Sunday, January 04, 2009

AHA Day 3: A Cautionary Tale

Helpful advice to graduate students: stop going to sessions about the job market. My sense is that it is simply making people unnecessarily hysterical. Yes, the job market this year is very, very bad. But whether it will be next year no one knows. I repeat no one knows.

So please, stop going to these sessions. Go home and write instead.


Bardiac said...

That was what I finally worked out for myself at MLA. All the talk about the misery made me more miserable, but didn't help me do better on the market or with my diss.

It's hard to distinguish between what will actually be helpful and what's misery feeding misery.

Susan said...

I must confess that there are moments when I think contemporary grad students are incredibly pampered -- sessions on publishing, job market, classes at universities on teaching -- all sorts of supports that help them become professionals. I actually think most of it is good (I'm not that much of a curmudgeon), but it's also helpful to figure some things out for yourself.

Good to see you this morning!

Anonymous said...

The same probably goes for hanging out on the job wikis, too.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I didn't go to any sessions at MLA about the market, but I have been on the wikis. I think that you have to have the right personality for the wiki to be helpful. If you're the type of person who gets hysterical about everything, then having that extra information might just push you over the edge. If, like me, you're the sort of person who is given calm and focus from such information, then by all means, use it. This is not to say that I haven't had my bad moments. But overall, finding the wiki made this year's market far more bearable than my wiki-less market last year.

But back to your point -- all the talk about the bad market isn't going to make it better. It's always been a bad market. It may always be a bad market. Obsessing over the badness of the market won't finish your dissertation or write the article that's been on your desktop for six months. So what if this is a particularly bad year? There are still people hiring in some places, and you might find an opportunity that in other markets you might not have considered. Maybe this year you'd give it a shot -- and find that it was the best thing that ever happened. Try to stay positive everyone. I know I am -- trying, that is!

PhDinHistory said...

TR: Do you really feel it is pointless for the AHA to have panels on the job market? What if ideas for reforming the market and fixing its problems emerged from these sessions?