Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Required Reading: The Job Market, Academic and Otherwise

For many graduate students, particularly in the humanities, the job market represents (perhaps even more than earning the degree itself) the culmination of the graduate school experience. Advice abounds on the subject, and perhaps if folks know of purely informational websites on approaching the humanities job market, I can post them here as well). Undine at Not of General Interest offers a few additions to the conventional wisdom with these thoughts

In the meantime, the rule of thumb for sanity's sake is to approach it with as much good humor as one can muster. In this spirit, Oso Raro at Slaves of Academe offers this advice.

For what happens after that, Earnest English seems to be collecting posts on the process from grad school to TT job. Keep your eyes peeled.

While I imagine that useful advice on the job search may accumulate here over time, I believe it to be crucial to balance these narratives with other narratives of the end of grad school, alternate careers, and leaving gracefully.

Here, Adjunct Whore at Narratives contemplates alternate careers.

Flavia, in a previous guise as La Lecturess, remembers those who left academia for other paths.

And finally, and powerfully, is Scrivener's thoughtful and hopeful post about his decision to stop work on the dissertation.

Though this is the first post chronologically, it will appear to be the final post in the Grad Compendium, and I close with Scrivener's narrative for many reasons. Many, even most, graduate careers end in ways similarly unexpected at their outsets. And few who have gone through this process, whether they found tenure track jobs, toil as adjuncts, leave academia altogether, or somewhere in between, do so with such grace. And while many go through this little gristmill for the mind, it is the rare gem who manages to do so gracefully. it is my hope that the reader who is at an early stage of their process finds ways to do precisely that.

2 comments:

Tenured Feminist said...

You know, I read through Scrivener's post and what he's basically saying is: "My kids are old enough to be in school, and I've got time to finish my degee now, but I've decided to give up my career and be a housewife because my wife's career is more important than mine."

If he was a woman who said that, every feminist in the blogging world would jump down her throat.

Women have had a long tradition of sacrificing their careers for their spouses -- and we've seen the power imbalances that result.

Maybe it was the right decision for Scrivener, but I would really hesitate to hold him up as a role model for grad students.

Horace said...

TF, I don't see Scriv's post as saying anything of the sort--particularly the "because my wife's career is more important than mine." Typically, the opportunity cost that he describes there is time with his kids and wife, but also other modes of production--other articles, other kinds of writing, other modes of artistic expression. I see virtually no evidence that he decided to leave his dissertation behind because his wife's career was more important.

Moreover, it's not the same thing as if a woman made the same decision as you ascribe to Scriv, precisely because he is a man, and that decision alone changes the whole dynamic of the decision. Sometimes these dual career decisions do have to be made, and it's far too rare a situation that a woman's career is ever privileged. But it still seems not the dynamic I saw in his post.

Finally, even if this were the case, there are so many great things about that post--the sense that leaving the degree path doesn't mean leaving a life of the mind, the refusal to see poor job prospects as a personal failure, the hope for other paths for intellectual and creative satisfaction--none of which get enough play in the discussion of leaving the degree track, that I'm happy to stick to my original framing of that post.

All that said, I'm glad that your comment is here, because it will certainly provide context for those who might read Scriv's post in the same way you do.