Friday, July 14, 2006

Jobs in academia

Especially as a result of reading blogs, I periodically think about how strange academia can be, even capricious. Reading Post Ph.D. Blues and In a Way I am MetamorPh.D (and I am sure there are many more) provides a reminder of how it is easy, as a graduate student, to feel like getting the Ph.D. will suddenly open doors, whereas the truth is that the job market is very tough and unpredictable, to an extent that few people outside the profession understand. Failure to get a tenure track job can even lead to a sort of existential crisis, because you’ve been working so long (and with so little reward) in graduate school, and then are faced with the possibility of leaving the profession due to financial or family pressures. It is certainly much harder when you are married and have children, because your flexibility decreases markedly.

I wish I had better advice than just to hang in there as long as you can.


ArticulateDad 6:30 PM  

Sometimes the best advice is simply to be there. Times are tough, but we've all got to follow our own paths. I was talking with the wife recently, and articulated that, although I'd like to get together soon with one of my mentors, to just talk things through, and get advice, I realize it's rather pointless to ask a question like, "well, what are my prospects? Should I stick it out or should I call it quits?" There are only two honest answers to such a question: "I can't answer that, it's really your decision" or "Hang it up... if you need to ask someone else to decide for you, you're ready to quit." So, for someone still willing to stick it out, it's best not to ask.

Greg Weeks 7:54 AM  

True enough.

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