Today, I have two new postacademic blogs to link you to, along with some brief additional commentary stemming from a conversation I had with a grad student friend of mine this week...
(Seriously, I cannot believe how many postacademics we have out here! Maybe the group of us will someday be able to really get the word out that Grad School Is Not Necessarily A Great Life Plan, or that Academia Kind of Sucks For Some People. Maybe...)
Also, don't be surprised if you see me ramping up my complaints about academia in the next few months. My one good grad student friend is on the job market this year, and is currently at the annual national sociological conference, starting the process of trying to network herself* into a job somewhere. As someone who occupies the weird space of (1) having gone through the whole market process, having been reasonably successful with interviews, and having survived, but (2) ultimately winding up very cynical about the whole thing, I've become a huge sounding board for her. Which is great - I genuinely want to help her stay sane through this whole process and to help her keep some perspective on the whole thing ... while genuinely hoping that she is able to get an academic job, since that's what she really wants.
But as you'll see in a minute, these conversations are also drawing my attention - yet again! - to the ridiculousness of the academic job market and to the utterly cruel and deluded things people will say to you while you're going through it.
So I'm sure I will have Many Further Thoughts About Academia and the Academic Job Market (tm) to share with you over the next few months.
Blog intros after the jump...
The first new postacademic blog is Doctor Outtahere. She only has a couple of posts so far, but she sent me an email and she seems very committed to continuing to create and strengthen the postacademic community out here. And I hope that she keeps writing, if only to keep giving us observations like this:
This is your one life. It owes you nothing. You owe it everything. Don't fall asleep at the intersection.And like this:
I don't love scholarship enough to give up everything again (and again) and follow it to the ends of the earth.
You will never lose me as an intellectual peer. I am an intellectual for life. But - as Eudora Welty once wrote - "there are other ways to be." Intellectuals, artists, geniuses, they're everywhere.If you've been reading here for awhile, I don't need to tell you how much I love and agree with that statement. There are smart and creative and engaged people everywhere. I promise you that.
And guess what? I, too, still consider myself an intellectual. I still have the same brain, and the same ability to think critically and to put ideas together and to craft arguments and to write (hopefully fairly well). I left grad school ... but I didn't remove my brain from my head and put it on the floor. I'm still smart and engaged with the world around me and interested in the same topics I was interested in before. I'm just not interested in academia anymore.
And if you leave, it'll be the same for you. You'll still be an intellectual, just like Doctor Outtahere.
Anyway, thus far on her blog, she has just made the decision to leave and is beginning to break the news to other people. So head on over there and offer your support/advice!
The second new blog is called "What Do You Do With an M.A. in English?" ... although I sort of prefer the URL title of "AnotherPostAcademicBlog." In fact, I'm just going to call hir APAB for now :) Zie has already left academia, and is currently temping while trying to figure out what zie wants to do next with her life.
Zie has a lot of posts up, so I'll let you head over there and peruse hir stuff on your own. But I did want to highlight one post zie wrote, since it ties in so neatly to a conversation I was having about academia with my Job Marketing Friend earlier this week.
In the linked post, the blog author writes about several faculty members at hir grad institution who openly encouraged their grad students to either live apart from or break up with their significant others, so as to not get distracted from their studies and their all-important academic work.
APAB, thankfully, recognizes this for the complete and utter bullshit that it is (probably illustrating how zie was able to see the light about academia and to leave), and notes that
I realize that work/life balance is not always a field of daisies in the "real" work world either, but I don't know any of my non-academic friends who have been told to give up their relationships and hobbies by their bosses if they want to advance in their career.Neither do I, for the record. As I've written many times before, the world outside of academia is not the plot of a sitcom. There are mean bosses, of course ... but most of the time, people (including bosses) understand that you will have relationships that are important to you and that you deserve free time to devote to those relationships and to hobbies you may have.
Academia doesn't really support that.
And to this argument, I have another anecdote. Job Marketing Friend and I had dinner last week, and were talking about her recent meeting with her advisor, in which they discussed the job market and the schools she was planning to apply to.
JMF's advisor told her that she should consider applying to the jobs that were posted in two particular foreign countries. JMF has dual citizenship in one of the countries, and quite a few friends who live in the other country.
But JMF also has a partner who is not willing or able to move to a foreign country due to family and personal reasons. She also wants to remain in the U.S. so as to stay close to her family and the 98% of her friends who live here.
So she said that to her advisor. "Well, that would give me a few more possibilities, but [partner] wouldn't be able to come with me and I would probably only get to see my parents a couple of times per year. So that wouldn't work for me. I want to stay in the U.S."
Of course, being the professional adult that she is, and being married and a parent herself, JMF's advisor responded, "...Oh of course! That makes perfect sense!! Let's focus on these U.S. applications, then!"
Hahahahahahahahaha ... yeah right. In actuality, her advisor started telling her that she was going to have to "make sacrifices for her career" and that she and her partner would "figure out some way to make it work." And reiterated the advice to apply to the foreign jobs. "You'll figure out a way to make it work!"
Only in academia is "not living in the same country as your partner" considered to be a sacrifice that must be made for your career. Only in academia is your desire to "live somewhere where you actually want to live" some kind of signifier that you aren't serious enough about your career. Only in academia are you expected to totally forego all of the things that make you happy about your life and to sacrifice all of your personal relationships at the altar of the almighty faculty position. UGH.
Luckily, I think that JMF felt better after she talked to me and got some reassurance that it wasn't crazy to want to live with your partner. But, damn. As APAB writes in hir post from last week ...
Not cool, academia.-----------------------
Go forth and check out the new blogs! And if you're reading here and thinking about starting one? Jump on in ... the water's fine!! :)
*You should not assume that my Job Marketing friend is female. Or male. I just got weary of writing the gender neutral pronouns over and over again. The next time I write about Job Marketing friend, she will probably have a new imaginary gender.