I headed into the job market like a ton of bricks this past academic year. Ton o’ bricks. No holds barred, applications coming out where I saw fit, people inviting me to apply for their positions. I felt good. Oh so good….
Interview season started. In full force. I was greeted with phone interviews, Skype interviews, follow up interviews, and in-person interviews. Glamorous (nawt). Amidst the jokes, I did have a strong interview season considering the flooded phd market. And while I’d like to say that it was all “luck” or I was “humble blessed” or some crap like that, I’m just going to lay it out there:
I have worked strategically on my CV the last two years.
There is no other way to describe what I’ve done the last 2.5 years. Late nights, crazy work schedule, hit the ground running every day “work.” Not Kardashian work, Mike Rowe work. Pinpointing the weak areas, filling in the gaps, highlighting the marketable attributes in submission packets, and being extremely strategic have helped me this year. More than I can imagine.
This was not the “fly by night, panic stricken” grad student at the wheel this time. I was NOT trying to be everything to a search committee. I highlighted the things that would work for me. I came to terms with the things I could do really well and accepted the things that I needed to work on. I haven’t taught since finishing grad school. That’s ok, but I needed to figure out how to make my other informal teaching more marketable.
I still have no idea what’s going on sometimes, but I know that my purpose for the last 2.5 years has been to publish, train, and learn the game of academia in a way that I had not been exposed when I was in grad school. I also evaluated the tenure track market vs. the non-tenture track market and laid them side by side to my list of “things that make Dr. New Faculty happy” list. And you know what I chose? Happiness. I no longer have these romantic notions of landing the elusive TT job. I want work that’s meaningful, that’s challenging, that’s rewarding, oh, and pays the bills and keeps me in groceries. I don’t NEED a TT job to rest my head on my pillow at night. I need to be happy.
The other thing that happened.
I quit taking the rejection personally.
This isn’t “When Harry Met Sally,” this is life. While I love Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, we’re not in the deli faking it. We’re in our suit, plodding through long interviews. My self-esteem has bounced back well over the last two years and being on the “other side of the desk” has made me realize that it’s all about ‘fit’ w an employer. It’s no longer about grad school guilt, or just feeling crappy, it’s about fit. I get it. I got rejected a lot as a grad student. It did affect me in a negative way. And that’s ok. But, this time around, I realized it wasn’t necessarily “me” as a person, it was “me” as a fit within a structure. As informed human beings, we can usually tell when it might not be a good ‘work marriage’ when we’re interviewing too. And that’s ok to accept that. I learned to put my personal feelings aside and squash some of those feelings of inadequacy for the moment. In the long run, a bad work marriage might be worse than a bad real life marriage.
I have been fortunate to have had lots of opportunities to share my knowledge and I have accepted a position at the same university, in a different department with more capacity to teach, co-pi on grants, more research, and project management. It will help fill some of those black holes in my current CV and I couldn’t be more excited. Is it TT? Nope. And that’s ok. I’ll post more about it later (like this summer after i get a better grasp on things and sleep for more than five hours each night).
I also finished strong in my old position. So strong, that I’ve been asked to collaborate on upcoming grant proposals.
I could beat myself up over what I didn’t do, what I need to keep working on, etc… in this post, but for now, I’m going to end it celebrating. If you gleaned nothing else from this post know this:
- be strategic w your CV. be honest. what needs work? what can you play up?
- make your own list. do you dream of the TT? it’s ok either way.
- make the most of whatever situation you land in. i could have sulked for the last 2.5 years, but i chose not too. i chose to get to work. i also had an extremely ambitious boss who fostered my own self-motivated ways and we worked really well together.
- keep your options open. when you close yourself off to an opportunity, you shut the door on a potential job.
- take it all with a grain of salt. or a whole shaker.