11 February 2009


Things have not gone as planned.

Ok. Some things have not gone as planned. (Others went off better than we expected.)

But big things did not go as planned.

You see, I had a plan. I'm a Virgo-- we do that. We make lists. We make plans. We persevere and see them through. In general, we're a fairly dedicated and goal-oriented bunch.

But here's the thing--I don't have any big plans anymore. At least not about my chosen career.

The market tanked. The market more than tanked--the market imploded in a not-so-brilliant display of festering puss. Seriously people. The MLA market took a 21% plus hit this year--the largest hit in its history--and those are just of posted jobs. I know that at least 1/3 of the jobs I applied for were canceled.

I look around, though, and people don't seem all that disturbed or upset by these trends. I have peers who seem happy that they didn't go on the market this year, because (in their estimation) it will somehow be better next year.


Students in my department are planning a charming little round table discussion about the future of the profession. They've proposed insightful topics like "the role of theory in literary studies" for the discussion. No one has proposed the "what if there are no tenure track jobs for the hundreds of us that are graduating" topic.

Maybe I should.

I would, but honestly, I'm too apathetic at this point. I was hoping that I was just being all gloom and doom unnecessarily-- that I was just over-reacting to a more than disappointing job search. But then I read this insightful piece in the Chronicle. If only I'd read it 6 years ago, I might have cut my losses with a Masters. At least then I'd have a better shot at Community College jobs, and I wouldn't have been spoiled by actually enjoying my research or teaching lit.

Ok. That sounds pissy. Which it is--I can't really help that.

But the bigger problem is that I am in limbo. I'll be 30 in 7 months and have no real career prospects on the horizon. I'll try the market one more time, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. I'm sticking around as a student (hopefully), even though it's really the last thing I wanted to do. But after the end of next year, come May of 2010, I will have a useless degree that I spent my 20s on and no idea what to do next.

Because I don't want to do anything else. Yet.

I hope it's a "yet" situation. If not, I could be in for a long haul.

So what does a 30-something mother of 2 with a PhD in the humanities do with herself if she can't be a professor like she expected?

Stay tuned-- one can only guess.


Anonymous said...

she opens a bed and brekfast on cape cod with her brother

LD said...

Is it bad that that sounds like a really, really good idea??

jeffersonian said...

Don't succumb to the general American perception that extensive education is only appropriate for an academic career.

Yes, your education qualifies you for certain academic positions. However, your education was a process intended to enhance your skills as a human being so that you would have more to offer the world. You're being quite unfair to yourself if you allow a career to define your education and intellect.

I think a PhD B&B owner sounds like a monument to a wonderfully advanced and progressive society.

kenandbelly said...

You wrote the post I've had brewing (well, more like stewing) for a while. Except for the number of months till I'm 30 (apparently I'm about a month younger than you are), I could quote you pretty much verbatim. If misery loves company, at least we're not alone.

Anonymous said...

Mother of two?! Congrats!! I had no idea there was baby #2 (on the way?)

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

"festering puss" - a really accurate description.

I wish I knew what to say. I'd dearly love to have the degree you are about to have - it would have been my chosen path. I still may do it, but it will be when I'm older and doing it for me, not because I need an actual job.

My husband is a financial planner and he sees that people don't fully realize what is happening or how bad things will likely get.

It's scary.

LD said...

The problems is that I really did want to be a professor-- I decided that 6 years ago when I set out for the PhD. For me, it's never been about the degree itself, it's been about the job and identity that I could build with the degree.

LD said...

Amy- I wish I could want my degree for such altruistic reasons at this point...I tried to talk myself into that approach. But really, at this point- I'd much rather have your shoe collection :)