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Poll
Question: If you are currently tenured or TT, did you adjunct as a primary job between completing your education and getting your job?
No, not at all - 46 (49.5%)
Yes, for 1 year or less - 12 (12.9%)
Yes, for 1-2 years - 11 (11.8%)
Yes, for 2-3 years - 5 (5.4%)
Yes, for 3-4 years - 6 (6.5%)
Yes, for 4-5 years - 6 (6.5%)
Yes, for more than 5 years - 7 (7.5%)
Total Voters: 93

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Author Topic: Tenured/TT faculty: Did you adjunct? How long?  (Read 49654 times)
quietly
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« on: April 28, 2012, 6:10:52 AM »

The thread about whether adjuncts are exploited or not makes me curious: how many of us who've got the "holy grail"--a tenured or tenure-track job--adjuncted first? Because to me, the best argument that adjuncts are exploited is that they are "strung along" into believing that eventually their work will turn into a TT job.  And yet, the adjuncts I've known who do get TT jobs do so very quickly, usually within a year or so of starting adjunct work.  It's my perception that if you've been adjuncting for, oh, 3 years without a bite, it's time to pack in the tacklebox and change career directions.  Find another way to use your education, outside of higher education or at least the TT.   And while I say 3 years, I really think of it is a normal distribution around 2.

If everyone shared that understanding, than adjuncts are not exploited, at least in the sense described here.  (There are also issues about watering down FT jobs into multiple adjunct positions, and I do think accrediting bodies need to fight this.  But if adjuncts generally accepted the 3-year premise, perhaps the well of willing PT employees would dry up.)

And perhaps my perception is wrong.  So--reality check.  At what point does adjunct stop being a stepping stone, and become a millstone?

Q.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 6:13:00 AM by quietly » Logged
quietly
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2012, 6:18:25 AM »

ps: the "as a primary job" is to acknowledge that there are very legitimate roles for adjuncts; e.g. businesspeople who have FT employment but want to share their expertise in a single class.  Or a retired doctor who wants to work with pre-med students a few times a week.  Or an author who....you get the idea.

People doing that aren't being exploited either, IMO.

Q.
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totoro
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2012, 7:27:14 AM »

I was a postdoc (before I finished my PhD) and then a VAP, a longer fixed term research position, then a TT associate prof and got tenure.

I think this has been discussed quite a bit on here. For a research university and not in an oversupplied field like us I think it is pretty unlikely we'd hire someone who is adjunct (and certainly not for more than a year) to a TT style position unless they have a good reason for not having a full time job i.e. related to caring roles, moving to be with spouse, illness etc. Of course, if they produced great research publications we'd look at them. But I don't see candidates like that.
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canadatourismguy
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2012, 7:35:55 AM »

I think I am an outlier.  I got my first TT position while ABD.  I fiinshed my dissertation over the summer after my first  year of TT (I also changed positions that summer as well as having a pregnant wife who game birth September 15).  I am not so sure that is an advisable route to follow but it did work out well for me.  I will however, never forget the stress of that summer.
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infopri
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2012, 8:05:19 AM »

At what point does adjunct stop being a stepping stone, and become a millstone?

These two types of stones are not the only possibilities.  I began adjuncting 20 years ago, as a first-year doctoral student.  I've been an adjunct, on and off, ever since.  By the time I graduated, I no longer wanted a TT job, but I don't feel exploited and I'm happy to have the nearly-steady employment.  Sure, the pay stinks and the benefits are worse, but I'm in the lucky position of (a) not needing the benefits (I get plenty as My Better Half's worse half), and (b) having enough money coming in two meet our needs.  And I don't have to do any service, research, advising, PR, recruiting, and all the other stuff that the full-time people do.  I can focus my energies exclusively on teaching--which was what motivated me to get a Ph.D. in the first place.

Win-win.
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anisogamy
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« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2012, 8:10:33 AM »

I adjuncted for several different schools while ABD, but didn't adjunct after I finished my PhD at first.  Then I adjuncted one course after I'd been out for a bit because the opportunity to teach that specific course at that institution was pretty appealing.  I got my TT job offer (from a different institution) while adjuncting that one course.  I'd say that the course helped strengthen my application for the position, but it wasn't the deal-sealing element.
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desmata
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2012, 8:32:31 AM »

At what point does adjunct stop being a stepping stone, and become a millstone?
These two types of stones are not the only possibilities. 

Like Infopri, my rather extensive adjunct experience prior to obtaining a full-time position served me well. I also began teaching a class or two while earning my doctorate. After we graduated, I became a trailing spouse with small children in the mix. Each time we moved, I quickly found an adjunct gig. Interacting with adults kept me sane during the demanding "early years".

When I was ready to take on a tenure track position, I made sure my cover letters explained my long and varied adjunct background. At the college where I had my original TT job, I was an adjunct for two semesters, a temporary full-time instructor for two semester and then I landed the full time job. Granted this is at the CC level. My experience demonstrates that adjunct teaching can function as a fulfilling and convenient part-time job.
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zuzu_
Frakking
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2012, 8:54:08 AM »

I was an adjunct for five years. I was absolutely "strung along" at multiple institutions, including two CCs and one state school that dangled a FT lectureship. Of course, looking back, I was naive and allowed myself to be strung along. I don't really think any of the people who did this were intentionally cruel, but I have some horrific tales, including a job offer that was reniged because a chair offered me a stable lectureship position, gave me a new schedule, gave away my adjunct schedule to another adjunct, and caused me to resign from my other, well-paying adjunct position, when in reality the chair did not have the authority to offer the position and the dean had someone else in mind.

I also was a finalist for three TT positions that I didn't get. This felt like being strung along, although looking back, I do think they seriously considered me--it's just that they had so many excellent candidates, and while some SC members loved me, others had no idea who I was.

But all of this experience gave me excellent teaching skills, savvy interview skills, and many excellent references, all of which made me a competitive CC job candidate when I started my national job search after five years of frustration.
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spinnaker
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2012, 9:37:10 AM »

If everyone left the adjuncting profession after three years, there would still be plenty of people to fill those positions. What would happen in my estimate is the quality of adjunct teaching would decrease, as the experienced people leave.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 9:38:31 AM by spinnaker » Logged

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infopri
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2012, 11:40:38 AM »

If everyone left the adjuncting profession after three years, there would still be plenty of people to fill those positions. What would happen in my estimate is the quality of adjunct teaching would decrease, as the experienced people leave.

Or it might improve, as fresh blood came in, full of (professionally) youthful enthusiasm.  My guess is that we're best off with a mix of long-timers and short-timers...which is pretty much what the academy has.
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janewales
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2012, 12:40:21 PM »


I'm another one whose adjunct experience came while I was still a grad student. I think it helped me to secure my tenure-track job, because the teaching experience I got directly through my grad program wasn't in the field in which I was most likely to find work after the degree (the adjunct work was at another university). I went straight from finishing onto the tenure track, so I don't have any post-degree adjunct experience.
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pink_
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2012, 1:24:18 PM »

While in grad school, I moonlighted with SAT Prep courses (in addition to my TA position), and then I had a one-year lectureship at my alma mater between getting my degree and getting my TT job.  I wasn't an adjust per se because I had a full-time appointment (barely) that provided health insurance, but I didn't have permanent employment either.
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girasol
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2012, 2:20:28 PM »

I got my job immediately upon graduation, but I was an occasional adjunct before, during and in between the master's and doctoral degrees, over a period of ten years.

A post-doc at another institution expressed indignant surprise to one of my colleagues that I had gotten the job "fresh out of the gate," but changed his tune when it was pointed out to him that I had more teaching experience than his two-year post-doc.
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mended_drum
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2012, 2:35:47 PM »

I adjuncted for three years while getting my Ph.D.  Usually someone with a TAship doesn't do such a thing, for a multitude of reasons, but the job opened at a neighboring institution because of a faculty death, and I was given special permission to teach the needed course until a tt line became available.  So when I got my Ph.D., I also had three years' experience teaching elsewhere. 

Of course, my advisor was appalled, for good reason, but I was young and way too energetic back then.
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shrek
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2012, 4:01:26 PM »

I adjuncted for a year. I was told any moment there would be a tt position. And I do think they wanted one, but didn't really have one. Once I started my job, they did get a tt line and asked me to apply. It was too late at that point-- I had a job in an R1 institution with a lot of resources-- the other job and institution just didn't compare.
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