A follower on Twitter DM-ed me this question today.
“As we know the academic job market is a shit show. I would love to see a series of twitter posts or blog posts about what PhDs can do to be ready fro when it picks up. Obviously, people in grad school will get feedback/instruction from committees and advisors. But what about PhDs who’ve been hanging around for a bit, waiting for the job market to “recover” (insert laughter?)?”
The question reminded me that although I now frame all of my live and recorded events around the message: “leave now; the market will not recover; there is no ‘waiting it out,'” I have not written it clearly in a blog post.
So here is the post.
The market is not going to recover.
There is no “waiting it out.”
Here is what I share at the start of all of my events.
- The academic job market has collapsed due to COVID:
2. Don’t believe me, believe this Chancellor:
3. Now read this:
4. Institutions are cancelling insurance and retirement contributions and are TAKING BACK previously committed research support from their current faculty.
5. If you’re comforting yourself by thinking, “well we recovered from 2008″…. No. That’s denial. We never recovered.
6. WE DID NOT RECOVER.
7. Also, this downturn is exponentially worse…. (and please don’t see the upward trajectory post-2009 on this graph as evidence the tenure track job market “recovered.” This represents total higher ed workforce, and the growth is in adjuncts, other contingent workers, staff, and above all, petty administrators.
8. So… you who are planning to “wait it out”?
No. Just no. Say no to denial. Move on.
[If you don’t know how, and would like some information and support, you can come to my Going Postac in a Pandemic: Moving On with a PhD In a Time of Stress live webinar today or watch it in its prerecorded version. I’ve reduced its price because of our current crisis. If you are feeling I should offer this for free please know that our small business, which supports several households, is struggling in this covid downturn as well.]
Please. Just say no to the gaslighting by your advisors and peers, academic exceptionalism, and self-sabotaging denial.
Anthony Clemons says
This is a sobering post to read as a current doctoral student. Thanks so much for sharing. It surely informs how open we should all be with the direction we are choosing for our careers.
William Shear says
Maybe the PhD should no longer be regarded as a passport to an academic position, but as a goal to be pursued for self-improvement. I would imagine that if you can earn a doctoral degree, you can do just about any job that is out there. Broaden your job search out of academia.
Karen Kelsky says
Oh my god, what are you saying? This is literally the gaslighting in action. STOP. Update: I googled you – you’re an emeritus prof. YOU are the gaslighter! Stop! Study what current X-ennials, Millenials, and Gen-X-ers (and a handful of adjunct boomers) are dealing with! The level of student debt! The utter financial immiseration! And stop this nonsense now!
So just to clarify, do you disagree with this individual and feel instead as if studying a PhD in no way improves oneself? One has nothing to learn through higher education? You disagree with this individual who is urging people to “Broaden [their] job search out of academia” and insist that this advice is actually gaslighting? I just want to clarify.
Karen McNeil says
I think what she is saying is that there are many ways to improve yourself that don’t cost you a butt-load of money and several years of your life.
Brian Witkowski says
Thank you for sharing this brutally honest assessment of “reality.”
I have no regrets moving on and embracing the freedom that comes with teaching what I most desire to teach outside the matrix to those who truly are seeking lifelong growth.
If you’re still in grad school, rather than quit or just rush and get the easiest required classes out of the way, don’t be afraid to take your time and use this unique opportunity to explore as thoroughly as possible your greatest curiosities and deepest passions. The more you can grow in ways you really actually want to grow and the more self-actualizing your work and activities can be, the easier it will be for you to ultimately discover new possibilities for more satisfying work and even more streams of authentic income.
Derek Law says
Yep, I will be ADB forever! Instead of finishing I took a one month course to get my CDL, now I make as much money as an associate professor. Academia can go fuck itself.
You are absolutely correct. I wish someone had knocked this amount of sense into my head so many years ago. If there are any naive graduate students or hopefuls reading this: ACADEMIA IS A PYRAMID SCHEME. The many support the few on the top. You are nothing but revenue, free or cheap labor, and when you graduate, the university (faculty, advisors, administrators, etc) will hardly care about you at all unless there is still some benefit they can derive from you. If you manage to get on the tenure-track and eventually get tenure, you can still be fired regardless of your stellar performance due to “financial exigency.” The top of the pyramid will protect itself at all costs.
Just stumbled across this post. It should be read by every grad students the humanities,and probably most in social sciences. I assume you caught someplace for stating the truth, but glad someone is doing it.