#Dispatches From the Frontlines series crowdsources questions to get a broad survey of how the academic community is coping with various challenges.
This week’s question is the same as the past two week’s: How has COVID impacted your career planning?
The responses are INTENSE. This is a generational collapse, and I can’t see how academia will recover.
Hoping to lighten the mood just a bit, next week we move on to a new question: What are you planning to do first when the pandemic is well and truly over? Share your response here.
- SS – Social Sciences
- Hum – Humanities
- STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
The pandemic has made my skill set more valuable in research for a variety of reasons. It has also made me value my own stability much, much more, and it would now take an excellent job for me to move out of this area. Several years ago, a tenured mentor of mine told me that academia is no longer a good job. The writing was on the wall even then. So, I will keep up the facade of international -level ambitions so that I can be more desirable to the funding sources that would allow me to stay put, but realistically I will not be moving away for some lectureship or postdoc. This could result in a natural end to my academic career, but again, I just won’t waste my limited time on something that is not even a good job! As you can see, I am still working on this identity shift, but I am fortunate to have a husband with a job outside academia who understands that I will need time to transition. Still, it is not easy for us to have an unstable and exploitative career in the mix. (Postdoc, SS)
I’m lucky to have this job but I also hold onto it for dear life. I’ve wanted to move to a tenure track position but that seems risky given the vulnerability of 4 year schools. I work at a community college. (NTT Hum)
Terrible. I want to sleep all the time. I’m worried, tired, fed up, and don’t see any light at the end. I don’t prepare lectures, I just “present” myself on the screen, say whatever I remember, and get them to talk. What helps me is netflix, other cinema sites, and music (when everyone goes to sleep). (Tenured Prof, Arts/Music/Theater)
I’ve always been open-minded. What is frustrating about this pandemic is realizing that it’s hitting ALL three areas of career paths I’d hope to take (higher ed, museums, and communal non-profits). As a result, I am scrambling and looking for what jobs that can come up in ALL of these areas (though much less in the museums). Talk about mental gymnastics as I go from writing applications for postdocs/TT to Zooming with someone in an area of non-profit work that I’m interested in to working on my course syllabus for my adjunct position next semester… to revising my resume for a new posiition…. These tasks hardly build on each other to be more time-efficient the way teaching and researching did when I was a PhD student. (New PhD, Hum)
I am preparing myself for the inevitable demise of my institution and (really) most of higher ed in general. For the last five years, I’d been focused on preservation of my department and retention, but now I’m thinking about how to make the transition to the workforce outside of academia and how to translate my skills to the job market. I’d say that my current stage in this process is still the grief and denial stages, but I’m here. (Tenured Prof, Hum)
I have pivoted hard away from “we’ll make it work” when considering what a job in my field pays to taking pay, benefits, and job security very seriously. The change of perspective has brought considerable relief because it has simplified decisions about how I allocate my job search efforts by eliminating many positions. (Postdoc, STEM)
Institutions are incapable of loyalty. You have to make sure you have your bases covered and be prepared. Tough times are when you find out who your friends and champions truly are. (NTT SS)
There is no truth and I’m uncertain in my abilities to have any impact in my field. (Grad student, SS)
20-21 year was undeniably a different year. The year was an opportunistic year for side hustles, people had more time, more convenience for work, less commuting time, ability to self-control schedule if done smartly (let’s see it all positively). That also meant using side hustle to make some pocket money. BUT WAIT. You are non-US student in the US, you CANNOT earn money from side hustle, and you ARE NOT ELIGIBLE for STIMULUS CHECKS, you are also NOT ELIGIBLE for SNAP. So basically, you are stuck at home, with poor mental health, no emotional support, no money, no opportunity to make money, and not to forget that families back home couldn’t send us money because all countries had lock down. So God forbid if you had medical emergencies like I had, you continue to pay the bills (or to friends who lent you money) for another couple of years, and your 9-5 job may not be able to pay those bills in the first few salaries. (Grad student STEM)
I work in an R2 university with a long history but poor state funding, a rural location, and declining enrollment in recent years. I have tenure and my department major numbers are strong, but I’ve come to view my institution as untenable–we will have made upwards of $75 million in budget cuts since 2019 at the end of this academic year, cut humanities majors, and increased teaching loads. Despite lots of publications and leadership experience, I recognize the odds of me finding another stable academic job when the cuts come for me are minimal, and I’m actively starting to network/plan for a transition out of the professoriate, hopefully on my own terms/timetable in the next 3-5 years. (Tenured Prof, SS)