Monday, August 28, 2017

Well, This is Upsetting

Hello, readers! (If any of you are still out there. :) )

Unsurprisingly, with the passage of time and distance from my grad school life, I haven't had as much free time or motivation to keep up with this blog as I did for the first several years. I periodically come on here to clear out the spam comments and/or to see what people in this world are reading and writing about, but in general - since I haven't made a career out of postacademia - I've just gravitated away from this world and into my "real life" world.

Which is definitely how it should be! Hopefully those of you who read my blog back in the day (who have fully left academia) have done the same thing. If you're making a writing or coaching or whatevering career out of the postacademic world, then of course you should still be watching and reading academic news on a regular basis. Otherwise, hopefully you've slowly gravitated away from a daily perusal of the job market forums and things like that.

However, I have been meaning to write an update to tell you all how I've been doing after all this time has passed, and I have read a few articles recently that I wanted to pass along to anyone who still finds themselves arriving at my blog and thinks that the problems I discussed several years ago have disappeared. They absolutely, 100% have not!

Also, I got an emailed guest post that I am going to publish as well, for the same reasons. I may have (mostly) stopped writing, but these problems in academia have not disappeared.

Anyway, I don't have a ton of time right now to post a long update on my life, so I'll just say for now that I'm still in the town I went to grad school in, still working in the same company, albeit with a slightly different job description. I'm content, happy, not stressed out by my personal or work life at all, and not regret for one single second having left grad school.

I can't stress that highly enough. It's been 6.5 years, and I have never wanted to go back, nor have I ever been sad that I don't have the completed Ph.D. It's just...kind of irrelevant to my life right now.

Anyway, I'll write more about myself - probably this weekend - and will post the guest post that a reader sent to me over the next week or two, but in the meantime I thought I'd post these two links I've come across in recent weeks/months.


First, from my old postacademic comrade Rebecca Schuman comes this astounding job listing that was posted a couple of months ago. As always, Rebecca's hilarious in her writeup/reaction, but it's worth taking a minute to ruminate on what the actual job posting was asking for:

A 67% appointment...
To start in approximately 6-8 weeks (I assume).....
Where you'd be responsible for training up to ten people........
For FOURTEEN course sections.........
Along with presumably service and research responsibilities, since who are we kidding........
While you're moving to and acclimating to a new city............
All for the princely sum of $28,000.
On a non-permanent contract.

I can't write this up any better than Rebecca did, so I'll just tell you my reaction: NAH.

Look, I understand having dreams and wanting to read and write and get paid to be a professor.

But this ad is just an insult. To PhD candidates, to the students at this university, to the working world in general. You can earn more than this in any range of jobs...many of which would not require as much education, nor would they require you to work nights and weekends until you drop.


The second piece I'm sharing with you just came across my radar today. Unsurprisingly, based on what I've been seeing, tenure-track jobs in the humanities are disappearing while the number of PhD candidates continues to swell.

Knowing what I know - and what I've detailed in this blog about the socialization to "an academic career or nothing!" that happens in (most) academic programs...I find these numbers incredibly depressing.

Universities are killing themselves. They're catering to wealthy students and bringing in more and more administrators while their grad students live in poverty and their "faculty" are just desperate people trying to cobble together enough adjunct contracts to feed their families.

But hey, they certainly can't cut their cohort sizes! That would be admitting there's a problem.

It's so demoralizing to see that nothing has changed since I left...and in fact, that things may actually be worse than they were in 2011.

If you're one of the people who stumbles across this blog for the first time these days, let me aren't crazy, you aren't wrong, and it's okay to leave.


  1. I've been running into your blog over the years while, yes, still in grad school (Masters, not Pd.D, though). I'm in education but did psychology undergrad. I should be able to graduate this coming spring, but having another moment of wanting to leave. Thought I should finally stick to something to get somewhere since it felt like I had nothing anyway after undergrad. I'd be stressed either way by never making enough money. Most people tell me I should finish because I am so close, even if I end up not using the degree at all, it's just the smart thing to do apparently. Can't say I can argue with them since I personally feel like I would have nothing to offer any other job anyway.

    I get I'm privileged in a way that I can even ponder "switching careers" because I know a lot of people are struggling and have no choice but to work whatever they can get. It's guilt, it's other people judging me, it's the fact it feel like I can't survive "the real world" that's giving me this existential crisis. I want what everyone wants; a job that pays well that they're good at and find enjoyable. And a lot of people will never get there and it sucks realizing that I'm probably going to have to be a part of that group. I thought I was special (sarcasm).

    So far the plan is finish just to have it as a back up plan, and then who knows, probably literally drive away and try to live on the road. I know, I should see a therapist about this. I have, haven't found the right fit for me and I don't have to resources to "shop" around for one that will. Sorry for the rant, just need...reassurance? or I don't even know what from strangers.

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  3. I don't know if you check these comments anymore, but I wanted to write one anyway. Your blog has been SUCH a tremendous source of support for me. I just finished my PhD in a social science field this past May, and afterward, I felt completely lost. I knew I didn't want an academic career, because I'd grown to absolutely hate research and everything having to do with academia during the last few years of my PhD. However, I really had no clue what else to do. This wasn't helped by the fact that my advisor and everyone around me viewed an academic job as the holy grail and couldn't (or wouldn't) understand how on earth someone might want something different. I know you know that feeling.

    I spent 6 months intensively job hunting for non-academic jobs, and the only offer I got was for an entry level position that didn't pay well, and was in a field unrelated to my degree. I was really disappointed and depressed--had I really wasted all this time in grad school just to land an entry level position I could've gotten straight out of college? I started to regret all of my time in grad school and cursed myself for making the stupid decision to ever go. During this low point, I came across your blog a few weeks ago. I read through the whole thing in just a couple of days, and I can't overstate the positive effect it's had on my morale. I love your idea about just getting the "next job" and not thinking that whatever job you land out of grad school has to be your "forever job." It's made me feel SO much better about myself and the fact that I couldn't land my dream job right now. (Of course, I don't even know what my dream job is at this point, so it was probably a bit ridiculous of me to expect to find it right away.) It was such a relief to read about someone who also struggled with all of these same things, but who ended up just fine. Your blog gave me some much-needed hope that I might end up just fine, too. Thank you so much for that. I really, really needed it.

    I hope you're doing great and still happy in your post-academic world. :-)

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