It's job market season in the antipodes. It always coincides with the time when you want to plan holidays and not have to think about work. It also coincides with grant-writing season too. To sum up - instead of relaxing and enjoying the summer, most Australian academics are frantically either trying to line up work for next year or write grants for the major funding rounds. For a lot of academics that seems to be ok - generally being indoor bookish types, they hate the sun and sand and would prefer to be working anyway*. For the rest of us though, it's sheer hell on earth. (Sidetrack: when I was a pretentious graduate student who thought I knew everything - I would take my Foucault to the beach. It was useful for picking up other pretentious graduate students, but not conducive to either study or beachgoing. I have long since abandoned the habit of taking anything to the beach with me apart from sun protection, dark glasses and money for beer on the way home.)
(*it's a stereotype I know, but I did say "a lot" rather than "all")
So as you might know, I have already been sucked in to applying for one job this summer. I am also toying with writing a grant, but I think that there is an inward compulsion to procrastinate my way out of having to make a decision about putting it in. Never having been a procrastinator when I was committed to my academic career, I find it interesting how this new skill (is it a skill?) allows me to avoid making definitive decisions by allowing the passing of time make them for me. Also never having been any good at listening to my inner judgement - I am old enought to realise that the procrastinating over very specific tasks is clearly a sign from my unconscious (or should that be subconcious or nonconscious?). So perhaps I will never get around to doing much about my self-appointed tasks and feel secretly relieved that it will be too late by the time I get around to starting any of them.
But the frustating aspect of all of this is: will I regret not giving it one more go? Will I regret not applying for jobs that come up or putting a grant in? Being a highly trained academic - making decisions is a challenging affair for me. I need to weigh up all the evidence, determine the best course of action and then make a fully informed decision. Some people might call this anxiety. I call it "analytical skills".
At least part of this frustration is obvisouly because my current job is boring. There are aspects that I like - i.e. working with actual human beings - but for the most part, I don't have enough to do. When I do ask for more work, the work I am given still isn't enough. I have literally hours to spare in any given week, sometimes in a day. While lots of people might be content to work like this, I am more than a little disappointed. I need to work on challenging and complex tasks that take a significant amount of time to complete - like the work I used to do as a an academic.
This is essentially why I am currently wondering if I should keep applying for grants and jobs and so on. Or if I should just bite the bullet and start retraining in another field - one that would be more challenging than the current one I am in. Because even if I was doing a more senior job in my current field - it still wouldn't be complex enough. I have seen enough to know all that I need to know. Working in a different part of the sector would not be that much different to where I am now. It's a shame, because there are heaps of jobs. It's an important field of work and does real things for improving life chances for many individuals. I believe in the sector and what it can acheive.
Still, there just aren't enough challenges in it for me. So I am tempted to keep slamming my head against the academic wall for just a little while longer. Maybe another year of not going anywhere will be what I need to get it well and truly out of my system. The important point is - I will have a job while I am doing it, so it won't matter if I don't get anywhere. I will still be exactly where I am now. And then I think: oh but maybe I shouldn't be wasiting any more of time? And so on and so forth.
For now though, I think I need to consider my options just a little more...