Wednesday, September 13, 2006

First Impressions

Okay - so the initial job list is out and I've scoured it like a good obsessive-compulsive. And my first impressions of it? It's fine. It's a job list - there are a couple of plums, a lot of mid-range schools, etc. Hopefully it will grow over the next couple of weeks, but as of right now it's fine. Also, most of the due dates seem later. How do I feel after looking at it? Exhilirated? Relieved? Trepidacious? No. I feel exhausted. I mean truly, existentially, narcoleptically, crawl-under-the-covers-and-sleep-for-three-hours exhausted.

The issue isn't the job list and the opportunities it advertises - it never has been. The issue is me. I'm so tired of looking for a job. I don't say this as though I'm the only one who feels this way - nor do I think that my track record on the market (where people count success in terms of tenure-track offers) is in any way unique. But I am tired. And seeing the job list finally come out just reminds me of what a soul-eating process it going to be. No real Christmas and New Year's. If I'm lucky, having to cancel classes next semester and flying to various places early next year to meet and convince strangers that they want me around. I know that there's hopefully a big payoff at the end and I can trudge through the muck to get to the pot of gold as willingly as the next guy. But I'm tired.

My first time on the market, I was so fresh and excited - my dissertation wasn't done yet (ha!), but just about every job seemed cool - a potentially fun place to live, interesting classes, etc. This early impression was formed for 2 reasons: 1) I was a market virgin and 2) the Dutchman (who wasn't out on the market yet) was coming with me wherever I went - it was an opportunity for us!

The second time, I simply didn't put in the time - I was teaching full time and it was a tough market that year - we were also planning and having our wedding that fall. I recycled without revising - I didn't give it enough attention and it bit me on the bum (so to speak). By the time flyback time came around, the few places I had flybacks to were not very interesting to me - the Dutchman's opportunities were all really fantastic. One of the main problems was my lack of enthusiasm for the opportunities I did have - they were not the jobs I wanted (not in terms of prestige or anything - but they would not give me the opportunity to teach many medieval classes, they had no interest in research/publication at all) - they were also geographically no where near D's.

I think that a lot of success out on the market boils down to individual enthusiasm - my best friend, who happily got the job she wanted very much this last year, called me when she got back from her campus visit and said, "MW, I really want this job - it's so perfect!" - even the Dutchman, when he was on his way back from his campus visit to the university we're at now, kept saying how much he'd loved it here - the people, the package, everything. I have never felt that way about a school in 2 years of being out on the market. And when I looked at the list today, I kept thinking: "every one of these - even the plums! - is in a galaxy far, far away from the Dutchman." And then my harsh side would kick in and say: "You're all growed up now - you have a Ph.D. - you need to get a job!"

So, one of my greatest challenges this year - aside from fighting back the self-esteem gremlins that keep reminding me that it's my 3rd job market - will be cultivating (even manufacturing?) enthusiasm for as many jobs as will interview me.



At 8:27 PM, Blogger Flavia said...

There's no shame in being on the market three years running--I know several people for whom this was the case who wound up with very good jobs in the end: places they are truly happy and that aren't out in the jingweeds.

One guy I know was on the market 4 years running (with some 1-year appointments in between), and wound up with a job at a top-25 research school in an awesome location.

The horrible thing about the job market is that it's such a different beast, year to year. People coming out of law school know that every single firm in the world is hiring every single year--and hiring dozens of people--so they can *decide* what city they want to be in, and even to a degree what firm they want to be at. With academia, we're made to feel like we're losers just because one of the 30 jobs in the entire country open in our field that year didn't want us. Nevermind that half of those jobs are in intensely undesireable locations!

Third time's the charm...

At 8:55 PM, Blogger medieval woman said...

Thanks Flavia-Flave - any stories about multiple-market successes make me feel lots better! I think you're right about the ridiculousness of the number of jobs vs. number of candidates in academia, too.

Knock on wood that 3rd time's the charm!

At 9:40 PM, Anonymous morganlf said... dept. hasn't given us the code of doom yet so i don't get to see the list yet. :( meh.

*crosses fingers for you*

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

I got my first job 3rd time on the market, too. The enthusiasm thing is so funny - I had that same feeling about my first job, and I know a number of other people as well, where they clicked with the job and the job clicked with them (at least for the interview process!). Second time round was a little different because I only applied to places I was excited about, but I was really amazed that I got the on-campus with this place, because I hadn't felt that click in the phone interview. And I know other people who've gotten jobs without feeling that enthusiasm, either. It's a very very weird process. (And unfortunately, people can generate that enthusiasm and still not get a job. Which sucks.)

Good luck - I'm sure the 3rd time will be the charm!


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