Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm Still Here!

Hello, dear readers of this blog (and of How to Leave Academia)!!!!

It has been far, faaaar too long since I've updated this blog....and unfortunately, far too long since I've checked the comments to clear out the spam nonsense. I apologize to anyone who's had to scroll through offers for free online classes and moving services in Dubai (????) and other nonsense in order to get to the useful and supportive comments. I promise that I will try to stay more on top of that in the future so that those of you who need it can easily find the helpful comments and conversations that keep showing up on my posts.

Along those lines, though...I'm so glad that, all of these years later, so many of you are still finding this blog and appreciating what I wrote and finding some hope for the future! As I've said all along - there is life, and happiness, outside of academia. I promise you that.

In fact...if you're anything like me (and you take a job that is entirely outside of the university/academic realm), you will eventually get to a point where the world of academia seems so far removed from and irrelevant to your daily life that you simply don't think of it much anymore.

Honestly? That's the real reason I haven't updated this blog in so long. I have now been out of academia, officially, for 4 long years. (Holy crap! I could have gone back for a whole new bachelor's or master's degree in that time! Maybe two masters' degrees!)

But that also means that for 4 years (208 weeks! 1460 days! Over 35,000 hours!) I've had a life that is completely outside of academia. I work with 11 coworkers who have no idea what a peer-reviewed journal article is, I come home to a partner who has never had to write a teaching statement for a job application, and I take vacations without ever having to worry about work while I'm gone. I have a few friends who are former grad student colleagues, but we have so many other things going on in our lives - new jobs, new relationships and kids and pets and whatnot - that, honestly, academia hardly ever comes up.

So, to be honest, I don't spend any significant time these days thinking about academia...which is why I haven't had anything new to write over here.

I do still read the occasional article on academia or postacademia, and I do occasionally check in on my old discipline's job market rumor mill, just to see how things are going or what people are talking about these days.(Spoiler alert: it doesn't appear as if the academic job market or conditions of adjuncthood have corrected themselves.)

But to be honest, these days I'm not all that interested in reading about the life I used to live - the one that frustrated me so much that I left in exasperation. These days, I feel about academia similarly to how you (hopefully!) evolve into feeling about an old ex-partner after a few years. Sure, you might periodically think about them - the good and bad things - and Google them from time to time, but hopefully you've moved on and those moments of curiosity are few and far between. I think that's healthy. And that's where I am with academia these days.

Honestly, for someone who leaves academia to work in a job totally outside of the university environment, I really think that that needs to be a goal. I couldn't move on with my life if I was still obsessively checking postacademic blogs and focusing on the negatives in academia four years later, you know? I've moved on, and I'm glad that I have.


A general update on my life, though, since a lot of you followed along for so long - I'm still working at the same place. Maybe it's lack of motivation, maybe it's simple inertia...but to be honest, I haven't really looked around for other jobs in about a year. There are definitely things about my job that I don't like, but in general I'm perfectly content here for now.

My partner has had a "new" job for about a year and a half now, and we've been enjoying the fact that he's home more often and is earning more money. We paid my car off over the summer and are just a few months away from paying off his student loans (though mine will still be plaguing us for decades), so we've had more disposable income in the last year than we've had in quite some time. Up until now, we've mostly used that money for responsible adult things - a new roof on our house, a new washer/dryer, retirement savings - but we are planning a vacation for later in the year and are looking forward to considering our next career and life moves.

It has been very strange to try to think about what I want to do next, career-wise. I still don't entirely trust myself to make the right choices or to not change my mind later on, so I can get a little wishy-washy and dismissive when I think about possible career paths. I do consider that a long-term consequence of my time in academia...I have trouble believing that there are jobs I'd really like and that I'd be qualified for after my time in academia (and my flame-out therein).

But I'll figure it out. And for now, I'm doing well. I'm happy! I make enough money to live comfortably, I've rediscovered some old hobbies (reading for fun and watching movies) and have discovered new ones that I like (I've taken up knitting). I'm volunteering in our local community and get out of the house a lot to do things - dinners out, movies, festivals, etc.

I know that I'm not going to stay at my current job forever. But for now - and for the last 4 years - I've found that I just don't seem to care too much about what I do for a living, as long as I don't hate it like I grew to hate academia. I like having set work hours to organize my day, I like having a set of tasks and problems to work on throughout the day that I set aside when they are complete, and I like having coworkers who I can chat with about things other than what their research is.

Oh, and my five weeks of paid time off per year is pretty great. Especially when you consider that I don't have to take a pile of grading with me when I go. :)


Anyway, I don't know how much I will keep adding to this blog in the future. I'm going to try to post here from time to time - even if it's just the occasional link to an article about leaving academia without much commentary, or a short update on my life. Just because my days of writing multi-paragraph, in-depth rants about life in academia or musings on the academic mindset may be over doesn't mean I can't post the occasional post to say "hey, read this article about adjuncting!" or "wow, I did this cool thing the other day!" I'm going to try to do better with that kind of thing...if only to remind you all that there is life out here in the "real world." :D

But given that I have so many other things occupying my time these days - work, travel, time with my family, volunteer work, hobbies - I can't guarantee that there will be regular updates.

But I will definitely do better with cleaning up the comments. Unless you all really are clamoring for moving services in Dubai or magic crystals that will help you find a partner.

(Seriously....who clicks on that stuff??? What even is the point???)

Anyway, thanks for reading for all of these years...and I hope you're all doing well!!!!


  1. Hey JC! Thanks for posting again-I'm glad to hear you're doing so well! I've been reading your blog for about a year now, but I've never commented. It has been really helpful to me as I figure out what I want to do in my life. I'm currently ABD and really not sure I'm going to finish. I'm fine with that, but whenever I tell family/friends, they act horrified. I just started a job outside of academia, and I really don't understand why I should be miserable for the next year trying to work and write a dissertation that no one will never get read, for a credential that probably won't change my professional life.

    I have been thinking a lot about career trajectories, too. I heard a talk a long time ago from an executive business woman in Australia. She said she made her career through a lot of lateral moves, not necessarily moving up the ladder. I don't really remember the speech, but the take away I got (and which I've been thinking about a lot in my own life) is don't be afraid to switch fields/industry/careers if you will gain greater experience from the change. Academia teaches us to think of our career as a ladder, but really, outside of academia, it's not like that, and there's no penalty for changing jobs/careers. What you gain is greater experience and flexibility. I hope that makes sense. I started out grad school positive I wanted to be a professor, and worked my butt off for the first 3 years. Then I did some field work involving interviewing non-academics, and their lives seemed pretty great. Compared to the people I knew at university, they were friendly, welcoming, and had spare time. My friends were not moving all the time and buying houses, and overall, non-academic life seemed great. Anyways, a long way to say that when my knowledge of academic vs. non-ac life changed, so did my career path, and I don't think it's anything to feel bad about. Okay, time for me to go to work, but I just wanted to say thanks for posting!

  2. Hi JC,

    So nice to catch up with your blog and read the latest goings on in your life. As so much time goes by after leaving academia we realise that we have 'recovered' and find ourselves in a better place that isn't always perfect, but is certainly more positive than those early days when we were trying to figure out how to leave and how to manage those intense feelings. So pleased for you that things are going well. I'm moving on from my job of the last 2 1/2 years now (prompted by the organisation's restructure, so kind of necessary) but kind of envy your position. It's good to be 'in place' for while - nothing wrong with that! All the best for now.

  3. That is absolutely beautiful. I walking away for a long time and it is taking so long because I allowed myself to be robbed blind of my dignity and even my financial freedom, which made it very hard to find a nonacademic job and I had to take teaching assignments to at least try to pay the bills, while the pay cycle drove me into a financial jail cell and the grind of performing like a circus seal along with the pressure to micromanage the behavior of adults exhausted me until I firmed up my boundaries and started standing up for myself and in some cases, my students. But in spite of that, I have become stronger and developed better and more marketable skills. I have been teaching the bare minimum of classes I need and working and volunteering in other capacities for well over a year. I can't wait until I am out.

  4. You can lower your standards and go into the public school system of a major metro area. I did, loss of prestige, status, but a huge bump in pay. In NY, top tier teachers make over 100K. When I started I made 54K, now I'm at 70k, with a PHD you come in at a higher pay scale and you also get to see why our education system is failing. Then you can write about it and make more money. Try it, if you don't mind the out of control kids, imposed common core curriculum, and teacher evaluation system. You might even get used to it! Or at least, enjoy the quality of life you are able to live and don't forget you get every Christian, Jewish, and now a Muslim holiday off along with 2 months for summer! How's that for academic rigour!