So writing every day didn’t work out for me. At. All.
I want to shift my energy toward getting another job. They say you foster what you focus on, so instead of focusing on the ills of Higher Ed, of which there are many, and those many ills are a microcosmic reflection of the greater ills of our capitalist social structure that is collapsing in on its own greed…but that’s enough for now. I’d like to focus on my exit strategy.
One of the challenges is my view on our system. I worry that any other job I get will be just as bad as adjuncting – or worse. As an adjunt, I have a say in my schedule, to an extent. As an adjunct, I can still make 16,000 working part-time. As an adjunct, there’s no time card to punch. No one is looking over my shoulders. No one notices my comings and goings, except my students.
Speaking of the students, I learned something this semester. Don’t look at “Rate My Professor” during the semester. If a student posts something negative (like, “this is an awful professor”), one finds oneself singling out a few students, narrowing it down, knowing it must be one of these two or three. The relationship between the suspects becomes shifty, and it requires full concentration and talking oneself out of 1) taking it personally, 2) thinking you know who it is, 3) even thinking about it at all, and 4) letting it take the wind out of your sails for the semester. Unfortunately, for some of us, only the students who are very angry will post to these review sites. I know from the feedback I receive in my faculty evaluations and from the “thank you” emails I receive from students that many of my students enjoy my class and think I’m great. I wish those students would post to “Rate My Professor,” but that’s not how it’s working out for me.
I worry that my “Rate My Professor” profile will hurt my job prospects. I won’t lie; there is the temptation to add a few positive reviews: how punctual and dedicated I am, how I never miss a day, even when I’m sick. How I go above and beyond, spending hours outside of my work time preparing, researching, and improving. I just hope that any potential employer will take me for my resumé, my interview, and what I have to offer.
I worry that my skills are so focused on teaching that I’m not qualified to do much else. I worry because I can’t stand for more than 20 – 30 minutes without having back pain. I remind myself to be grateful for the fact that I do have a job right now. It’s not the job I want; it’s the job I have.
I see a life coach. He says that if it will help me to focus on my job search, and/or creating my own business, I should cut my teaching load to two classes a semester. A few years ago, this would not have been an option. But now I have the support of my husband, and I think I should jump on this chance while it’s there.
As an adjunct, I feel stuck in it. This feeling is familiar. I’ve felt stuck in a job before – a long time ago. I got out – finally – by taking temp work, which eventually turned into a full-time position, and after that, a promotion, followed by another promotion. I miss that kind of recognition. That was in the corporate world, a world I wanted to get out of. I went to graduate school because the corporate world was boring. Now I realize that I’d rather be bored than exploited, broke, and terrified about my future.
Still, I’m applying for jobs working for the city, state, non-profits, and I’m building my own business. I’m willing to apply for corporate work, if I see a good fit, but my emphasis is not corporate.
I can’t temp as an adjunct, because my classes are during business hours. So I’m volunteering. I plan to expand the number of organizations I volunteer for, to broaden my network. I’m hoping that, like temping led to full-time work in 1999 when I was stuck in another (similar to adjunt job with its “flexible schedule” and sense of feeling trapped) job – that volunteering will ultimately lead me to a new job.
Volunteering has another purpose, too. If I’m volunteering for organizations, it’s easier for me to turn down “volunteer opportunities” my employer has to offer. If you’re an adjunct, you know there are many volunteer opportunities at the workplace. This is how they are able to continue to rely on adjuncts. They cajole us into doing uncompensated work to fill in the gaps left by the fact that there aren’t enough full-time faculty to meet the needs of the department. “If we don’t do it, who will?” This is a question I’ve seen an adjunct ask. Maybe adjuncts aren’t the ones to answer.
I’m not saying I’ll never rant about adjuncting again. I love ranting. I’ll take requests, if I have any readers, and I’ll rant about any topic. But I want to shift my focus to the things I want to create in my life.
I want a new job where I’m appreciated, respected, VALUED (for real & with money and benefits), and have opportunities to grow and move up. I’d like to serve the community, use my skills and learn new ones, and have a living wage, and plenty of free time.
I’d like to be able to do research in my free time. It’s been a long time since I’ve actually written an academic paper.
I thought about teaching K-12, but I am done grading.
I thought about Instructional Design, but I think I’m done with Higher Education.
While I’m still an adjunct, I want to enjoy interacting with my students. I want to guide them and teach them, and maybe get some of them to see the world through a wider lens. I want to love teaching again.