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Author Topic: Don't know how to begin job search  (Read 12445 times)
shamu
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« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2012, 1:55:54 AM »

At this point in my thinking, I do wonder if a different academic job would be fulfilling.  But I've been in this for about 10 years, and I am concerned that somewhere else would just suck in its own special way.

1. At many universities, neither the politics nor the overall situation are as bleak as what you describe. The projector is not falling off the ceiling and fires do not randomly break out.
2. If you think there are no politics in non-academic jobs, I think you will be sorely disappointed.
3. Outside of academia, you may have to constantly justify your existence.
4. You are enjoying quite a bit of freedom now that will only become evident once you lose that power.
5. Even though the bottom line matters in academia, of course, it may be the only thing that matters outside of academia.

My advice would be to explore the options before you quit your tenured position. Maybe consider moving to another university. Public historians are not exactly as marketable as accountants or petroleum engineers. Have you talked to people with your profile who are outside of academia? Take a break. Explore. Reflect.
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alleyoxenfree
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« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2012, 3:53:52 AM »

I know this might sound totally off the wall but if you are tenured and your job is not at risk, I wonder if you might take this coming summer off from research (and teaching, if you usually teach over the summer), and take one of those unpaid internships that they hire Ph.D.s into?  Even more crazy--and not easy but maybe you have friends there who can help you--apply for things in D.C. and move to Washington D.C. for the summer?  Just a thought.


Some museums offer unpaid internships to professionals, as well as to students.  IIRC, the National Gallery or the Guggenheim might be among them, and maybe the Smithsonian (or one of its museums).
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crowie
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« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2012, 10:12:12 AM »

At this point in my thinking, I do wonder if a different academic job would be fulfilling.  But I've been in this for about 10 years, and I am concerned that somewhere else would just suck in its own special way.

4. You are enjoying quite a bit of freedom now that will only become evident once you lose that power.

I'm seeing neither the power nor the freedom in the OP's current job, and certainly not the enjoyment.  Granted, many people do mention power/freedom/autonomy as one of the major perks of an academic position, but the flip side of "power" is heavy responsibility without real power, the flip side of "freedom" is that in a given institution it may be strictly bound by arbitrary paramaters (eg. not being allowed to teach graduate courses because of weird departmental issues), and the flip side of "autonomy" is loneliness, alienation and isolation.

It's true that a different job in the same field might be better than the OP's current position, especially if the location is better, but how easy is it to move jobs in the current history market, especially after tenure?  It's not exactly a thriving market right now.  Now, it sounds like the public historian/museum job market is also a tough one, so there are no easy answers, but I would urge the OP not to let fear of what it's like on the "outside" rule the decision-making process. 

With that in mind, it might make sense to continue to go on the market selectively for academic jobs in your field that are also in an attractive location and where you have some sense (through the grapevine?) that the departmental climate/students/classroom maintenance (!) is better than were you are.  But I think it's prudent and mature to be simultaneously looking into other options that might well be even more satisfying.
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shamu
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« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2012, 12:58:12 PM »

4. You are enjoying quite a bit of freedom now that will only become evident once you lose that power.
I'm seeing neither the power nor the freedom in the OP's current job, and certainly not the enjoyment.  Granted, many people do mention power/freedom/autonomy as one of the major perks of an academic position, but the flip side of "power" is heavy responsibility without real power, the flip side of "freedom" is that in a given institution it may be strictly bound by arbitrary paramaters (eg. not being allowed to teach graduate courses because of weird departmental issues), and the flip side of "autonomy" is loneliness, alienation and isolation.

You are twisting my words a bit, because I was referring to the power to freely choose your research, not a "powerful job". When you work in the private sector, you typically do not have the luxury to work on Etruscan Basketweaving, unless you do it on your own dime. You are right in that an average academic job does not come with considerable power, and I never said that. However, for me, it is a perk that I have the flexibility to work on topics I consider important (... that are fundable and on which I can publish). This is something that may not be an option in non-academic jobs.

If you are in a disfunctional department and you feel lonely, isolated, and alienated, perhaps it is time to move on. What I AM saying is that if you think the private sector is the Promised Land just because it is not academia, and it is free of politics/intrigue/etc., you will be sorely disappointed.

Let me also repeat that not all departments and universities are as awful as OP describes, so it is a mistake to project the mysery described in the original post onto academia as a whole.

It's true that a different job in the same field might be better than the OP's current position, especially if the location is better, but how easy is it to move jobs in the current history market, especially after tenure?  It's not exactly a thriving market right now.  Now, it sounds like the public historian/museum job market is also a tough one, so there are no easy answers, but I would urge the OP not to let fear of what it's like on the "outside" rule the decision-making process. 

That is for the OP to decide, of course. All I am saying is that:
1. There are good academic jobs and institutions for which to work out there, and
2. There is no guarantee that a non-academic job will be more pleasant.
Unfortunately, as everyone knows, neither are easy to get.

With that in mind, it might make sense to continue to go on the market selectively for academic jobs in your field that are also in an attractive location and where you have some sense (through the grapevine?) that the departmental climate/students/classroom maintenance (!) is better than were you are.  But I think it's prudent and mature to be simultaneously looking into other options that might well be even more satisfying.

Indeed.
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alleyoxenfree
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« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2012, 1:05:17 PM »

4. You are enjoying quite a bit of freedom now that will only become evident once you lose that power.
I'm seeing neither the power nor the freedom in the OP's current job, and certainly not the enjoyment.  Granted, many people do mention power/freedom/autonomy as one of the major perks of an academic position, but the flip side of "power" is heavy responsibility without real power, the flip side of "freedom" is that in a given institution it may be strictly bound by arbitrary paramaters (eg. not being allowed to teach graduate courses because of weird departmental issues), and the flip side of "autonomy" is loneliness, alienation and isolation.

You are twisting my words a bit, because I was referring to the power to freely choose your research, not a "powerful job". When you work in the private sector, you typically do not have the luxury to work on Etruscan Basketweaving, unless you do it on your own dime. You are right in that an average academic job does not come with considerable power, and I never said that. However, for me, it is a perk that I have the flexibility to work on topics I consider important (... that are fundable and on which I can publish). This is something that may not be an option in non-academic jobs.

If you are in a disfunctional department and you feel lonely, isolated, and alienated, perhaps it is time to move on. What I AM saying is that if you think the private sector is the Promised Land just because it is not academia, and it is free of politics/intrigue/etc., you will be sorely disappointed.

Let me also repeat that not all departments and universities are as awful as OP describes, so it is a mistake to project the mysery described in the original post onto academia as a whole.

It's true that a different job in the same field might be better than the OP's current position, especially if the location is better, but how easy is it to move jobs in the current history market, especially after tenure?  It's not exactly a thriving market right now.  Now, it sounds like the public historian/museum job market is also a tough one, so there are no easy answers, but I would urge the OP not to let fear of what it's like on the "outside" rule the decision-making process. 

That is for the OP to decide, of course. All I am saying is that:
1. There are good academic jobs and institutions for which to work out there, and
2. There is no guarantee that a non-academic job will be more pleasant.
Unfortunately, as everyone knows, neither are easy to get.

With that in mind, it might make sense to continue to go on the market selectively for academic jobs in your field that are also in an attractive location and where you have some sense (through the grapevine?) that the departmental climate/students/classroom maintenance (!) is better than were you are.  But I think it's prudent and mature to be simultaneously looking into other options that might well be even more satisfying.

Indeed.

+1.
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thisfornow
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« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2012, 9:49:45 AM »

Hi All,
Thanks again for the thoughtful responses.  I have emerged from this weekend with a list and an 18 month plan.

I have been applying selectively to academic jobs, and will continue to do so.  It never occurred to me that I could take a leave of absence from my current job to "try out" a new job, or a new city, so this is on my list of things to look into.

I will also begin to look for different kinds of employment--with no illusions that there aren't politics and issues outside of the academy.  I did have a (short) career before grad school, so I am fully aware of the risks and rewards on the other side of the fence.

I will also look into unpaid internships--a brilliant idea!  I had been planning on leaving for the summer (because it's even more miserable here when the students are gone), and this would give me more direction.

I have reached out to two friends-of-friends who have recently left the academy, and we are setting up phone dates.  I'm going to "informational interview" everyone I can get my hands on. 

I do need to get clear on my own feelings about my own job and leaving academia.  I do know that I would like to work somewhere that allows me to draw on my strengths and provides enough support that I can actually do my f***ing job. 

In sum, I'm taking it slow and not making any sudden moves, so to speak, but something's gotta give.
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crowie
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Posts: 3,506


« Reply #21 on: December 03, 2012, 7:36:01 PM »

Congratulations thisfornow, it sounds like you have a plan that you've thought through carefully.  That's a great idea to set up some informational interviews.  As for leaves of absence, I have a colleague who took a new academic job at a different institution this past fall.  She is officially on leave from our institution this year.  She has a deadline of early spring semester to tell our institution if she will be coming back (I doubt very much that she will return).  I think it's not that uncommon for people to negotiate something like this.  You might find some info in your institution's faculty handbook about this if you don't want to explicitly ask someone about it in more detail yet.
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dr_prephd
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Posts: 6,342


« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2012, 8:54:51 PM »

I will also look into unpaid internships--a brilliant idea!  I had been planning on leaving for the summer (because it's even more miserable here when the students are gone), and this would give me more direction.

This, too. A lot of folks I know in museum work got their jobs via internships or a series of internships. Since internships are usually set up around academic schedules, finding one for a summer or a couple of summers might be just the path to help you keep the security of your current job, make connections in the field more broadly and acquire new skills, and land a new job (if not immediately, over the course of several semesters). An 18-month plan sounds accomplishable.
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recovering_academic
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Posts: 22


« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2012, 10:02:15 PM »

I've been following this thread with interest. I don't have a lot to add other than to say:

1) there are a lot of rewarding non-academic jobs out there. This includes jobs where you have a lot of independence (even though you may have to report to seniors), and ones where it is clear that your labors improve the lives of others. I always found the latter to be a hard connection to make at times in academe. Also, despite what we tell ourselves as academics, there are some very intelligent people out there who just don't happen to work in a university.

2) your work environment makes a huge difference, specifically the people you work with. If you can find a workplace where the people are good and petty politics are not acceptable, it matters less what it is that you are actually doing. It sounds like your current dept is a pretty toxic place.
 
3) having a plan is crucial. Sounds like you have this now. I hope it includes a Plan B and C, as you never know what can happen.
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dr_prephd
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Posts: 6,342


« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2012, 8:55:10 AM »

An 18-month plan sounds accomplishable.

With one caveat, as someone upthread has already mentioned, but I'll reiterate: many jobs outside of academia prefer local applicants. The timelines for hiring are much shorter (think 6 weeks to 3 months rather than 12 months), and if you can't start the job when needed, chances are there is somebody next in line who can. If you can spend a summer scouting out the city, putting a lot of your things in storage, and setting things up so that you can exit your current job quickly if needed, then your plan may go more smoothly. Consider, too, if there are any local colleagues who you can use as references.
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westcoastgirl
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Posts: 2,380


« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2012, 8:40:26 PM »

I'm bookmarking this thread. Thanks for all of the helpful info. (for the record, I'm not leaving right now, but in a few years, I may have to leave whether I like it or not).
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