Monday, February 9, 2009

Get a Job

Another ongoing debate we all have with ourselves: at what point in this process do you begin looking for your new job? And how much can you work and still be able to finish your dissertation?

As Chad put it today, "I can leave now. When do I go?"

For those of us looking for jobs in academia, our annual conferences may force the issue of whether to apply for jobs at ABD stage or wait until we have the dissertation in hand. There are certainly instances of students who have landed incredible positions before finishing their dissertations and then needing to complete their dissertations in record time. (for a great success story of this type, see Dr. Devin Kuhn, CGU grad and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Women's Studies at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Devin also lead the Dissertation Workshop while she was at CGU!)

For those of us looking for jobs in the professional sector, there may be issues of trying to complete the dissertation once you've landed your dream job (and are putting in a lot of extra time to do really well and get noticed). There's also the issue that a lot of jobs will want you to be within a year of finishing your degree.

And then there's just the need to pay the rent.

There is no right answer for everyone for this question. So here are some things to keep in mind:

If you can afford to quit your job (or jobs) to focus on the dissertation, but are worried about the extra loans you may have to take out to do so, remember: the sooner you finish the dissertation, the sooner you stop paying fees to CGU. The money you save by graduating sooner may cancel out the loan you take out to finish sooner without working (or working as much).

That sinking feeling...

When considering taking any job, ask yourself, "Will it interfere?" If your priority right now is finishing your dissertation, remember to ask this question over and over.

Another question: will this job give you added experience that will help you in the job market? If you are an adjunct, for example, teaching a course you have taught multiple times already, it could very well be worthwhile to take the time off from teaching to go full steam ahead on your dissertation. Teaching one more section of Intro to Philosophy won't make a difference if you've taught it before, but finishing your dissertation will. However, if you have no teaching experience and are about to graduate, you are at a disadvantage if you want to apply for teaching positions.

An overall maxim: Adjuncting will kill your time. So if you must adjunct teach, be merciless with protecting your time. Structure yourself very carefully to make sure you make time for your dissertation.

Consider other options. Is is possible to get a fellowship in your field? Being paid to finish your dissertation = best case scenario.

1 comment:

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