What a broad…

I think I reacted to graduate school in the wrong way. I thought that the difficult job climate I would graduate into would mean that whoever figured out the way to teach the most different kinds of courses, and whose research commented meaningfully on the most different fields would be the one offered the most jobs.

This is not what happens.

What I’m realizing now is that people who get to have broad interests and teach the most different courses are all tenured folks in their 50s. What is expected of those of us trying to break in is that we do very narrow, easily-understood work on a single topic. It’s just not what I do. I can’t even pretend.

Some have said I should cut most of the things on my CV off, and say I haven’t taught all these amazing electives on twelve different things. But when I see job ads that ask for everything, I want to give them everything! And then they hire people who do one thing, and haven’t taught much at all.

I’m not giving up. But I have gamed this system in all the wrong ways.

I wish I had more life-affirming and general thoughts tonight, but I do not have them to give.

5 responses to “What a broad…”

  1. right there with you says:

    Gawd you have just nailed the source of my depression on the head! Like you, I am on the job market and keep seeing my varied, inter/multi-disciplinary teaching experience working against rather than for me. Also, what is up with people getting jobs whose work doesn’t fit the job description? It is all so very disheartening and frustrating. Please know you are not alone. HOpefully there is at least another one-year VAP position on the horizon for you for next year, not that you want to move again and go through new fac. orientation again and then do the tt search thing again. Ugh. I wish we could commiserate over drinks…share horror stories…plan to open a food truck business.

  2. swells says:

    This frustration was partially addressed on the Chronicle today, though it’s a more specific circumstance than both of you describe (re. visiting professors who have to watch the search outside their office after being weeded out in the first round). Not sure whether it will feel helpful or condescending (especially the ending), or be something you haven’t heard before, but here is one search committee member’s attempt to explain:


  3. FPS says:

    Until maybe five years ago I think I had an idealized notion of academia. My parents were teachers and seemed more content than most people one meets. My father would always say “I don’t understand how people can get up in the morning and go to a job they don’t love.” Lately I feel the opposite, a sort of unnuanced hostility toward academia for or making so many of my friends unhappy.

  4. LP says:

    3: Agreed. I’ve seen enough friends in agony over academia that I want to take it around the corner and kick its ass. What a bully.

  5. Rachel says:

    Agreed. It is such a messed-up system. Meanwhile, those of us with jobs go to conferences and feel completely outclassed because we have been so overworked with administrative politics that we haven’t managed to stay current in our fields. Thus, we are completely unqualified to hire you. No one wins.

    Bright side? Not sure. But I am pretty convinced that you are it. You are amazing. Don’t forget it.