Revisiting old fears.

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“I was looking for a job, and then I found a job. And heaven knows I’m miserable now.” — The Smiths

 

Morrissey is the man who knows my soul. It was true when I was 16, and it’s still true now that I’m in my forties. Last year at this time, I was afraid of my post-MFA job prospects. I feared I’d never find a teaching job. I would be forced back into a soul-crushing corporate life that left no time or energy to finish my manuscript. No manuscript meant no book, no future as a writer, that my MFA was a waste… if you’re a regular reader, you know the road to which my high anxiety always leads. In addition to revisiting last year’s I’ll-never-find-a-job post, this is also an opportunity for a quick reality check.

I have found consistent employment as an adjunct at two local schools. My job-search advice:

  • Start early. Want to teach in fall 2013? Start contacting schools now. I’ve found that I need to think about my next gig on the first day of classes of my present assignment.
  • Cast a wide net. There are a lot of schools in the NY/NJ area, and I was surprised by how many connections I had at many, e.g., undergrad and grad classmates and fellow alums, former teachers, family friends, writers I’d met at events. I made my information and availability known to everyone.
  • Be persistent… and patient. As an adjunct, I’m no one’s priority but my own. I learned to follow up and remind people of my interest (without stalking them). I also learned to accept that adjunct appointments are often last-minute and subject to sudden change. Hiring does not follow my schedule (read: everything right now), which tests the limits of my thin patience.

So if my employment needs have been filled, why the quote from The Smiths? I’ve experienced the “ups” of teaching — e.g., engaged students, intense discussions that have fueled and motivated my own writing — but I’ve also experienced the “downs” and some assignments reminded me to be careful what I wish for.

 

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