I've mentioned before how discouraging it is to be doing spring applications. I keep thinking about how my senior profs talk about one-years. Way back when I was a first-year, Evil Columbo was talking to a few of us first-years about how to think about the job market. He said post-docs could be a respectable way to spend a year, if the market was really bad your first year out. Post-docs weren't respectable unless the market was really bad. And if you had to do more than one, that was bad too. His exact words were--yes, I can remember them--"fresh PhDs get dog-eared pretty fast." Message received. The longer we were out without tenure-track jobs, the less likely we'd be to get them. In the entire conversation about respectable routes to a tenure-track job, I don't remember one-years coming up even once.
Now, Evil Columbo's a buffoon, so what he thinks isn't hard to shake out of my head. A lot harder to shake is a conversation I had with my supervisor, the Professor, about a year ago, just after I got killed on the market the first time.
We were sitting in his office, talking about, well, how I'd completely fucking failed. At some point I asked him if I should be thinking about applying to one-years. The gist of what he said was, since I didn't need to finish my dissertation, I shouldn't worry too much about it and the department could probably find some work for me to do to pay my rent. He talked about how much it sucks to pick up and move your entire life for a single year. And, yeah, I hear that. But the Professor's exact words in this conversation were, "Generally, I don't think one-years are worth it."
Not "worth it." Those are the jobs I'm applying for right now. The one's that aren't worth it.
The Professor's moderated that kind of language this year. At least, he has when he's talking to me. I appreciate that kindness. But I also remember how he talked to me about one-years when he could say what he thought without having to bite his tongue. I can dismiss what a lot of people say about one-years, but the Professor's my supervisor. There's no way for what he says not to matter to me. So applying to one-years feels like shit.