#Dispatches From the Frontlines series crowdsources questions to get a broad indication of how our readers are coping with various challenges.
The question this week: How many jobs are open in your field this year, and what do you plan to do–hang on/tread water, or bail and go postac? bolding added for emphasis.
New question for next week–share your teaching hacks! See the form link at the bottom of the post to contribute your response!
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.
In my discipline, there were no positions this year that I’m aware of (there are, however, tons of adjunct gigs and a few VI roles). I double as an administrator and long-term administrators will bail from higher ed as soon as possible. My small uni has 7 VPs: 4 want out by next year and have announced those plans to the president. We have 7 deans: 2 will retire, 3 are looking to go elsewhere. I have no immediate backup plan. I’d love to open a mediation practice. (38 yo white F married parent (ages 9, 7, 5). Primary earner.; Humanities Admin)
So far from my count there have only been 36 jobs advertised. A third of those are international positions. Over half are postdocs or other NTT positions. In my subfield, which normally has a lot of positions, only 11 positions have been advertised; of those 11, only 3 are TT jobs. For a number of reasons, only 1 job meets all the criteria for me and my family. (32 year old white, cis/het male, married with children, philosophy grad student; Humanities Grad Student)
Not a lot. I’m looking for a rewarding non-ac staff job in a university. (Single parent, remote schooling making it impossible to get more than the bare minimum done. Publishing? HA!; Soc Sci Adjunct)
In my whole field, about 50 job openings, including post-docs. Positions that apply to my field and sub-field of expertise, about 7-8. I started my Ph.D. later in life and I knew what I was coming into. In a way, I still want to try the academic market because I do believe in doing research AND teaching for the greater good. I’ve made peace with needing to play this *game* to continue moving ahead–but it’s in my own terms. I’ve already encountered so much BS and pushback already, but I’m proud that I haven’t lost myself, and while I do have very low moments, my support network (and my therapist–much needed in academia) reminds me of why I wanted to pursue this. Having said that, if the academic market fails, I’m completely okay with working in the “industry.” I had already worked in different sectors before my doctorate, and while going back may be a challenge because I’d be “over-educated,” I’m learning how to promote my set of skills vs. “what I know” (and reading your posts are useful too). (I’m in my mid-30s, female, single, and in a sub-field mostly dominated by men (international political economy).; Soc Sci Grad Student)
The American Anthropological Association’s listserv doesn’t have as much job postings since the organization switched to a new system. I actually find more job postings on Twitter. I’m glad that I had a per diem research job with an academic medical center on the side while in grad school; it is now my main source of income. They gave me more hours during the pandemic. As an advanced grad student writing my dissertation, my funding was cut. I don’t mind that the funds are used to support incoming students. Fortunately I have savings. Through the CARES Act, the university along with my employer each provided me with a month’s rent. I want to defend in Spring 2021 and will apply to post-docs that are not in anthropology. I entered grad school interested in academic non -tenure track positions. As a medical anthro student, I’m well positioned in this current climate to find another research job. I hope to teach at a public health or medical school. (37, Asian-American, Female, Heterosexual, Partnered; Soc Sci Grad Student)
1/5 of the jobs that were there last year ( when I was also on the job market). Plan to try to write a grant (k) to create a position for myself where I am but of course nothing is guaranteed (White, partnered, no children, female, 32; Soc Sci Postdoc)
I glanced at the list but never counted jobs. It seemed depressingly low and most CHE and IHE alerts were for adjunct positions. I didn’t apply this year or last. I feel I’m too old and the academy is dying. My “alternative” is what I’ve been doing for twenty-five years: academic technology support. (51, White, Male, Hetero, married ; Humanities Ac Technology)
Thus far there have been maybe 10-12 jobs in the field so far (and a decent portion of those are in Canada, not the US). My plan is to apply only to whatever FT or TT faculty jobs I would have applied to in a “normal” year—that is, jobs I would actually want. But I’m not holding out hope for anything good or even livable—a lot of what I’m seeing are also job posts that have upped the usual requirements as it is, because schools know people are desperate. My main focus is going to be transitioning back into an industry job, and I’m freelancing in the meantime to try to build a financial cushion (31, straight white woman, living with a partner who works outside academia but has recently experienced a significant cut in pay; Humanities Grad Student)
Not one TT job in my field this year, as opposed to about 20 last year (came in as second candidate in an interview, the person who got the offer didn’t get hired because of Covid). I’m applying for postdocs and keeping my eye out on non-ac jobs. (Female/28; Humanities Grad Student)
Definitely looking alt-ac (govt. jobs, non-profit, DH, libraries, publishing) (35, female, heterosexual, married; Soc Sci Postdoc)
I’m applying to 5 openings for my field so far this cycle and I have a grant app in to fund a second postdoc. I’m planning on some second postdoc if no TT job comes through— NSF and NASA funding appears level as usual. (White married bi non-binary; STEM Postdoc)
There have been 6-10 academic jobs that opened. Most of them are non-tenure track and very few want my niched expertise in my field (They actually want my least favorite field niches.). My personal application submissions have leaned towards alt-ac. Working remotely as a postdoc allows me to finally live in the same place as my husband, and I don’t like the idea of that changing again. So that means my job hunt has to be more flexible. (I’m a 38 year old married late bloomer that has a poor publication record but multiple clinical certifications to lean back on. I am currently working on a grant and making a baby without asking my postdoc advisor’s permission first.; Soc Sci postdoc)
As of 9/22, there is ONE job listing in my field (in North America, at least). I’m glad I found steady nonacademic work when I did. (Married, 36 y/o white male shackled to several lifetimes of student loan debt; Humanities; Nonac PhD)
One (a senior position ??); I’m applying for postdocs abroad; if that fails, I will pursue other opportunities to emigrate – temporary is fine for now; permanent is the goal. The racism in this country is too much to take and my kiddo should grow up in a country that believes in basic things like healthcare (my child has an autoimmune disease). (42, black/chicano/native/European, male, bi, married, first-gen, finished phd in 2019; Humanities Unemployed PhD)
I’ve seen about 5 positions, including Student Services, Academic Support , and Admin positions, I am qualified to apply for. I am also looking non-ac. and I am finding that I am either disqualifyingly overqualified or without any experience in the jobs locally. And I cannot afford to relocate without an employer’s assistances. I had a TT job that was disrupted by a major health crisis related to trauma. I received no support at the departmental level. And the university decided not to accommodate, pushing back against the advice of medical professionals. I’m now one month from eviction with no job prospects other than cleaning houses or sex work. That’s not a joke. (43, Latinx, Cis Woman, partnered, desperate ; Asst Prof, Hum)
Nothing Full-Time/TT in my field or subfield. Been a Visual Arts Adjunct for 14 years, 7 of those after achieving Terminal Degree. Trapped, unable to secure TT or even Temp Full-Time. Had a 1 year Temp appointment covering for a couple of sabbaticals. Been applying for positions for years until they finally dried up. I’m really tired of the stress and poverty. Too old to keep this up, too old to make another change. One more year and I’m done. (53 year old white guy, hetero, long-term relationship, Terminal Degree in Field; Adjunct, Arts/Music/Theater)
Zero for any of my subfields anywhere in Canada. Not much of a surprise as there haven’t been any the previous two years, either. Restarted a dormant freelance business this summer and teaching a little as adjuncting is a viable option here (thanks, unions!) Will put an end to the postdoc by the end of the year and leave research for good. (50, cis white man in a 30-year relationship; Hum Postdoc)
Current job list is 20ish faculty jobs and a handful of postdoc in my subfield/related. Some faculty at current institution have spoken with me about scrounging up funding for a 6th year. If so, will probably focus on marketable postac skills during that time; if not, tread water as much as I can. (20s white cis woman (bisexual, engaged to man); STEM grad student)
About 13 TT jobs compared to last year’s ~60 in the same time frame in my field. Plan is to just hope that something happens this round and if it doesn’t (and the grant doesn’t come through either) beg for a second postdoc somewhere else or move home (back to home country, I won’t be able to stay without a job obviously) and do something that pays the bills (maybe data analysis or something?) (immigrant, white, first gen, breadwinner; STEM postdoc)
There have been zero jobs in my subfield (lots of jobs in other subfields though!) I applied to 80 jobs last year. I decided to leave the TT job hunt and landed an applied job within a month that pays BETTER than a TT job would, and they’re willing to figure something out for my partner too! (29 white, non-binary femme (uses they/them pronouns), queer, engaged to a cis woman who is also a PhD candidate; NTT Social Sciences)
At the moment, i have a nine-month faculty position at the institution i received my PhD from. That expires in May. After that it’s a black hole. Currently four jobs have opened in my field but two of these are oddly advertised because the job description is vastly different than the ad title and they aren’t actually in my field. The other two are exclusive insofar as one is at a religiously exclusive university (I’m not religious and they would not hire me). The other is for the military (the latter of which I’m ethically unsure of and that feeling might be reciprocal). Subfield: zero. Basically, there is nothing at all I can legitimately apply for and remotely expect a positive result. I’m looking at alt-ac/non-ac, but I’m afraid my degree might be irrelevant. (36, white, male, straight, engaged; NTT, Humanities)
10 or so TT jobs in my field/adjacent relative fields (Communication, Rhetoric, and Gender Studies) which seems pretty solid with all things considered. Applying for those TT jobs and another 10 humanities/liberal arts post docs. I don’t mind going alt-ac until the job market opens back up, but this is my first year on the market and I am young and very flexible. (26 year old queer femme; Humanities Grad Student)
There are five jobs in my field so far this year (4 TT, 1 NTT) and only one in my sub-field. I’m currently in a relatively-secure TT position, but I’m miserable and will be leaving at the end of the fall. There are a variety of reasons–autocratic leadership, monotonous work, lack of opportunities for career growth–but ultimately the pandemic sealed the deal. Nothing is more offensive than having your administration put your health at risk because it’s in the business of selling meal plans and dorm rooms. I’m going into the tech industry and am doing an intensive bootcamp with a school that specializes in career changers. I am really excited. (39, female, partnered, western US; Asst prof, Humanities)
NEW QUESTION FOR DISPATCHES NEXT WEEK: What remote teaching hack has improved your and your students’ experience. Respond on the form.
42, cis-female, parnered, US public health assoc prof says
A class I teach with a long-term writing project (a thesis proposal) – we do 3 rounds of iterative peer-review, where I have the students present to each other and have them each turn in a structured feedback form to each other (I create the form). They email me a copy so I can see their feedback as well, and turning in feedback counts toward participation. I thought I would participate at first, but then decided to let them do it on their own as my presence as professor changes the dynamic. Less lecture, more engagement, and we recap next class.