One of the many things grad school did not prepare me for is unemployment. Since commencement in December 2016, I have held a couple contract jobs, had numerous interviews which all led nowhere, and the ever-growing sense that I will never be employed as a historian. I have the research and academic training to excel – skills I stress in cover letters and which my CV clearly demonstrates.
Networking has produced many job leads, and mounting frustration. I have lost track at how many times people have asked me if I check USAJobs. While I greatly appreciate the interest and efforts of others, at this point I know how that system works – what I need is for a hiring committee to actually offer me a job.
Recent interviews, at least in my view, went well. Two interviews left me with the feeling that I would get the job. Clearly my positivity was misplaced. Those experience added to my frustration, while also making me question my capabilities as an interviewee specifically and as a historian generally.
Sure, I am still applying for history jobs – academic and government ones – but I am not optimistic at this juncture. With my manuscript now in the hands of reviewers, there is little left to explain away the increasing gap between graduation and now. Fortunately, working on my manuscript kept me motivated. Indeed, I am still motivated. Hopefully I get a book contract and the validation that comes with it.
My children are quickly approaching school age. With roots in Northern Virginia, moving will not be an option after this summer. Sorry, but having grown-up in a military family where most summers entailed moving, I want my kids to have stability. I realize that my stance diminishes my job prospects, assuming of course I still have those.
I am developing an online military history course. Yet I have largely avoided applying for adjunct jobs. I realize this sounds strange since I need employment. Not wanting to get stuck in the cycle of low-pay and uncertainly while tasked with duties associated with tenure-track positions, means I find adjust jobs unappealing. Additionally, I know of too many friends that have found themselves trapped in the world of living class to class, with the only means of escape being career change. If my view damages my chances of landing a permanent spot at a college or university, then oh well.
I would be lying if I said I was happy being an “independent scholar.” Which is why I have stayed as active as possible – taking on writing projects and presenting at conferences. I even changed domain names – taking one that looks far more professional when listed on my CV. Though the sad reality is that history will likely become a hobby of mine.
I share all of the above because there is nothing left for me to lose. Pity is not something I seek – but voicing my frustration, yes. Thanks for reading and the support. Keep sending me job leads – even those outside of academia.