I Wish There Was a Minor League

It's hard to know where I stand in the academic job market. Some of the profs I work with have reassured me that I've got a strong application, that I look good on paper and I write well. But then I have occasion to come across the CVs of other "young scholars" and I feel like I might as well dig a hole and lie down in it rather than send out any applications.

Here's the thing: I know lots of stuff about history, I'm a good teacher, I can write punchy little articles, I have an interesting dissertation topic. But I don't want to compete. I don't want to think defensively about my ideas and look for chances to take shots at other people. I don't like knowing that the Sword of Damocles will be hanging over my head even if I get a tenure-track gig, because then I'm fighting against the ticking clock of actually getting tenure. The problem is that there is no "minor league" in academia; even relatively crappy jobs in benighted regions have scores of people fighting over them. If there was a way to just get a teaching gig somewhere, I'd do it, but even to get a permanent community college job is a major struggle.

It's like B and I have been saying to each other lately: we just wish the bad news would stop getting worse. It's like, fine, things everywhere are absolutely terrible, we get it. Could it please just stay terrible and not get downright abysmal?


koldito said...

One of the best pieces of advice I got in grad school was: "write your dissertation so that your results look trivial -- it takes a certain strength of character to do so, but along the notion that your results are trivial comes the inevitable conclusion that you are correct".

The job market works in a similar way: if you get to a campus visit, you have to behave like it's an orientation session, because you are so obviously above the rest of the competitors that the position is already yours.

clumsygirl said...

I have no good advice to offer, but want to offer my support. So I present to you: cupcake bunnies!

kungfuramone said...

Splendid, good stuff.

K: thank you for the advice. The trivial thing, no problem. I'm not much for putting on airs though; for better or worse, the root of my personality is the belief that everyone is my best friend, whether or not they know it yet.

El Chupacabra said...

I feel the same way about approaching every situation like the people involved are going to be my friends. I have learned through trial and error that this is almost never the case. This means that I have to pretend to kind of not care whether they like me personally or not and focus more on how I come off. Since this is really hard for me to do, I just try and fake it til I make it. It seems to work okay most of the time. Other times, I kind of imagine what someone who is better at that sort of thing would do and try to do that.

Leah said...

We hear you. We keep thinking, the sooner the better and be willing to move almost anywhere the first time around. But until then, enjoy now.