Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why does everyone keep telling me to perservere?

I am so sick of friendly folk that have hitherto been important fonts of knowledge and friendship during the course of my previous career telling me that I shouldn't give up on the elusive academic job.

They tell me how disciplined I am, how productive I am, how great my research is etc etc... and then suggest that I write to all the departments I can think of to offer my services for the upcoming semester. What they mean of course, is taking a couple of tutorial classes as a casual. That is, what in the US is approximately similar to TA work.

I don't want to be a TA!

I want a proper, full-time, paying position that comes with sick leave, holiday pay and long-service leave. Not a contract to teach first-years for anywhere from 1-6 hours a week for 13 weeks in someone else's course.

While I could do with the money, the point of this phase in my life is to CHANGE careers, not keep running in the same circle chasing my tail. I WANT to do something different. I WANT to move on from this ridiculous scenario that sees a whole heap of graduate students, recent phds and unemployed phds vying for a few hours of work a week.

I mean, first-year's, casual? Sure - I can do that standing on my head. I have done work like this so many times that I can do my preparation in the 15 mins before class (and that still makes me 12 minutes more prepared than most of my students) while I am waiting in line for my coffee.

As Currer Bell has put it on her blog Project Reinvention 2012 - I just don't give a f*** about doing this kind of work anymore.


  1. I just mentioned this situation on recent PhD's blog too. A professor at my university, a guy who has probably said about 50 words to me in my 7 years there (and mind you he TAUGHT me at one point), recently told me I should stick it out another year or two since I now had the Ph.D. in hand and this wonderful event would open all sorts of doors.

    And you know what? For about a minute I was tempted to nod along and agree. Then I quickly woke the fuck up and remembered the reality of the past three years of my job search (and the reality of everyone else's). I was angry with myself that I got sucked back into that thinking--even if only for a moment. I was letting some person who BARELY KNOWS ME make a decision about my entire future. And letting that individual judge me/guilt me about deciding NOT to put up with these abysmal conditions anymore.

    Good for you not letting yourself get stuck in that nonproductive cycle of bullshit!

    1. It's that split second of doubt that sucks- how as you say, someone who knows nothing about you still has the ability to make you feel guilty for not buying into the game anymore. I sometimes think that they're actually too afraid themselves to admit that academia isn't that great to allow room for supporting other people's choices. Now that is f***ed up.

  2. I think that they keep on telling you to persevere for several reasons: (a) They stuck it out so they figure that if you can stick it out for as long as they did things will change for the better, b) they really aren't dealing with the fundamental fact that the system is broken since admitting to you means admitting to themselves and (c) in the past these problems would have resolved themselves. However, things are different...there’s tons of people who are highly qualified to take these jobs but there’s fewer jobs than there are qualified people. So, while these people who tell you to persevere also know that aren’t happy they also know that they’ll be able to find someone else who is happy to take your place and have the chance to ‘get’ into the department. A TAship isn’t a job..I think that it, like adjunct jobs is possibly like being a serf! I suspect that those who say that one ought to persevere can’t cope with the idea of changing their careers since they’re unable to think of what they’d if they weren’t in a university environment. Have you thought of that?

    1. I agree with you absolutely. Being a TA is like being a serf!

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