Monday, August 31, 2015

Why I Keep Doing This To Myself

As job market season approaches, I find that it is natural to wonder why I would keep doing this to myself. I'm not from an elite graduate program, and I'm getting old and stale. The odds of success were never all that great, and they're not getting better.

Many years ago, when I first started Smoking, I considered this question. At that time, I said,
I keep doing this to myself because I love my job. Over the summer I snagged a VAP. It's a lot of teaching (only 2 preps, though!), a lot of students, not much money (twice what I made last year, though), and located in a part of the country I would not otherwise have opted for. Nevertheless, I get up in the morning and go to work and it doesn't feel like work. I like being in the classroom. I like introducing people to philosophy and teaching them how to do it. (I do not like grading their initial efforts.) I like thinking about philosophical problems, doing philosophical research, and writing philosophy papers. 
So, one thing I've learned being in this job is that I really like this kind of job. I like being a professor, and I like it when I read a good paper from a student and I can think, I taught this person how to do this. I like the feeling I get when I clearly identify a philosophical problem, work my way through it, and develop a plausible solution. 
All I want is to be able to keep doing this.
I find that this is all still true. Some days feel a little like work, of course. But mostly I feel like the only difference between then and now is that I've learned a lot about teaching, and I've published some stuff I'm proud of, and I've got some other stuff under review that I'm also proud of, and I've attended a bunch of conferences and department colloquia and given a bunch of talks that I've greatly enjoyed, and I've made a lot of friends. And I want to keep doing that.

And, I've discovered that I'm at least a little good at this. And I don't really know how to do anything else. So what else am I going to do? I keep my eyes peeled for other opportunities--non-teaching jobs that I'd be good at and which would make sense in other ways--but nothing has really materialized. One time an opportunity came up in the administration that I think I was well-suited for (though it didn't pay much more), but before I could do anything about it, I had to prep for class and I realized how much I'd miss teaching if I didn't get to do it anymore, so I let it go.

And, I see this as an important job. I see the classes I teach as an important part of a good, well-rounded University education that the students at this institution should have. There's the oft-touted critical thinking skills, of course, but I also address ideas from the past that educated people should know about, and demonstrate how to engage with foundational issues that lie at the bottom of a wide variety of other, otherwise unrelated intellectual endeavors. How to think effectively about weird things.

And it's not like I have absolutely no luck on the job market. I get interviews, and sometimes I get invited to campus. I get no offers, of course. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out why not. I don't know why not.

And my current position is pretty okay, as these things go. It's relatively stable, and it's much less exploitative than some of the positions I see advertised. The other members of my family are pretty well-situated. Nothing's ideal, but nothing's terrible.

And my family is supportive. I've known people whose families were not supportive, and it's a difficult bummer. I'm lucky.

And I feel like it would be stupid to sit out, and not go on the job market, even though I hate it and I doubt it will work. It's not that hard for me to go on the market--I've been out here a long time, and I've got it pretty down. Seems like I stand to lose more by not doing it than by doing it.

So, I guess that's why. I feel like I stand to lose more by not doing it.

--Mr. Zero

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What to do about the Phylo jobs wiki?

David Morrow, co-founder of the Phylo job wiki with Chris Sula, writes in to ask about whether people would like to continue using the current platform or migrate it elsewhere. He says (emphasis added):
Since someone submitted the first job of the year to the Phylo job wiki, and someone else asked about wikis on the job-info thread, I thought this would be a good time for people to discuss whether they would like to continue using the Phylo wiki or would rather migrate to something else, like academicjobs.wikia.com. I'll continue to maintain the Phylo wiki if people want to use it, but I know that some people would prefer that the community use something else, and such a decision is hard to reverse once the job market is really under way.
What do y'all think?

-- Jaded, Ph.D.