Friday, September 9, 2011

Unexpected benefits of the job market

When I think about the path my dissertation has taken so far, I imagine myself walking in the woods.  I saw an interesting trail, and walked down it, at each fork in the road taking the one that looked most interesting.  Somewhere along the line, I entered an environment very different than the one I started out in, in the sense of moving from a deciduous mountain range to rainforest.  Then, I saw some bright and interesting birds, started chasing them, and inadvertently wandered off a cliff, where I'm now desperately grabbing at the roots of assorted trees to keep from falling.  In short, I feel as though I've wandered to a place where my background in deciduous forests is no longer of use, but I haven't figured out the rainforest yet, including how to survive in it.

This, however, is not the type of thing that one can write in a job application.  The focus has to be on what I can do.  Which, as I was pleased to discover in looking at my CV and the course list of one of the jobs I'm applying to, is a lot.  Yes, I can teach a good chunk of your courses.  I do have experience that looks really good when you list it all together.

So yes, I still have to deal with the shittiness to come of well, we don't actually want all that stuff you can do or think this person can do it better.  But at the moment, as I struggle with all of the things I feel like I don't know well enough in the rainforest, it's nice to know that my travels have led to me knowing something!


  1. In my field, I went to a flagship state university that was not at the Top 10 (let's say the year before I left, they hired a professor from Ohio State, but I don't think OSU would have considered my application). The side benefit of it was that although your dissertation was in a specific field and topic, they put an emphasis in forming you as a generalist: yes, I do contemporary Latin American lit, but I can prepare a good syllabus on almost anything but poetry (I'm just not good at teaching poetry). That gives you an advantage in the job market. Does something similar happen in your field, or was it just the individual path you took?

  2. My program definitely prepares me to be a generalist in its field, but I've sort of wandered from that field in terms of my dissertation :-). However, I'm pretty certain that my advantage on the job market will be that I teach Arabic, and there are fewer competitors for that than in other fields. So, we'll see what happens.

  3. Shedding Khawatir: Arabic forest ranger, widely experienced and traveled. Can teach courses on forests of all kinds, mountain ranges, rain forests, bird watching. Research experience with root stems and cliffs.

    Remember, it's all in how you advertise yourself. ;)