Friday, June 1, 2012

Got Questions?

I'm back, kids! Sorry I haven't posted this week ... I had family in town for the holiday weekend, and have been playing catch-up at work all week. I really don't have much to write at the moment, but didn't want to leave you hanging through the weekend.

I keep feeling like I should write up a post about the job I have now, along the lines of what WTF has been posting lately. After all, I'm fully out of academia and have one of those "regular job" things I keep encouraging everyone else to look for. Maybe I should write a little bit about mine?

Well, the truth is ... I don't really know what to write about it. My job is fine! I've made it past the first month in my new management position and ... it's going quite well! And the job is ... well, it's the same job I've had on at least a part-time basis for the past 5 years. I know how to do it, and do it well. I know my coworkers. My boss is flexible, and the workload is heavy but not overwhelming.

It suits me. I go in in the morning, do my work, chat with my coworkers, hopefully help a few people, and walk out the door at 5. I'm used to the job, and find it reasonably intellectually stimulating, but not overwhelming. I have enough downtime to chat with my coworkers or take a walk to a local restaurant to grab a quick lunch. My job involves both tasks that are challenging and those that are more mindless, so that I can almost always structure my work weeks to match my mood. (Tired or not feeling well? It's time for a mindless task. Feeling motivated and well-rested? Time for something a little more complicated). And I'm paid fairly for what I do.

So, yeah ... work is pretty okay. Definitely okay enough so that I don't miss academia at all. One of my closest friends is currently dissertating and teaching and going through the whole academia/grad school rigamarole ... and as I watch hir deal with all of it, I don't miss it even one tiny bit. It's not that I absolutely love my current job or anything - it's just that it's not academia. And academia just didn't have anything for me anymore. It didn't make me happy ... and in the end, it was asking too much from me (all of my free time, having to move "anywhere in the country") than I was willing to give to a job that didn't make me happy.

So my current job doesn't make me super-happy, but I'm perfectly content with my life as it stands now. My job is just that - a job. Will I find a "career job" at some point in the future? Probably. But for now, I'm happy to have a job where I don't have academic guilt hanging over my head, and where my my work projects actually have a start and end point so that I can see what I'm accomplishing, instead of the unending pile of academic work.

Oh yeah, and my weekends and evenings are mine again. Words can't even describe how much I still appreciate this "new" reality.

My weekends are mine. If I want to lay on the couch all weekend and stare at the TV, I can. If I want to go out shopping or walking around the city, I can. If I want to sit at home and knock back a bottle of wine with a friend (or hell, alone! Haha :), I can. And nobody expects me to be back in the office til Monday. No matter what.

I love the nonacademic world for that reason alone. Not being absolutely in love with my job is worth it to me, because once I walk out of the office, I can go concentrate on the things and people I love, with absolutely no other demands on my time. It's amazing.

So ... I realize this was kind of a pointless post that doesn't say much. :)

But all I really wanted to say was that I don't really know what else to write about my nonacademic job other than this - I am content in it, and I am thankful for the free time and the clear conscience (with no guilt) it has given me.

It's just so damn nice to be working a job with pleasant people who have lives outside of work and where no one expects me to be working constantly. And it's just so nice to know that this job is mine for as long as I want it ... that I won't be begging and pleading for my boss to pay me for another ten months or contemplating a move to Backwoods County, Nebraska ... unless I really want to make such a move.

So while I don't really know what else to say about my job than this, I wonder if any of you have anything in particular you'd like to ask me about my job, or would like me to write about with regard to my job (or anything else, really). My trajectory has been a little bit different than most academic leavers, of course ... which makes it something that I've been less inclined to write about (since "go back in time and get a part-time job!" isn't exactly helpful advice for my readers). But if there are any questions that you have about my job, or how I got it, or how we hire new employees, or anything else ... let me know.

And if there's anything else you've wanted to see me (or any of us postacademic bloggers) address about our experiences in academia or in the transition out of it, feel free to ask those questions as well. Whoever asked me about writing about relationships in postacademia a couple of weeks ago gave me a lot of inspiration. So if there is anyone else out there who is lurking around, wishing I would write about X or Y topics? Speak now or forever hold your peace...

Remember, I'm a partnered Type 1 Leaver in the social sciences, who left after going on the job market and having several job interviews. I work at a job that started out as a part-time gig I had during grad school, and became my full-time job after academia ... in a consulting firm, broadly defined. I've had a few other job interviews, but have now decided to stay at this company for a few years ... managing the office, working closely with clients, and handling hiring and training for everyone in our office. From here, I hope to figure out what career I want next and to work toward that goal, preferably by moving to a particular city I've always wanted to live in.

So, fire away if you have any questions or anything you'd like to see me write about with regard to my experiences in grad school or on the market, my transition out of academia, or my current job.

And if you've got nothing, then I'll be back next week once the writing bug bites me again. Have a great weekend! :)


Edited on Saturday night, 9:45 PM: I'm seeing these questions, everyone. Keep them coming! I'll answer them one-by-one over the next couple of weeks. Awesome!


  1. Hello JC! Thanks for your blog. Could you, perhaps, write about uncertainty accompanying transition out of academia and whether it is common to have a fear that even if you feel that academia may not exactly be for you, it is the only job you know how to do, and if you leave and find a worse job, you will regret it afterwards...In short, double-guessing yourself about leaving. It seems that academia does not give you a chance to experience the real world, because you are supposed to follow an academic path, so you don't know what your desired job in the real world would feel like. Also, do you know if any people ever where successful getting back into academia once they left after their graduate program? Thank you!

  2. hey JC. I have been reading your blog for months now, but wanted to comment. I started a phd right after college when all my freinds went to work. Of course, I felt superior to all of them, but really, three years into the process, I got really disillusioned with the whole deal. I won't rant on about it, but just wanted to say, I decided in Feb I wanted out, and I start a job in the real world, with good pay this Monday! I can't be happier and really, all you say about the guilt and pressure and needlessness of all of it, it was very true for me. Thanks for your blog. It helps a lot!

    1. I'm so happy that you managed to get out and that you found a job! I hope it's going well for you - if you ever want to write a guest post telling my readers your story, email me!

      Otherwise, good luck in the new job and thanks for reading!

  3. Thanks for your blog JC. I too am considering leaving academia but I am just a masters level faculty, not on the PHD/tenure track (and at one of those coveted community college teaching jobs to boot!). That said, one of my biggest fears is leaving whom I consider really great colleagues. Perhaps I am putting them on a pedestal because it's not always sunshine and roses, but for the most part, I've enjoyed them and have been in some form of academia for the better part of a decade. What I'm wondering is, "how are the people on the "outside" in professional jobs? Are they all mean girls or are they OK to work with? Have you found the work to be steady? Do they really get things done and does that give you satisfaction? Are your colleagues reasonably smart? Do business people actually care about other's feelings? Geez, I must sound like a sheltered silver spoon academic. It's funny how the world looks from this vantage point. But something tells me there's more out there for my talents and skills. Thanks for the blog! It has helped me tremendously.

  4. Is the "8-5" terribly difficult to transition into? Is it hard to move from flexibility (despite the fact that something is always hanging over your head or "due" constantly)? Is it easier to work a straight M-F 8-5 instead of the flexibility of academia?

    Also, is it hard to not have your summers off?

  5. What about the work-life balance in a professional job? Is it more realistic to start a family in a profession than working toward tenure?

  6. JC: I'm in Academia, and I hate the writing part (why so many academic articles have the tendency to use big words to say a simple idea?) anyhow, I have always being curious about your ex-classmates and how was the dynamic between you guys... Because out of all my classmates/colleagues, I think I'm the only one that really hates Academia. Did you have a classmate that quit the program before you? How was the jealousy and competition in your department between your classmates? Thanks for everything, JC. Thanks!

  7. This was nice to find. I just started a blog about NOT leaving academia, even though it is, just like you describe, devouring my whole life and demanding everything there is.

    But I have so "little" left. Or rather, I've gone too deep. I have to finish the damn thing. Then... THEN, I will feel like you do. Right now, I envy you and try not to be too bitter about the whole thing.

    1. Thanks for reading! I like your blog ... particularly your observations on the bizarre people that populate the hallowed halls of academia. Siiiigh.

      I just got to the point where I *couldn't* finish. Getting the letters behind my name just didn't matter anymore and I realized that if I didn't leave at that moment, I never would.

      Good luck to you in staying sane!

  8. Hi JC, There is an article I wanted to share with you for some times, and I just found the link! I read it a couple years ago, when I was in grad school (just made me realize that I have been thinking about leaving for a long time now). Great article.

    1. Wow, does that article ever resonate with me!! Thanks! I think I will turn it into a longer post in the next week or two. Thanks again for the link!

    2. I'm glad you liked it too. It too resonated with me a lot. Love love your blog!

    3. Hi again, I forgot to mention that Steinitz was interviewed by the "other" leavingacademia blog (, which unfortunately shot down a couple years ago. Maybe you can contact the author of that blog (Sabine Hikel) to get a copy of the podcast(she also interviewed a lot of postacademics).