Thursday, December 15, 2011

You're Not Alone - Part 8

Search terms bringing people to this blog in recent weeks:

-how to leave academia
-i hate grad school
-reasons to leave grad school
-graduate school and i hate it
-i want to leave academia
-I hate grad students
-feel like a loser in grad school
-grad school has made me hate academia

...and my favorite:
-are postacademics happy?

Yep! Or at least I am. I may not be pursuing a Ph.D.-level job anymore or doing academic research. I may just be working in an office and may be looking for a job where I'll have a boss and defined work hours.  I may be giving up my summers off and a little bit of flexibility in my schedule. I may not wind up doing something that inspires an awed reaction like "college professor" does (in certain circles, anyway).

But I'm happy. And to me, that's what counts.

To the rest of you: you're not alone. I doubt the same person has been running all of those searches, so there's at least a few of you out there. Remember: just because no one talks about being unhappy doesn't mean they aren't. You are not alone.


On the good news front, the circumstances that I alluded to in my earlier post about the job search have been resolved*, so I am all clear to start looking for a job in Dream City! I'm still going to wait until after the new year because, well ... it's the holiday season, and I'd like to relax for a couple more weeks. :) But still. There's nothing concrete holding me back anymore, so I'm ready to go ... and am so happy that it all worked out according to the plan (so far).

That's one thing I've noticed in recent years, by the way. In my life, I've generally been successful and things have tended to work out well for me. Academia was always a little different ... I was always being disappointed and never had that sense of "everything is going to be okay" that I've gotten in almost every other aspect of my life. Whether it was losing a fellowship competition or getting a journal rejection or being assigned to some brand new class I've never taught before, it felt like academia was basically one giant panicky and disappointing moment after another, with just a few semi-bright spots in between. It's nice that in these months since I've left - from my job to the house to my general happiness at getting my free time back - things have generally been falling into place again. It feels right.


That being said, I'm starting to get a little tiny bit nervous about the job search! I'm comfortable at my job, and as I said before, I'm planning to mainly apply to higher-level jobs in this field, just to get myself and my partner back to the city we want to live in. After that, I'll start looking around for better opportunities that will make better use of my degree. For now, though, I do think that I'll have a better chance of finding a job in this field than in a field more related to my academic work. Plus, as I've said before - I'm still not sure what I'd ultimately like to do. I have some ideas ... but I really do think that task #1 needs to be getting to where I want to live before I can think about the what I really want to do part of the equation too deeply.

For some reason, though, this week I've been thinking that's a mistake - that I should immediately start looking for a job that's more closely related to my degrees. That if I don't get a job that specifically wants someone with a masters' (or a near-PhD), it'd be some kind of waste of my skills.

I'm sure it's just a temporary thing, and I think I know why it's happening - some of my academic friends have landed interviews and job offers lately (notably: to places I'd never want to live), while a few nonacademic friends have recently gotten promoted. I guess it's natural to feel a little status anxiety when I'm just starting out (again). And I'm sure it'll pass. Because, ultimately, I'm happy and have a decent job that pays the bills (something to be especially happy about at this point in time, for sure!). And I'll find another good job and will be living in a place I love even more than this city ... one of these days. And I'll be fine, just like I am now. I don't need academia or a "PhD-level" job to be happy. I know that on a conscious level ... and yet, sometimes that little voice creeps up in the back of my head to make me second-guess myself.

We academics (and postacademics) ... always thinking too much. :)


One last thing - if you haven't already, go check out the recent post at recent PhD's place - highlighting a job that would be good for someone with academic training and experience. Once I'm actively looking for jobs, I might start doing something similar over here - posting the text of job ads that would be suitable for folks with humanities and social science graduate training or Ph.Ds.

As I said in comments over there, sometimes I think that the biggest sticking point for unhappy folks who want to leave academia is the feeling that there's nothing else in the world you can do. And with all of the other work you have to do as a grad student or adjunct, what is the point of wasting valuable time searching for nonacademic jobs? Especially if you "know" you won't find anything that will fit you.

So watch this space after the new year. I will try to pull a few ads here and there, to give some of you an idea of what's out here in the real world for folks with research and teaching skills. There's more than you'd expect - I promise. And based on all of the searches for "hate grad school" and "want to leave academia" that bring people here, I think at least a few of you could use some of that reassurance.


Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!


* It was nothing major. We own our home, and this fall a couple of unforeseen things popped up that would have made it nearly impossible for us to sell our house quickly or for the money it would be worth. Rather than leaving an empty house up for sale halfway across the country throughout the winter at lower than its fair market value, we just decided to postpone for a few months. All is good now, though!

1 comment:

  1. hmm... Your observation that academic life was one big panicky mess where things never felt quite right or in to place is one that applies to me too. Even worse, somehow that sense of things never working out has permeated into the rest of my life too. It takes a few days of glorious holidays to get my 'normal' self back. I am really looking forward to regaining my sanity in the postacademic transition. Happy days!