… and they said “no” because:
- It is impossible to get an academic job if you have a post-ac job, but non-ac jobs are always there.
- Being a prof is completely different from being a graduate student.
- Everyone feels unprepared and nervous at the beginning of job market season (August and September).
- S/He’s been in the industry and hated it.
- I will not be intellectually challenged by my job.
- I will have more leverage for non-ac jobs if I look for them in a few years, as an assistant professor at Fancy Important University instead of just a graduate student, like I am now.
- Not wanting to live in Paris, KY, Rome, GA, or London, OH is not a good reason to walk away from the profession.
- Being a tenured or tenure-track professor does not mean settling down: there are summers, sabbaticals and job market seasons.
- I have nothing to lose by going on the job market and looking at other jobs as well.
- I should think more about this.
They are my advisers. My teachers. I owe them some listening. I don’t think they saw this coming, and their job is to find me an academic position. By leaving academe, I am not letting them do their job properly. In this sense, I understand why they would talk me out of leaving: it is their job. Nevertheless, I have to admit I did not expect “no”. In the dozens of times I had played these meetings out in my head, I imagined all kinds of responses: maybe tears, questions about what I wanted to do, maybe some remarks about their disappointment, even a withdrawal from the committee. Instead, it appears I am still in the running.
Here is what I think:
- I understand there is no turning back. It is true that I may never be an Associate Professor or an endowed Professor if I leave now. At the same time, I believe: a) This will happen whenever I get a post-academic job: now or in 10 years. Unless I come back with a Nobel Prize, I will be spoiled goods. b) Not having a Professor position does not preclude occasional research or teaching projects. Maybe one day I will publish something related to my job, or give a talk or a seminar.
- Will I: organize my year in semesters? Write articles? Be in classrooms several hours each week? Feel like I am always working? Yes? Sounds just like grad school to me.
- This is true. Everyone is freaking out because we all know there are a lot more candidates than jobs. Though we are in Top Notch Research University (TNRU), only 60% of last year’s candidates were placed (because adjuncting, post-docs, visiting professorships should not count as placement). In these circumstances, looking for outside options seems perfectly rational to me.
- “Then I’m sure you know what it is like to be on the wrong career path.” (S/he ignored this response).
- This is a risk I will need to take. Five years ago, I chose to be academically challenged, and what a challenge it has been! But it took so much from me (more on that in a later post). Maybe I’ll be challenged in other ways. Maybe I won’t feel intellectually challenged 100% of the time, but I will feel fulfilled.
- Isn’t TNRU prestigious? Something just doesn’t click to me about this argument. I would surmise that my leverage would be maximized if I had job offers from academic employers to show to non-academics. Today: “Hello, I am fantastic. I am so great that World-Famous University wants me to go be awesome on their campus, but I think I’ could be happier with you, if I had a good salary”. Two years from now: “Hello, I am fantastic. I’ve been awesome at World-Famous University for two years, where I did the same thing I had done for the previous five years. WFU has already found my replacement: a very promising ABD from TNRU…”
- Yes it is.
- This is conditional on finding an institution that will take you in in your target location. Plus, how many times can you go on the academic job market before tenure?
- I lose time for my dissertation. I will lose your support when I take the non-academic job.
- I have thought about this for a long, long time. I have been sure of this for a long, long time too.