Monday, April 30, 2007


Will I be an unemployed, but hopefully not unemployable, PhD?

That thought has maked my stomach churn lately. I have several applications out, in various places, for a variety of types of work, but I still have this sinking feeling that I will need to figure out: 1) how to pay my student loans which will become due SOON, 2) how to make myself more employable in academia, 3) what to do to pass the time.

Three is easy; I've got Pimsleur Japanese plus hiragana and katakana to learn. I should be doing that anyway to prepare for going Japan, but assuming none of my application pan out, I can throw myself into language study. I could resume my study of Arabic and French. I also have endless art project ideas. There's the primate portrait pastel series, the Curious George themed toybox for some lucky kid, paper-making, beadwork, and simple furniture items like tables and an ottoman. That could keep me busy for a couple of years.

In the meantime I can take care of the first problem with the dreaded temp work. Every time I realize that is the only definitive way to make money in this town without getting a 'real' job in some other field, I feel a little vomit forming in the back of my throat. I went down the temp path years ago after I couldn't locate a worthwhile job here after college graduation. Eventually I went off to graduate school. And look where I am - right smack dab where I started, but now I have a pretty huge diploma and will most likely have to leave again. And they say there isn't a brain drain here.

THE Publish or Perish PROBLEM
But what I should really focus on is the second problem - how to make myself more employable in academia. I have a great teaching CV. Zero problem there, so far as I know. What I lack is publications.

What has always been the bane of my existance as a graduate student is that I have no publications. My advisor/program did not coach me through any of that and I haven't found outside people who publish a lot who will take me under their wing. The conferences I have presented at and attended are very clique-ish. If you aren't a "name" or at a university where the 'cool' research is being conducted, forget about meaningful networking. And this field is an 'outsider' field so you'd think they would go out of their way to help others get into it.

What I need is a research mentor and/or a collaborator who is experienced with publishing. I haven't found someone who will let me work on one of their projects. I have my own research project ideas - tons of them - that isn't the problem. I need someone I can trust who will vet them and help me turn the ideas into publishable documents.

I have two potential papers in addition to the one I have been trying to get published. It recently got rejected, for the fourth time, and so now I have to figure out which bottom barrel journal to try just to get it published. I should also rework my dissertation and a project I did with one of my thesis students. The dissertation needs to be seriously boiled down and the thesis - pretty much rewritten. I know I need help. The trouble is, I have no idea who will actually help me on this one.

So, I have two problems associated with getting publications that are both essentially about lacking an academic network.

What do you do to get into a research network?

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