- When TR tells you "Don't listen to senior colleagues who tell you that there will soon be a line in your field and that you are ideally positioned for it," believe it. Repeat it. Cross-stitch it on a sampler. Tattoo it on your forehead. Anyone who would tell you that is probably trying to be (1) kind or (2) hopeful about your prospects, but it's just cruel.
- Let me put it this way: If they're not willing to put a ring on it, so to speak, when they're telling you that they can't live without you because of all your fancy extra service work and great teaching, they're not going to be more likely to do so when a shiny new parade of faculty candidates comes to campus. If you decide to stay when your department is courting the shiny ones, that's your decision, but do so with your eyes open.
- Let me put it another way: do you remember the movie An Officer and a Gentleman? For those who didn't see it, Richard Gere is a Navy officer-in-training and Louis Gossett, Junior, is the grizzled old sergeant. Gossett knocks the snotty attitude out of Gere and teaches him life lessons. At the end, Gere is a shiny new officer, ready to have an exciting career, and Gossett is . . . the grizzled old sergeant, waiting to knock some sense into the next batch of snotty recruits and show them the ropes. I did not want to become that grizzled old sergeant (adjunct) showing the new officers (t-t faculty) the ropes of the place, even if it meant getting out of teaching altogether.
- On the other hand, New Kid says that "there is a whole cohort of people out there for whom contingent employment is their career." Absolutely true. A lot of people who were adjuncting in my old department are still adjuncting there many years later, either because they had family ties or because they didn't want to leave grad school city.
- I have known people who have retired from their positions as adjuncts, and they were happy about their careers.
- I've also known people who became administrators of programs, or advisers, or otherwise were employed in academia without tenure-track positions, and they were happy, too.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Notes from a former adjunct
There have been two blog threads I've watched going the rounds recently, threads I've watched from afar. One is the "burnout after tenure" thread (seen at Historiann's and elsewhere), and the other is the controversy over Tenured Radical's advice to adjuncts. I spent a lot of years as an adjunct, so I have a few thoughts: