Post Academic

Choose your own adventure: Your summer is slipping away!

Posted in Absurdities,Surviving Grad School by Arnold Pan on July 2, 2010
Tags: , ,

You are probably not at a computer reading this post, since you’re probably stuck in traffic or on a plane or on a staycation to already where you’re headed for July 4th weekend.  But if none of the above apply and you’re sweating it (figuratively) over every day that slips away that was supposed to be productive–and wasn’t.  For any of you in that situation, we’re here for you.  So take stock of your summer, “Choose your own adventure”-like…

"Dinner Fork in the Road" by ONUnicorn (Creative Commons license)

Step 1: Do you have enough money to make it through summer?

Unless you live somewhere where you can live 12 months on 9 months of salary/stipend, you probably need a summer job.  Maybe that gig might be one of those half-the-time, double-the-work summer school jobs where you give up part of your summer, but preserve the rest of it for whatever you need to do, whether that’s work or R&R or some combo of both.  If you’re working almost full-time at the SAT study center (like Caroline and I have), you might be too fried right now to think about researching on your downtime, but you probably want to get your act together at least a little bit soon.  If these situations describe you, proceed to Step 2.

If not, get off the computer and find a classmate who needs a sub for that SAT class while s/he is on vacation.

Continue to choose your own adventure, after the jump…

Step 2: Have you given yourself a little time off?

You can’t just work all the time, whether we’re talking about your summer job or self-imposed research project.  It’s hard to concentrate and be intense without giving yourself a break, so July 4 is as good as an excuse to not do anything for a few days, before you get re/started on what you think you should be doing.  If you’ve recharged your batteries a little, move to Step 3.

If not, stop here for awhile before going on and figure out how to enjoy yourself a little before you get back on the hamster wheel, because Step 4 is coming up sooner than you think.

Step 3: Have you been working on–or at least been thinking about–your projects?

OK, only those of you who have found a way to financially support yourselves and have given yourselves some time to breathe have made it to this step.  Since you’re responsible enough to take care of yourself materially and psychologically, you’re probably together enough, too, to want to get some work done and make good on at least some of the potential you felt the summer held back when you were grading final papers.  If you’re motivated while everyone else is lazing away the summer, you’re probably prepared for the harrowing experience that awaits you at Step 4.

But if you want to just go back to Step 2 and stay there the rest of the summer, maybe you should save yourself the trouble of thinking Step 4 applies to you and just skip straight to Step 5

Step 4: Remember that the job market is only 2 months from restarting

Enough said.  I’m just not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the first set of official job listings (at least for lit types) is about 2 months away.  I guess it’s good, because you finally get another crack at the market if you struck out the last time around.  But, if this year is anything like the last few years, it might be at least a little anti-climactic and a lot disappointing, because all the jobs you wished for just might not ever show up on the job list, no matter how long you wait.  Those of you who are prepared will be ready either way.  But those of you who aren’t, remember that 2 months isn’t a very long time, not when you have to write a diss chapter, in order to excerpt it into a writing sample/essay proposal–especially if you need to quickly submit something for potential publication and want a (positive) response before you hit the market.

You probably want to stop here with a tenure-track job lined up, but at least take a peek at Step 5 for an alternate ending.

Step 5: Have you looked into all your professional possibilities, while you have some time?

Just in case Step 4 turns out to be a dud or you don’t want to leave your future at the mercy of the crappy crapshoot of the academic job market, you might as well as consider what else might be out there for you beyond academia.  If you couldn’t get past Step 2, you might be headed here anyway, even if you don’t know it yet.  But if you successfully navigated Steps 3 & 4, you might have the foresight to cover all your bases and give yourself a few more options.

Have a fun, safe, and maybe productive Fourth of July weekend!

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