Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On the Job Market?

At various career workshops I've attended in the past few months, certain questions are standard: What do you intend to do once you have your PhD? How confident are you that you can get this job? The answers are just as standard: I want an academic job, and I'm not confident at all - because of the economy.

About a week or so ago, this despair made the New York Times. And the general sensation that the job market will be tough was laid out in stark statements.
Public universities are bracing for severe cuts as state legislatures grapple with yawning deficits. At the same time, even the wealthiest private colleges have seen their endowments sink and donations slacken since the financial crisis.
As much as I, personally, love the concept of a trim and balanced budget, I, as an academic, see it as cutting of my job prospects. I might apply for several dozen jobs and be lucky to get a single interview. And could I possibly handle the uncertainty of being given a job "pending funding approval"?

Staying in grad school isn't really an option either. First, because I want out; second, because my advisor's funding (and the department's) is just as tenuous. She may or may not be able to put up funding for one more year.

I'm certain I'll find some job - some of the people getting laid off are no doubt taking the change to finish some college degrees or take extra courses to bolster their resumes, and may be heading to community college to do it. But if I start teaching at a community college, could I ever advance away from there? It might be better than doing nothing for a year, or doing something completely unrelated to academia, but it might be hard to compete with people coming straight out of the more prestigious schools. I just have no idea.

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