Desperately Seeking a Job

I generally try to post information that is useful and helpful to other people, but now and then I need to reserve a post for an outpouring of personal information and emotion. This is one of those posts.

I admit: I’m downright nervous about jobs, or in this case, the lack thereof. As some of you may remember, I’m a graduate student at the very end of my doctorate. I fully expect to be hooded in May, and naturally that’s a cause for rejoicing! My spirits are completely dampened, however, by the abysmal number of jobs available in my field.

Since the second day of my freshman year of college, I knew I wanted to be a college professor. As a personal anecdote, I actually applied to college as a Pre-Med major, but changed my mind on the first day. Since then, I have poured countless time and energy and have dedicated my life to pursuing that goal. I took no breaks between degrees and have spent 10 years in school to earn this doctorate and finally land that dream job.

And for what?

Entry-level professorships in my field start around $40,000 per year. Doctorate required. Yeah, I’m in the Arts. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me much that the average salaries for professors in the Arts are so embarrassingly low versus other fields, especially science and math. Just don’t get me started on coaches’ salaries!

Speaking of which, I love this particular comic (brought to you by PHD Comics):phd102008s

Yep, that tiny little bump of a yellow bar that represents Grad Students is my category – except that my salary is significantly lower than the given amount. Sigh.

I knew when I went into the Arts that I wasn’t doing it for the money. I love what I do, and as long as I can survive and make a living doing it, I don’t care that my salary is at the bottom of the collegiate totem pole. No resentments here. Seriously.

The problem is that I haven’t yet landed a full-time professorship job. Believe me, I’m looking, and I don’t like what I see!

Universities tend to only hire professors once a year, and I monitored the job market last year even though I knew my dissertation would not be finished. I even applied for some openings, and despite my lack of complete dissertation, I had two on-campus interviews. I enjoyed the process, but ultimately didn’t get either job. Phooey.

No matter. My current university decided to hire me as adjunct faculty. It sounds great, and I definitely appreciate it, but the salary puts me far below the poverty line here (I’m a mere Lecturer – part time). I still have a decent chunk of emergency savings, so I can survive, but I desperately need a job lined up for the fall since my adjunct contract runs out in May.

All this brings me to the crux of the issue: there are almost NO jobs available in Academia for my field right now. Compared to last year, at best there is one-quarter the number of openings. Even that may be an optimistic observation. Of the few jobs that ARE currently available, most of their announcements have a disclaimer that reads: Position subject to budgetary approval. In other words, there’s no guarantee the University will even approve the job. Yikes.

Times are tough, no doubt. Signs of the recession are real. Perhaps most of us know at least one person who has been laid off in the last few months. I do.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend of mine (a math professor) at my University. The first thing he asked me was – Is the job market as bad for you as it is for my math grad students? Yes, professor. Probably worse since the Arts tend to be the first to have their budgets axed. At the end of our sober chat, he said – I certainly don’t envy you. In fact, I’m just glad to still have my job. We weren’t even allowed to replace a professor who DIED last year! Stunningly sad.

At this point in my life, I just want a job. Any job. I may be getting the “Dr.” label in front of my name soon, but I’m not above doing whatever it takes to keep my mortgage and other bills current. Yes, that includes working at any job that only requires a high-school diploma. While I hope I can land a job that can utilize my training, I’m not too good to stock shelves if it really comes to that. Hey, I’ll be the most artistic and educated shelf stocker out there!

Seriously, before I end this post in misery, there IS a little light at the end of the tunnel. Within the last couple of weeks, I’ve had two phone interviews. I’m crossing my fingers, and with a little luck, maybe one of them will hire me.

For people in a similar situation, or who have recently been laid off, I have no words of wisdom. All I can say is – don’t lose hope. Despite my current job woes, I have strong faith in the will of humanity. We’ve been through much worse than this, and we will survive. This too shall pass.

As long as I don’t have to feature myself in my own Bankrupt Man series…. :-) 

<< Go back to the previous page