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Author Topic: Quitting a TT position = career suicide?  (Read 16443 times)
prytania3
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Prytania, the Foracle


« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2012, 9:35:52 AM »

I would not quit to quit. I would quit to move to something better. What's the better? Without knowing that, we're comparing apples to ??

Unemployment.
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shamu
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« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2012, 6:22:36 PM »

As others suggested, if you remain marketable, you may be able to find another academic job later. For example, if you are in creative writing and quit to become a Nobel laureate in literature, you will be fine on the job market next time you look for an academic job. Or if you are in an area in which funded research is a must and quit to do research full-time, publish a lot, get grants in the millions, you will probably be fine. However, if you quit and have a gap in teaching and your research productivity goes down, it may be more difficult to get another academic job. You also have to factor in that future SCs may wonder WHY you quit. If the answer is to get the Nobel or work as a full-time researcher while gaining more experience with grants and publishing seminal papers in your field, you will be just fine next time you look for an academic job.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2012, 6:24:49 PM by shamu » Logged
lyndonparker
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2012, 4:05:41 PM »

I agree with the wise advise given above. I would not quit my t-t position unless I had something lined up, and certainly not if I ever had aspirations of finding another academic job at some later point.
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Lyndon always has such a nice succinct way of putting things.
ruralguy
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« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2012, 12:48:22 PM »

People, don't be absurd. There is a lot of ground between  barista/bartender and a TT faculty position! Now what exactly that is will depend on the OP's interests, skills and experience.

As Totoro has implied, whether you can make a late come back or not is going to depend on how successful you were at what you were doing before you quit. If you were highly recognized, but just didn't like the particular job, then you can probably come back. If, like most of us, you're average or maybe slightly better than average, then it will be a lot harder.

In the sciences, you could potentially do lab work or something involving computing once you quit the TT. I know some folks who support themselves on writing, but since its mostly via a low volume sort of press, they have to put out a lot of stuff!

Anyway, it depends on what you mean by "career suicide". if you mean: Will I ever get a TT again? Maybe not. Probably not in some fields.
Does it mean you've condemned yourself to a career with the "golden arches", no.

If I were you though, OP,  I'd wait until tenure to quit. It gives you enough time to see if you really have other options, and then also builds you up to keep the job as a fall back.

Unless you have an awesome opportunity to pursue NOW, I wouldn't quit now.
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hikingprof
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« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2012, 1:26:01 PM »

OP, have you considered the possibility of an unpaid leave of absence? That would give you a year to try out doing something different, and think over what you may miss about your job. You can always resign at the end of the absence, but if you change your mind during that time you can also come back. Most universities will grant an unpaid one year leave of absence with very few questions. My employer actually encourages this: is helps balance the budget!
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lyndonparker
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« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2012, 12:39:41 PM »

People, don't be absurd. There is a lot of ground between  barista/bartender and a TT faculty position! Now what exactly that is will depend on the OP's interests, skills and experience.

As Totoro has implied, whether you can make a late come back or not is going to depend on how successful you were at what you were doing before you quit. If you were highly recognized, but just didn't like the particular job, then you can probably come back. If, like most of us, you're average or maybe slightly better than average, then it will be a lot harder.

In the sciences, you could potentially do lab work or something involving computing once you quit the TT. I know some folks who support themselves on writing, but since its mostly via a low volume sort of press, they have to put out a lot of stuff!

Anyway, it depends on what you mean by "career suicide". if you mean: Will I ever get a TT again? Maybe not. Probably not in some fields.
Does it mean you've condemned yourself to a career with the "golden arches", no.

If I were you though, OP,  I'd wait until tenure to quit. It gives you enough time to see if you really have other options, and then also builds you up to keep the job as a fall back.

Unless you have an awesome opportunity to pursue NOW, I wouldn't quit now.

I agree with this, although I have always found that the "real world" is much less accepting of the value of certain degrees (especially PhDs and JDs) than those within the academy believe. That certainly doesn't preclude making a shift, but it does require more entrepreneurial skills than many academics possess.

If you are serious about leaving academe, I would think long and hard about what you want to do. What skills do you possess? RuralGuy hits it right that most with STEM backgrounds have value in labs or private industry. Most academics write well, and those with STEM or social science backgrounds may also possess statistical training. The economy seems to be picking up, but government agencies and arts organizations are still reeling, taking many potential jobs off the table. I would consider what my skill set was, and look around now, but also keep my t-t job until I felt it was time to jump.
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Lyndon always has such a nice succinct way of putting things.
prof22
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« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2012, 3:34:04 PM »

Quit and move forward to something else. Returning to academia may or may not be in the cards.  However, you don't want to stay in your current situation for the next 20-30 years because you feared that you might not be able to return to academia.  You'll have many regrets.  NOTE: Maybe you should stay for one more year, do things different and change things up.  However, if you still feel that your work in academia is done, move on.  Good luck!
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tortugaphd
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« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2012, 9:27:30 PM »

I don't think the TT is the be all and end all.  If you have other means of supporting yourself financially, there's no reason why you can't continue to do the work you want to do off the tenure track.

One of the people who helped me in significant ways when I was still very early in my career recently left a tenured position for reasons that included but were not limited to wanting to spend more time with family.  Her spouse has an income that allows them to live comfortably on it alone.  She now has an affiliation as a fellow with a university in the next state over from where she used to hold her faculty position.  It supplies her with an office and a library card.  For all intents and purposes, she considers herself an independent scholar.

I realize her circumstances are very particular and may not apply to everybody.  She had established herself as a high-profile scholar in her subfield before she left her university position, and she is still one of the most cited researchers in her subfield (I shouldn't say more since I'm probably revealing identifying information).  All in all, she tells me that she is happy with her situation and is leaving the door open for re-entering the academy if she decides in the future... which will be possible given the name she's made for herself.

Again, having a ladder-rank position is not the be all and end all.  If you have means to support yourself, I don't see any reason to stay in a position that may be unfulfilling to you.  I, myself, don't have the financial ability to do what the aforementioned person above did.  I also don't have the name recognition that she does should I ever want to return to academia as ladder-rank faculty.  Personally, I would love to have a rich spouse who could support me while I did my research and adjuncted here and there.  Alas, I have to deal with the everyday grind of having an academic position so that I can have the moments of joy and clarity that are interspersed throughout the busywork.
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federale
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« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2012, 5:58:30 PM »

Measure twice, cut once.

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tumbleup
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« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2012, 5:00:27 PM »

Often it is possible to take a leave of absence and still keep your position.  If you do that, you will have a chance to see if you really want to quite academia.
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dr_dr
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« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2012, 12:02:06 AM »

I am considering resigning from my current tenure track position. I had posted on the STFU thread about difficulties with my position, and a few forumites who responded confirmed my sense that it was urgent that I GTFO.

I have been applying for positions that seem appropriate, but I missed a large number of ads that had closing dates earlier in the academic year. I still have one application active and am looking at a couple of VAP positions and other work at university nearby that would draw on my research skills. I do not intend to "leave academia," however, just this particular place that is not very well-matched for me and in which there are some serious structural problems. As the time gets closer (my contract renewal is due at the end of the month), and as I read posts on this thread I am wondering about my decision. I do feel that my time will be better spent to get some publications finished rather than stay on the treadmill of this job. I am also not sure I could tolerate another year of the negative interactions with chair.

So far I have only read one post in which forumites read the "working conditions" as so difficult the person ought to resign, but that was someone who worked at a CC (cattywampus). All other advice seems to be stay around while trying to leave. I did state some of the issues I am experiencing in earlier post, and am reluctant to say much more on public forum. I would also like advice as I sort out my options.

Thanks for any wisdom ...
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hegemony
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« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2012, 2:38:38 AM »

I suspect you will get more responses if you start a separate thread.  Here are my thoughts:

1. You have a better chance of landing a job if you already have a job.

2. If you quit and apply while jobless, SCs will wonder what the back story is -- who quits a tt job unless there's some sordid scandal?  That's what they'll think. 

3. I assume you'd have some kind of financial support. 

4. If you knew another tt job (or any academic job) was not going to come along again, would you quit?  Sadly, quitting does increase the odds that you won't land another academic job.  If you'd quit anyway, then maybe you could go ahead.  But if you really want to stay in academia, quitting is very risky.
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anisogamy
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« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2012, 6:29:41 AM »

All of what hegemony says rings true, in my (admittedly limited) perspective.  I think if you were to leave with the hope of getting back in, you'd need to have a tidy and compelling brief narrative of why your departure made professional sense and that you're not a risk for wildly inappropriate behavior, a(nother) tempestuous departure, and so forth.
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A little compassion is better than kicking people when they are down, regardless of who has suffered more and longer or whose bad job market has the biggest dick.
totoro
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« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2012, 7:56:32 AM »

I quit and then told everyone I quit to move country to be with my spouse who got a job on the other side of the world. Everyone seems happy with that story.
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dr_dr
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« Reply #29 on: April 15, 2012, 10:04:55 PM »

Thanks for the responses, hegemony and anisogamy. I have been thinking about hegemony's 4 points, and I suppose that knowing these details would help in advising me.


2--is a consideration that gives me some pause mainly because I cannot control this ... it would be evident based on the department name that my current position was not a good fit for me. There are many issues that I would not mention as my answer in an interview situation (see my earlier post) but I do think the issue of fit in terms of discipline and sub-field are obvious but I do not want to reveal on the forum. What people may think is more difficult ... My contract was renewed this year but I am considering not signing/renewing it.

3--I stated in the original post there are many short-term/part-time positions at large state university nearby doing research that is directly related to my research and teaching. While I have not been successful as yet in landing one of those, I think I have a good chance (positions advertized using same research techniques as my dissertation). It's true the salary will not be the same but my family can probably get by for a year or two with me on half pay.

4--I am not sure that another tt would never come along again. Why is that assumption so prevalent in responses on this thread? From my earlier post in a different thread there are serious problems in my current position. Who would stay given those conditions? Why would I stay there when the cards point to me being denied tenure in a few more years. I am basing my decision on what my options would be at that point if I continue teaching a heavy and changing course load with no time for research vs. partial employment and time to do research that has been on hold while I lived through the disaster job I described in earlier post ...
   
Re: The CHE STFU Center for Professional Development
Reply #281 on: February 18, 2012, 01:50:52 PM

Yes, to anisogamy, preparing a brief narrative of why it makes professional sense to leave would be important and I think is related to 2 and 4 above.

My story isn't as easy as totoro's, but I think it does make professional sense.

Thanks for your help ...
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