It’s August 1stand the summer is basically over. As summers tend to, it flew by. That being said, I was able to make the most of it and I believe I’m in a good position to start the school year. I really struggled to know how to use my time the last few months and thought you might benefit from a few amateur dos and don’ts.
Before launching into my ideas, let me establish some ground rules:
- I don’t mean to sound like your committee chair, but it should go without saying that if you got a tenure track job as an ABD candidate and you have not yet finished your dissertation, THAT’S WHAT YOU SHOULD DO OVER THE SUMMER.
- Another important consideration is rest. Only you can decide what that looks like for you. For me it was fleeing the country for a few weeks and finding a place where I had no responsibilities to anyone but myself.
- There are also financial considerations. My PhD-granting institution funded my summer even though I was no longer enrolled or planning to enroll ever again. That’s not a reality for everyone, so some of you might need to teach or seek some kind of employment over the summer.
If you’re in a position where you can afford (both literally and metaphorically) to do something else between school years, I would highly-recommend what my partner recently referred to as academic cross-training. In other words, you no longer need to prep for the job market, and you have time to take a break from your primary scholarly goals and find complementary ones. I advocate for this plan for two primary reasons: 1. it got me excited about my work again because it stimulated my curiosity, and 2. it has allowed me to look back over my summer and feel a sense of pride that I did something (at least semi-) productive with it. Continue reading
Hello and welcome!
I’ll begin by introducing myself. I finished my Humanities PhD in the spring of 2018 and was lucky enough to land a tenure-track job while finishing my dissertation. (My use of “lucky” is not a sign of false humility. After enduring two years on the job market and applying to over 100 jobs, I’ve become a firm believer that luck is a necessary ingredient in obtaining the oh-so-desired tenure line.)
Seven years ago, I applied to ten different PhD programs across the country and held my breath, hopeful that I would get in to at least one. To be honest, I was unaware that my degree was unlikely to produce gainful employment. No one told me and I didn’t do the research. If I had realized how dire the situation is for academics seeking full-time employment, I probably would’ve chosen a radically different path. Or perhaps my youthful idealism would have taken me in the same direction I chose…no way to know. I was, and still am to a certain degree, a preacher of doing what you love and figuring the rest out later.
Now, I’m on the other side of the coursework, preliminary exams, prospectus, and dissertation-writing process. I don’t regret a single moment of the arduous process but to say it wasn’t easy would be such an understatement. Getting a PhD allowed me to stretch the bounds of my creativity only to have my thinking roped back in by my advisor. I met a unicorn group of friends who have since turned into family. Where some people’s grad school experience is lonely, mine consisted of too much wine and too many late nights debating issues no one in the real world pays attention to. And I loved it for that. But I hated it for other things. I, and so many of the people I love, suffered from crippling anxiety and constant imposter syndrome through the whole process. We learned that in our advisor-speak, a compliment is actually just the absence of a critique…meaning no one ever pays real compliments…no matter how solid your work is. Continue reading