Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The importance of having a plan B

This is not about birth control. I've spent the day editing my research statement. This is about my job hunt.

Over the last several weeks I've been trying to put my finger on why this job hunt feels a lot more high stakes than the last one. Well, okay, there are the obvious facts:
  1. Epsilon
  2. Single city restriction
  3. The reality of the world wide depression hadn't fully sunk into the budgetary conciousness of a lot of universities last time around.
But I think it's more than that. Last time, during my bleaker moments, I would run around the house doing dishes singing "I don't need a job. Not a jobby jobby jo-ob!" I don't mean to say that I was up beat and hopeful during the process, there was plenty of insecurity and nail biting going  around, but I was coping.

I think a key part of that had to do with the fact that I had a "plan B." At that point in my life, I was spending a significant portion of my week working with highschool drop outs who wanted to get their GEDs. I felt confident that if I couldn't find an academic position, I'd be able to get an emergency certification and teach highschool, and possibly be enough of a disciplinarian in that setting to make a difference in some students' lives.

I don't have the certainty now. Whether it is because I have not been able to spend the time these last 2 years developing those skills/making those contacts, or because I've fallen more deeply in love with my research and don't want to leave it, or because I don't know what teaching would look like in country X (where my partner has a job) I don't have a plan B.

So, if you would care to share, those of you who have left your country to find a job, or who have trailed their spouses to a foreign country, how did you cope with the terror of possibly "not making it" in your newly adopted home? Was it scary for you, or was it a grand adventure, or somewhere in the middle?Did you have a "plan B"?

1 comment:

  1. I've moved between countries at least 3 times (depending how you count postdocs it could be several more) but I always got the job/fellowship first, and then decided to move with it. My husband did some trailing, including having to find a postdoc in the city that had hired me, upon arrival. It was scary. The thing that helped was knowing beforehand that there would be many options. For the culture shock, I recommend getting friends going through a similar situation, arriving from outside to the same place. They don't have to come from the same place as you, they only need to be as outsider as you are.