Sunday, March 25, 2012

Can an Academic Job be a "Next Job?"

So, a VAP has come up in my field. It is a one, maybe a two year gig with a 4/4 teaching load. There will be a TT line offered for this position in two years but the department head freely (and honestly) admits that whoever takes the VAP may have a leg up for that line but no promises.

I'm considering applying for it. No, not because I think it'll somehow magically turn into a TT line. I want the job because of where it is. It's in a place I've wanted to live in since I was a child. My significant other still has at least a year and half before he's done with his residency in Major City. So, this seems like a good time for an adventure. For the curious, said significant other forwarded the job ad to me, so he already knows about it and was a little hesitant to send it, knowing my view of academia these days.

Granted, this job would require moving across the country and away from family. Most of my friends these days are academics, so spatial separation there is inevitable. And it would mean at least another year in a long-distance relationship, but that too is looking more and more inevitable too.

But the academic culture doesn't appeal to me so why, in the name of all things holy and unholy, would I consider applying? Because I want to live there, at least for a bit. I want that adventure. If I happen to add anything to my CV during that time, what a bonus. Yeah, no exclamation point there - read it deadpan, with a sarcastic twist.

Given my ambivalence (leaning towards bitterness) towards academia, a 1-2 year gig actually sounds appealing. If one or both parties decide we'd be better off separated, I finish off the contract and no hard feelings. It would also give me a more time to figure out what I want to be if I grow up...or at least which direction I'm heading off in. And I would have a better sense if my bitterness is due entirely to academia in general or just to spending the last near-decade in a dysfunctional department with an advisor who has turned into a despot.

Notice, I did not mention research or publishing in there. If you're paying me for a 4/4 load, that's what you're getting. If you also want me publish too, you either need to pay me a serious salary or I will laugh in your face. I research the cost-of-living differential and I know what my bills and student loans will be. When negotiating, it's important to know your bottom line. And unlike some of my colleagues, I know there's a life outside of academia and I'm not above just saying "(Oh Helllll) No" to an unacceptable academic offer.

Don't worry about the school. They'll get at least 30 applicants. On the outside chance that they actually want to hire me and can't afford me, some other poor desperate schmuck will take them up on the lowball offer.

It's just a personal thing. I feel like I should at least apply. I can at least say I tried and academia officially did not want what I had to offer. On the upside, I'm getting more confident in the idea that there's something better out there...and I could still do my research. But that's a story for the next post.


Currer Bell said...

I would answer yes. Then I may qualify it to say that if you see yourself outside of academe then maybe entering a new work environment and getting nonacademic job experience sooner rather than later could be a real benefit.

WTF have I done with my life? said...

you could at least apply. especially as it is a place you really would like to live. at least temporarily. you may never get an interview, but without applying, you will never know...

Jet said...

Hi there,

I've jsut come across you and see that you're following my blog - thanks! By the way, love your crocodile blog title and illustration. This sounds liek it may be a nice opportunity, even if temporary. I think also that if you suspect there may 'only' be about 30other applicants, then you stand a good chance. I say this because in my experience, in my academic area here in the uk, it has been noted as a fact that for each lecture post (even fixed-term contracts that are only going for one or two years) that is advertised through, there are at least 150-180 applicants! As I've noticed there are hardly any jobs listed regularly (more chances of getting a funded PhD advertsied in the site) then it is certainly believable. Good luck and have the confidence to boost yourself and strengths as much as possible.

Jet said...

Sorry...meant to say, I've noticed that you recommended my blog - thanks!