking, and it turned out to be precisely what I and my new colleagues did. I think very often departments are viewed passively from job-seekers' perspectives--what you see is all that you get. This can be a real mistake. Once one lands a job, one becomes party to the goals and direction of a department. As I mentioned, sometimes one is up against inertia, obstacles and utter lack of vision, but there are cases in which *your* Input and Effort make a difference. If a department lacks vision, maybe you get to provide it. I recommend having some such vision, and doing one's best to implement it, especially when one lands a TT job that is not close to ideal. (I am *not* referring to research positions so much as considering a helpful attitude to have for teaching oriented positions.)

I could explain some useful strategies for Program Building (aka How to turn a "crappy" job into a pretty awesome job), but I figure that even my suggestion is something that highly anxious, frightened people might prefer arguing over a priori than taking into account. So, instead, I suggest that asking around about it, asking tenured or TT philosophy teachers what sorts of things they and their departments do to improve their curricula, department and student community, and outreach (college/university and public presence), could be helpful.

Anonymous said...

I have a TT job, and one that I rather like , for what it's worth.

I know many people who, despite having TT jobs, go back on the market every year. Some want a more prestigious job (and so only apply to top universities); others want a specific location (and so only apply to the west coast). But increasingly, there seem to be some who are just...unhappy. Yes, I know that some jobs suck. However, there also seem to be some people who can't distinguish between a shitty job and, well, a job.

That is, I have friends and colleagues in the field who define "bad job" as "I have to serve on multiple committees," or "some of my colleagues are post-tenure burn-outs who quit caring in the 1980s," or "OMG DEPT POLITICS!" And these people go back on the market hoping to find that department that doesn't require service work of junior faculty, fires its burn-outs, and everybody always gets along with everyone else. That is, they don't seem to realize that there are certain kinds of bullshit that simply come with the job.

Far too many grad students have a limited view of the academic world. They have a low teaching load, little to no service requirements, a degree of protection from dept politics, and lots of time (and in many ways support) for their research. So many people (including several recent grads I know who landed TT jobs) are honestly disappointed to learn that a TT job is not just "being a grad student with much better pay."

All of which is to say, yeah, some people are in really shitty jobs. But not as many as would like to think so.

Anonymous said...

Would the real spoiled-rotten Prima Donna please step forward?

I feel like I'm reading a Sofia Coppola script.

Prof. Kate said...

I worked in a factory making parts for farm equipment. My particular task involved dipping my hands in alcohol thousands of times a night to fish out the plastic plugs that I then connected to wires. (No gloves, the bosses said they'd slow our productivity. So we just felt sleepy and nauseous instead.)

There are days I do not like my TT job in philosophy, and I confess to tearful nights when I utterly fail to manage to do everything expected of me. But none of my worst days in philosophy are even close to being as bad as my 'best' days at the factory. Having said all that... I'm still going to come here and bitch about the profession from time to time.

Anonymous said...

Just a reminder to those looking forward to a TT job: This blog is mainly about being on the market, whether one is looking for a first or next job. With respect to all the TT'd faculty out there, the dissatisfied voices are probably overrepresented here.

That's not to say that TT life isn't bad (in all the ways these people say it is). Just that the blog's audience skews toward the jobless and those dissatisfied with their jobs (especially this time of the year). Broader and more representative portraits of TT life are probably available elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Unrelated question: Does anyone know the percentage of junior, tenure-track positions that are typically filled by candidates directly out of graduate school? How many are filled by post-docs? By VAPs moving from another college?

Anonymous said...

@2:05

I'm not sure who would even keep those records in any centralized way. The only national philosophical organization doesn't even update the most basic job data so I wouldn't hold up hope.

zombie said...

2:05 -- it is by no means a scientific survey, but the Leiter Report runs a thread each spring for depts and the newly hired to post on who got hired where. It includes info on where the new hire came from, where they graduated from, etc.

N. N. said...

The philosophy wiki reports that one of the jobs I've applied to has 'acknowledged applications.' I have not received such an acknowledgement, but I know they've received all of my materials (I got a confirmation from the secretary; wait, does that count as acknowledgement?). Should I be concerned?

Mr. Zero said...

Hi N.N,

No.

zombie said...

N.N. -- Fear not. The wiki is self-reported. Someone could have called and asked if their application was received, and then reported it as "acknowledged."

Most of the time, you will not receive an acknowledgment. Occasionally, you will. Often you will never hear from the SC at all. Not even a PFO.

If you mail application materials, you can enclose a SASpostcard, and they will send it back to you as acknowledgment (cheaper than getting a receipt from the post office). If you email an app, you can BCC yourself, although that will only tell you that it was successfully emailed. (But if it gets refused by the recipient's server, you usually get notice of that too.)

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Phylo wiki, it looks like users' IP addresses are not visible to other users, unlike last year. If so I will be more inclined to update the wiki. Does anyone know if there is some way visitors to the site can see IP addresses that I am missing?

Anonymous said...

2:05 here again:

I know the APA doesn't collect that data, but I had hoped some young philosopher might had done so. Oh well.

The reason I ask is simple: if freshly minted PhDs are expected to take a post-doc or VAP before having any shot of landing a tenure-track job, then the discipline is once again favoring those from privileged economic backgrounds who can afford to spend their entire twenties and early thirties earning a very modest wage. That doesn't seem fair. I understand that search committees are looking for folks with experience and dedication to the profession, but doing so might bias the process. But then again, this might not be a problem at all: empirical data is necessary.

I do, however, think that it is obvious that a similar problem arises in graduate admissions. Search committees do seem to favor folks from certain terminal MA programs. And getting an MA requires taking on substantial debt, which only a limited number of folks can do.

david morrow said...

No, the IP information is not visible on the Phylo Wiki. We'll see how that goes this year. If there's an increase in the amount of wiki vandalism, we might need to reinstitute it—unless anyone has better suggestions for detecting and/or deterring wiki vandalism.

zombie said...

2:05 -- VAPs and post-docs don't pay badly compared to TT jobs. (There's variation, of course.)

I had a post-doc that paid a salary comparable to some TTs at the middly-lowish end. VAP salaries tend to be comparable to starting TT salaries.

Where VAPs can hurt is when the teaching load is so high that your research suffers. But if you can pull it off, you show your potential employers that you can be a productive scholar and teacher at the same time.

I doubt this is a problem unique to philosophy, although PhDs in the sciences (and law and medicine) have considerably more earning potential. The academic life is no get rich scheme in any discipline.

Anonymous said...

3:51 here again. Thanks to David Morrow for the info about the Phylo wiki. If you notice a sudden flurry of updates now, that's probably me.