Saturday, April 19, 2008

Random Updates and Questions for You

  • I cleaned my entire apartment today. Whoo! It really needed it. My fingernails/cuticles are now thrashed, but that's what happens. And my bathroom, which needed it most, got the most halfassed, tired attempt as I did it last. But at least I'm not seeing little cat furballs float by on every little breeze that comes through the place.
  • What really sucks are those weeks where you work long, full days but none of it is on your dissertation. I think I may have gotten an hour in this week. At least, I'm currently champing at the bit to get back to it; maybe that will help me really go at it next week.
  • Alas, I am still behind on those various things I did for the department and haven't done any prep for teaching, which I gotta get on. In other news, I have conducted an experiment in a controlled environment and can unequivocally state that it is more interesting to sit in a summarizing lecture without having done the reading. It would be interesting to hear how other people have worked around this --- how they structure their lectures, how much they cover what is in vs what is not in the book, etc.
  • Speaking of teaching, I have now learned that there are definitely not any adjunct positions for me in my department next year --- the chair says that all of the money and "lines" got used up before the department even reached the end of its list of instructors. Money is very tight. And, frankly, the English department is a bigger dog than the other departments I work in, so I bet they were even less able to defend their budgets. I'm pretty sure there's no hope of work for me in anywhere else on campus. Thank you, Governor "10 Percent" Schwarzenegger!
  • And because of the state budget and various other convoluted past history with our department, I don't think there will be any work for me at the local CC, which is going to be under the same 10 percent cuts as everyone else. Gah! I'm starting to get a little freaked and I can't let that happen, as I spend hours freaking out and hours applying for things and no time on my dissertation.
  • Which all leads me to my big question (I hope you read this far): how important is it to you (if you all were on search committees) that an applicant be currently affiliated with a university? If I were to graduate in spring and then pick up office or bartending work (or more likely, for me, a bunch of tutoring gigs), would search committees hold that against me? I've seen how people in the profession treat "Independent Scholars" --- that is, like dirt. Or dilettantes. Or crazy, crackpot, tinfoil-hat type people. After all, if they weren't completely bad scholars or absolutely nuts, they'd have a "real job," right?
I'm just worried that search committees will see my application, sans letterhead or a current affiliation, and just toss me; there are so many hundreds of applicants that they can ignore anyone who doesn't conform to their notions of "normal" and still have a deep pile to consider. Is that it then --- I've managed to accidentally take myself out of the running? Or maybe that already happened long ago and I just didn't notice it?


With worries like these it's very hard to even care about finishing, or publishing, or any of the hundred little academic things you have to plan out a year in advance without knowing where --- or if --- you'll be working.


CR said...

Stupid question, but why would you have to be sans letterhead? Or were you just being hyperbolic? I think one thing that might fly is just being vague about what it is that you're doing "right now," "right now" being early fall 2008 when the apps roll out. As of then, if all comes to nothing on the adjunct-position hunt, you'll have been unemployed for all of .15 years or so, not counting the summer, but who would.

I don't think at any early stage of the app reading process most would pick out the fact that there's no teaching on exactly now. Maybe it would come up later, but at that point they'd already be interested, and you can simply sob-story them a bit.

At my old place, people lingered on using the stationary for years and years. Now, that might just have been at that place, but I think it's perfectly acceptable for you to keep being sorta affiliated with that place for a bit.

After all, you haven't even defended yet. You get a little cushion after the defense. If years and years roll by and you're not picking up teaching etc, yeah then I think it gets worse. But for now, just be discrete. Don't lie, but just be discrete.

And whatever you do, don't ever call yourself an "independent scholar."

kermitthefrog said...

I was going to say exactly that--plus, if your department is at all concerned about its placement rate, they'll be happy to give you letterhead if it helps your chances.

And hooray for the virtuous and tired feeling one gets after cleaning.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Yeah, I think you should still be able to claim affiliation with your graduate program if you're only a few months past the defense. (Also, adjunct jobs keep opening up until the start of the fall semester, right? People leave for greener pastures, get pregnant, flake out, etc. all the time; or record numbers of freshmen suddenly turn out to need Basic English.)

That said, I totally hear you about freaking out -- I'm trying to figure out exactly how bad it will look if I don't have a job in the fall, and whether anybody would believe it if I claimed to be taking a semester off to write a novel or something.

Bardiac said...

As someone who's been on search committees, I think most of us (and probably all) realize that a LOT of great people end up not having academic employment here or there after finishing up, ESPECIALLY now with budget cuts in so many states.

You can probably get permission to use your university's letterhead, and probably library permission, too, if you ask.

I'm sorry things aren't looking better.

medieval woman said...

Okay - I'll second the affiliation thing - go in and help yourself to a honkin' stack of letterhead. And keep checking the JIL - maybe a one-year VAP position will open up even in another state. I know you don't want to move, but that may be the best choice.

Then, in your applications, emphasize what you're working on if you're not teaching. Yes, you'll be in an office job or something, but don't tell them that. My old VAP Chair told me that I should aim to have an article for every semester I'm *not* teaching (b/c I was getting ready to move with TD to his job where they could only give me a semester of teaching rather than a full year). So, that Fall when I went out on the market, I emphasized that I was sending out an article and moving toward getting my diss into a book. If they ask you outright (which they very likely won't) if you're not teaching at the moment and why you aren't, just be honest and say that budget cuts at local unis and CCs have made that difficult. But then segue into the work you're doing with this "time" away from teaching. You don't have to tell them exactly how you're making ends meet, just how much work you're doing...

Good luck and keep checking the JIL!

Flavia said...

Yes to what everyone else said: I'm quite sure my grad institution let recent graduates use its letterhead, even when they were no longer teaching/lecturing there. Really, you're still one of "theirs," and the job placement officer should still be concerned about getting you placed--and letterhead is the absolute *least* of the ways in which they can help you with that.

(But it wouldn't hurt to lay in a supply in advance, just in case!)

Dr. Virago said...

I second what everyone else has said.

Plus, here are two bits of anecdotal evidence to cheer you up: 1) I know someone who got a job in a top R1 department even though he was teaching high school during that market year, having not gotten himself a lecturer/adjunct position, and 2) we hired someone who was in your position when he interviewed with us -- there just hadn't been adjuncting available that year.

Sisyphus said...

Ahhh, thanks for talking me down everyone! I tend to go off and work myself up into complete craziness pretty easily.

Although, since I've already had a run-in with the chair about how much letterhead I used *last year,* I'm going to have to find a way for someone to spirit it out of the main office for me.

And I've gotta figure out what to do with email too --- our campus cuts you off almost immediately, same as with the library access. (In fact, they revoke all that stuff the minute you don't pay your fees, so that you can't just refuse to pay fees for a year or so while you write your diss and thereby save money. I know a couple people who went through five or six different email monikers as they had to go through the whole song-and-dance every time they reinstated themselves.)

CR said...

Although, since I've already had a run-in with the chair about how much letterhead I used *last year,* I'm going to have to find a way for someone to spirit it out of the main office for me.


Oh you should totally go and steal a whole stack tomorrow. Claim you have a billion letters of ref to write. Jezus.

And, regarding email, all the cool kids use gmail now anyway. Absolutely no one will care if you do. Trust me. Very very common.

Sisyphus said...

CR, you rock!