Monday, September 1, 2008

Elysian Fields Forever

No one, I think, is in my tree
I mean, it must be high or low
That is, you can't, you know, tune in, but its alright
That is, I think its not too bad


This section is devoted to those of us who have shuffled off this mortal coil, seen the light, and are now exploring options with McKinsey Co., Bain & Co., et al.

In all seriousness, please post here if you are interested in learning more about non-academic careers for classicists, or if you can point to resources, contacts, and ideas for those who are contemplating such a move.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hunh. Awfully quiet in here. OK, I'll start. Degrees in classics (BA, MA, or PhD) are also good for: teaching in private schools; computer programming (with a bit of retraining); any of the writing disciplines or jobs.

Plusses being outside of academia:
you can pick where to live
you probably have more time off
more flexibility to follow a spouse or partner

Anonymous said...

Not to be too obvious, but googling "non-academic careers for humanities phds" leads to a number of suggestive resources.

That said, from a practical point of view it may be a little premature to be considering this (the normal world doesn't work on 1-year hiring cycles). But from a psychological point of view it may be helpful to know that there are lots of things that generally intelligent and analytically trained people are paid to do.

Anonymous said...

True, true, yet I thought that part of the point of thishere blog was to enable discussions on the chosen topics, including this one.

I'll just take my years of non-academic experience and my classics PhD and slink quietly away.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to deter you at all, I'm sorry if I came across that way. I was apologizing for the obviousness of my suggestion that people google to find resources, and was trying to discourage people from approaching the question of alternative careers with an attitude of despair rather than confidence.

Anonymous said...

It's quiet because, as per our year-old tradition, this thread doesn't become active until late spring, when several candidates are starting to realize that there may well not be a job for them, that's why it's quiet.

Rookies!

Anonymous said...

Just curious - how long are people out there giving themselves before choosing to look elsewhere for employment? One year on the market? Ten years?

Anonymous said...

Just curious - how long are people out there giving themselves before choosing to look elsewhere for employment? One year on the market? Ten years?

Last year the prevailing sentiment seemed to be 5 years. I'm just past that, but as long as I enjoy teaching and research, I'll hold out.

Anonymous said...

So if you don't get a position after your first year on the market, and then finish, what sorts of things do people do to bridge the year until the next job market? And are you regarded badly on the market if you're, for example, teaching at a high school?

Anonymous said...

Don't shoot the messenger, but I've heard that teaching high school pretty much annihilates your chances of getting a job at a top school. A bit like winning a teaching award.

HEY, I SAID DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure this is much help to you specifically, but in general I'd say either don't submit (if you can get teaching at your home institution) or try and get any kind of temporary lecturer's job (even if it's part time), preferably in a classics-related area but further afield if necessary. I think it's weirdly easier to sell university level classes in etymology or cinema on your cv than high school Latin. Don't ask me why.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 20/i @ 4:28:

Your question is a good one. HS teaching has its stigmas and drawbacks, as the other posters suggest. I ended up pursuing another sometimes highly stigmatized route: adjuncting.

Adjuncting has many, many drawbacks (shockingly low pay [I taught two classes this term and made around $150 a week] and no benefits) and, in my case, forced me to rely on a spouse for things like health insurance. But it does let you stay in the game and, because it lacks admin/service, you have more time to research.

I don't know if it's possible to work a 9-5 and be on the market at the same time. How does one land such a job and then demand time off for campus visits? Has anyone tried this?

Anonymous said...

If you write one or two kick-ass articles while teaching HS Latin for a year or two, you'll be fine in the sunshine. If you don't have those articles in you, then it doesn't really matter what you do...

Anonymous said...

If nothing comes to fruition for me (one last hope, this year), it's probably another year of adjuncting (year #3). Fortunately I live in a college-rich environment.

I'm not sure how long to give it. Academic publishing or high school Latin are backup possibilities, as is living in a cave.

Anonymous said...

Can I ask how adjuncting is treating you? (From your post, I assume you want/need to stay in the same area.) Do you feel it's hurt your career? Do you have time to publish? Etc. I'm very curious about this, as it might be an option for me next year, and I imagine others are curious as well.

Anonymous said...

I adjuncted for 2 years before returning to full time teaching as a VAP. Because I managed to publish in that time, I don't think it hurt my career at all. It kept me with an affiliation and with access to a university library. I did have another source of income (spouse), though, so the low pay wasn't a deterrent. If you don't get a full-time job and have the option of adjuncting with no more than 2 or 3 classes per term (at the same university), then do it and just publish as much as you can while doing it. I also made a very great contact at the school I worked at in the Chair. He worked harder to help me get a permanent job than my grad school committee ever did.

Anonymous said...

My beef is with the notion of adjuncts teaching 2-2 or 3-3. Um, that's the load of the regular faculty. How can this still be called "adjuncting"??!!

A more serious question is, how much do SCs look at titles when reviewing dossiers? In other words, does one's title as "adjunct" do serious harm, when someone slightly snobbish/elitist reads one's dossier? I know I had some issues this year during my search because of my title as "Visiting Lecturer" (the institution where I am currently does not have a VAP title). Some SCs actually contacted me and asked if my title meant that I did not have a PhD! Apparently the CV and graduate transcript did not quite convey the reality of the situation, compared to my job title.

Anonymous said...

Adjuncts teaching 2-2 or 3-3 are being paid by course, not salary. So they're making probably 1/3 of what the regular faculty make. Difference is the title, which, yes, can have some snobby sabre-tooths growling.

I'm puzzled about your title issues. I've been both VAP and visiting lecturer, and never had a problem, maybe because the VAP title reassures them.

Anonymous said...

I was also once interviewed by a school that was overly hung up on titles since I had been at 2 different schools (in order):

Assistant Professor
Assistant Professorial Lecturer
Assistant Professor (adjunct)
Visiting Assistant Professor

After asking both me and my then dept. chair about the various titles, I was interviewed but it was very very clear in the interview that certain members of the committee (there were 7 of them) were pre-disposed against me and I am fairly certain that the bias against people who teach part-time (whatever the reason may be, even for health reasons) was a factor. But the good people whom you want to work with won't care.

fortuna in omni re dominatur said...

A) Yes, title matters, yes, teaching high school is a "low-status" job in the eyes of search committees. I don't know why anyone bothers to deny this, except that it effectively dismantles the myth of meritocracy. This ain't utopia, kids.

B) To return to the main question, I've been in the game for 5 years, with the time to actually publish (for which I thank Fortuna), but I've decided to leave the field. I've already been quite successful in getting freelance work in online research and publication, and I encourage all and sundy to pursue this option as you will undoubtedly make more money for a lot less work.

SEO and html are a breeze after Latin, Greek, and Pandora searches. Editing is also good. Frankly, I think there's something to be said for cutting the cord completely.

As for those 5/7/10/15 lost years...well, there's such a thing as sunk cost, economically speaking. Better to make the decision on your own terms, and not wait interminably for the fatal blow. Get some freelance jobs now, do them instead of your research, and prepare for the real world.

Oh, and beyondacademe.com is a great resource for turning a CV into a real-world resume (and for the issue in general). Certainly worked for me.