You know, I used to talk a lot more about career-related projects here on the blog. Mostly about finishing grad school, a lot about my postdoctoral job search, and some about training and funding. And yet, it still seems weird to talk about this other big project going on in the background. But you might as well know what’s been keeping me from working on all the blog projects lately:
I’m on the job market.
Don’t misunderstand, this is a good thing! It’s not like I’m currently out of work, nor that I’m unhappy in my current job (I still love it). It is understood that a postdoctoral fellowship is a temporary stepping stone on the path to professorship, and my current boss is actually helping me out with this. And because faculty jobs are posted a full year in advance, it’s time to put myself out there and try to get into the next phase of my career.
I’ve kept quiet about it for a few reasons. First of all, I don’t need to get a job this “cycle” (almost all tenure-track academic jobs are posted in the fall, not year-round). I have funding to stay put in my current job for another two years, so I’m being really picky about where I apply this year, with only great schools and good locations. Which brings me to my second reason for staying quiet: I very well might not get a job this year. That’s okay; I’m really just testing the waters, learning how to interview, and seeing what happens. Better to do that this year than next! And third, it is definitely a humbling experience. I want the sort of niche job that doesn’t just want the best qualifications (and mine are competitive), but also the best fit. Even if I have the best record, I might not do something that another candidate does, which is what they want for their department. There’s nothing I can do about that.
All of those reasons are fine with me – I’ve developed a thick skin in this career already – but talking about them is awkward. Especially because most people will say some variation of, “Oh, they’re crazy if they don’t offer you a job!” (which is a profound misunderstanding of my academic job search), or perhaps, “So where will you be next year?!” (I have no idea, maybe right here? Maybe at a different place from where I’m applying? Maybe exactly right where you want me to be, which is of course an opinion you volunteered as if I have a substantial amount of control over it?). Even with the low stakes this year, it’s still incredibly stressful, and just not good conversation fodder.
(selectively redacted because REAL SCIENCE REAL PERSON REAL JOB)
But I might as well admit it. I’ve juggled deadlines and marked my calendar with deadlines spanning months. I’ve written and rewritten research plans, teaching statements, diversity statements, commitment to mission statements, and about twenty different versions of a cover letter. I’ve cobbled together all my teaching evaluations, I’ve scanned my transcripts, I’ve created accounts at too many application submission websites to count. It’s been a freaking ton of work, one that comes after my real job, after taking care of my family, even after my blog writing a few days a week. I’m getting back to new-mom levels of sleep deprivation some nights, which is so ironic given how Baby P goes down for eleven hours a night without a peep. (I couldn’t do this if he didn’t!)
The deadlines are just starting to come up, so I’m only now hearing back from places. I’ve gotten some nos, a few requests for more info, and a Skype interview, which required its own hours of preparations. (Pro tip: post-its around the computer monitor means you never look down! Genius!) Even when an application hasn’t panned out, it’s still been an incredible learning experience. Fingers crossed they’ll be more to come, although at this point, if they all just turned me down I could be like “WELL AT LEAST THAT’S OVER, THANK GOODNESS.”
So now you know what’s up, and a little bit of why I have been so terribly low on home and DIY projects lately. And now that you know, you might not hear about it again until I actually make forward progress, because, as I explained above, it is awkward. But even when I’m not baring my soul about it here, I’m still working hard on that in the background. It’s another time-consuming, life-improving project – even if you don’t get the stepwise, play-by-play for this one!