I've been hunting for post-ac jobs here in New City. I've been considering starting my own consulting business. I have a friend who does business consulting and is willing to help me out. Somewhere in the midst of this, I thought about research. Here's what happened next:
I thought about a research idea. I did a bit of hunting on google scholar. I even did a bit of a thinking of how I would design the experiment, who I could talk to about it, and where I could find funding. All things which I think qualify as a knee-jerk reaction for an academic. The research, incidentally, was completely unrelated to the post-ac job hunt. The upshot was that thinking about such things did not cause me to start twitching. However, it did make me wonder if I would consider teaching again. So, I set up meetings with some academics in the area that I had connections with. This is a handy way to find local restaurants, if you're curious.
Everyone has been friendly. No one asks why I spent a year unemployed and no one tries to convince me the market is going to turn around or that I should just adjunct for awhile. They have offered to put my name in to adjunct but implicitly or explicitly express that this is a temporary solution.
Many departments in my field do not have funding for new faculty. The people I talk to suggest other departments that have more money hire folks with my background. They offer their lab equipment if I want to do research, free of charge. They offer ways to get a foot in the door and progress to a full-time job. In fact, all of them genuinely appreciate that I have been unemployed for a year and am adamant about maintaining boundaries in my life, if I come back to academics. That could be because I freely admit to burnout. There have even been suggestions of working in a specific department that does not even offer TT appointments so that I would not be required to take on graduate students. I was kind of shocked that people understood my unwillingness to contribute to the overproduction of PhD's, though they may only view that as me not taking funding from their students.
I'm not sure if I would take a job if it was offered but considering it no longer sends me into a post-traumatic stress episode. For the record, I am still looking at post-ac jobs. Academia is just a job, one I am trained for and good at, but nothing more. If I can maintain that boundary and have others respect it, I might consider a subversive life in the Ivory Tower.
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