“Darling, I’ve been so miserable…” DO’s and DONT’s for your mental health
1. Stop trolling the academic wiki to spy on the people who got the interviews, fellowships, and jobs that you didn’t get. You’re just torturing yourself. Of course, I was doing just this very thing yesterday, and it actually lead me to feel better… There are exceptions to every rule. Here’s what I learned from my cyber-masochism:
2. Stop the Ivy Envy. Believe it or not, the Ivy Leaguers are not having an easier time than the rest of us. Who among us isn’t consoled, on the heels of a stinging rejection, by indulging in a fantasy in which the Ivies are all carpet-bombed. (Maybe you’re not as sick as me.) But seriously, they are not, contrary to our suspicions, gobbling up all of the jobs, and leaving the rest of us, in typical 1%er fashion, to starve in the gutter. I offer the following anecdotal evidence as meager proofs:
Several of my advisors are on a search committee this year at my own institution. They said that they are passing over the Ivy kids just as easily as anyone else. One of them pointed out that we interviewed someone from a (very lowly) state school as well as someone from Yale; the other couldn’t even remember where the fly-out people had done their doctoral work, saying “And that’s proof of how little it matters.”
I’m cutting and pasting what I read on the wiki yesterday. I removed the specific name of the fellowship (though, really, I don’t know why I bothered; this is all anonymous anyway). As you can see, this is banter between multiple Ivy league applicants (some of whom have books out and one has a a second PhD!)
A: Well, all I can say about this job market: I have my Ph.D., have a book in print, have a teaching price, come from an Ivy school — and still got ignored by _____ — and by all the other postdocs. So that’s the deal.
B: Two Ph.Ds, almost two monographs and one edited book, 8 articles,etc., and nothing done as well.
C: Three Ph.Ds, four monographs… I’m just kidding, but I am a double-Ivy ____ reject too if it makes anyone feel better. (My mind is still reeling from the idea of having a second doctorate — I can’t even imagine the brains and motivation needed to start anew. Nicely done, comment neighbor!)
B: It was not said to show off titles, of course, but just to point out how difficult it is to understand this crazy crazy job market.
D: “Three Ph.Ds, four monographs…” that made me laugh out loud! thanks for the levity — another ivy-league _____ reject
Three out of the four people contributing to the conversation above come from Ivyies. The fourth doesn’t specify from where, but has two PhDs. Which is all just to say, It’s hard out there for a pimp.
3. Get into action. Here’s what I did yesterday: I met with not one, but two of my advisors. They offered moral support, if little else, but I think it’s good to get the word out to as many people as possible that you are going to be looking for non-academic work. I made lists of where to go from here. (I’ll share those with you next time.) I booked an appointment with the career center at my school. (It’s not until next Friday, but I will give you a full report.) I sent writing samples in for a volunteer position at a non-profit. (There is actually good money to be made in the world of philanthropy; I’m trying to build up my CV now.) Lastly, I [gulp] emailed a contact about how to apply for jobs teaching (DUM DUM DUM) in private high schools.
4. Start a blog. Come on, let’s call a spade a spade, this is basically journaling, but at least it gives you the illusion that you’re being of service to the wider world, and provides a forum in which to vent your frustrations without having to feel like an inveterate narcissist. (I just looked up the word ‘inveterate,’ btw, to make sure I knew what it meant. Sigh. High school here I come.)