Tuesday, June 12, 2012

how i feel? honestly ..?

ask me how i feel — now that all of this job seeking business is over — and i still don't quite know what to say.  there's relief, i guess, but that's not quite it: not all of it, anyway.

i feel free, which is to say: empty.

i've spent close to a month fretting about whether i could successfully defer .. and for that matter, whether it was really the right thing to do [1].   of the last two years, i spent most of them worrying about jobs, about the economy, about the future .. and whether tenure-track jobs will become a thing of the past.
i could swear that this year and last, more and more universities are replacing 
tenured positions with instructorships.  it could just be my imagination, though.

i worried, my friends worried for themselves, our mentors worried for us.

you'd think that with the cause of my worries now gone, with the worry now gone, a great wave of relief would replace it.  i thought so, too.  i'm still waiting for it to roll in.

last year's spring was a silent one, apart from the occasional explicit rejection email or letter [2].  some of my friends made it closer to the coveted goal: for a little while i was living vicariously through my officemate, who scored an interview or two, only to miss his shot in the final rounds.

in the end, one postdoc friend left academia, tired of the political infighting in the department that prevented his hire.  my officemate and i separately left the united states for a better life, if only temporarily: my contacts brought me to finland, while his led him further south.

maybe we were a randomly unlucky sample, maybe those postdocs and graduate students from more prestigious universities had better luck than us, maybe things are really that bad.  all i know is that the experience has left me embittered, and i no longer expect any human kindness from the market.

i think i have become a worse person, more equipped to survive .. but worse, nonetheless.

when i think of my obtaining a job, i don't think of myself as having won anything.  i've just not lost, that's all.  so perhaps free or empty isn't quite right;

sometimes i still feel angry.

[1] ultimately i acted in my own self interest, but that doesn't mean that i don't see the consequences it causes for others.  my accepting the grant means that another equally-qualified applicant loses his chance for it.  i know quite a few colleagues that are still waiting, still applying for openings now.

[2] a note to departments: i get very little snail mail that is not a bill or an advert.  in particular, most of my mail is bad news.  consider the scenario where one of your job applicants is taking that instant, using up that tiny spark of energy, to tear open that painfully thin envelope that will ultimately confirm his suspicions of rejection.  so do us a favor and just send an email: a quick read, a quick delete, and it's gone.

1 comment:

Leonid said...

Re: [2] Hiring process is subject to university policies, not only department's. For tenure-track searches in particular, human resources (or another administrative unit) may insist that all applicants are notified in writing, whether they want it or not.