Monday, April 2, 2012

Sorry for the Length...

These pants reflect my mood as of late. And I am okay with that. 

As you know, After 6 long years (and 2 years before that pursuing my MA), I will be graduating in a month or so with my PhD in history from Yale.  My area of specialization is early modern British history (so roughly 1450-1750) although I am also a trained specialist in the history of Renaissance and Reformation Europe more broadly and I’m also in a joint degree doctoral program so I have a degree in Renaissance Studies which means training in Italian and English literature. 

Don’t get me wrong, I really do love what I do. There are aspects of it that I dislike (isn’t that always the case?) but history is my passion and I am so happy that I have been able to pursue my studies this far. Chasing my doctorate has enabled me to publish an article in an important historical journal, travel to San Francisco, DC, Chicago, and a host of other places for conferences, and live for many months in places like London and LA while I did research for my dissertation. I’ve met amazing people and had incredible experiences and I truly wouldn’t change it for the world. 

That said, the simple reality of my profession is that (for an array of reasons ranging from swelling enrollment numbers to the economy to the general undervaluing of the humanities in post-secondary education) every year over 1,000 people graduate in North America with PhDs and only about 500 jobs open up. My end goal in all of this has been a tenure track job and I’ve worked incredibly hard for that (I can’t stress how incredibly hard) but, like a lot of other academics, this year on the job market has been a really disappointing one. 

And, quite frankly, even if it were a good year it would still be problematic. Most jobs are in the US and neither my husband nor I are citizens. I can get a work visa but getting one for him is a whole hell of a lot harder. For the past 6 years he’s been unemployed and we’ve lived off of my stipend from Yale (which I get for teaching) and the small amount I’ve brought in from an on campus part time job) and we might very well have to keep doing that for several more years even if I did get a job until we could hire an immigration lawyer and get my husband’s visa issues sorted out. There’s also the issue of having to pick up and move to wherever I got a job, even if we didn’t like the area. The job market is such that beggars can’t be choosers and even if I have no desire to live somewhere, if I were lucky enough to get a job there I would just have to go.

All of this is to say simply that, after a lot of thought, I am poised for a shift in the direction of my career. On June 30 we will be moving back to Canada and I will be pursing non-academic jobs (I have a background in editing work, public libraries, and university administration so I’m actually quite comfortable with this). I plan to push ahead with my current attempts to get a third article published in an academic journal and also with turning my dissertation into a published monograph (I wrote a book, I intend to see it published) and I will probably apply for academic jobs one more time when the cycle starts again this fall. But I am not overly hopefully of landing something in the near future and I am simply unwilling to keep putting my life on hold while I compete for elusive academic jobs that I am not even sure I would be happy doing.

Phew, that was very long! If you stuck with it to the very end then I thank you for reading. Sorry to babble…it just feels really, really good to write that all out.



 Pants: Express / top: Gap / cardigan: Pins + Needles via Urban Outfitters/ shoes: Sam and Libby / necklace: The Shop of Worldly Delights via Etsy

32 comments:

Marie a la Mode said...

I'm glad you got this all out! You know, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to simply survive. That doesn't mean you won't see your dreams come true in the future. I think they're just around the corner for you ; ). It's that old saying: when one door closes, another opens. I have to say I am looking forward to meeting you now that you are moving back to Canada : )

underthewillowtrees said...

I read through all of this and can empathise with what you are saying- the job market is incredibly tough at the moment, especially for academics. Would you consider moving further afield e.g. England/Europe? I guess this would open up the potential places for work, but it could be a big shift.

Working in a non-academic environment might actually provide a well needed break too. I went to Cambridge Uni (in the UK) and did my postgrad studies there too, and part of me just wants a 'mind break' as much as I love studying.

Anyway, good luck with whatever you do.

And on a lighter note, I love the colour of your trousers! xx

Katie said...

I understand what you mean about not putting your life on hold. You've spent so much time pursuing an important goal and I hope it all works out in a way that makes you happy and works well with your life :)

Cynthia said...

This is totally an understandable decision. Life on the tenure track (and even after tenure) is no bag of marshmallows, and it seems like (as the wealth distribution in the US gets worse) the job just needs more and more of your time while giving less and less joy. At anything but a top tier university, resources are scarce and you spend less time doing the fun parts of your job (research and teaching) and more time doing administrative chores and grubbing for money. So go forth and be free. I sometimes wish I had the flexibility to do so.

JennaStevie said...

GAH, life is so incredibly stressful sometimes, isn't it?! That is unfortunate that things aren't working out how you had hoped, but I am sure opportunities will arise, and you will be able to enjoy yourself when you move back to Canada. We are, of course, happy to have you back :)
P.S. I love those pants
xJennaD

Rebecca said...

I don't really have any advice, since all of by career advice is related to business fields, but I think that it is very impressive that you have earned a PhD from such a great school. I'll be sending good job vibes your way!

Laura Go said...

Courtney,
((((HUGS))))
this year has been a tough year for getting any kind of teaching/academic jobs. I know it won't be of any consolation, but none of my fellow grads here or in any other state(and me included) have found any teaching jobs. I mean, institutions aren't even advertising or hiring for those. I sunk into a depression over this because it was painful for me to set aside my plans and dreams and accept the fact that there are no jobs for me...yet. But that's life, right?

I'm glad to hear that you've got a backup plan. Though I am very sad to hear that you've leaving the states. I am very sure, though, that everything will work out just fine. hugs hugs hugs,
laura

Raquelita said...

I'm sorry that you have been feeling blue. I can empathize with your frustrations with the academic job market, having suffered from the heart wrenching disappointment in past years on the market.

You are a brilliant and talented person, and I have every reason to believe that something rewarding and fulfilling is going to come your way.

Madeline said...

Congratulations Dr.! My father is in academia, so I certainly know about the horrible academic job market. It's difficult, too, because I want to go into higher education and my parents are pushing me towards med school. I hope the break you take will be satisfying, and I wish you the best of luck in the future!

Kristin said...

I wish it wasn't so difficult for you! But I hope the new path you've chosen brings you fulfillment! And congrats...You should be so proud of your accomplishments!

Bonnie said...

Kudos to you for making such a tough decision. One of the reasons I abandoned the idea of a Ph.D. was because of the job market. I wish you all the luck in the world, my dear. Love you!

http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Alexa said...

Ah Courtney. I think you are making a good decision (at least it is the decision that you need to go with right now). And I think it's one of those things...you just never know what opportunities might arise, so I'm wishing you the very best of luck! :)

Sandy Joe said...

Despite this being a rather disappointing situation, is it selfish of me to get excited that you're coming back to us? With that said, I am two years graduated and while it is not as advanced or specific as your area of expertise I am still floundering around. I love that you're so honest and candid on your blog.

BEST WISHES DOLL.

x The Pretty Secrets

chillairandperfume said...

Good for you, girl! Your current struggle is exactly the reason why I decided to get my JD rather than my PhD after getting my MA. I still regret it sometimes; I have such a romantic attachment to getting my PhD in English and teaching at some fabulous university, but, as you've pointed out, that's just not the reality of the job market right now. I have no doubt you've made the best decision for yourself right now :)

xo,
Hannah
www.chillairandperfume.blogspot.com

Amber said...

We will be sad to see you go but you have to do what is right for you. I cant imagine trying to find a job in this market. Every one and their mother is looking for work. I hope you get that book published and see more articles of yours in print (something tells me that will most definitely happen)

FRANKIE HEARTS FASHION said...

Sometimes you just have to get it out! Well, you have accomplished such amazing things thus far so you should be really proud of yourself. I do understand what you mean about not wanting to put your life on hold. Wishing you all the best on your new path. xo

www.frankieheartsfashion.com

christine said...

Do what you "gotta do!! The job market is at an unfortunate state at the moment. With that said, I'm still bummed that you'll have to move back to Canada. We will have to squeeze in a few brunches, lunches, and some thrifting before your move. And I mean it!

Christine
delachic

Sunny & Star said...

First off, I adore your blue pants (such a pretty color!) and those lovely little leopard flats.

Secondly, I can definitely sympathize in regards to the job market. I worked my butt off for years always being in the top of my class. I thought going to law school was a good decision, after all, I'm intelligent, I work hard, and I'm responsible. Since graduating though I have suffered through a horrible job market where there are way more graduating each year than there are jobs for. To top it off I am now buried under almost $100,000 in student loans. I am in a constant state of stress. The stress in addition to the extremely long hours I work leaves me constantly exhausted. When I first graduated I was forced to take a job that I hated because I was constantly belittled. Now I have a job I love at a different law office but I am making so little that am struggling to pay my monthly expenses. But I am kind of stuck.

Claire said...

The job world is tough. And I have had so many friends and family who have had a heck of a time getting a teaching job. My cousin moved across the country to teach law. My stepdad is a retired professor and it's amazing how tough it was for back then, I can only imagine how tough it must be now. And my stepsister teaches at a university in Reno and she's constantly getting pay cuts. It's crazy! I think it's honorable what you are doing and I wish you the best of luck.

On a different note I love your outfit, especially the bow tie!

LyddieGal said...

Hard to believe after all that work and education you can't find your dream job. Well, just now anyway. I'm certain that with your determination you will have it someday.

And those pants are awesome.
Chic on the Cheap

THE-LOUDMOUTH said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I absolutely love when bloggers open their hearts to their readers! I can tell you are a smart, hardworking woman who will do anything to get what she wants, but also knows to make the right choices in life. I commend you for taking a detour in your career path, and I wish you the best! Hang in there!!!

Kristen said...

After reading that all I can say is that I commend you for actually making a plan and going after what it is that you really want in life. I wish you the best in your job search and hope your book gets published! Good luck with everything!

(Also, just by reading this I can tell you are a very strong-willed individual, which leads me to believe you'll be able to accomplish all of what you want to achieve!)

just tututiny said...

I think we may be on the same boat here my dear with the "job" thing. But a huge congrats on the PHD! I will be graduating this May with a law degree and have not found a job either. What part of Canada will you be moving back to? We visit Toronto all the time =)

Tessa: said...

Hope you'll get some good news soon, it sounds like you could use it. Always the same problems, you've studied hard for years and you get nothing in return when you're finished. But hey, maybe it's worth waiting. Great bow necklace. Good luck!

Elle Sees said...

I understand. I have four degrees...a sure winner in the job force, right? No, I was left laid off from a job I was sure had security. I was unemployed for almost a year and now have had a job for two years doing something unrelated to my field. But such is life. I'm proud of the amazing work you've accomplished. Kudos, m'lady. Kudos.

Statements in Fashion said...

I read each and EVERY word and have to say that I am SOOO very proud of you and all that you have accomplished!!!

You must do what you need to do, both professionally and personally.....everything happens for a reason....may your decision bring you and yours nothing but the happiness you deserve:)

The Key To Chic said...

I am so glad you shared. You are one smart and hard-working lady! I wish you and your husband the best! You have my ultimate respect!

Kate said...

First of all, I want to say congratulations on defending your dissertation! That's a huge accomplishment!

And good luck with your next endeavors! I know from experience it isn't easy (I actually left my doctoral program after 4 years), and I hope you find something rewarding! And that you get to pursue history professionally in the future.

My husband got his Ph.D. last year in History as well (post-Franco era Spain). The market awful these days - everyone is telling him not to be surprised if he's on the market for several years. It's super rough to go through.

Anyway, wishing you the best! Hope you continue to blog. :)

Emma Yamada said...

It is good to let that out. I am sure your dreams will come true in the future. You are an extremely smart girl! You have come so far. Things will work out.

Honeysuckelle said...

I really hate the state of the education system and job market in the U.S, there are so many intelligent, passionate people - such as yourself - who aren't able to pursue the career path they should be.

I really hope things will turn around, I've been unemployed for a year and rarely discuss that fact with people because I feel so defeated. I love your spirit and determination and I really admire your dedication and strength.

Humanities, history, etc were always my favorite classes when I was in school and keeping people passionate about education should never be overlooked. I wish you the best of luck and I really hope things work out for you and your husband.

<3Honeysuckelle

Jwalden said...

So I just wanted to say that I only just heard about your momentous decision. It sounds like it was/is well-considered, but you should know that it bodes ill for the rest of us mere mortals. You are one of those people whom I view as a kind of pace rabbit and/or model. That is, in my world, if Courtney Thomas can't get job in academia, then we're all doomed. I write this from the archives in Florence where I am sifting through old documents, hoping to shed light on old stuff which I will then write about and catapult myself into fame as an Early Modern historian. We'll see about that... Anyway, where the US is losing, Canada is gaining...I wish you tons of luck; not sure if I'll see you before I get back or before you leave. I hope to run into you again at some point in this crazy life. Tanti auguri! Tanti auguri! Also baci and best of luck to yer hubby.

Yours, and despite your decision, forever in early modern solidarity,

I am

Justine

Penny Dreadful Vintage said...

Life can be tough, can't it. And often the sacrifices you have to make to do what you love just don't stack up. I hope this turns out to be the right move for you, best of luck with your new venture xxx