The Most Dangerous Prey: Jobs

In Spanish the word for “to hunt” is almost the same as the word for “to marry” (cazar/casar).  While this has its own set of interesting implications for relationships, it always comes to mind when I think of the phrase “job hunting.”

I’m supposed to graduate in four months, which means that I’m not too far from needing to be gainfully employed myself.  I would say it’s hard not to be discouraged by the prospect, but that would be lying.  Yes, it’s true, I am inundated with negative statistics on every side:  The ever-increasing percentage of academic teaching positions held by adjunct professors, the bottom rung of the academic ladder I hold by chasing an MA in the humanities, the apparent duty I have as someone who may or may not be part of the so-called millennial generation (Pew Research says I am) to complain about not being able to find a job, and finally, the geographic factor of “158 people moving to Austin every day” (a fact that’s cited in a few dozen articles but I can’t find a source for other than the name Mark Sprague).

Add onto this the fact that I don’t have the option of moving for a job and I hit pretty much every common sad story.  Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with the dreaded “two-body problem.”

But I’m making myself stay optimistic.  After all, most of my friends are doing what they want to do, even if they are having to do it or had to do it on a much smaller scale/payscale than they had hoped.  Hell, even my friend in journalism got a promotion recently (insert journalism dying joke here)!  Also, I’m getting started early, and feel a lot better prepared/confident than I did the last few times I needed to do serious job searches.

That said, I fully anticipate not having a full-time job lined up come this fall.  It would be nice, and there are several I’m planning on applying for, but I’m fine with doing some combination of teaching/writing/editing on lots of part-time bases.  As far as teaching, I’d like to end up at Austin Community College as that’s the place I have the best shot of transitioning into something full-time (and the best writing class in my memory was a night class at a junior college).  I’ve also applied for some interesting positions, like being the writer-in-residence at Exeter Academy.  That job would be awesome – I was initially worried about my qualifications, but looking at their past candidates, my publication history is on par if not better.  Main difference is that every one of them got an MFA, not an MA.  So we’ll see.  Finally, I’ve also reapplied to an MFA program, just to keep my options open.

A few thoughts on selecting a teaching position:  Larger universities generally offer better opportunities for research and to focus, but it takes a long time to take advantage of those opportunities.  There’s a married pair of professors I’m familiar with who teach a similar subject matter but one’s at Texas State and one’s at Southwestern University, and the one who is at SU (a SLAC) says his favorite thing about teaching there is most years he has a chance to teach a class on pretty much anything, thanks to the flexibility.  Personally, I’m drawn to community colleges for a similar reason to why I’m drawn to writing centers - informal setting, and students who show up generally have a desire to be there.  I have no intention of being heavily involved in research, which is a further positive for community colleges: they won’t emphasize the need for academic publications as much, and my nonacademic publications might have more weight.

So there it is.  My hopeful, pregame show.  We’ll see where I’m at come July, eh?

Outside content:  BOOK REVIEWS!  I reviewed Daniel Alarcón‘s At Night We Walk in Circles for the Fiction Advocate.  My buddy John Savage reviewed Diane Ravitch‘s Reign of Error for The Texas Observer.  Also, is the current culture of people like me doing book reviews for free everywhere too scared of writing negative book reviews?  The New Yorker ponders this.

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