But reading this today took the edge off it for a while. It's from a prof going by Old Fart. There's some stuff in here I'm not sure I get, but for now, when I'm getting the living shit kicked out of me, the empathy means a lot.
I was led to this blog by some conversations with my own students. (I've got a fair number on the market this year for whom I am either first or second reader of their dissertations.)Thanks, Old Fart. It's really appreciated.
Hope my speaking as an anonymous old fart won't be taken in the wrong way. But here's the thing I tell them all. I know this job search business can be a terribly discouraging at times. It's can be especially discouraging if you are one of the many younger philosophers who probably won't land that killer first job that fully matches your talents and ambitions. Of course, some do land such jobs first time out. And fortunate those who do. But many, many don't.
To that majority, I say try to think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint. And try hard not to let where you are at any given stage of the marathon get to you too much. You have to make up ground little by little sometimes on those who start out faster.
The first job is for most people just that -- the first job. It was for me. I started out at a two year job at good liberal arts college. It was a perfectly fine college, but it was just a two year job. Second year on the market, while I was still there, I got no interviews. Third year, after my two year job ended, I got exactly one, but fortunately I did get that job. It was a tenure track job at an equally good liberal arts college.
Eventually, hungering to teach graduate students -- since my work was then kinda technical and not necessarily accessible to even good undergraduates -- I went from there to a massive but underfunded state university with a mediocre graduate program. Hated it-- well I hated the university, but I did adore a few of my colleagues -- and was determined to get out of there. Eventually I did. It was at times very stressful, being at places I didn't really want to be. I tried hard to not let the demands of my job on me define my professional aspirations.
Through a combination of something -- hard work, good fortune, stupid blind thrashing about -- things eventually worked out -- after about 11 or so years in the profession. I finally landed a great job that I absolutely loved.
My old fart point. There are many, many paths to a good academic career. The race doesn't always go to the swift. The path is sometimes brutal. (I remember crying in the shower my first year on the market about how my advisors were so ineffectual and uncaring.) But it can work out. It doesn't always. But it can.
I hope you all take a little heart in that. I know it's not much. I'm not at all trying to sound like a pure pollyanna. I know how stressful and debilitating this can be for you all. I've watched generations of my own students go through it and I want through it myself many times.
It's hard to remind yourself, in the midst of it all, when you're watching your dream interview go to somebody else, that it's really a marathon for most of us rather than a sprint.
All the best to you all in these stressful times.