academic back up plans?

With the recent decline in full-time academic jobs (and jobs in general), and especially jobs in the humanities, there has been a bit of talk amongst friends and colleagues about potential back-up plans if some (or many) of us are unable to acquire full-time academic employment.

For the time being, I’m hoping to move back home (to Florida), finish writing my thesis, and find some sort of adjunct teaching at a local college. Past that, I have thought about doing an alternative teaching certification program in urban education, but have just realized that the job market in that area is just about as grim as the academic market. If not that, I used to work in community development, and while I think I’d find it fairly intellectually stimulating, the non-profit market is just as bad as education these days.

I heard from a friend last night that in some states nurses are being hired with six-figure starting salaries. While I’d never considered nursing before, it could be an interesting option after finishing my thesis. I feel like ‘Dr. Michael Burns, R.N.’ would be a great title, and cause quite a bit of confusion amongst doctors at the hospital who would take shots at a man who was a nurse and not a ‘doctor’. Also, if I could deal with the piss, puke, and shit; I’d make way more than any academic position.

All of that said….what are the non-academic back-up plans others have been considering? I think this is an important discussion that some of us may be avoiding…..

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10 thoughts on “academic back up plans?

  1. I like the idea of a non-medical doctor working in a hospital. It’s decidedly Seinfeldian. As for me, I ditched out after completing my MA to open up a pizza place in LA. Not the best way to avoid a recession, but I find solace in the fact that food service will see an uptick proportional to overall demand (not so sure the academic jobs will ever come back, especially in the humanities). There are always conservative evangelical schools, no?

  2. marcegoodman says:

    I think a graduate training in Continental Philosophy (especially one with theological leanings) is a great supplemental training for a career as nurse. I’m only half kidding. There’s even a journal devoted nursing philosophy. James Williams gave a keynote opening paper at an International Philosophy of Nursing conference at Dundee a few years back. You should ask him about it. He was kind enough to send me the chapter from the Logic of Sense book that his talk was based on. My standard joke is that I’m trying to get through nursing school by reading as much Continental Philosophy as is conscionable. I’m in a two-year community college RN program in Arizona that will finish at the end of this academic year. The job market for new grads here in Tucson is tighter than anyone might have imagined before the current recession though. Nurses are putting off retirement or career changes, patients are deferring elective surgeries, and hospitals are predictably attempting to cut costs. I understand that nursing job markets in other areas are less tight and by the time you might finish it will likely be a different employment picture anyway. I’d be happy to answer any other questions you might have. The website allnurses.com is a great resource for practicing nurses, student nurses, and prospective nurses.

  3. Blake says:

    I’m considering looking into becoming certified as a teacher of talented and gifted students if things don’t work out in philosophy.

  4. Thomas says:

    I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a traveling urban farmer. At times it even seems clear how this could work (but then the idea slips away). I’d spend a season in a location getting communitiy gardens started on public land and then move on. No money in it of course, but maybe enough funding to keep going for a few years.

  5. Grant says:

    It would likely make you want to kill yourself, but consulting firms DROOL over humanities PhD’s. (No, I’m not joking.) Brush up on your economics and apply to McKinsey. Sell out for two years, pay off your debts, and use the rest of the money to fund Marxist guerilla’s somewhere.

  6. michaeloneillburns says:

    Grant,
    I actually studied with a guy from Denmark this summer who worked for McKinsey for a couple of years before returning to academia. I’ve seriously considered applying at some point for the reasons you outline….sell my soul, travel, pay off my debts, and get the fuck out of there.

    Thomas,
    That sounds really interesting, especially if you could make it sustainable.

    Blake,
    That is a great idea as well. I have been considering training to be a specialized teacher of some sort, as it may make getting a job in teaching somewhat easier. I actually had a gifted teacher when I was in middle school who had a Ph.D, not sure what her field was though. I should have asked.

    Marc,
    Thanks for that information on nursing, and it’s great to hear that James Williams spoke at a nursing conference! As you may or may not know, he’s one of my professors, and someone who always seems encouraging of people working outside the lines of official academic philosophy.

  7. Jack Tremper says:

    Sell your soul and try to make it in Hollywood with me. Just remember to use the line: “I’m willing to do anything!”

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