Friday, December 26, 2008

A clenched-teeth high-five of support for you job-marketers

As a member of my institution's hiring committee, I have been set for months to hit the MLA this year. But I received an email a couple of days ago indicating that my institution, like so many, has been ordered to cancel its searches and comply with a hiring freeze. So I ain't going. I've canceled my flight and my hotel and my dining reservations, and will not be packing a bag today.

I'm not a big fan of the MLA, I confess, in part because of the inconvenience of its scheduling--which I resent more and more as my kids get older and have more limited free time (but that problem will be remedied in 2 years, thank goodness!)--and in part because the MLA atmosphere is generally high-strung, even if one isn't there to interview for a job. The charge in every hotel lobby is high and fretful, and every face has is pinched and tired, if you can be both at once. So I'm not sorry I'm not going, though I'll very much miss my peeps. It being my old stomping grounds, I was looking forward to re-un-ing with a number of beloved mentors and restaurants (at the same time, in some cases). But there's more than a foot of fresh powder out my door, and several feet more than that above 9K, so I'm not going to mourn my lack of travel.

Still, I feel TERRIBLE for the job-marketers this year. It's so grim, and I know that so many jobs are evaporating before applicants' eyes. (I myself applied for one job nearer to home than the job I currently have, just to see whether I'd have options, and it was canceled a month ago.) Such a scary situation, and demoralizing.

To all who are on the market: please know that the people who would have loved to interview you, who would have loved to hear about your scholarship and who were interested in listening to you talk about your intellectual life and pedagogical excitements for an hour, know that we are upset on your behalf, and hope that you don't take our institutional crises as a lack of affirmation for what you do. Hang in there.


Dr. Write said...

Yes, very ugly this year. I am clinging to the job I have with both hands!

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I agree that MLA is a pinched, tired conference. I passed by a lot of panels on the way to and from places, and there were hardly any people in the actual talks. Just people milling about in the lobby looking fearful. I also resent the timing of MLA, but was very happy not to have to travel for it this year since I live so close to San Francisco. (Please, god, give me a job so I don't have to travel for it next year!) You mention something about 2 years from now -- are they changing the date? That would be so nice!

I'm really fretting about whether or not I'll get called for campus interviews -- especially at the school I prefer. I am very grateful that I am not so financially strapped that this is going to be a make-or-break thing for my life, but I also have student loans to pay (which I can't do right now -- we're surviving, but can't afford another bill). I need a job by next year, or I'm going to have to change careers. :(