In an earlier post, I mentioned that I might be staying at my current university to teach some classes as a stop-gap while I spend another (ack!!) year looking for a job. On Friday, I was presented with yet another option that in many ways is a substantial improvement.
There’s an opening within the college for a technology coordinator and instructor that pays about 3-4x better than what I stand to make adjuncting, has a full benefits package, and goes on a year-to-year basis. In other words, there’s no expectation that I would stay any more than one year, although the option to stay on longer exists. It’s really the best of both worlds.
At first I felt like I was selling out by even thinking of applying for this position, because it’s not a logical fit for my long-term career trajectory. However, upon further reflection, I saw that it would be a way to expand my marketability, and I would still be teaching, albeit in a different subject area. There would also be more support for research, and I might even be able to score more research and travel funding. Is this a long-term job for me? Absolutely not. My advisor even said that staying at the job for more than a couple of years might be a career-killer, but that a year or two would even help me. This may end up opening some doors for me, and I know that I would be a great fit for this position for a number of reasons.
I’ve seen a number of posts on Rate Your Students that gripe about the miserable pay of adjuncts, and in the past, I sort of ignored them. In doing this, I was able to deny the reality that this, too, might be my fate. There’s no denying that there are a stupendous number of people who work as the academic equivalent of migrant farm workers (gypsy academics, if you will) so that universities can afford the bread and circuses necessary to appeal to this generation of college students (and other things, of course). When you do the math, it makes more financial sense to get a job waiting tables. I figured that my own hourly wage would have been around $8/hour, and that’s where things became a bit too real. I made more than that before I even finished college working as a data clerk in the corporate world. While it’s not about the money, by taking a job as an adjunct, I’m complicit in the continued exploitation. A person who spends years of her life in pursuit of the skills and knowledge necessary to teach the next generation of practitioners and scholars deserves to earn at least a living wage, right? No one is forcing me to take it, and therefore I won’t if I don’t have to.
I’m applying for this position on Monday. It is not a sin to make a decision based on what’s ultimately best for me and the Spouse, particularly if neither option is my dream job. In the end, I’m making the best of a not-so-great situation, and making a lot more money in the process.