If anyone is ever looking to get me a gift of some kind for Labour Day, please get this for me. Blown-up and framed. Want that hanging on my office wall next to a portrait of me killing a lion with my bare hands.
Many Ph.D.’s who write about leaving academe knew it was not for them.
I envy those people. I enjoyed being an academic, and I loved teaching.
As a kid growing up, all I wanted to be was a teacher, and when I
entered university, my career goal shifted to being a professor. When I
decided to end my quest for a tenure-track job, I told a friend that,
some day, I hoped I would enjoy whatever I ended up doing as much as I
enjoyed teaching and being a historian.
I will never forget the afternoon I decided to leave academe. I had
just learned that I was second in line for a visiting assistant
professorship, with a three-year contract and a 3-3 teaching load. We
were well into the summer, and this was my last hope of a job for the
following year. The pay was less than $40,000 a year; the hiring
committee admitted to me that the salary was probably not enough to
cover living expenses in the area.
That afternoon I hit the brick wall. I had spent three years on the
academic job market and felt further away than ever from my goal. Was I
to work yet another year as an adjunct, scraping by, with no promise
that the next year would be any better than the previous three?
I phoned my good friend who was facing the same reality. His dream
was to be a professor, but, like me, he could not land a job. We had
told each other the same piece of advice over and over again: It’s not
you; it’s the system. The system is broken. You are not a failure; the
system failed you. I told him that day, “I’m done, I can’t do this
anymore.” He responded, “I don’t blame you.” The following year, he also
I cried at the end of the phone call and cried a lot more in the
following months. I was angry—at myself, at the system, at the
administrators who were cutting tenure-track jobs, at those who’d caused
the 2008 economic crash. I kept looking at job boards, trying to find a
reason my decision to leave was wrong. I spent days depressed, watching
crap TV and drinking cheap wine.
Finally, when I started having success as a research consultant, I
turned a corner. No, my consulting career is not the same as being an
academic, but I have incorporated into my new profession things I
enjoyed about academe: research and writing, leading workshops, and
giving presentations. I still feel sad when I look at my history books,
or when friends are creating their syllabi for the coming semester. But,
over all, I enjoy my new life. People treat me with respect, they value
my contributions, and my research is having an immediate impact.
Over the past few years, I have met many Ph.D.’s who are excellent
teachers with exciting scholarship and impressive CVs. They, too, can’t
find academic jobs. They, too, are looking for a way to move forward
professionally, where they can make a living and have their
contributions valued. Many, like me, have spent months consumed by grief
over the loss of their dreams and fighting a sense of failure. But, as
people who earned Ph.D.’s, they are hard-working and too ambitious to
stay in a broken system. And they all eventually found new professions
that bring them satisfaction.
L. Maren Wood earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the founder and lead researcher of
Lilli Research Group, a small education-consulting firm in the
Washington, D.C., metro area. She will be blogging regularly for the
Ph.D. Placement Project about nonacademic career issues for Ph.D.’s.
If you haven't heard this story it goes something like this:
The best 100m-200m sprinter of all time (Usain Bolt) will be racing the UK's distance king (Mo Farah) in a 600m race.
And here are my two cents on the outcome:
Anyone who has followed Bolt's career knows that first and foremost he is a 400m runner and has trained at that 600m distance. Fullstop. So ya, he can sprint 600m no problem. And if there were a 600m event at the Olympics, he would prolly win that race too. (Shoot if he trained for an 800m, I'd say he'd medal too.)
For those non-400m sprinters out there, there's a hell of a difference between sprinting 400m and 600m. Shoot there's a hell of a difference between sprinting 400m and 402m.
And the problem? Ya the lactic acid will be baking cakes in your hamstrings and quads, but the problem is much more psychological.
If they build a 600m track for this MoBolt showdown (I want a shirt that says that), Bolt will win. There's something that happens to your mind when you cross the finish line and you have to keep on going. Bolt only crosses the tape once. Mo does it like he's changing train lines on the Tube at Victoria station during rush hour.
So my winner?
All genuine sports fan that want to see the best compete against the best.