Pearls of Wisdom–The Blog

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“You tell the truth, you tell it well. In the crowded and fetid swamp that is the job market, that is oxygen.” – a reader

If you would like your academic career to begin in delusion and end in disillusionment, then by all means, ignore Karen Kelsky. If, however, you want unvarnished straight talk about the academic job market—and how to navigate it—then heed her, and heed her now.” —Rebecca Schuman, education columnist for Slate.

At The Professor Is In, we have a particular commitment to supporting Black and Indigenous women in the academy. This is a core company mission. If you are a member of these communities, and finances are an issue in working with us, please get in touch to discuss possible arrangements.

A brief glossary of terms used in blog posts:

  • VAP – Visiting Assistant Professor
  • NTT – Non-Tenure Track
  • TT – Tenure Track
  • SLAC – Small Liberal Arts College
  • HBCU – Historically Black College or University
  • PWI – Predominantly White Institution
  • ABD – All But Dissertation (the stage where courses and exams are done and only the diss needs to be written and defended)
  • URM – Underrepresented Minority
  • EID – Equity, Inclusion and Diversity


Creating a Base Resume, Part II – Postac Post

Today’s post is by our marvelous and insightful postac coach, Dr. Maggie Gover. If you’d like to schedule a consult with her, learn more about that here. Part I of this 2-part series is here.

Dr. Maggie Gover’s career is dedicated to helping students successfully complete their graduate degrees and then transition into successful professional lives.  As such, she has quite a bit of experience helping students identify industries in which they may be successful and describing their graduate careers in ways that might be attractive to those industries.  While she is most knowledgeable in alternative academic jobs, she has helped students transition into private industry, government, and non-profit jobs as well.  Maggie’s service to students began when she was an undergraduate at the University of Southern California where she served as an intern in the Office of Admissions.  While she was completing her Master’s degree at the University of Oxford she served as a Junior Dean at St. Hilda’s College.  When she was a PhD candidate at UC Riverside she was the Coordinator for Academic Preparation and Outreach and then the Graduate Student Mentorship Program Coordinator, and later the Director of Graduate Student Professional and Academic Development. While she is now primarily an administrator, she is still researching and publishing in theories of new media and 19th C visual sciences.Maggie’s Consulting Philosophy: I am a strong supporter of graduate education and think that society benefits from having those incredibly creative and analytic minds in diverse industries.  I want to help students find careers that are satisfying to them and in which they will excel.  Remember that no career search is easy!  It will take hard work, knowledge, dedication, and perseverance.  However, the great joy of working with graduate students is that they have dedication and perseverance in spades!  You bring that to the table, and I can help with the knowledge.

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Unfortunately, most of us cannot create a single resume which we use to apply to many and various positions. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could? When leaving a career in academia, most of us will be interested in applying for several different types of positions in varying industries. It is important that the resume you submit for each type of job tells a cohesive story (see article about creating a cohesive story here). It must sound like your professional experiences have led you to the type of work you are seeking. So, if you are applying for several different types of jobs or industries, I suggest having what I call a “base resume” for each. 

I used to call a base resume the working resume, but I have changed my language. The “working resume” can be a single document that has every experience and all of the different things that you did in that experience on it. It might be as long as your CV and it is simply a way to keep track of all the diverse professional experiences you have had. 

The base resume is different. It is one where, with very few modifications, you can submit it for one type of job. It is polished and ready to send. And, if you are applying for very different types of jobs, you will need a base resume that corresponds to each. 

For example, when I was starting out, I was seeking positions in content development for digital marketing, career services at universities and colleges, and writing center administration. Those were three very different resumes. As a job became available in any of those areas, I knew I had a resume that I could submit. 

I have a very specific process I follow for creating a base resume. Those of you who have worked with me will likely recognize the process. First, I look at several job descriptions that are in the same type of work. I then determine which are the competencies that all or most of them require. When I have made that list, I can write a resume that describes all of my experiences in a way that seems relevant and cohesive for those types of positions.

The biggest problem I see with base resumes that clients have generated for themselves is that they are not corresponding to one type of position. This means that the “type” of position they are writing the resume for is too broad. Sometimes I see a base resume that is created for something like, “an alt-ac position at a university.” However, alt-ac positions at universities vary widely. A Women’s Center Coordinator position will likely be very different from a Development Director position. Therefore, those two resumes should reflect the different skills that would be required of the position. 

If you compile a set of job descriptions and find that they have very few overlapping competencies, chances are you are thinking too broadly about those positions. You may have to narrow your search to produce more similar job descriptions and then create an effective base resume. 

Of course, every position will have a few outlying skills or requirements. That is where tailoring the base resume before you submit it for the specific position will come in handy. Instead of drafting a new resume, you can just add a bullet point that addresses the specific outlying competency they are seeking. You may also want to modify the resume to echo their own language to them. So, if you use the term “budget management” but their job description uses “budget oversight,” you can use their term without altering the meaning. Whenever it is possible to echo the language of the job description, do so. 

The beauty of a base resume is that, once you have a good one drafted, your turn around time between seeing a position posted and submitting for that position can be much faster. You won’t have to sit down and create a new document from the working resume. 

After you have created your first base resume, the process for creating others will become easier and easier. Just like writing in any genre, the more you do it, the more proficient you will become. 

Good luck and happy writing!

Visiting Campus during COVID as a Black Woman – #BLM Guest Post

We continue to solicit guests posts by Black scholars and other BIPOC scholars. We pay $150 for accepted posts.

Today’s post is by Piper Kendrix Williams, PhD, Associate Professor of African American Studies and English, The College of New Jersey. Dr. Piper Kendrix Williams is the co-author of The Toni Morrison Book Club. The University of Wisconsin Press, 2020. She also co-edited Representing Segregation: Toward an Aesthetics of Living Jim Crow. SUNY Press, 2010. She is the Chair of and associate professor in the Department of African American Studies and jointly-appointed in the Department of English at The College of New Jersey.

She is currently working on Black Roots, Black Voices and Emancipatory Practices in African American Literature and Culture, a book-length study, which explores the through-line that connects slavery to mass incarceration, and the attending forms of segregation and police violence. This project posits that in the African American literary tradition Black writers imagine the future, alternative times, and different realities to proclaim their freedom and autonomy in a country that has failed to do so for over 400 years

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From the quotidian (of or occurring every day) and mundane:
This morning I woke up, and knowing I had already scheduled, with my Dean, a visit to campus today, I checked her email about such visits for instructions. “Use your ID, swipe into the building. If you have any trouble, contact campus police.”

“Contact campus police…” hmmm – right away I had unease and questions about this. Literal questions:  I was facetiming with my mom and said “Do you think I should contact campus police and let them know that I, a Black woman, will be accessing my building, you know just in case…” This is how the terror and stress of being Black can happen: in the quotidian and mundane. And trust me, as I got closer and closer to campus my anxiety increased, my heart felt tight and was beating rapidly. Is this irrational? Of course maybe not: is it irrational to give my teenage son “the talk” about interacting with police: no, that’s mandatory. My point is just having to think about this can make you feel irrational and is taxing over a lifetime of having to think about this…

This is where terror resides: in the unknown. Because before things become tragic they are quotidian and mundane.

Tamir Rice’s mother cooking dinner – quotidian and mundane
Wearing a hoodie with Skittles and iced tea in your pocket – quotidian and mundane
Breaking small laws – I speed – quotidian and mundane
Bird watching – quotidian and mundane and actually quite peaceful and meditative even.
Asleep in your house – quotidian and mundane
Buying pop (soda) in Money, Mississippi in 1955
I could, of course, go on and on and on and on and on…

What was my fear today: that I would be a Black person out of place or a Black person who surprises an unreasonable and/or irrational white person, maybe with a gun, a badge and cell phone? (Amy Cooper weaponized her phone like an expert, playing the part that has been scripted for her for hundreds of years: the fragile, tearful white woman in distress, deploying a deadly formula: “African American man,” repeat four times + “threatening,” repeat over and over.)

I don’t know what it does to my health, exactly, to have these stressful situations about what I can’t know- because George Floyd, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Rashard Brooks did not know, did not know this was the day, this was the time, that their fears of white supremacist racial violence would become actualized. I do know being Black is stressful and can cause a myriad of mental and medical problems and death, even if we don’t get killed by a white supremacist person, just the disease of white supremacy.

White friends of mine, former white students of mine, sometimes white colleagues of mine have been asking a range of questions lately: nicely, if naively, asking how I am; asking what can they do; “woke” enough to know they should not ask me to solve this problem, but ask anyway. I have even created a standard response of “I’m ok” and here are some resources to read, watch, listen.

Do you really want to know how sad, mad, stressed I am? How angry I am… about the violent racists, and the racists systems, and the low key, unconsciously biased racists – the ones who ask me about the “riot” and “looters” and I’ve calmly responded to this by 1) quoting Dr. King “The riot is the language of the unheard.’ 2) Most of the people out there are protesting peacefully and 3) Can we talk about the murder of unarmed black people first and how I feel about the seemingly unending loop of Black death on videos.

White people who care about a just society for all have to proclaim “Black Lives Matters;” have to work hard to dismantle white supremacy;  have to find out what being anti-racist is and how they can work at being this. This is your work.


If you woke up this morning not having to worry or only worrying about quotidian and mundane, like how will my kids get their work done, how can I, when will I be able to socialize, should I wear a mask (yes!) but not also whether or not it will turn tragic – that’s your privilege, your white privilege.

Well, that’s my rant and it has cost me: I have felt angry the whole time I’ve been writing.

  

 

 

#Dispatches: Why The F**k Don’t We Revolt??

#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:  Why the f**k don’t we revolt???  (contributed by Kel, lol). 

New #Dispatches Question is at the bottom of the post. Please read and respond!

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.

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We’re too busy and scared. (Cis het white female, estranged from family of origin, STEM Grad Student)

In my experience, academics have a hard time seeing themselves as part of the proletariat, providing labor, in a situation where their needs are not in line with the capitalist class, or administrators. They also fail to distinguish between their needs and those of their students, using the discourse of sacrifice and martyrdom to describe unpaid work – i.e. “service to the profession,” when it’s ALL service since we spend a lot of time writing articles for free which are then published in journals owned by hedge funds and locked behind paywalls. Now that it’s life or death? I have no idea why even the best of the Good Little Liberals aren’t up in arms.  (private tutor for high school students. I got my PhD in 2015; Social Sciences)

This presumes that everybody is not revolting. (female, white, straight, Humanities Asst Prof)

Faculty aren’t listening to grad students who want revolt. Come to the front lines with us. (straight white male anarchist, Humanities Grad Student)

Aren’t we already in revolt?  (34, white, cis male, heterosexual, married, Education, Grad Student)

Academia is based on monasteries and we are now nearly all novitiates. (42 yo white woman, married dual-income with infant, Humanities NTT)

I’m ready, let’s go. Last winter, I asked my advisor for ADHD accommodations and he said no and kicked me out of his lab. Now I have no advisor and no financial support. I’ve been managing to do research through free resources and the literature but its exhausting. Nobody at my current university will take me on as a student (not discrimination. they either have too many students or are retiring) so I have to leave my current university. Through this process, I’ve come to discover that the department doesnt have a system for solving problems like mine. I’m not the first person to have a similar problem, in fact there’s a student 2 years above me who had an almost identical situation to mine but she was lucky enough to find a replacement advisor. however, because she and I are expendable grad students, and have no power, theres no incentive for the department to have a system that weakens faculty control. I’ve also come to see poor mentorship as a systemic issue. Faculty members have to do too much and have training thats too narrowly focused/actively disincentivizes anything but the bare minimum quality mentorship. Professors have like 16 jobs in one and it would be impossible for one person to do it all well, even if they did have time. of course profs are going to prioritize things they are penalized for not doing and will put less effort into things that they can get away with putting less effort into. professors have a lot of people relying on them and a lot of demands on their time. and when the demands become too great, its usually those people who are reliant on them that take the cost. When its a choice between spending an evening thoroughly reading a bunch of undergrad’s lab reports done by students you will never see again or doing a crappy job and coming home for dinner to spend an evening with the kids, I know what choice I would make. Its so easy for upper management to make more and more demands when they don’t have to engage with the consequences. They’re fine putting more responsibilities on faculty members and making professors make the tough calls on what to prioritize. My father is an historian who is currently studying the history of the American University and what he’s found totally makes sense: Universities weren’t designed, they were patched together from different other university systems in Europe, with different philosophies on the purpose of higher education, which don’t work when combined with American capitalism. the whole system is bad and can only be fixed by burning it to the ground and starting over. Here’s my dad’s take on the answer to today’s question: as long as professors, graduate students, and undergrads are beholden to a board of trustees who are trying to make money, nothing will change. Here’s my addendum: The distribution of power is so unbalanced that we’re being pressed almost to our limits. almost. having having nothing to lose gives you power. Having just a little to lose makes you hold on tight.  I’m a biologist studying wether or not snakes have necks by looking at the anatomy of legless lizards. (I’m a 29 year old white woman from Chicago. I have a Masters degree in paleontology, a wonderful fiancee, and have been lucky enough to be able to weather COVID with him and his cat. I’m the daughter of an historian and an art therapist/children’s book illustrator and the sister of a Harvard Law student. I also have ADHD.  STEM, Grad Student)

In private R1 universities, the deans and provosts have created a star academic system and they engage in individual negotiations to such a degree that faculty are unwilling to join the picket lines. Unions have been busted and solidarities never swell to numbers that a real revolt works out.  (45, Asian, Female, Heterosexual, married, non-US and non-EUropean citizen, first generation immigrant and ph.d., Humanities Tenured Prof)

Because I work in public health and my job is important. (37 y/o woman, parent to a 3 y/o, STEM Asst Prof)

Wooofffff because there are too many who are too scared that they will lose the crumbs they’ve been given. Too many students are terrified that their advisors will look down on them. Too many grad students are already too poor, and too busy, to even contemplate something besides “at least if I work through dinner I won’t have to worry about how to pay for dinner.” Too many grad students are grasping for some privilege that they believe they will be gifted after earning a PhD; that ain’t gonna happen after this pandemic, kids. Too many faculty/advisors are so removed from struggle/think it’s just as “bad” as when they went to grad school (it’s not – it’s MUCH worse) that they aren’t willing to lose their privilege (read: big ass house) just to help someone else who doesn’t even have it “that bad.” Too many graduate students have been playing by rules for so long and they’re so afraid of breaking them that they can’t stand up for themselves. If a grad student can’t even say to an advisor “I don’t think that’s professional” when they say abusive shit, how they gonna revolt??  (33 y.o., white woman, hetero/hoe life, divorced; STEM Grad Student)

Because we are afraid to disrupt the status quo. The system select people who accept it and punishes those who challenge it.  (40, white, woman, hetero, married, Europe , STEM Tenured Prof)

Because the assholes pretend to be lone wolves but actually they drink together, work together and stick together.  (Based in UK; Social Sciences, Asst Prof.)

My dogs need a stable home. The health insurance is good. I am working from home. We suck at organizing ourselves. We are institutionalized.. (White bi married female no minor kids ; Professional Field; Asst Prof)

Because we’re tired. Because 2020 has gone on forever, and what we really just need to do is to take a nap and wake up in January, and hope everything looks a little brighter so that we’re not tempted to burn everything down. And also because we’re out of snacks. (28, white, female, heterosexual, single.; Humanities Grad Student)

We pretend that if we keep our heads down and continue working everything will work out in the end. Don’t disrupt, else be labeled as a disrupter. Well, I’d be a proud revolter. (25, white, male, privileged ; STEM Grad Student)

I don’t want to rock the boat too much because I need the job and income. Collaborations and working with others are necessary at this point in my career. I don’t have tenure so I don’t have the security to piss people off and burn bridges as I stand up for others. It’s unfortunate And privileged but that’s the way it is for the moment. (White, cis, single, straight, 40; STEM Asst Prof)

Having worked PT since the birth of my 1st (while being interviewed on campus at numerous R1 despite my slacker lifestyle) I’ve learnt that people pay you better if you refuse to work for a low salary. Casuals (adjuncts) got extra loading a to compensate for precarious nature of the work. This in turn reduces the # casuals/adjuncts since they cost more. If all adjuncts refused their meager pay and didn’t teach, salary would go up. I’d also reduce PhD intakes, convert into longer term contracts (postdocs with teach/research). 1 postdoc could replace 2-3 PhD stipends. While we’re at it, less funding through supervisors and more through fellowships (stem related grants often request PhD stipends through their grants). Maybe supervisors would take their mentoring jobs more seriously (or have more time for it). One could set max publications that get accessed on grants (quality trumps qty.. less reviewing of crappy papers).  (37, white married with 2 kids, STEM NTT)

Because academics (especially tenured) benefit, to varying degrees, from the knowledge systems produced by the enlightenment? Precarious workers aren’t in a position to revolt and non-precarious more likely to have faith in status hierarchies. Also: see Russian revolution in how intellectual class became a stagnant class for the academics out there who talk (and lament for) a good uprising.  (I am a cis white male, married with kids and I took a leave from my studies to be the main home caregiver.  Social Sciences, Postdoc)

The promise of a reward for compliance.  (Married straight white middle aged; Humanities, NTT.)

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NEXT WEEK’S QUESTION: How many jobs opened in your field and subfield this year? What’s your plan for an income stream–tread water for an academic opening?  Bail out and go postac? Pls share.

Submit your responses on this form!

The Academy Is The Grift

Last week in my Starting a Small Business webinar Q&A, somebody asked me, what was your biggest surprise in starting a business beyond what you have shared in the webinar?

I was startled by the question, and struggled to answer it for a minute. As I stumbled through my response, though, it became clear.

The biggest surprise of running The Professor Is In is that I do far more good in the world running this business than I ever did as a professor in a colonialist discipline (anthro), working in a neoliberal and grossly racist institution (UIUC but it could be any of them), in an industry that functions entirely on exploitation of contingent labor and worse, the systematic financial immiseration of undergraduates and grad students.

I had no idea this would be the case when I started. I had my own shame to overcome. But now I know it’s true.

I have been wondering how to mark the decade anniversary of The Professor Is In. Now I know that this is how. By calling out the academy’s grift everywhere I see it and the way shaming and fear-mongering are used to sustain it. It will be the mission of TPII going forward.

Those academics whose salaries are paid by student debt, who continue to push the gaslighting mythology that the academy is morally “pure” – all the while insisting overwork and exploitation are signs of commitment, while shaming and condemning those who leave, especially those who work in “business” — are the real grifters.

For 20-21 I’m calling out the academic grifters, by name. If you are wondering to what I am referring, here are a couple from the last week.

The indignant protestations of the “pure and unsullied” are my greatest sign that I’m on the right track.

I’m also collecting stories from others. I’ll share them as well, always using the hashtags:

#TheAcademyIsTheGrift**

#AcademicGrift

and

#BigAcademia***

Please share your stories of #AcademicGrift here in comments. Little by little perhaps collectively we can expose the shaming and self-dealing of the academic cult for what it is, and I hope, reduce its harm.

** Thanks to Steven Hu for this hashtag!

***Coined by Sophie Grow on an FB thread. There is another use of this term on the internet but it’s referring to a right wing critique of so-called liberal groupthink in academia.

Resume Writing: Creating a Cohesive Story, Part I – Postac Post

Today’s post is by our marvelous and insightful postac coach, Dr. Maggie Gover. You can schedule a consult with her. Learn more about that here.

Dr. Maggie Gover’s career is dedicated to helping students successfully complete their graduate degrees and then transition into successful professional lives.  As such, she has quite a bit of experience helping students identify industries in which they may be successful and describing their graduate careers in ways that might be attractive to those industries.  While she is most knowledgeable in alternative academic jobs, she has helped students transition into private industry, government, and non-profit jobs as well.  Maggie’s service to students began when she was an undergraduate at the University of Southern California where she served as an intern in the Office of Admissions.  While she was completing her Master’s degree at the University of Oxford she served as a Junior Dean at St. Hilda’s College.  When she was a PhD candidate at UC Riverside she was the Coordinator for Academic Preparation and Outreach and then the Graduate Student Mentorship Program Coordinator, and later the Director of Graduate Student Professional and Academic Development. While she is now primarily an administrator, she is still researching and publishing in theories of new media and 19th C visual sciences.Maggie’s Consulting Philosophy: I am a strong supporter of graduate education and think that society benefits from having those incredibly creative and analytic minds in diverse industries.  I want to help students find careers that are satisfying to them and in which they will excel.  Remember that no career search is easy!  It will take hard work, knowledge, dedication, and perseverance.  However, the great joy of working with graduate students is that they have dedication and perseverance in spades!  You bring that to the table, and I can help with the knowledge.

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Right now, you can probably look back on your life and outline every decision, every event, every experience that has brought you to this point. If someone were to ask you what led you to where you are, you could probably tell a very good story where these events line up neatly in a linear continuum. The narrative of your experience would be cohesive. 

This is exactly what a resume should do.

However, I often have clients who worry that their resume is too “all over the place.” They worry that they have widely varying experiences and that therefore their resume does not reflect a cohesive narrative. This is very common in those transitioning careers. I think that those leaving academia have a particularly difficult time with creating a narrative in the resume because we have been trained to create a curriculum vitae, a literal list of the life, which includes every possible academic experience. The relevant parts of the CV are so ingrained in us after so many years in academia that the curation of the document is largely invisible to us. Putting together a resume that tells a cohesive story is a new skill for many of us, but it is important to remember that it is no less a learned skill than writing a CV. If you learned one, you can easily learn the other. 

So, how do you get all of your unruly professional experiences to behave themselves and act like a cohesive narrative in a short resume? The trick is to project. Pretend that you have the job for which you are applying and look back at the experiences that have gotten you to that point. Then describe only, or mostly, the parts of the work that are relevant to the trajectory of your career that led you to this particular position. 

So, for example, you might be applying for a project manager position. You may have many different experiences in your past, but you will select those that helped you develop or demonstrate the skills that you will need in the position of project manager. Then, most of your description about those experiences will speak explicitly about those skills. 

Whenever you are leaving off some of your work or professional experiences, use a heading for that section that signals that. The go-to section headings are often “Relevant Experience” or “Selected Experience.” I like to give a better clue to the employer about why I selected the experiences for the section. So, I might use something more descriptive, such as “Program Development Experience” or “Client Management Experience.”

For the most part, in each of the relevant experience sections of your resume, you will only list the positions that are directly relevant to the career trajectory you are describing. There are two exceptions. First, you will want your resume to have a current (or most recent) position listed first, even if it is not directly related to the position to which you are applying. I think it is really important to find the ways that your current/most recent position relates to the posting and describe it as best you can in those terms. It is ok if that position is the shortest description on the page. The idea is just to show that you are, or very recently were, working. Second, if the job you held implies work that is not directly relevant to the position, sum that up in the shortest description possible. For example, if you were the lead teaching assistant and you are applying for a supervisor of teachers, you might highlight more of the supervisory duties of that position but you will want to include one sentence or bullet point that says something like, “taught three discussion sections of…”

Much of the experience you relate on your resume will be found in the “service” sections of your CV. Service to the profession or university often offers the skill development that positions outside of academia will seek. For example, committee work often involves policy analysis, collaboration, or fundraising that might not be present in your research or teaching life. Similarly, conference and symposia organizing might require supervision, budgetary oversight, and logistical planning. 

My clients are often hesitant to put those “service” experiences into their resume because they are not the jobs for which they were paid. However, I think that all of those service positions are integral in the professional experience of being an academic at any level. So, don’t be afraid to highlight those unpaid service positions that show where you developed the skills the potential employer is seeking. 

You are probably guessing that the way you will describe your different positions will vary for each different kind of position to which you are applying. You probably cannot start with one resume for all types of positions, but you also don’t need to start from scratch every time you write a resume. Stay tuned for my advice about creating a base resume by defining your job search. 

Professor Purges at Canisius College – Guest Post

By “Concerned International Scholars” 

Authors’ note: Out of respect for ongoing privacy issues, the authors of this collective are requesting anonymity. Some are in their tenure application processes in 2020; others, including the “laid-off” tenured and tenure-track professors, are still seeking rescission of employment and/or are under the advice of legal counsel.

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Purge is a strong word. For Canisius College professors, that’s what it was. 

Over the past five weeks, some 25 tenured and tenure-track professors in the humanities (Classics, Creative/Performing Arts, History, Philosophy, Religious Studies/Theology) and across the curriculum (Teacher Education, Management, Communications) were fired alongside 71 staff members.

The firings were part of a “layoff” plan executed by President John J. Hurley, the Vice-President for Academic Affairs Sara R. Morris and the Board of Trustees on the pretext of a COVID-19 shock doctrine, in violation of shared governance and with a brazen overconfidence in their corporate power.

A small liberal arts college in Buffalo, NY just across the Peace Bridge, Canisius College was in trouble long before the exposures of Catholic abuse scandals and dirty upstate redevelopment plans. Woes are systemic: a bloat of admins having doubled in size over ten years; underpaid faculty with no raises in seven years; alienated alumni who won’t donate; a clumsy brand(s); obsessive overinvestment in local property and sports; and similarly conspicuous forms of mismanagement. Now Hurley’s Board of Trustees hurries toward a neo- (or post-) Jesuit Tech: a STEM-plus-vocational school minus meaningful focus on ethics, humanities or social justice. Programs such as Classics and Religious Studies were dissolved at the President’s whim, without faculty input. One can only speculate on why leading Jesuit public figures have been willing to give Hurley a pass, without delving deeper into the College’s affairs.

Canisius College’s power scenario was a kind of “Hunger Games.” The President’s opaque firing plan was executed starting on July 16. The tactic applied to four major departments: Philosophy, Religious Studies, History, and Management, in which professors with outstanding records of publication, teaching and service were effectively terminated. In English, they outright fired the one tenure-track professor, an award-winning Shakespearean. Hurley told the media he’d wisely had to cut low-enrolled programs, but in fact, the targeted departments such as Classics and Religious Studies (each abolished) and History and Philosophy (each halved in terms of tenured faculty) routinely have had some of the College’s highest per semester average seat counts. In History and Philosophy, three people in each department had to “voluntarily separate” from the College. Those who “separated” would get a “choice” of a year of severance or a one-year terminal contract. Senior professors were pressured to “volunteer” to retire and save another colleague’s job. If “volunteers” were not found before July 27, the most recently hired faculty would be fired. Making matters worse, administrators shamefully resorted to “Dear Faculty” form letters and “off the record” phone calls to fire people.

It ruined and demoralized everyone. Tenured professors were “laid off” by intimidation and deception—shady tactics of divide and rule. Hurley, his Board, and his recently appointed VPAA Morris gutted their way through the core liberal arts curriculum. They blatantly ignored established protocol as laid out in the Faculty Handbook and AAUP guidelines. Completely disregarding shared governance, deans of the three Schools unceremoniously informed longtime tenured and recent tenure-track professors of their terminations. No financial exigency was declared, though this is a required first step before eliminating any tenured faculty. No legal procedure of faculty-administration dialogue was ever initiated by the administration. By bullying and noncompliance, Hurley and his hirelings seem to have acknowledged that they were acting on questionable legal grounds. Included were newer hires and tenured mid-career faculty (with 8, 11, 12, 12, and 14 years of service); international faculty (at least 6, including 3 Canadian citizens and one permanent resident); women (8 and perhaps more, identified by The Griffin); and several POC (at least 4 of the 19 identified). These statistics provide a glaring contradiction to the administration’s claimed commitment to diversity

In a heroic rally by faculty on July 22 defending the principle of shared governance, the Faculty Senate voted “no confidence” in Hurley and the Trustees and the College’s growing AAUP chapter called for his resignation. At a standoff, the administration’s Senior Leadership Team did an end-around to gain approval from the Committee on Faculty Status. Because the VPAA and VP of Finance were unwilling to follow procedures necessary to justify the layoffs, i.e., they refused to appear before the Senate to lay out the specifics of the financial situation, the Committee on Faculty Status staunchly refused to ratify the firings. Rather than pausing for dialogue, the Canisius administration unilaterally continued to fire faculty. Hurley & Co. liquidated some of the College’s best personnel.

The President, a corporate bankruptcy lawyer, played on COVID-19 and budget issues. Hurley invited 11 faculty members to be a part of a secret Faculty Budget Working Group (FBWG); these faculty had to pledge absolute confidentiality, no information in or out. A dean was kicked off of the committee for sharing a bit of information from the committee to faculty. The president thus counted on people not talking to one other. He justified “hard but necessary” firings and the “adjustments” he had to make to trim his $12.3 million deficit in 2020. (It was $3.6 million in 2010.) Few careful observers bought it. Citing enrollment again, he said nothing of labor law violations or nationally patterned firings of tenured professors at Ohio University and the University of Akron. He even let slip to a local TV station about how confident he was that faculty could be “kept on a short leash” to quickly streamline a new core curriculum. Hurley’s claims to have welcomed Canisius faculty into negotiations are pitifully false.

As an anti-model of corporatist abuse, the firings of faculty and staff at Canisius have inspired a grass-roots change.org petition (“Stop Canisius from Firing Professors”) started by “concerned alumni” on July 18, now with nearly 6,000 signatures. An active Facebook group has tapped into the popular outrage. To counter this bad publicity, on July 20 the Office of Alumni Engagement, another arm of the Board, also released form letters and a bizarre “impact report.” The Office apparently forgot to take out an image of a revered professor of Philosophy and Women and Gender Studies who was among the fired tenured scholars.

Sanctions are flooding in. The American Historical Association (12,000 members) on July 23 was the first to advocate for its members. Given Canisius’s proximity to Canada and the urgency in 2020 to protect rights of international students and faculty, the AHA was followed by the Canadian Association of Slavists (CAS, 600), the American Philosophical Association (APA, 8,000), the Canadian Philosophical Association (ACP/CPA, 600), the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES, 3,500), and the Modern Languages Association (MLA, 24,000). In a report on shared governance, the national AAUP indicated that if Canisius’s problems are not soon resolved, they will conduct a formal investigation.

Meanwhile, protesting students preparing for fall 2020 have lost dear mentors without warning or coherent explanation. Those professors who come back for a final terminal year show their continued devotion to their students, but the institution is broken. Will its administration be held accountable? Hurley & Co. have trashed a sanctuary for Jesuit higher education, and with it, the institution of tenure at Canisius College. Faculty continue to organize and international outrage continues to grow.

After Canisius College’s purges of professors and the cynical use of COVID-19 as a pretext, other woefully mismanaged US institutions in denial may show similar desperation. 

How to Talk about Leaving Academia Without Sounding Miserable – #Postac Coach Post

Today’s new post is by our stellar #postac coach Adrienne Posner.

Adrienne Posner is a Program Manager at Google and works on various internal and external educational initiatives focused on creating a more diverse workforce. Adrienne received her BA in Art History from UC Santa Cruz, completed a fellowship in Critical Theory at the Whitney Museum, and then took a detour into the non-profit sector, working for a time for a political action committee. Returning to school, she received an MA in Art History from UCLA and then applied to the Comparative Literature program at UCLA where she received a second MA, advanced to candidacy, and began work on a dissertation before deciding to leave the academy altogether.

Adrienne’s experience consulting with grad students began as a teaching assistant trainer and continued in her work at UCLA’s Graduate Writing Center, where she coached grad students through organizing, writing, editing, and filing their dissertations. Though no longer an academic, she is still actively engaged in working in higher education, both via her work at Google and via her consulting work helping graduate students navigate both academia and the non-academic job market.

Coaching Philosophy

As someone who has worked in the non profit sector and the museum world and then transitioned back into academia and then moved between academic programs and then back out of academia and into the tech sector, I have significant institutional knowledge and a wide range of experiences in a variety non-academic settings. If you’re on the fence about how or if to proceed with your degree, if you already have your degree but are considering a change, if you aren’t sure what skills or experiences make you marketable outside the academy, if you’re simply curious about what kinds of alt-ac jobs are out there, or if you want to better understand the tech landscape and how to apply for and get work that feels sustainable and personally meaningful, I can help.

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I hesitate to jump on the bandwagon of writing a blog post that underscores just how uncertain “these times” are because I don’t personally find that kind of statement very helpful. So let’s just say: there are many people out there right now, academics and non-academics alike, who are truly unsure of what is happening or what is about to happen with regard to their employment status. For those academics who do not yet have tenure, for those cobbling together many adjunct positions and hoping for something to come through, for those who are 9 months into a 1 or 2 year post-doc and are anxious about their continued funding, even for those tenured faculty in underfunded departments all around the country, the anxiety must be fairly acute. Many are either rightfully nervous about future academic job scarcity as they hit the job market or they are worried they will lose the perhaps already tenuous positions they do have. 

Suffice to say: there are a lot of people out there thinking about making a change, and hoping that change will insulate them from the volatility of the market. And perhaps there is a way in which the prospect of a global pandemic and subsequent economic collapse gives us all permission, even in the midst of uncertainty and anxiety, to imagine other possible futures for ourselves; at the very least it may alleviate some of the pressure and angst many academics feel over admitting their unhappiness, for there is now a very practical reason for reevaluation of priorities and for preparation for an uncertain future. What this all means is that, if you are an academic starting to think that maybe you should look for a non-academic job, then you are in good company. 

But how do you talk about yourself in this context? How do you position yourself as the best candidate for a role when, most likely, what is pushing you toward that role isn’t necessarily passion for the work or interest in a particular industry, but more negative emotions of fear, desperation, or misery, or more transactional concerns over needing better pay or more time off? Career coaches and advice blogs will all tell you that it is a cardinal sin of the interview to cast your former employer in an even remotely negative light, or to suggest that you were ever even a smidge unhappy in the past, or to intimate that something about your current situation is less than ideal. In fact, if you listen to the advice, all of your answers are supposed to make you sound like you sincerely believe that you were put on this earth to do the job for which you are interviewing, and that everything in your life has been preparing you for this moment. So what do you say when the truth doesn’t quite lend itself to these polite, optimistic answers and instead runs the risk of making you seem like a complainer, a quitter, or, even worse, just miserable?

When I decided to quit academia and started to apply and interview for jobs, I remember being asked over and over in various interviews at various companies: why did you leave academia? I had read my fair share of those aforementioned career advice blogs, so I felt strongly at the time that telling the truth was simply not an option, sure that my answer would reveal me to be a little bit odd or maybe a slightly unstable person in the middle of an existential crisis, with nothing positive to say about academia and nothing of value to offer to the current role. So I tried on different answers to see which one would fit. I said: “I have some experience in [insert job title] and I’ve always wanted to get back to it” (nope, not really). I tried: “I’ve always been interested in [insert name of industry]” (not even a little). I even found myself saying: “I have a friend who is a [insert job title] and I’ve always been curious about their work” (not even close, also: bad answer). Invariably I would follow up these statements with a few short, explanatory sentences while secretly crossing my fingers under the table, hoping I would sound like a well adjusted, reasonable person. The problem, of course, is that I no doubt came across as insincere. I absolutely was insincere: I was straight up lying.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that sometimes what motivates us can feel like a negative emotion, but at the root of that there is often something far more positive. For example, the other side of the coin of fear of the unknown and anxiety about the future is of course the desire to feel safe and secure, and to have a sense of confidence in and control over your life. Similarly, what may seem purely transactional, for example, the desire to make more money or have a better emotional relationship to your work, also have their roots in a wish for stability, balance and overall happiness. What I also didn’t realize at the time is that it’s OK to be truthful, that any place where you would actually want to work is also a place where the interviewer won’t recoil in horror if you say you had a fraught relationship to academia, and will likely be receptive to expressions of ambivalence and sensitive to the nuances of what motivates people to make life and career changes. If they aren’t, then they just helped you dodge a bullet.

If I could answer the question now, I would absolutely tell the truth, and I would say something like this. “So much of what I did as an academic I truly enjoyed. I loved teaching, reading, writing, all of it. But there were also aspects of that work that didn’t suit me; for example, generally speaking academics have poor boundaries between their academic and their personal life, generally speaking they aren’t compensated for the full spectrum of their responsibilities, generally speaking they are stressed and work too hard and that hard work too often goes unrecognized both by their peers and by the institutions that employ them. I left academia because I realized that it was possible to pursue what I loved about academia – the relationship building, the research, the writing – in a role where I would be more equitably compensated and where I would have a better work/life balance. Furthermore, as an academic, the more specialized you become in your research and in your work, arguably the fewer and fewer people benefit from your knowledge and your experience. I am interested in pursuing a career where, as I grow in my experience and knowledge, I am able to positively impact more people, not fewer.  I am now exploring career paths where I can use the skills and experiences I have honed over years in the academy but in a context that is more suited to my own happiness and in an organization that better aligns to my values.” That would be the truth, and it would be a good answer, too.

Now, while we are all waiting to see what happens next in the world, is a good time to think about your own narrative, to align yourself with your own motivations and priorities. Perhaps you want to spend more time with your family, or to feel like you are paid according to your worth, or perhaps you just want a stronger sense of certainty about the future. As we all inhabit this strange limbo, it’s a really good time to take stock, a really good time to do some research and prep work, and a really good time to prepare for change.

MFA vs. POC – #BLM Guest Post

We continue to welcome #BLM guest posts. Please email Karen at gettenure@gmail.com to submit a draft or a post idea. We pay $150 for accepted posts. Today’s author wishes to remain anonymous.

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“I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background” —Zora Neal Hurston

My MFA experience wasn’t how I imagined it. In some ways it was everything I dreamt of since undergrad, the freedom to let my characters stretch themselves wide without tucking them behind the notes of the other classes I was supposed to focus on. The space to be immersed in storytelling. The language to finally acknowledge myself as a writer. But I didn’t live in that comfort for long, because what my program quickly taught me was that every space I entered had its limitations, ones that they built for writers like me, ones that they had no interest in deconstructing.

  1.  

When I entered the program as a young adult writer, I received pushback about my narratives by my white professors. In a meeting with one of my workshop professors, we debriefed my workshop story about a Black boy writing letters to his deceased mother who he’s never met. During that meeting, my professor questioned my YA voice.

He said to me: “This reads as a more coming-of-age narrative rather than a young adult one.”

I had that same conversation with him that next year when discussing my story about the toxic dynamic between a Black queer boy who falls in love with his white best friend. When my professor brings up how one of my colleagues stated that my story would deeply resonate with young adult readers, he questioned my YA voice a second time. 

He said to me: “Well, I think your nonlinear storytelling might be too advanced for young readers.”

When I had my first meeting with my thesis advisor, she gifted me a collection of coming-of-age stories that featured prominent writers who were mostly white and rest comfortably in the space of the literary canon.

She looked at me, with concern in her eyes, and said: “I just don’t want you to limit yourself by writing YA stories.”

But each time they sat me down and questioned my young adult voice, I only heard them say:

“Write like me!”

Correction:

Each time they say me down and questioned my young adult voice, I only heard them say:

“Write white like me!”

  1.  

Writing for Pedagogy was a class that all GTAs had to take by the spring term of their first year. It was a class dedicated to implement race and feminism into our classes and find ways to cope with the challenges that come with it, especially teaching at a PWI. My professor, who’s a woman of color, shared her experiences talking about race and feminism with her students and the backlash she received because of it. We read articles about other POC scholars’ experience with the same violence. My professor taught us how to dismantle the white fragility our students may give us, told us how that type of ignorance lingers in academia. Even though I didn’t plan to teach after that next year—since I had accepted my graduate assistant position—I still faced whiteness attempting to silence discussions on race and intersectional feminism. However, the individual who perpetuated this violence was a faculty member rather than a student.

She was a part of the fiction faculty, the one who funded the program from the ground up alongside her husband. She took me and the rest of my graduating fiction cohort out to lunch before the term ended. Since she was on sabbatical that year, she wanted to get to know us better as a fiction cohort before we had her as our fourth and final workshop professor the last term before we graduated. We shared drinks and laughs and talked about our writing. Then came the uncomfortable question, the absurd and uncanny caucasity all wrapped up in one curious smile. She asked us about our pedagogy class and wanted to know how we were talking about race. She expressed her concerns about hearing how our pedagogy professor was criticizing the racist undertones of the history of the third person POV and wanted to clarify if it was true or not. We all shook our heads confusingly and explained to her the class objectives, that creative writing wasn’t even a part of the curriculum. She said she wanted to know in case she (a professor who taught and writes in third person narration) had to update her syllabus, even though that following year was her last year teaching at the university. With a sigh of relief, she laughed off her violence, her policing of a POC scholar’s teaching, and mistook it for “gossip”. She wasn’t aware that she tried to use us as her fact checker, that she tried to prey on our vulnerability and lessen power as graduate students in order to get us to talk. But I saw right through her words, the way she attempted to whitewash our pedagogy professor’s syllabus, how she tried to scrub away at her teaching until she only saw her whiteness being reflected back at her.

  1.  

During the time I took a poetry workshop, I was introduced to one of the course readings for the class titled Fanny Says by Nikole Brown, which was about the poet retelling stories of her racist grandmother in order to claim her “wokeness”. My friend, who’s a Black poet, messaged me about the book’s blatant racism, how Brown carved out space for her grandmother’s racist rhetoric to live in the pages of her poetry. We sent an email to our professor explaining why the book was hurtful to us. She replied by saying it was art, that she was curious to hear our response to the book and urged us not to shy away from “tough conversations”. But we only saw nigger repeated eleven times. We could only see Fanny threatening that she would have to kill any nigger the speaker brought in her home. Our professor cc’d the program director in her reply to our email as if we were the troubled ones, as if our Black pain needed extra hands in order to be tamed, as if using our voice was a threat to the program. It ended with an apology, a gift of her white tears we had no interest in receiving. And when she said she was sorry I could only hear the echoes of the damages that was already done to my Black body:

“Write like me!”

Correction:

“Write white like me!”

                                     —from a Black writer who attended an MFA program in Oregon

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: gettenure@gmail.com.

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.

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COVID CAREER IMPACTS  – GRAD STUDENTS/POSTDOCS

This is harrowing reading….

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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]