I’ve had a few unexpected encouraging experiences lately. At my conference on Friday, I was talking to a professor from OSU, and she told me that I was getting a great degree at Emory. She said that their best job candidates from a position filled a couple of years ago were Emory grads, and she said that I would have the option of moving up to a better school, or down to a state school when looking for a job. For those of you who don’t keep up with the world of higher ed, the job market for humanities professors isn’t awesome, and although I’ve felt that getting my phd isn’t just a means to an end, but an end in itself, it’s very welcome to hear from someone outside my institution that I’m probably going to be able to get a job.
And today, I went to a talk by a graduate from my program who works at a teaching-intensive program. That means that she teaches on average four classes per semester (as opposed to two, which is typical at research-intensive universities). For most folks, the ideal is to get a job at a research school because you teach less and have more time to pursue your own interests and publish articles and books. But there’s also a lot more pressure to publish at research schools. I’ve always wanted to end up at a teaching school, partially because I like teaching and partially because I don’t want the stress of having to publish all the time. But I also really love research and writing. So the speaker I heard today was talking about how to build a research portfolio at a teaching school, and it was encouraging to know that it can be done. Which of course, I knew already because many of my brilliant friends on faculty at ACU manage to do that, but living in the research school culture, as I have for a while now, makes it seem like teaching a lot makes research impossible. It’s nice to remember that’s not necessarily true.