Job Search Help In These Times

With the pandemic, we are doing all we can to provide help for anxious job seekers. Since not everyone follows us on social media or the newsletter, you may not know all of what we are up to. So here’s a quick summary! (And: you should subscribe to the newsletter! Every issue comes with a discount on some event or product. Do it here:


I know a lot of you are still hoping to try for the academic job, and that’s ok. There probably won’t be many jobs advertised, but if there are some in your field–by all means apply! On that front, we are offering help.

Tomorrow and next Thursday I’m bringing back my two-part How To Apply for the Academic Job webinar series.

Part I is on the Cover Letter and CV. Part II is on the Teaching and Research Statements. This is the only time I’ll offer them this year!

Again, you get access to the recordings even if you can’t make the live events as long as you register. Find them on the WEBINARS page. Also on that page you’ll see Hacking the Academic Job Market webinar coming up in two weeks time.

In recognition of the financial struggle right now, we are also offering – for the first time ever –  a New Client Buy One Get One Half Off August Special.

If you are a new editing client, you can get on the calendar to work with us on two job document full edits for only $270, instead of the regular $360. If you’ve ever been curious about working with us, now it your chance to try it out.

While you can do any of the following docs with us – Cover Letter, CV, Teaching Statement, Research Statement, Sample Syllabus, Diversity Statement — I’d urge you to do the CV and CL! Because, as I explain in tomorrow’s webinar, those are without question the heavy lifters of the academic job application, and the docs that really, really need to shine.

Also: given the almost total collapse of academic hiring, we are offering the webinar Going Postac In a Pandemic: Moving On with a PhD in a Time of Stress, on a bi-weekly basis, and reduced the rate to $35. This webinar starts at the grief, loss, anger and fear that comes with letting go of your tenure-track dream, and then guides you through all the ways to identify and embrace the many, many skills you probably don’t realize you have, and then connect them to the kinds of jobs that exist outside the narrow confines of the academy. I absolutely love this webinar.

[As we have noted elsewhere–we know you’re struggling! and we are also a small business with staff that rely 100% on the income they make from The Professor Is In. So, reducing our rates is the way we are trying to balance obligations to struggling job seekers and our vulnerable staff.]

We are also offering a newly expanded and updated webinar, Starting Your Own Consulting (Or Other) Small Business.. In a Pandemic. This jam-packed two-hour webinar doesn’t just walk you through the nuts and bolts of conceiving of and launching a small business, but also addresses the emotional elements around risk-taking, shame about money, and embracing the identity of business-owner, AND features inspiring stories and advice from 20 fellow PhDs who have gone on to start their own businesses. This webinar is a true labor of love for me – I want every PhD to understand just how entrepreneurial you really can be!

You get the recordings of all webinars as long as you register.

And, all of the webinars I’ve mentioned, and many others, are available in recorded form as well!

Find them here on the WEBINAR RECORDINGS PAGE.

Beyond all of this, we continue to offer our weekly podcast episodes that try and share a little uplift to your week in these hard times. We offer advice on the job search, interviews with amazing people, and intersectional discussions of racism, sexism, homophobia and more, in the academy.

And know that if you need help, and can’t afford our posted rates, we absolutely will talk with you to try and make a financial arrangement you can afford. We know you’re struggling. While we are a small business trying to make our way in this downturn (and yes, we’ve taken a hit), we want to support you however we can. So please reach out to talk to us:

Last: if you think your department might like to host Karen or Kel for a professionalization or productivity virtual talk or workshop, by all means get in touch! While there is little that is good about this COVID situation, the opportunity to offer virtual events at campuses across the country at affordable rates is not terrible.

So, all this to say, we’re thinking of you, and hoping you are staying safe and ok. And remember: it’s ok to feel overwhelmed, forgetful, distracted, irritable, depressed, and scared. Those are all normal feelings for the moment we are in.

#Dispatches: COVID Impacts by Career Level, Part III ~ Grad Students/Postdocs


#Dispatches From the Frontlines Monday series crowdsources questions to get a broad indication of how our readers are coping with various challenges.

The question right now: How has COVID impacted your career? Due to the massive number of responses, I will be dividing responses by career level.

Two weeks ago I began with Assistant Professors. Last week I shared responses by NTT/Adjuncts/VAP. Today I’ll feature Grad students and postdocs, and then tenured faculty/administrators will follow next week.

Bolding added for emphasis.

New #Dispatches Question will be opened for responses in a few weeks’ time.

NOTE: Please remember that we invite respondents to list their own identifying details. We mostly do not edit these. Respondents share what THEY feel is significant about their identity.



This is harrowing reading….


This summer, I was planning to collect data for my dissertation overseas; however, because of the outbreak, I am unable to travel and collect data in person. As a result, I had to change my data collection plans and am now in the process of revising my instruments so that I could attempt to collect data remotely. That said, it is not easy to find 60+ participants who are willing to participate in a lengthy experiment without compensating them. I have applied to a few grants but sadly did not receive them (I still have 3 more to apply, but they are extremely competitive grants). So right now, I have to decide whether to postpone my data collection to Fall and miss the job market for Fall 2020 OR attempt to collect data remotely and pay them out of pocket so I do not miss the job market. [Grad Student, Social Sciences, I’m a non-American PhD candidate at an elite US university. Straight, woman, married]

I have had to come to terms with the fact that my dream job working within a university setting may now be out of reach, and have had to start considering jobs in community settings instead — which, in my field, are typically more lucrative, however I really enjoy the university setting and it has been a hard pill to swallow that I may not be able to have the job I envisioned for at least the next year (and possibly many years?)Post Doc, Social Sciences, 32 yr old, cis, white, hetero, partnered woman]

I delayed my defense simply because I had so much trouble concentrating for six weeks and was fending entirely on my own (no local support, no car, using public transit). I moved back with my parents for financial reasons. Now I’m back on track to finish because, well, I don’t have anything else to do. My advisers, mentors, friends, and parents all have urged me to stay and use up my final semester of guaranteed TAship for the fall because they can’t see much hiring (if at all) for the next 6-12 months and the TAship is bird in hand. I do plan to defend early in the autumn semester so I can use the rest of the time to (hopefully) land something that will allow me to move out of my parents’ and be financially independent by January 2021. I am taking the “wait and see” approach. I am terrified of having to fight a difficult (general) job market once again (I did so in 2010 when unemployment was at least 10%!) and my dream sectors are higher education and non-profits, which are, well, now severely damaged. [Grad Student, Humanities, 34, white, straight unmarried female, no kids]

I am in my last year of a two year postdoc. This coming year was supposed to be my “big year” on the job market. Advice from my advisor was that I should try to patch together adjunct teaching jobs until the market rebounds. However, I have young kids and don’t want to jump around the country following Visiting AP jobs. Instead, I am plotting my exit from academia to do birth work and using this year to get the certifications I need and turn my dissertation into a book (previously, I was chopping it up into articles). It is liberating and clarifying to ask the question: what is it that I want, if I am no longer focused on making myself more appealing for academic jobs? [Post-Doc, Social Sciences, 30-something, queer, cis-gender woman, married, and have two young children]

If I had choices, I might stay closer to home (aging parents and such.) But now I feel I have even less choices than before; I’ll take whatever I can get! So not sure how to advise.[Grad Student, Education, 49 year old, graduating with EdD in June 2020, married, fairly middle class I guess]

I had planned on graduating in either the Fall or Spring (depending on how quickly I could finish my dissertation). The past school year I had talked at length with two of my advisors about considering the possibility of leaving the academy, and had begun looking for outside work. This summer, I had been accepted to two internships – one with a federal government agency, and one with my Senator. Both were cancelled because of pandemic. I will not be able to apply to either again next year because they both required you being a student the following school year. (I could put off graduating another year, but I’m already five years in, and I would really like to just be done at this point). I continue to adjunct teach, but I’m deeply upset that two potential areas for future employment outside of the academy have essentially evaporated before my eyes (at least, that’s how it feels). [Grad Student, Humanities, 33, white, female, with long term partner (together for 10 years) – he graduated with his PhD a year ago and is on the academic job market while adjuncting.]

I am very worried that the country where I do field work won’t allow foreign visitors (especially from the US, given the outbreak here) for the next year or even longer.  I am lucky to be 9 months into a 3-year postdoc, but I was hoping to have results from new field projects by the time I apply for jobs.  It seems increasingly unlikely that I’ll actually get to do those projects any time soon, meaning that I’m looking at back-up plans that I could do at my home campus, in the lab.  But my main backup plan requires a lot more research money than I have, so I would have to apply for funding for those, which may or may not be successful and even if it were it would take many months …  And my backup plan would be a switch to a topic that I’m less excited about and which would put me on a path towards a different type of job, teaching different types of classes and having different types of students.  Currently I am crossing my fingers and toes that the one and only job opening in my field right now happens to work out.  But that would be a miracle. [Post Doc, Stem, 31, female cisgender and straight-ish, single, postdoc in STEM field]

Honestly, I am feeling very lost. My current position is scheduled to end in September and I have been looking for jobs since last year. I have not even gotten through the first-round in most cases. I started looking for non-academic positions but given my citizenship, it makes it hard for me to find a job in the US (despite having spend the last decade in the US) or in the UK where I am currently at. Industry is also going through hiring freeze. My current career plan for the worst case scenario is to return to where my family is now and find any job.  [Post Doc, Social Sciences, 30 year old, female, straight, non-US/UK/EU citizen] 

I have to move house because I can no longer afford the rent I’m paying right now. I also had to get an emotional support animal earlier than I thought I would[Grad Student, Social Sciences, Black, Harvard PhD student, 24 years old, mentally ill, single/unmarried, no children, no student debt, lower-middle-class family, high CoL area]

Second source of income is in-person so no longer possible, very concerned about money, eating canned soup daily, will not get paid from school again until 1 october.  no one from school has asked how we grad students are doing, financially or emotionally. [Grad Student, Humanities, over 50, white woman]

Partner moved in with me to escape covid hotspot (Long Island), they were in the process of applying for disability when the pandemic hit so obviously that’s on hold now. Since March I’ve been supporting two people on a graduate student stipend, landlord pressured us to mutually dissolve the lease we had already signed for next year, forcing me to find a place to move during the pandemic. The apartment we’ll be moving into will be more expensive than my current one, and between helping my partner pay for medication and needing to have a housing deposit ready I’ve now missed paying two months of rent.  [Grad Student, STEM, 30, cis white man]

I’m a doc student at an Ivy League school. Since the pandemic broke, I’ve had to pay rent for a studio I could no longer use (in an expensive university town) even though I couldn’t get back into the country because of travel restrictions. My Ivy League school in Boston wouldn’t release me from my rent until I moved out all my belongings. I had to hire movers and packers to move out remotely which cost me a lot of money. At the same time, I had to pay rent/living costs in another non-US city where I ended up staying. As a consequence, I used up all my personal savings and I’m broke. Thanks to the pandemic, I lost the opportunity to work during the summer. Meanwhile I’ve had to deal with US visa rules which are unstable and volatile. Spent the whole summer attending visa sessions, seeking legal counsel to understand new rules that are coming out every other week pretty much. The international office in my university is understaffed and takes weeks to respond to simple visa questions. I regret my decision to do a PhD in the US, and would advise others to stay out of the US for now.  [Grad Student, Social Sciences, female, single, international student]

I lost my funding and with it my university healthcare. All while expecting my first child. I was forced to move and have struggled to find remote work I can do while pregnant and high risk. [Grad Student, Humanities, 28 year old PhD candidate, female, pregnant]

I applied to 14 dissertation completion/predoc fellowships. 4 were cancelled due to covid, I had one campus visit and was going to receive an offer (which could lead to a TT position), but the opportunity disappeared. I now have no funding for my final year and no health insurance. Also going on the market this fall with little hope. [Grad Student, Humanities, 30, white/Mexican, heterosexual cisgender woman, married, mother to one child. First generation, from a working class background.]

Lost my original post doc due to refusal to conduct psychotherapy without appropriate PPE[Post Doc, Social Sciences, Female]

Finding it difficult to secure formal employment for regular income.[Grad Student, Arts/Music/Theater, 30, black, female, straight, single.]

Since there is a travel ban for all European countries I can’t go back to the US and I will lose my GTAship, which also means my job. I am forced to request the leave for the semester. [Grad Student, Humanities, 27 yo, White, european, female, lesbian, single, international student]

As a result of COVID-19 related travel restrictions and cancellations, I was not able to attend 2 key conferences in my field. I also was not able to participate in paid summer work that would have been beneficial both financially and professionally. I haven’t had access to research materials for months and am anxious about how this may slow my progress to my degree. And right now, my department is saying that all grad students with non-teaching appointments may lose their positions and be put back in the classroom, but the final word on this will not come down until very late July or early August. All of these scenarios have affected my current financial security as well as my ability to successfully compete for jobs in the future.[Grad Student, Humanities, 1st gen grad student]

I’m at the verge of losing my job. This means that my family will have no source of income starting in August/2020 (we’re a single-income household). Also, it looks like I’ll not be employed anytime soon.[Post Doc, Humanities, Latino, cismale, gay, married, single-income household]

Due to covid I have more credit card debit and I am staring down the barrel of another year in the program because my dissertation data collection has been indefinitely suspended. Which, of course, means that is another year without an adequate income.  [Grad Student, Social Sciences, 29, white, female, straight, single]

While I have been fortunate enough to continue getting my base stipend from my school (which is barely enough to pay the bills but it at least does that), I lost my other job tutoring due to campus closing. I had planned to work another 2-3 jobs over the summer to build up savings and pay down some debt, but all jobs fell through and I was only able to secure a job editing pro bono (“we pay in experience”). I am now faced with a looming $1200 “tuition fees” payment due in August with no current way to pay it and no financial cushion to cover emergencies.[Grad Student, Humanities, 36 year old white woman with 20 years of management experience outside academia. Divorced and living with a roommate, with no family within a 400 mile radius.]

Feel somewhat bad about this – but positively. I was redeployed to work clinically which pays well; I still earn my PhD stipend; I’ve been given another well paying part time job as a research assistant on a covid grant; very few places to spend my money. But I am exhausted and burnt out. [Grad Student, Stem, 24 male Pakistani straight single]

I had a job lined up to start in September (offered in November); it was retracted. I am back on the job market now… [Post Doc, Humanities, 33 yrs, female, straight, married, German national]

While my TA position is still intact, it comes with being forced on campus which seems extremely dangerous. My parents have been laid off so I must help provide for the family once unemployment ends. [Grad Student, Stem, Hello, im a 24 year old muslim female in physics.]

Short-term: we have been saving lots of money on gas, conference travel, restaurants, etc. Mid-term: the pandemic has killed my last long-shot hopes of a TT job, so I have to restart a freelance business after five years away. Not much security there, but no worse than anywhere else at this point, and at my age freelancing 3-4 days a week is probably a more reasonable choice than pursuing full time academic employment anyway. I have few needs, so I’ll make do. [Post-Doc, Humanities, Middle-aged white Canadian man in a long-term relationship]

Salary cut [Post Doc, Public Health, Non-Hispanic White 35 year old woman and married]

I have had little or no income, eating from food shelves, struggling to make rent and car payments.[Grad Student, MPH, 41 white and native American female, married,  5 kids, disabled]


We Are Revolutionary – #BLM Guest Post

[We continue to welcome #BLM guest posts. You can see the complete series here. We pay $150 for accepted posts. 1000 words ballpark; profanity welcome. Art/poetry also welcome. Please send a draft or query/pitch to Karen at]


Romy Keuwo is a Cameroonian first year graduate student in the Intercampus Program for Communication Disorders at the University of Kansas. His research interests include augmentative and alternative communication, assessment and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders in adults, and bilingual language acquisition (in particular, French-English bilinguals). Additionally, he works toward increasing equity and inclusion for students of color in communication sciences and disorders.


By: Romy Keuwo 

Holding spaces to uplift one another during this pandemic of Black suffering is one of the greatest forms of therapy that I have personally been blessed with during this time period. Being able to express myself through writing, poetry, and music is not only a coping mechanism, but it is also what feeds my soul during hard times, especially in times like these. 

On June 5th,2020 I attended two very different demonstrations in my hometown of Kansas City, Kansas. They were the first demonstrations I have ever attended.

 The first demonstration took place at 11 am in downtown Kansas City at City Hall, and it was rather peaceful with members of Congress (including Kansas’s 3rd congressional district Representative Sharice Davis) and Black individuals directly impacted by police brutality. 

The focus of the demonstration was accountability, funding for body cameras on officers, and emphasizing the importance of voting and protesting. One speaker was the mother of Ryan Stokes, an unarmed Black man shot in the back by a Kansas City officer two blocks away from where we held our demonstration. The federal court ruled that the officer’s use of deadly force was justifiable, and so, the officer was exonerated of the charges against him. Ryan Stokes’ family is currently fighting to reinstate the case in order to bring him the justice he deserves.

Stories like Ryan Stokes’ are one of the many reasons I chose to attend the demonstrations. Ryan Stokes, George Floyd, Amhaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor…they are not just Black lives lost to police brutality. They are Black lives lost to a failing system. 

Later that night around 9 pm I attended a half Open Mic, half peaceful demonstration. It was held near a popular fountain located at Kansas City’s Plaza. 

I arrived to the protest around 30 minutes before the march started. One of the first speakers I heard was a seven-year-old biracial girl who spoke about her anger toward the murder of George Floyd. She chanted “Hands Up,” and the crowed echoed, “Don’t shoot.” It was emotional hearing a seven-year-old chant those words, but it was also so beautiful how self-aware she was. After her speech, a majority of protesters left to march down the streets of the Plaza. 

The rest of us stayed by the fountain and listened to poetry. After the marchers came back to the fountain, there was a beautiful sermon-like speech given by a Reverend (there was also a similar speech given by a Pastor who spoke at City Hall). The gist of both messages were that ALL Black lives (straight and LGBTQIA+) matter today, tomorrow, and every damned day God created on this Earth. 

After the Reverend’s speech, a majority of protesters left again to march down a different street in the Plaza. It was inspiring that, despite their exhaustion, they continued marching. After the protesters had left and with much encouragement from my friends, I performed two pieces. First, I read my poem “Dear Black People,” which is my tribute and reminder to tired Black folks that they/we are revolutionary. The poems reads: 

“Dear Black People,

We are dreamers and believers 

We are outing the deceivers 

We are stronger than oppression

We are pausing for reflection  

We are trauma and it’s sorrow 

We are  praying for tomorrow 

We are nations, but one village 

We are exposing their White Privilege 

We are try me and you’ll see

We are righting history 

We are brighter than the sun 

We are leaping when we run 

We are milk and honey dew

We are Black in every hue 

We are curls and kinky hair 

We are truth and we are scared 

We are hands up and don’t shoot

We are Earth and all it’s roots

We are screaming our lives matter

We are fighting for cadavers 

We are grieving all their names 

We are living though the pain 

We are angry and enraged  

We are fighting till there’s change 

We are organizing movements 

We are leading revolutions 

We are the slaves they can’t take back  

We are American and fucking Black”

Afterward I performed “Feeling Good,” a song that I label for my own emotional attachments, a Black spiritual. I’ve sang this song numerous times. Not only is it my go-to karaoke song, but it is also a song that has reflected different stages of life and the milestones in my growth as a young queer Black man. 

I sang this song on that day for my Black community because despite the bullshit we are going through, I felt good about the change that is coming and the conversations we are starting. It may not happen tomorrow, but the change is coming. 

As I heard the applause after I finished singing, I was reminded that Black folks are not only resilient, but we are also revolutionary. I hope the Black folks reading this remember that our time is coming. Our retribution and justice is on the horizon. And although the process of getting to that point is painstakingly slow…our mere existence is resistance and that, THAT is why we march and protest and wake up in the morning and do it all over again, whether that is physically attending protests or dismantling systemic racism through our advocacy, anecdotes, and existence. Simply by existing we are resisting the chains of oppression. We are unshackling those chains and placing them into the hands of those who oppress us. 

I leave with this message from the Reverend, Pastor, members of Congress, and the POCs I listened to on June 5th, 2020. All of what I am writing may be inspiring and although my wish is that this gives some people hope, I want to remind you all that simply protesting when a Black person dies or saying “Black Lives Matter,” is not enough. These conversations need to happen in the classroom, in the locker rooms, in our churches, in our schools, at our jobs, and in our daily lives. It would be a shame if Black lives only matter when we are dead bodies broadcasted on your television screens. If you say Black lives matter, then prove it. Do your part and be unapologetic in your stance against systemic oppression. Black folks cannot do it alone.


Romy Keuwo 

The Unraveling of America and Academic Denial

A little story:

A couple months ago I was working with a European negotiating client who had a TT job offer in Texas. He had a secure position in Europe and would be leaving it to come here.

As part of the NA work I told him:

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask you to pause and seriously reconsider taking this job in the US, in Texas. It’s not an elite institution or a particularly great offer, and do you understand that you’re moving into a country that is, frankly, a shitshow. And you’re moving AWAY from a secure position in a functional country to do it. Do you understand how bad things are here?”

And then I sketched some facts and figures related to the pandemic, our healthcare levels, MAGA realities, guns in Texas, etc., and sent a link to some news story showing our emergent (at the time) collapse.

This client ended up throwing a fit, demanding a full refund for the work I did with him. He claimed I was “unprofessional” and “condescending” and….best of all… “demotivating.”

He wouldn’t take any of my offered resolutions, and Paypal is such that sellers rarely can win these cases even when we provide complete documentation of the services provided. So I had to give a refund.

This grates on me to this day, and I periodically send this client news stories of the accelerating collapse of the US, and Texas in particular, as COVID ravages us and exposes the deep, deep dysfunctions of American society, not just around health care, but also toxic individualism, MAGA paranoia, violent racism, and the Trump admin’s criminal neglect.

He never responds. I imagine he has me blocked. But I’m petty enough right now that I keep sending them.

I’ll be honest, it grates. There was no greater service I could give a negotiating client right now than to make sure they know JUST HOW BAD THINGS ARE IN THIS COUNTRY.

And what grates more is: I saw this EARLY. I gave him ADVANCE WARNING. Well before things devolved to where they are now. The pandemic had barely started. The Feds were not even in the streets yet. BUT I SAW WHAT WAS IN THE AIR; I SAW WHAT WAS COMING. And I shared what I saw with my client.

But denial and exceptionalism prevailed.

Today I woke up and read this article from Rolling Stone, The Collapse of America, by anthropologist Wade Davis, and thought of this client yet again. Of course I mailed it to him. It speaks from the broad, comparative scope that Anthropology does best.

The American cult of the individual denies not just community but the very idea of society. No one owes anything to anyone. All must be prepared to fight for everything: education, shelter, food, medical care. What every prosperous and successful democracy deems to be fundamental rights — universal health care, equal access to quality public education, a social safety net for the weak, elderly, and infirmed — America dismisses as socialist indulgences, as if so many signs of weakness.

How can the rest of the world expect America to lead on global threats — climate change, the extinction crisis, pandemics — when the country no longer has a sense of benign purpose, or collective well-being, even within its own national community? Flag-wrapped patriotism is no substitute for compassion; anger and hostility no match for love. Those who flock to beaches, bars, and political rallies, putting their fellow citizens at risk, are not exercising freedom; they are displaying, as one commentator has noted, the weakness of a people who lack both the stoicism to endure the pandemic and the fortitude to defeat it. Leading their charge is Donald Trump, a bone spur warrior, a liar and a fraud, a grotesque caricature of a strong man, with the backbone of a bully.

Odious as he may be, Trump is less the cause of America’s decline than a product of its descent. As they stare into the mirror and perceive only the myth of their exceptionalism, Americans remain almost bizarrely incapable of seeing what has actually become of their country. The republic that defined the free flow of information as the life blood of democracy, today ranks 45th among nations when it comes to press freedom. In a land that once welcomed the huddled masses of the world, more people today favor building a wall along the southern border than supporting health care and protection for the undocumented mothers and children arriving in desperation at its doors. In a complete abandonment of the collective good, U.S. laws define freedom as an individual’s inalienable right to own a personal arsenal of weaponry, a natural entitlement that trumps even the safety of children; in the past decade alone 346 American students and teachers have been shot on school grounds.


It won’t make any difference. Denial is woven into the fibers of academia, and it won’t budge just a mere matter of national collapse.

For the rest of you: please don’t turn away your eyes. Make your choices this year based on reality, not fantasy, even if your advisors or peers are pushing fantasy.


The Professor Is In now offers Going Postac resources on an ongoing basis as we confront this crisis. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is my Going Postac In a Pandemic webinar. Find it here:


Thursday is my newly expanded Starting Your Own Consulting (or Other Small) Business. Use code WEBZONE10 for 10% off.


If you’re reading this later, know that the recording is available here on the Recordings page:


And…. everyone: stay safe, stay angry, and stay focused on what’s real. As painful as it is, we need to stop staring into the myth of US exceptionalism… in academia as well.

Hemostasis – #BLM Guest Post

[We continue to welcome #BLM guest posts. We pay $150 for accepted posts. 1000 words ballpark; profanity welcome. Art/poetry also welcome. Please send a draft or query/pitch to Karen at]

Today’s post is by Tanisha Clark.

Tanisha Clark is pursuing her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Tanisha has an interest in pediatric psychology, specifically the assessment and treatment of children with development disabilities. She is also the Social Justice Fellow at Children’s Health Dallas Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence, where she studies the impact of trauma-informed care training on medical and allied health students. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Spelman College and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Southern Methodist University.


The world stood still just long enough to hear the roar of our pain. We grimaced in silence and wondered if we had finally shed enough BLOOD to warrant legitimacy. We awakened to a sea of corporations regretting their errors. Companies that spent millions to research the rates at which marketing e-mails are opened could not have possibly had the resources or the insight to understand a day sooner. Validation, gratitude, and accomplishment swelled in the eyes of those newly aware; awakened to another task to be appropriated and fixed. 

Didn’t they see, we were still BLEEDING?

You see, the moment they woke up was simply that, a moment in time, and if this moment does not produce the momentum to change the way that power is exchanged, we will forever be BLEEDING. BLEEDING out boys and girls that should have been allowed to be children, BLEEDING out bright minds and powerful voices that deserved an opportunity to be cisterns from which our people drink wisdom. Still mourning ancestors, we will never know, on a mantle of incomplete family trees.  Consistently piecing together our identities and forever unlearning the names first branded into our skin now seared into our psyche—imposters in a stolen land, ironically built by our own hands. A place where uttering the truth is blasphemous to a system that demands applause for legalizing our existence. 

We have been BLEEDING for over 400 years.

Slowly but onward we have trudged, in Assata Shakur’s words, “A little slower. And a lot more deadly.” With a resolve to annihilate the roots of oppression and hold up a mirror to the world as we profess, “The crime lies in the fabric of this capitalist society, stitched so intentionally with racist ideologies.” Contrary to your narratives, it is not my Black skin, that has been stripped of its roots and admonished to professionally “blend-in.” Yet, as we cover our wounds and mask ourselves to fit in, we are still BLEEDING. With every passing aggression, though micro in size, but insidiously eroding with time, 

We breathe and BLEED until we can do neither. 

“Save yourselves!” the masses once cried. But how can a world with unskilled hands, inept in the art of healing, ask the hemorrhaging to rescue themselves? The miracle is that, while BLEEDING, we’ve produced greatness under the most uncomfortable of circumstances. Yet, you’ve asked us to silence corporate cries that give voice to our pain, because it wouldn’t be fair to make others feel uncomfortable. Instead, we should be optimistic and as malleable as sand, while we simultaneously stand, in a system built with a concrete resolve to ensure that we will forever BLEED. Why do our faces produce such discomfort? Why does our equality make you fret so that you inflict more wounds, thinking perhaps we won’t appear to stand quite as tall as you? Normalizing our degradation in the form of mass incarceration, substandard housing, oppressive legislation, and failing schools.

Then you, yes you, ask us to compete while we are still BLEEDING…

If you are reading this know, we have paid in BLOOD for what was given to some at birth. We have screamed loudly for rights handed delicately to those with power and privilege as a rite of passage. Yet still, we are the most resilient of forces, and we will not be deterred. Our healing cannot be wrought simply by the condolences in your statements, misaligned gestures, and jargon filled words. So, the next time you feel accomplished after posting a hashtag know that I cannot lift my hands to applaud you, because I am applying pressure to my own open, BLEEDING, wounds. 

Hashtags cannot stop hemorrhaging, but ask yourself what your hands can do…

Misogynoir and Other Racist Aggressions in the Ivory Tower: An Open Letter – #BLM Guest Post

[We continue to welcome #BLM guest posts. We pay $150 for accepted posts. 1000 words ballpark; profanity welcome. Art/poetry also welcome. Please send a draft or query/pitch to Karen at]

Muna-Udbi Ali is an Assistant Professor of Sociology & Criminology and Justice Studies at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). Before joining CSUSM, Ali worked as a Visiting Faculty in Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology (SSWA) at Christopher Newport University. Trained as an interdisciplinary scholar, her primary research interests include diverse fields such as Black studies, critical race studies, postcolonial studies, Black feminist studies, criminology, transnational feminism, queer studies, public pedagogy, and public policy. 

Outside of academia, Dr. Ali is a community worker, curriculum and policy consultant, researcher, and anti-oppression educator. She has worked in education and curriculum development in Canada, US, Kenya, and Somalia.


An Open Letter to My Colleagues

Dear colleagues:

I have been a professor for two years at two public institutions in the United States. Although all academic institutions are guilty of pushing out Black faculty, staff, and students, being the only Black female faculty in a white department at a predominantly white institution (PWI) – Christopher Newport University (CNU) – was a soul-sucking, toxic environment, that inevitably pushed me out, as it has others due to deeply entrenched and institutionalized misogynoir. White and non-Black people of colour (NBPOC) colleagues have consistently pathologized my experiences, told me how to feel, and policed and disciplined me for speaking up against anti-Black racism.

I love my job, but critically engaging my white and NBPOC colleagues has taken a huge psychological, emotional, physical, and professional toll on me. No matter what I say or do my Blackness is a threat to them. At CNU, a colleague told me on multiple occasions that “[the department] doesn’t need me” and another, that I was “too confident.”  I would sit in faculty meetings listening to white faculty debate whether my position at the university, as a critical Black feminist sociologist, was needed. This minimizing behaviour led to me to question my validity as a scholar.

It compelled me to leave the institution earlier than expected. 

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about academics and the decline in reflexivity that happens after one receives a doctorate. Sometimes it seems as if ego, dogma, and entitlement accompany the doctorate title. The Ph.D. next to one’s name does not work as a supernatural force field impervious to external values or critiques. Yet asking academics for accountability is like getting blood from a stone–it’s impossible. Imagine being a queer Black Muslim woman starting her first full-time academic position at a PWI in a new country and challenging the motives of ‘seasoned academics.’ I was met with so much racist patronizing and gaslighting behaviour that I was pushed out. 

I accepted a two-year position at CNU as visiting faculty in Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology (SSWA) given the department’s history of promoting contingent internal candidates for tenure track lines, and the high likelihood of a tenure track search in the very near future for a scholar whose areas of expertise matched my own. Such promise was quickly dismissed within the first five-months of my start date. By January of my first year, I was informally told that there was no future for me at CNU. I spent countless department meetings at CNU having the worth of my position in the university discussed and debated in front of me. I was pushed out by a department that prioritized disciplinary purity over my livelihood and over a commitment to racial justice. I was pushed out by a department that weaponized academic pedigree, rather than challenging institutional barriers experienced by all Black people in the academy. I was pushed out by a department that thought their acts were devoid of anti-Black racism or any discriminatory practices because they claimed to understand relations of power and racism as sociologists and anthropologists.  Every time I questioned these departmental debates, I was told “it’s not personal” or “we’re concerned about departmental needs and institutional fits.”  This is personal. These microaggressions are indicative of a larger institutional problem of anti-Black racism at CNU and in the SSWA Department. 

A few simple questions prove this point. How many Black faculty has the department (or university) employed or promoted? What is the retention rate of Black faculty? What are the reasons for Black faculty’s departure? We don’t just leave good jobs, we are PUSHED OUT by white faculty, and administration. The pushing out of Black faculty is not an individual issue, it is a systemic issue that CNU faculty needs to address.

     Reading about racism from a textbook does not mean you understand the experience. The fact that very few questioned the removal of their only Black female colleague demonstrates a lack of understanding and care. The revolving door of token faculty of colour, and the silence around it, needs to be addressed by the department. SSWA is complicit in the lack of continuous and consistent Black mentorship for Black students. What does it mean for Black students when the only other Black faces they see on campus is in service and support work? This university has a long history of systemic and institutionalized racism at every level and requires immediate actions. 

     Academics love studying Black folks, Black culture, and Black ideas. But the minute they engage with Black people, even as fellow colleagues, the first challenge is met with weaponized white fragility that portrays them as victims. So many believe that they cannot be racist because they have spent their life studying and writing about structures and systems of oppression and racism. But theorizing and studying racism or studying communities of colour does not mean you are anti-racist. Anti-racism is a verb. It requires constant re-education and unlearning. That means feeling uncomfortable sometimes. Instead of reacting, it means sitting back and leaning into that discomfort. Uncomfortable conversations are part of our collective growth. It is not possible to be both anti-racist and conflict-avoidant. 

This moment is saturated with disingenuous Black solidarity, empty gestures, cavalier hashtags, and meaningless statements. The time has come for action. Have you contributed to making the university or department a hostile space for BIPOC faculty and students? How will CNU make sure that Black people are empowered and represented in its curricula, departmental meetings, and university committees? How is CNU committed to upending the systemic problems of racism and whiteness in SSWA and all departments? How will SSWA be changing curricula to engage critical conversations on racism? How will SSWA integrate more academics of colour into syllabi? How will SSWA bring an equity and anti-racist framework to hiring policies and practices? How will CNU and SSWA address the push-out of Black faculty and students? How will SSWA ensure that white supremacist logics are confronted and challenged in department meetings? Hire Black faculty in tenure track positions, NOT adjunct or lecturer positions. Stop using the language of ‘disciplinary fit’ to weed out Black candidates from interdisciplinary programs. Stop hiring white folks who study Black people. Stop using white fragility and literal white tears to get your way at faculty meetings. Without engaging with these questions and making radical changes from the top and at departmental levels, CNU is not a safe place for academics and students of colour.

SSWA just hired two more white faculty to start in Fall 2020. As a queer Black Muslim African woman, it is not lost on me that the replacement for my position is a white cis-man who studies African LGBTIQ+ people. Without engaging these questions, the department will continue to replicate its history of pushing out faculty members of colour, like so many departments across the country. Do Black lives actually matter to you? Ask yourself this question before using empty gestures on your social media or performative acts of anti-racism with #BlackLivesMatter or images of you at protests. Uprisings for racial justice are not a branding exercise. 

We are in the midst of a crucial socio-political moment to lobby for anti-racist and social justice-based structural changes at all universities and colleges across the country. I want my experiences to compel you, as faculty, to understand that it’s never too late to do better and be better. 


Muna-Udbi Ali, Ph.D. 

#Dispatches: COVID Impacts by Career Level, Part II ~ NTT/Adjuncts/VAP

#Dispatches From the Frontlines Monday series crowdsources questions to get a broad indication of how our readers are coping with various challenges.

The question right now: How has COVID impacted your career? Due to the massive number of responses, I will be dividing responses by career level.

Last week I began with Assistant Professors. Today I share responses by NTT/Adjuncts/VAP. Next week I’ll feature Grad students and postdocs, and then tenured faculty/administrators will follow.

Bolding added for emphasis. I want to draw your attention to the fact that only cis-gender white men report the pandemic having no negative impact on them financially.

New #Dispatches Question will be opened for responses in a few weeks’ time.

NOTE: Please remember that we invite respondents to list their own identifying details. We mostly do not edit these. Respondents share what THEY feel is significant about their identity.


I was actively looking for the past two years for a TT position after a two year postdoc. I am in a STEM field, where 2020 was promising to be a good year – until March. I currently have a staff scientist position which I was considering to leave for another postdoc – now with the current job market outlooks/economy, I will switch to get the portfolio for a data scientist and try my luck in industry. It doesn’t seem to be a good idea to wait any longer to get a position in academia. [Staff Scientist, Stem, 32, female, caucasian, not married]


There is no long term – the immediate is all there is. Graduated in December and moved cross country so we could be close to partner’s family in wake of tragic death of a parent. Partner is helping with family business triage. Managed to get a Visiting instructor position at the local college and was planning to go on the market full force this summer/fall pre pandemic. Now, my current institution has announced an upcoming budged deficit in the double digit millions, and the emails we are getting from administration are not inspiring a lot of confidence in those of us on the NTT. Started searching, miracle of miracles found three very late active TT searches and threw job materials together in about 10 days. So the planning is three-pronged-  1) Waiting to hear back, practicing interview strategies. 2) strengthening job documents for hoped-for searches in the fall (unlikely) and planning for fall courses in my current position that might not exist and 3) googling “how to turn CV into resume” and other alt ac resources. [NTT, Social Sciences, White female, 26, married, cis]


I had already been looking outside of academia for jobs and had just decided (for real this time) that I wasn’t going to get sucked into another adjunct position in hopes of a magical TT job when…this happened. All the jobs I was applying to evaporated, and new listings have been sparse. I’ve been trying to pick up new skills (you know, with all that free quarantine time I have) but between working from home and finishing up my current adjunct job I’m exhausted. On the flip side, working from home has eliminated a huge amount of anxiety around getting to places on time, traveling, switching work environments, etc. I’m thinking I’ll pursue more remote jobs after this. Silver lining? [Ac-adjacent employee and adjunct faculty, Humanities, 35 y/o white single female]


I have been diligently trying to secure either an academic or museum position (I am an art historian) for seven years now and hobbling along with pieced-together adjunct positions and a mostly unsuccessful freelance grant-writing business I do not have enough time to make profitable. Finally, after years of searching and being frightened about money and health insurance (I have benefits now through my state university lectureship and do not want to lose it) I had more interviews this AY than ever before and 4 final round interviews. My partner had a good offer from a state university, and I had teaching, non-profit, and museum gigs lined-up in the same city. We were preparing to move from our smallish town (coastal CA) to a large city (also in CA) in June. Then the virus came, her job offer was rescinded as the position was canceled (she is a studio artist), she lost her teaching job (still has a low-paid remote customer service job, thank god), and my opportunities faded as museums are closed and the universities’ plans for next year are uncertain. I am now praying I get rehired by the state school where I am happily teaching now so we won’t lose our health insurance — or one of the 3 searches I am still in that have not been canceled can be successful. And I am still applying for whatever jobs that work for me appear. Since 2012 I have applied to over 400 academic and museum positions nationwide. I have already seriously considered other paths, including the single-subject credential, the non-profit/lobbying sector, or even a JD — but I already have 2 MAs and a PhD, 15 years of teaching experience, 5 years of museum experience (all in adjunct positions, internships, and fellowships), and a terrifyingly high student loan balance. I have never had a job I enjoyed more than teaching/research/academic work. My parents are retired professors (state college) and I grew up around public higher-ed — I know what I am getting myself into (in a TT position, if I ever get one). But I have not made more than $30k/year for more than ten years. I desperately need more income, but hope I can at least maintain what I am getting now plus my benefits. I am prepared to be as flexible as I need to be in order to adapt and survive, however.[NTT, Arts/Music/Theater, Straight white male, 45, domestic partner, previously married, no children, six-figure student loan debt]


No immediate financial consequences, and I have a job for the next academic year. Very concerned about career prospects beyond that. [NTT, Social Sciences, White, cisgender female, age 34, in long-term heterosexual relationship.]


It’s devastated me financially. All searches I was a part of were frozen or cancelled (including for fellowships and post docs). I’m working a survival job way outside of my field to make ends meet and I’m scared that will negatively impact my ability to get a job in the future (even for alt-ac positions). I am lucky my partner has stable employment, but that only lasts a few more months and then we are going to have to live off of savings and my survival job if nothing comes along. [On the market, Humanities, 28/white/cisgender hetero woman/engaged]


I have lost all my work. I usually teach 8-10 courses a year, but after the end of the spring semester my summer and autumn courses are all cancelled. Until US borders with Europe reopen that likely won’t change. If I wasn’t lucky enough that my husband works for a big corporation I would be looking at homelessness right now.  [NTT, Humanities, Age 40, white, married, adjunct since 2008, work in Study Abroad institutions in Europe]


I’ve been fortunate to keep my job without it affecting me financially. If anything, I’ve been saving money by not going out.  [NTT, Humanities, Male, late 30s, not married, heterosexual]


I am now unemployed, as my one-year position ended and positions for my interviews & pending applications were cancelled. [NTT, Humanities, 35, white, cis female, straight, single]


I’m not on a contract, as in a contract is issued every year, but I am on a contract as in I may not be renewed if the administration chooses that. I am currently on the schedule for the fall semester but I have no idea how that will look if enrollments aren’t as expected. My chair has assured me that I will be treated like all other faculty, but I am not confident in these words due to my status. It seems that if a department had to make cuts, then they would not want to cut TT folks since those are thought to be the prized faculty. I say thought to be because I know that in some cases, like my own case, NTT faculty are real workhorses of a department providing the bulk of undergraduate instruction and service. So, I remain skeptical about the longevity of my position. If my position does get eliminated, then there is no where else for me to work in my current town because it is a large college town. My partner works in my same department as the target, TT hire and we know his position is likely not going to be affected. However, this leaves us in an interesting place as a couple because we won’t really like our reduction in income should one position get eliminated. So, we would have no option that to just look for positions elsewhere due to that income reduction without the possibility of finding other decent work in our current town.

We didn’t really anticipate having to deal with this issue because both of us seemed like we were in relatively safe positions prior to the pandemic. Our department didn’t have significant budget concerns and our student numbers were increasing.[NTT, Social Sciences, White cisgender woman with a terminal degree and a full-time, NTT spousal hire. Weirdly in a leadership position directing an undergraduate program though NTT.]


You’re having to figure out living for around $30,000 combined in case I have to give my resignation at my job. We would be at 60 if both of us were totally employed in our current positions. My university has gone back and forth about face-to-face, and I am high risk. I will not return to the classroom if it is face to face. Medical bills are too much for what I am paid, and that is assuming a positive prognosis. Is a heavily conservative area, is unlikely that students will wear mask of their own accord.[Non Tenure Track Lecturer, Communication, Cis, Married, white underemployed woman]


Proliferation of adjunct jobs. Low wages for TT. Find work outside academia. Forget private school. Age discrimination is real. It is not you. [NTT, Arts/Music/Theater, 55; female; trad male discipline]


Fortunately, COVID has had no effect on my finances so far. I taught an overload every semester last year as well as a winter and summer course. From that, I made close to $20K on top of my usual base salary. I fully recognize that this makes me incredibly privileged (and it’s fortuitous, because I usually don’t teach overloads but accepted the extra teaching months before the pandemic). My university will have furloughs this academic year and there’s no guarantee that my job will be safe after Spring 2021, so I’m putting all of the extra money into my emergency savings fund.  [NTT, Social Sciences, I am a white man in my mid-30s who identifies as gay. I am in a full-time NTT line at a Research 1 university.]


I have freelanced and worked adjunct consistently for the past four years. I landed a full-time visiting position in my field this past year. Due to COVID, my university has eliminated ALL visiting faculty with a possible offer of adjunct work, as a ‘replacement’.  The university is still in discussion with the teachers union to determine the full-time faculty cuts for the Fall semester. It is necessary to make 25% cuts in all departments, and therefore, likely my husband (in his 1st year of tenure track job) will also be reduced to adjunct.  Due to COVID, there are no jobs in our field as freelancers to make up the difference in pay. If we both work full time for adjunct pay without benefits, we will likely need to move in with our parents by the end of the year. COVID and the lack of financial support for higher education from both the federal and state governments, has not only eliminated our jobs, but killed any chance at paying off student debt, starting retirement savings, and perhaps eradicated our future career track in both performance and education.[Visiting Assistant Professor, Arts/Music/Theater, mid 30’s, white, female, married within my profession, 4 years on the job market post grad school]

Get a Non-Ac Income Stream – Video Blog Post

Hi all! It’s been awhile. Hope you’re doing ok. Here are a few thoughts about where we are at, and what we can expect for Fall.


Makeup Notes

The biggest news around here is that I switched my contour product. I never believed that would happen; Kevin Aucoin has been my ride or die for years. But then I found my daughter’s cast off Nars Bronzer Blush and realized that I *could do better*! I got it in the coolest tone they offer – Talia – and it’s just incredible. It blends better then K.A. and stays on WAYYYYY longer. And is a more natural color. All in all–a huge win.

I also switched to Stellar Foundation in shade 504, which I am completely obsessed by. It’s a kind of satin finish that just looks like…. skin. Not too matte, not to glowy… just-perfect. Today unfortunately I layered it over two foundation samples I just got from Sephora (an Estee Lauder and a Pat McGrath) so the color is a bit off – it’s a bit dark/warm – but in future weeks you’ll see it in all its glory.

Also a sample from Sephora: Stellar brand Brilliant Primer! Today I used it for the first time and I like it a lot. I don’t think I’ll purchase it, though, because at my age, I need a pretty powerful blurring primer and this is not that. But it delivers good holding power and some glow.

More big news: Ive switched my blush! Faithful Makeup Monday readers might recall that I’ve been obsessed with Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure forever. Well.. sometime during the pandemic I turned away from the plum/mauve shade range. Why, I have no idea. It just suddenly seemed… dreary. And everything is so dreary that I couldn’t abide making it worse with my blush. So I statted experimenting around, and lo, in my Ipsy bag a couple months ago I got this Manna Kadar Buildable Blush in Bali Babe. It’s weirdly peach for me, yet looks amazing, brightening, and natural. I don’t underestand it but I’m not arguing. I touch it up with another Ipsy get: The Balm Will Powder Blush in Worth the Wait. It’s a tricky product – basically a peachy pink highlighter more than a blush, so it needs a light hand, but it’s good as a boost to the Manna Kadar.

And last of all, a major find which I have to confess, I did discover marketed directly to me on Instagram by Sephora: Hourglass Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray. The model did a full face and ended with this spray and she was SO excited about it that I decided to try it, and yeah, it’s good. It does some sorcery where it blurs pores and lines without being otherwise visible—while setting and holding your makeup. I’m impressed!

Oh and Instagram ALSO delivered up to me the Voir App, and now I’m hooked. With Voir you can try out ALL THESE MAKEUP LOOKS, and it’s very precise and realistic and legit. You actually look like yourself with different makeup on! My mind was blown–i saw looks taht i would not have dreamed of trying myself…but now I will.

Of course I STILL HAVE NOWHERE TO WHERE THIS MAKEUP. But as I’ve said all along, just playing with it is one of my hobbies and I still do it at least once a week. Thank god for live webinars–i at least get to put on a look for those!

Dear White Psychologists: – #BLM Guest Post

[We continue to welcome #BLM guest posts. We pay $150 for accepted posts. 1000 words ballpark; profanity welcome. Art/poetry also welcome. Please send a draft or query/pitch to Karen at]

This author chooses to remain anonymous. The author is a Black, cisgender woman who is finishing up her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at a school in California.


Dear White Psychologists:

A lot of you are so damn exhausting! As a black psychology intern who will soon enter the world as a psychologist, I am so concerned about the profession I have chosen. I’m concerned for myself, and even more concerned for BIPOC and other marginalized groups for whom we have the privilege of bearing witness to their healing. The frequency and severity of micro and macroaggressions I have experienced in this field, from supervisors, chiefs of psychology, professors, and program directors are extremely disheartening. I sometimes question if my presence in the profession makes me complicit in this culture of covert (sometimes overt) racism that is so prevalent. It is maddening the countless times I have experienced psychologists’ lack of ability to engage in self-reflection when given feedback about racist policies, comments, and supervision.  Instead, they become defensive and blame the victim of the offense and often expect the victim to teach how to not victimize them! A lot of us are leaving training programs disempowered and utterly exhausted. 

And, if that is how the field can treat us, what are you doing with your BIPOC clients? You cannot compartmentalize white supremacy! Do you hear me? If you are racist with us, it is showing up with your clients. And no, I cannot help you change your ingrained racist ideology. It is not my job, unless of course, you are going to provide me with a stipend outside of this meager paycheck we get as trainees. That is an example of your entitlement and white privilege to think black bodies whom you victimize are required to help you not victimize them anymore. How are you even psychologists?

Quit asking us for tips on not being racist.

Quit breaking down into tears and wanting us to comfort you when you did something racist. 

Quit ignoring our pain, frustration, tears and anger when we experience your racism.

Quit telling us that we are too sensitive to your racism and then when it is popular and sensationalized to be anti-racist, you then want to have five hundred conversations.

Leave us alone right now.

Do your own research. After all, you are already a Psychologist, a Professor, and so ironically charged with evaluating us on the very concepts you yourself are not able to comprehend.

I am sad. I am angry. I am exhausted and somewhat hopeless. And I find very little solace in how Mr. Floyd’s lynching has become sensationalized and you are now appalled and anti-racist. Are you really? Change, sustainable change, is more than statements and posts. If you were not advocating for us in this way after all of the other deaths, what is different now? And I mean advocating beyond simply being a part of an organization that is advocating. How do you show up in your life? Are you an ally when we are not around?  A lot of folks are jumping into the action stage of change without doing the necessary personal work. This tone-deaf, half-assed, “I want to not be seen as a racist” approach, increases the likelihood that people who look like me, including your BIPOC clients will continue to be harmed by the lack of cultural humility, responsiveness, and competence that plagues this field.

Do the fucking work, for real this time. 


A tired AF (almost, in one month) Black Psychologist

#Dispatches Resumes: COVID Impacts by Career Level, Part I ~ Assistant Professors

As of today we are resuming our #Dispatches From the Frontlines Monday series, where we crowdsource questions to get a broad indication of how our readers are coping with various challenges.

Right now, #Dispatches continues with COVID (you can see earlier posts here and here). For the next few weeks I will share responses to the question: How has COVID impacted your career? Due to the massive number of responses, I will be dividing responses by career level.

This week I begin with Assistant Professors. I will follow with NTT/Adjuncts/VAP next week, and then Tenured faculty and then Grad students and postdocs.

Bolding added for emphasis.

New #Dispatches Question will be opened for responses in a few weeks’ time.

NOTE: Please remember that we invite respondents to list their own identifying details. We mostly do not edit these. Respondents share what THEY feel is significant about their identity.



Money has become my top priority, even though I originally had other strategic goals for the year. I may have to carry some of my students longer than expected or keep them on as postdocs. My responsibility to my students doesn’t end when their dissertation does! So, I’m redirecting resources into grants and other funding applications. [Assistant Professor, STEM, Cis bi Jewish woman]


Short-term, all I can think about is getting through the day at home and doing the things I must do like clinical supervision and dissertation committee work. Long-term, I’m wondering if this is my time to leave academia. If kids are home in the fall, I just can’t imagine being productive. I was burned out before COVID, but I was managing. Now I’m burned out x2. Burned out on homeschooling and academia. My research has stopped because I conduct community research. My graduate students are managing their own stress and personal experience with COVID. The impact will have an effect on my research well beyond the one year tenure clock extension. Really thinking about leaving academia. [Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, 39, African-American, woman, married, 3 kids (2, 5, and 13). I am in my second assistant professor position. I’ve already received extension due to husband’s medical issues. I was offered another extension due to COVID. Wondering if I’ll ever go up for tenure.]


I’m up for tenure in a couple years and I feel like my position is secure IF my school makes it (private non-elite SLAC). I wasn’t (and am not!) very concerned about tenure per se as I have cleared the bars already. I went tentatively back on the market last year because of concerns about my long-term satisfaction with this job, but all of that is off now. Head down, get tenure, work like hell to make my school one of the ones that survives while keeping my CV competitive just in case. Besides which, the pandemic has made me really see the benefits of living in a location that was suboptimal in our previous collective life.[Assistant Professor, STEM, Mid-30s white cis female]


Immediate plans are weeding out the nonsense. Turning spare time to help with COVID 19 policy making. Focusing on my students and their well-being. Long term less service. I’ve done enough. Have identified goals as grants and team building and publications with broad rules for each. [Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, Reader post 92 UK University female]


Our annual salary increase was redacted. My husband, though, just finished his master’s and was applying staff position at the same university but the search was frozen. He’s currently still on the job market. [Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, 35, Asian, female, married, immigrant in the US]


It has not affected me financially, and I have some survivors guilt about that. I used to be an adjunct and if that was still the case, I would be sunk. I have donated more money than ever in the past several months, mostly to support Black organizations. [Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, 33, cis, woman, married, 2 young kids]


Losing money. Partner has gone 8 weeks without receiving unemployment benefits but is still furloughed. Paperwork is fine but waiting to be “verified”. Can’t contact unemployment offices [Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, White man gay 33 years old partnered]


I’m getting laid off. [Assistant Professor, Humanities, 49 white lady]


I am taking a pay cut in my first year in a tenure track job due to budget cuts. I previously worked as an adjunct and then NTT after that so I already feel “behind” in terms of time in a tenured position as well as in salary. I have also lost several thousand dollars in gig money (musician) and from my teaching at various summer programs which were canceled. I’m concerned that these losses (both financially and in the tenure clock) will further harm my earning potential as a young, female professor. [Assistant Professor, Arts/Music/Theater, Female, married, early 30s]


We will have one furlough day per month. I am the sole provider for a family of six. I’ve had to take on side jobs (related to my expertise) to try to make up for the lost income. [Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, Female, Asian American, 40s]


I had to take on summer teaching to make ends meet for our family. My husband’s PT job just stopped scheduling him during COVID. He was not fired, furloughed, or laid off. That meant we couldn’t get unemployment and related incentives, nor the paid incentives his job was offering (an extra $2/hour) for those with shifts. He didn’t work a single day for 3 months. This meant that after a combative spring semester shift to distance learning (where our admin made the decision on a Friday to start distance that Monday, against all faculty recommendations), I was exhausted like everyone else. But we were staring down not being able to pay our mortgage, and I’m a medium-income assistant professor in an affordable area of the country. I signed up for a summer course that paid $6000 before taxes, another luxury compared to other faculty, but that doesn’t get paid out until the end of the summer. And it also means I have not gotten a break from teaching since August 2019 (I also taught a winter term course for extra $). In the interim, we’ve had to open 2 new credit cards for necessary living expenses (on top of the 2 we already have). Only 1 of my student loans let me postpone until September. Our health insurance through my university (which both my spouse and I are on) is on a July 1-June 30 annual plan, and premiums just went way up with the new plan July 1st. My employer stopped all contributions to retirement “indefinitely” when they previously contributed 11%.  It feels like we are drowning, and I’ve had some pretty dark thoughts that I’m ashamed of — like what if a car accident just took us out? We don’t have kids, it wouldn’t be that huge of a loss, we’d be free from this financial nightmare, and someone else who needs a TT job could take mine. (I am seeing a therapist and have no plans to hurt myself…just trying to paint a picture of how dire things feel here). I’ve applied to an administrator job at another institution and also have been perusing industry jobs that I don’t feel qualified for, which makes everything feel worse. Not like we could afford to move right now, even with a new employer’s assistance. [Assistant Professor, Professional, 35, Cishet white woman married to a man; 11 years of FT teaching experience. No kids, but we took on FT childcare for 2 kids for the first 4 weeks of the pandemic for a relative on the front lines of health care. It was bananas.]


My university cut our retirement funding match and eliminated our research and travel budgets. If students don’t come back to campus they will likely cut our pay. Administrators have already taken voluntary pay cuts  [Assistant Professor, Humanities, Late 30s, white woman]


for now I’m holding steady. I was expecting a 15% raise this year (merit + correcting for my low starting salary), but that probably won’t happen. no pay cut, though, so I’m currently okay. I just have to be really cautious about my car (was hoping to replace soon with a better-condition used car), and figure out which home repairs to prioritize.  [Assistant Professor, Humanities, 39, white, cisfemale, heterosexual, single]


Lost 30% of my startup and 15% salary during negotiation due to covid. But the offer still went through.[Assistant Professor, Stem, 35 married white cis het f. Accepted faculty position in May. Start date Jan 2021]


My pay has been cut 20% at my current institution. Research funds down 40%. An offer I got in March for a different academic institution had a spousal hire offer for my partner as well, but then when the economy collapsed they downgraded my partner’s 3 year visiting offer to a 1 year with no renewal. So we couldn’t take the offer. [Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, female, arab, 29 years old, heterosexual, married]


Pay cut by 10% for 3 months. Later informed that after the 3 months, it would be decreased to 6.5% indefinitely in light of COVID-19. Hiring freeze also arose so it was initially thought to hire grad students, but it ‘worked out’ since I bring in 88% of my salary. [Assistant Professor, Public Health (not sure if this is considered STEM in your eyes); yet connected to a Medical School), 37, African American, Male, Married, R1 institution]


Both me and my partner had a 3% pay cut and also our university stopped contributing to our retirement accounts. We have a 6 and a 9 year old, we will be paying a fortune in the fall to get them care as the schools won’t be open in NYC fully but our work surely has doubled. [Assistant Professor, Humanities, 42/Caucasian/  married with two young kids also partner is a full-time academic]


My university did not provide usual annual 2% salary increase and stopped 401k contributions for 4 months (for now). Since classes were taught remotely, I was not commuting for 1.5h daily so it helped me save on some babysitting costs. [Assistant Professor, Health Professions, Female, married,  mother of two young kids]