Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This year's job market

Well, all signs point to the fact that academia is facing its most difficult times ever. The protests, the tuition hikes, the faculty job freezes- all of this in light of the highest enrollments in most schools' history. It's an extremely strange paradox that sheds light on how important the government is in funding education, and a lesson to be learned about what happens when government decides not to fund it any more. From my own personal experience, my visiting professor line evaporated into thin air in exchange for several more adjunct positions at Metro, and this certainly isn't an anomaly. It's a crisis, and I'm afraid of what the trickle down effect of this is going to look like. In lieu of hiring highly qualified, well educated teachers and giving them benefits, etc, schools are hiring adjuncts who teach 8-10 classes a semester in order to be able to pay their bills, and some are definitely more qualified to teach than others. At a school like CU, Berkley, I'm sure students will end up paying more for less qualified teachers, as I believe all state schools in California have had a hiring freeze on faculty positions for quite some time.

Again, in my own experience, the job market is extremely brutal this year. The MLA reports that jobs are down in English studies by about 25%, an unprecedented downturn that mirrors the global economic downturn. I'm putting myself out there this year, applying for jobs that look to be a good fit, but have absolutely no expectations of making it to the top of the pile. The piles, after all, have hundreds of applicants in them for each position. I suppose the right experience, a writing sample that catches their eye, or the right turn of phrase in a cover letter might give anyone an edge, it's quite a jungle this year in the job market. It's kind of laughable, actually. With 1 in 4 jobs completely eliminated and even more people out of work seeking jobs, it becomes a complete crap shoot. You have to wonder whether or not the hiring committees even read through all of the cover letters/ CVs, etc.

I'm not sure I really have a point, except that to be an academic right now probably means to be unemployed or looking for a job. Those with jobs are overworked or are being stripped of benefits or asked to take paycuts. I'm interested to see what next year will bring, but this year is pretty much a wash. Nightmare? Insanity? Pretty much.

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