Thursday, March 25, 2010

Application Break

Ok, I sent off four more apps this morning and have about an hour before I have to go to work. So I'm taking a break. Neener neener. All you people who laughed at my car trials and tribulations should be ashamed of yourselves: I got a parking ticket. Sigh. That job only has pay parking or reserved permits near it, so usually I take the bus down there. But I was running late trying to buy milk and cat food and all sorts of other things the other morning so when I put everything away I had to run for the car instead of the bus. Then, because I bought a one-day permit, the parking people got me the next morning. Argh.

Anywhoo, I'm pluggin' away at various applications these days --- while I was grading and finishing classes and all that other stuff, some more tt jobs came up on the chronicle, so I have a little pile of those to whip through. They are definitely the "second-tier" jobs, and I am sure they know that. 4-4s of only comp at a teeny tiny college that has to describe the number of hours driving distance to a minor city, that's second tier.

My dept. has only placed a couple people in postdocs this year (and one weird, overseas teaching position), but I think all the people who are still enrolled have given up for the year, as have a lot of the recent grads who have some sort of steady income. I'm hoping that this the case all over, and the pools for these late blooming jobs are smaller. Considering how crappy the market was this year, I'm doubtful. But, hey, I'm getting through these apps pretty fast, so whatever. Hopefully they will be trying to take advantage of their purchasing power in this bad market and I will look like a feasible choice rather than a flight risk.

After I catch up on these academic jobs and hit up some more contract teaching jobs, it's back to the admin postings, although I haven't had any signs of luck in them yet. And then, when I catch up on those, I get to venture back out into the scary wilds of craigslist. Sigh. I pretty much *don't* want anything that is showing up locally on craigslist. I will move back in with my family and search over there for openings at slightly larger companies. I think I would go crazy in these weird incestuous tiny 3-people office situations I've seen. And the only thing I've found worse than having too much to do in a tiny office is to have *nothing* to do, but having to look busy because otherwise they will eliminate your position. It's a particular mind-numbing stress.

And I happened to run into the department staff lady who offered me my course again next year (discussed in my previous "beige" post). She said I got good evaluations again and asked what else I can teach. So we went into her office and looked through the course catalog. I dunno --- I can do comm-type stuff, and I've TAd in social science departments, but where they have holes and where I have expertise don't really match up. Still, she said I should contact the dept. chair about Y and Z because the chair might be able to move things around. And if I fill all the curricular holes next year (about 3 or 4 classes) this department won't even run a call for lecturers. *That's* what I mean about beige. It's about having a flexible go-to person that saves the department effort, not so much about my lack of qualifications or my desperation. If you've ever looked on the course listings and wondered why the hell *that* adjunct is there (or still there, despite being a crappy teacher), "beige" is the answer. It frees up the dept. to work on other, more critical, crises.

So, hunting for enough classes to fill a year next year will be my back up plan. I'm not allowing myself to do any work towards it at the moment; must first apply to all the permanent stuff and then I can eat the dessert. If it comes to that, I'll try hitting up the local CCs to get a comp class or two to balance it out ---- I'm wondering if having only very old comp teaching experience is hurting me on the resume.

Oops gotta go.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I agree that a lot of people are lazy on applying for jobs at this point. I am only applying to things that I find VERY appealing, location-wise, or that are local. That doesn't give me a lot to do. I just feel like moving to a different part of the country had better be worthwhile for me, since I'd be uprooting three other people. I know there are a lot of other people in my situation, or worse, so I think that the applicant pool is definitely smaller. Plus, all those hot-shots that got jobs in the first round are out of the game, of course.

Good luck! I'm right there with ya!

(PS - could community college applications get any more ridiculous??)

Anonymous said...

Sis questions (rhetorically?): "I'm wondering if having only very old comp teaching experience is hurting me on the resume."


Especially if you are applying for one of 4/4 mostly comp teaching positions (such as where I teach--and honey, it's not that horrific unless all of your friends are in those 2/2 literature only jobs).

Out of the many hundreds who applied for the t-t position at my college (the search closed a few weeks ago), many, many, many live in major cities with oodles of community colleges to teach at, yet many had no cc and/or comp teaching experience.

Sisyphus said...

No, Fie, it has been mathematically proven that community college applications can *not* get any more ridiculous. I swear I have some (and there were a lot last year) that wanted previous syllabi, *sample* syllabi created to match the current department's courses, copies of sample assignments *and* for you to grade one of their essays for them! Crazy!

And if your four-year private school has only a "humanities" department rather than a specific English department, offers seven levels of remedial comp and promises that you will teach literature classes every second year, yes, you are second-tier. And that is putting it politely.

I have *loads* of comp experience, and tons of English lit experience, but it is old because I have been cycled out of my dept, and other departments need me to be their "beige." Given that my CC has raised class sizes, I'm not too happy about the idea of "refreshing my credentials" as it were --- and their department has a seniority wait list to even *get* adjunct jobs, so I don't know how possible that is. I would certainly need a full-time nonteaching job on top of it, because the pay for one class is so low.

Anonymous said...

Well, the refresh at a cc would only help if you were looking for a cc position. If you are looking for a 2nd tier SLAC position, then the old comp courses may not matter so much.

I'm probably way below 2nd tier, but I'm happily employed;-) I'm at a cc: we teach a lit class each quarter. But the rest are comp, and yes we are a Humanities department, and yes there are developmental writing classes (calling them "remedial" is frowned upon, fyi): I don't teach those, but we have 'em. And no, our applications don't require any syllabi, etc, just a list of previous positions and why you left them.

But basically, Sis, it sounds like you would hate such a position either at a cc or a 2nd tier school: that may just come through in an application, is all. Just saying, as someone who read 200 applications/cvs/letters over spring break, many from people who clearly, based on language choices, cv organization, etc, would hate working with me and our students at my college.

Of course a decade ago when I was applying to over 100 t-t jobs all over the country, I did exactly the same thing, held my nose while I applied to jobs in states I hate to even fly into....I never did get interviews in any of those states--as if they could TELL;-)

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I think one problem is that -- at least in my experience -- no one tells you how to apply for the second tier (or lower) jobs. The kind of job I'd like to have would include a lot of teaching and not a lot of publishing requirements. I have different priorities; I have kids. So I would probably do fine at a community college. But I'm worried, now that I've annieem's responses, that my job letter for the CCs is not going to work. I do focus my attention on teaching, but I also have the obligatory paragraph about my dissertation. I don't even know if I should have put that in there now.

Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now. But I suppose if I want to apply to other CCs in the area, maybe I should try to find a sample job letter for CCs online and revise my letter as needed. Blerg. More revising. Blerg, I say!

Sisyphus said...

Fie, two of my colleagues have snagged a coveted tenure-track cc job in the past, oh 6 years, and I've been able to see one of their letters --- it was about the same length as my typical letters, but didn't mention a single word about the dissertation or any grad work that wasn't about her comp pedagogy classes or other teacher training.

She had a whole paragraph about outcomes assessment too, and they loved that. Plus, she had taught courses in adult ed for city employees (memo and technical writing stuff) for about a year and then adjuncted full time at a cc for a year while finishing up her diss. Plus plus, she was always really gung-ho about landing a cc job, even to the point of getting in trouble with her grad advisors for what courses she picked and her attitude toward research and publishing.

In short, she had a cv with a really clear trajectory leading to wanting a cc position, and even though I wrote up a letter like hers and have "retooled" a bit, mine looks like I went to grad school and tried to land a research job. There's just not much I can do about that. In this economy, nobody has to look at the "careerchangers" if there are so many people who's resumes are perfectly tailored to the job out there. Bleah indeed!

Besides, from what annieem says they're tossing anyone who's not adjuncting right this minute, and that would make sense given the numbers I've been hearing for the CA cc searches. Sigh.

But our cc just raised the fucking caps! I do *not* want to adjunct a class for 1 grand capped at 35 students! (and what job do I take on top of that that will actually pay the bills?) Fuck that; there's gotta be another way.

Anonymous said...

I promise to write that article some day on how to apply for a cc job (and how to tailor a cover letter--note, I have no problem with paragraphs about the dissertation, but if said paragraph goes on for 3 pages, then yes, it's not a good sign).

And no, we aren't throwing out anyone who is not currently adjuncting: that's too strong, and there are too many of us on the search team to make that a criteria. But, we do have a stated "preference" for those with community college experience, mostly because several folks we have hired recently without such experience left yelling and screaming. Having said that, I know that at least 5 of our 12 full time faculty were hired without having ANY cc experience, but they clearly expressed an interest in the mission of our cc at some point in the application process.

But about that 35 student cap in a writing class: that is disgusting. There are many TYPES of community colleges, too (and one could argue that we have our own 1st tier, 2nd tier, etc ranking system). Ideally, you want to apply to a cc with rank and tenure (though there are a few good ones that don't have rank and tenure, those that do, tend to like PhD's), and ideally you want to apply to a cc where the faculty are active in their disciplines in some way (whether publishing, or service in the MLA, etc).

But that's another article I should write someday.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Ha - my word verification is "communi."

Well... I have never adjuncted at a community college, but I have adjuncted at three local colleges -- one highly ranked English department (where I've been teaching Shakespeare), one impossible comp program that is tailored to adult students in the business world, and one unranked SLAC that had interdisciplinary first and second year gen-ed classes that I taught. The recent job I applied for is interdisciplinary, and I'm hoping that my undergrad degree in music, and my involvement in theater over the years, in addition to teaching a wide variety of things, will help my cause. Not sure though.

I did have a short paragraph on my dissertation, but stated that the research I had done was all beneficial to my teaching, and then focused on pedagogy, etc. So I hope that works. Who knows?

Sis -- teaching a comp class for one grand is murder. You shouldn't have to do that, especially with 35 students. I don't even see how they can justify paying that little. The smallest amount of money I've ever made adjuncting was 1800 dollars, and that was in the midwest. Here in CA, I've made 3600 minimum per class. The place I teach Shakespeare pays 6500 per class. The range of pay is weird, and all of it is too little, regardless.