Step 11: Send out “cold call” CVs and get bites from two institutions so I have some part-time work equaling a full time course load for the next academic year.
Step 12: Start positions as adjunct. Do the freeway thing. Should be writing a book, but burnt out completely from the dissertation and can’t stand to do it even though I try. Start an article in between learning two more institutions and their students.
Step 13: A full-time VAP position opens up at one the schools. I apply and get it.
Step 14: Work full-time and a TT position in the department opens up. Apply, get shortlisted and then not called for an interview.
Step 15: Decide that I will quit academia. This is the first time. I spent over 10 years getting a Ph.D. and honing my skills. I mentally had a hard time publishing afterwards due to the crushing end of my original contingent contract and learning two new institutions. And I was just pain burnt out on research after a five year struggle a ridiculously ambitious dissertation. I just do not want to do more crazy-hard work for free. (I consider writing a book crazy-hard.) You have got to be kidding me that I am expected to write a book on my own time, with no institutional or financial support for the slim chance of maybe getting a someday position. I found a place that I loved living and was not willing to give that up. I sacrificed enough, I think, and have proven myself capable of doing this job.
Step 16: While I made this choice to leave, I still felt like a failure, that I wasted my precious youth, and that I never achieved my dream. Spend summer aimlessly working on creative pursuits and trying to figure out “the next step” while wallowing in a failed career.
Unexpected Step 17: Mr. Leftovers (who left his program ABD and began an administrative career after following me to my first VAP) sees a good job opportunity across country and for shits and giggles applies. He interviews. Wants job. Gets job. To entice him, they offer me a “trailing spouse bonus prize” of a small teaching contract for two years. Isn’t this an interesting twist on the trailing spouse scenario? There is some vague language that there might be more opportunities later. I really don’t want to leave the place I love, but Mr. Leftovers is super into this opportunity and there should be more opportunities for me there.
Step 18: Fast forward a little over one year and I find myself in the third semester of a four semester contract. I don’t love where I live at all. I am teaching again at a top SLAC and do enjoy it, kinda, I think, but my soul dies a little each day as I walk into the borrowed office I squat in and face a lack of integration into the department and the institution as a whole. Reminders of my status surface at every turn, just like the other three institutions I worked for as a contingent faculty member. This, I thought, is my last chance. I am not applying for any other academic teaching positions as I am no longer competitive with my lack of publishing. If this works out, I will try this career again and restart my research agenda. So, instead of waiting until the contract closes, I am pro-active and ask about “future opportunities.” Denied!
Next, how I quit.