surely this was indeed one of those jobs where your life would become a cosmic battle with That One Guy in the department and hidden dysfunctions would surface as soon as you locked yourself in, and you have dodged a bullet. surely.What is your take on this, oh readers?
but reading these posts, and recalling last year's posts, and the previous year's posts, i keep wondering: how do you feel about the support you've gotten from your advisors on the job market? don't they have some responsibility to help you do this? do you have any information about their advisee-placement records, or anecdotes from others who work with them? i remember your post about the advisor who had to be *reminded* that you filed your dissertation... i hope these people are advocating for you like they should be, and giving you the good advice you deserve. because clearly you deserve it. do you think they are?
obviously you're under enough pressure, so no pressure to write about this. i don't know. maybe it does just take 7 years. (seven years! your life as written by thomas mann...)
So reading this comment made me think, what could my advisors do for me that they aren't doing already? Apart from that first year where they were very sloppy and late getting my letters written on time for me to apply for things, which I do think was a major problem, I'm not sure there is much more they could do that would help me actually land a job. How much of this is that I'm not getting something right in the job search process and how much of it is traceable to the fact that grad schools still produce about three PhDs for every tenure-track job slot? I don't know.
My dissertation advisor at one point told me that the nice thing about this horrible process was that you really were judged on your work and not on who you know ---- that of course she would make calls for me and advocate for me in every way, but that these types of nudges had carried very little weight in our own department's searches and had done nothing to override faculty concerns with research quality or fit. I'm still not sure whether believing this --- and thus tying my work even more closely to my worth and making subsequent rejections even more painful --- or thinking the whole idea of an academic meritocracy is a sham is the more upsetting route to take.
I do know that both my advisor and Not My Advisor, who actually isn't in my field even, repeatedly pressed me for lists of "everywhere" I applied to last year, so they could make calls and work their networks on my behalf. I did some sleuthing and ran some names by them and then gave them lists of everywhere I knew they knew someone, which was nowhere near "everywhere" I applied (the whole thing about places I am "too good for" can wait for another post). It worked to an extent as I think my writing sample requests came out of this networking. Unfortunately every single place that asked for a writing sample last year then froze the search, and they haven't reposted the job this year. Ha! The Vegas casinos should hire me to stand next to their lucky customers.
So my advisor tries to work the backstage connections wherever she can. Trouble is, if the department is at all small, and my advisor knows someone on the department, they do not want to hire me because that someone is basically the person who covers my field. You know? I figured this out, that networking at field conferences actually doesn't help with the job-getting part of academia, either. Maybe I should start trolling conferences on either century around my field.
Some of the other stuff I could have done to be more "marketable," like "pick a different field," "publish something right after going ABD," or "get real comp experience," would involve me using a time machine or starting everything over, so I kinda look at it as I've done all I could for this moment, and they've done what they could for this moment, and I should just soldier on.
The one good thing about being unemployed right now is that I have lots of time to devote to a really intense and quick job search, and I've sent out a shitload of apps much earlier than their required deadlines, as opposed to last year, when despite being as organized as possible, I missed some deadlines and ran quite a few others right up to the fedex overnighter deadlines, mainly because I was learning how to teach weird classes at the same time and was overwhelmed. (Reapplying is way easier than applying, too, since a lot of my materials didn't change or just needed a little updating like my cv.) Doing it all in one big damn lump means that I'm almost done and haven't had to go back to deal with my advisors at all, once they approved this year's drafts of my letter.
You know, at this point, I don't want advice, I don't want help, I just want to be left alone. If you can hand me a job or make connections that will get me some sort of wonderful something, contact me, otherwise, I just want to shoot all these apps out and move on.
That is not what is currently happening.
I have an outside committee member --- who I will now name Left Fielder as this person is wayyyyyyy out in left field on multiple levels --- who has been less connected to my dissertation project than some of the others. That is totally fine. Left Fielder also has been the most busy, most forgetful, and slowest to update my letter every year. That is not fine. I have emailed Left Fielder, who is off being philosophical, at a couple points over the summer and mid-August, just saying, hey, what's up, I'm still doing the market again this fall, here's what I have been writing this summer, how are you. That sort of thing. Left Fielder usually responds with a hurried oh yes we must talk soon how are you and of course I will get to the letter of yours shortly we must meet at some point when I am back in the country and plan the best way for you to venture out on the job market yrs truly lf. And that's fine.
So when I finally get my very busy advisor and my totally insane committee member to update their letters and the very early apps and postdoc-type-things are due, I send a little reminder email to Left Fielder, just to nudge this person along, and to remind this person of the job deadline timelines for the various disciplines I am applying to and when the MLA is and all that sort of thing. And I get a very flustered and contrite email that of course LF will write the letter right away and get it in ASAP and in no way does this person want to put me out of the running for any jobs by not having all my letters in on time. Which is fine.
Today, now I get another email --- lf here will be swinging back through country next week between prestigious opportunity and wonderful project abroad stop still working on letter but thought of ways you cd improve yr candidacy stop want to meet with you to go over your job ltr and other materials stop think you shd develop a teaching philosophy statement tho I am personally not in favor of them stop also a next book project will work with you on that also stop send drafts of all three immediately and clear sched for next week will meet extensively w you at that time stop yrs lf
Sigh. Please tell me this person is not going to hold my letter hostage while making me extensively revise materials that I have sent to 90% of my job places already? I know, I know, I am picky and ungrateful, but I don't want any fucking help right now! I want all my advisor people to leave me completely alone while I send off all my applications in a big blorp! I am picky and want my help at a particular time ---- to wit, before job deadline season begins.
Excuse me now while I go bang my head repeatedly on my desk.