It’s been a wonderful couple of days, with a trip to New Orleans for a conference last weekend [a post on that is already in the works], and then coming back to Tampa for Thanksgiving break and the end of the semester in sight. Only two more weeks of teaching and grading, and I couldn’t be happier. Next semester I am only teaching one class, online, so I will have all the time to dedicate to my dissertation. This semester, as you know, has been crazy with writing job letters, teaching 3 classes, and writing, writing, writing. But I do have to say that I am thankful for the experience.
Strangely, I find that the academic job search has been the best boost for me. Not only can I dream about my life in places all over the country–dreams that last minutes long before I run the ade.org search again and read the next job ad [:)] –the requirement of composing documents that ask me to express my teaching philosophy and research interests have challenged me in ways that no one in my program has challenged me before. I’ve had to reflect and reevaluate why it is that I want to devote my career to academia and to consider ways of designing/teaching new courses, something that our department doesn’t offer us the chance to do very much due to a standardized FYC curriculum. [I’m not complaining about this, BTW; I recognize the need for adhering to Gen Ed themes at such a large school and I do find having a standardized approach helps new TAs and adjuncts]. Still, if there was something that stuck out at the recent LACC conference I attended, it was how innovative teachers at smaller schools can be, and I remember fondly my own teaching experiences at Xavier University being that way.
There are lots of job search assistance sites out there, but the upcoming December issue of the Journal of English Linguistics has an essay entitled “Perspectives on the Academic Job Search,” in which the authors numerate 3 key principles:
1. Remember that you are applying to become a colleague
2. Do not apply for a job that you don’t want, nor should you forego applying for jobs that someone else thinks you should not have
3. Keep in mind options outside of academia
These are principles that may seem obvious to some, but they have reminded me of what to think about as I keep writing letters and checking the wiki. I think the most important of these principles has been the first one because in such a large department you can easily get lost in the shuffle unless you are your own advocate. Attending meetings, dissertation defenses, and events and asking to teach different courses moves you out of the student mindset and into the colleague one, and as I said before, writing up my job materials with specific outside audiences in mind has really pushed me to be able to articulate what it is I’ve spent the last 4 and a half years doing.
With that said, I’m looking forward to MLA and the months following. If I don’t get a job, I’ll spend more time writing and individualizing my syllabi. While I haven’t applied to any schools in Louisiana, I’m always thinking about ways my skills can help those in New Orleans too, so I’m keeping my options open.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!