Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Long Slog: Looking for Academic Work, No End in Sight

This perfectly captures how I'm feeling right now.
So here it is, mid-March, and I'm still stuck in career limbo. I've been interviewing for tenure-track academic positions since December (!!) and things remain up in the air. At this point, after numerous phone interviews and a couple of on-campus interviews, as well as weeks spent prepping for interviews and then waiting uncertainly, I'm feeling tired, worn out, and increasingly numb. So are many of my job-seeking friends. We're all at the end of our ropes.

I started out this season in close contact with a group of about five other academic job seekers, all of whom (except me) are currently visiting professors, and only one of us thus far has been offered and accepted a tenure-track position. Depression and anxiety are running rampant and for several of my friends the game's already over. They played their hand and lost. I'm still playing but have no idea if I've got a winning hand. Only time will tell.

In the meantime I'm having a very hard time focusing during the day or sleeping at night. I'm not getting much accomplished as a result, and I'm absolutely sick of making new files on my PC with pages and pages of info. on each school/department. I feel like I spend most of my waking hours prepping and worrying. Prep, worry, prep, worry, prep, worry. Oh, and freaking out once in a while. I can't stand the uncertainty!

My job stats this year are as follows:

Positions applied for: 6
Preliminary interviews: 4
Campus invites: 3
Campus visits completed: 2 (I've got 1 upcoming)
Pending offers: who knows?

I had honestly hoped that things would be clearer by now, one way or the other, and that I'd be able to start making plans for next year. But, instead, I find myself just as uncertain about my plans for the fall as I was three months ago. The entire academic job search process is exhausting and frustrating; closure is hard to come by. The funniest thing is that I really didn't expect to find a job this year. Truly. I only applied for six jobs! (Because there were only six decent jobs in my field.) The fact that I ended up with three on-campus interviews out of six is pretty shocking. Getting an actual offer would be even more shocking.

But one thing I've discovered is that department's ran some of these searches not knowing there would be such huge higher ed budget cuts and now the positions themselves are in question. If I end up unemployed at the end of this semester it will be because someone else was a better fit or the funding for the position was pulled by the administration at the last minute. Either way, sucks for me. I'll keep you posted.

*Anyone else want to share their 2010-11 job search stats?


Benjamin said...

Sure, I'll play. This is for higher ed jobs:

Applied for: 6 (different six than you!)
Jobs for which I was a decent fit: 2
Preliminary interviews: 1
Preliminary interviews I cancelled: 1
Searches cancelled after I cancelled preliminary interview: 1

Eliza said...

"Searches cancelled after I cancelled preliminary interview: 1"

Thank god you had the foresight to cancel before they cancelled on you!!

Seriously, I wish some of these schools would get their shit together before wasting applicants time, energy and $.

recent Ph.D. said...

'K, I'll play, too:

Applied ofr: 17
Jobs I was a decent fit for: 3
Interviews: 0
Campus visits: 0, obviously
Cancelled searches: 2

I haven't been freaking out--just venting anger in various ways at something that is totally out of my control.

WorstProfEver said...

Thanks for sharing your numbers - I think this is a really good thing for people to know. If I had any, I'd share, but I now that I've leapt, no useful data.

Still, your averages (from apps to interview to campus) are really impressive. Speaks well of you as a candidate. Wish I could say this means something is just around the corner but...well...that whole meritocracy-doesn't-happen condition prevents me. Still, it does seem that your job-getting possibilities (outside a 100% insane system) are good in general!