Thursday, March 14, 2013

Job Market Realities

One of the issues I've been pondering is what happens to those of us unable to secure a TT post, either initially or after taking the risk of leaving a junior position.

I've met a great many adjuncts with stellar credentials, forever dreaming of a return to the tenure track. Sadly, we know the odds of such moves are slim, even within an institution. When I listened to one Ph.D (from an elite R1) telling a group she had worked non-TT for five years but knew she'd find a TT post, I admit to feeling discouraged. She had conference papers, articles, and had received teaching awards. But, she was still an adjunct.

I admit, I would rather adjunct than not teach at all — but there are also economic realities.

As you interview great candidates, something I hope everyone considers is what will become of the field as we are forced to turn away great teachers, scholars, and advocates. We are preparing a large community of scholars, yet some of them are going to be forced to take other paths. Others will discover another path is simply best for them, which is okay, too.

How should we address the issue of "over-supply" that has persisted for at least two decades? When I entered graduate school, I knew the odds were against me. Like most students, though, I assumed I would be among the fortunate few — you have to have that confidence to enter a doctoral program.

Thankfully, I did get hired and I continue to love teaching. I'm also refining my research interests and working on publications. But, "What if?" is a concern. Returning to private or public industry is okay with me, but it wasn't the original plan.

Ideally, I am still a professor in the fall. But, this job market is frustrating.

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