Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Longtime Reader Tells Job Seekers That They May Not Be Looking Hard Enough.

Daily I read the laments of fellow RYS readers. I read how we should tell students to avoid graduate school because there are just no jobs and that the tenure track is littered with the corpses of freeway flyers spent in their pursuit of long-term employment. When I am done with these diversions I get back to the work of the day and on the top of my pile I am confronted with the incongruity of two open search committees in my department. The incongruity comes from the realization that these positions have been open for over a year, as have several others at my institution. Did we fail to advertise the positions in the appropriate journals? Did our local post office, email server, and pony express rider simply stop working? No, sadly the reason that these positions are still open is due to a lack of any qualified applicants in over a year of searching.

I do not work at some uber-competitive Ivy League school or prestigious SLAC but rather the lowly community college down the street from you. We have a tenure-track (though the name is different), good pay (better than a couple of local Div I unis), good benefits, and a nine-month schedule (though you can work overload if you wish), in essence all you need for a productive career in education. Yet, we still have problems getting good faculty candidates when we have full-time openings. I don’t know if this is due to a deep ingrained looking down at the CC career path (though I went to a good R1 and then a Ph.D. at an Ivy) or some other trivial matter (that school isn’t in the exact part of the country I want to be in), but it is disheartening to see these positions, which can be fleeting in their offering, go unclaimed.

In short, yes there are full-time teaching positions available for Ph.D. graduates, but you may have to move your vision beyond just the SLAC and R1 mentality, or beyond the locale you live in now. Ask yourself what you really want out of your career and if the answer is the chance to teach realistic size classes (my maximum class size is around 40, most are 22-24), impact students who really might appreciate the effort, and interact with diverse populations of students, maybe it is time to think about your search in a new way.