Ah, and here I am. Standing on that precipice. My PhD is in STEM field which would seem to make my prospects “better” than if it were in the much-criticized Humanities (boy am I tired of seeing Humanities-bashing…yet, employability and number of available jobs is a critical consideration in choosing a program).
For me, the question of leaving is not about the availability of jobs as much as it is about the changes in higher ed that I cannot agree with. My background is in industry and I earned my PhD in my early-mid 40s. I am viewed as somewhat of an outsider in both places. [None of these things, including the male chauvinism and gender discrimination, have ever bothered me. In fact, such things make me chuckle. Idiots.] As this is a second career, I’m thankfully wiser and more experienced and have given my faculty role at a two-year college more than a fair shake.
The reality is that what I want and what I trained for (TT faculty at an R2) will not happen. Period.
I’m dealing with the death of a dream, a very romantic dream that seemed possible up until the last of my 3.5 years spent speeding toward my PhD. The job market went splat and there I was. Disoriented and unprepared. But certainly not without options.
I’m in the acceptance phase which will no doubt give way to the action phase. I’m one hell of a prof and my students love and respect me. However, the empowerment I was hoping to find, as a result of promises made during my hiring, have dissipated and the work was that to be mine was given to a “favorite son” who is annoyingly unqualified, relatively incompetent and recently promoted. [um, what?? That’s not a promotion – they created a whole damn department for him…whatever.] In short, there is NO career path for me here.
That notwithstanding, I went to great lengths of ensure that I always had options as far as my career was concerned. I told the search committee when hired that one of the cool things about my life was that I had lots of options. Trouble was, I almost forgot those options and let the undertow of too much [busy/stupid] work, zero support, and no promise of a meaningful future destroy me on a personal level. [pfew! Glad I recognized that before it was too late.]
As I have tried to recover from having the life sucked out of me on a professional level, I realized I have done a lot of very cool things for my institution. I know progress has been hard fought for and won. I have been on the front page of the local paper for my teaching and when one pulls up my department, there I am pictured in the banner – teaching away and having a blast with “my kids”. Those things are lifegiving, but the rest, is not.
It’s go time. I have at least 30-40 more years to terrorize people [/laughing] and I can’t do that if my hands are cut off. I’m grateful for the groundswell of other academics who have paved the trail before me with the #alt-ac movement. I’m really sorry that anyone understands what we’re presently experiencing but I’m glad the experiences have been shared. It helps.
As one #alt-ac PhD pointed out, I will always be an intellectual though I may not carry the [illusion of the] prestige of the title “Professor”.
Identity crisis forthcoming, but it will be short. I am a lot of things and nobody should *ever* underestimate me (though I will admit, I really dig that game! giggles!]