Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The viva: a year on
In a couple of days' time it will have been a year since my PhD viva.  How much have things changed since then!  My new year goals for 2009 effectively ended after that date (OK, a few days later, when I finished making the revisions that needed doing), since I hadn't made any plans beyond completing the PhD (so really the viva should count as a 2008 holdover...).

In the absence of any other plans, I quickly had to make some new ones (I started 2008 with the aim of finishing my PhD and 2007 with being well on the way to completing the research for it - and 2006 with just getting through the upgrade...).  Consequently, I reoriented myself and for the rest of the year I directed myself to applying for jobs (academic and otherwise), initially in the full glow and flush of a job well done and self-confidence.  Increasingly though, that confidence took a battering, to the point that by mid-2009 I wasn't sure I'd accompolished much.

A few months later, the situation was even more grim.  From September I had entered into the second (academic) year of applying for post-docs and teaching positions.  And as with the period around submitting and finishing my PhD, I had no success.  In fact, even less than last year: at least I was asked for additional materials and managed one or two phone interviews last January.  This year I've heard nothing or had rejections, including from post-docs.

This should be a source for concern, but I'm becoming increasingly reconciled to my fate.  Getting an academic job - even a post-doc - at the best of times is difficult.  And in the current climate even more so.  I've mentioned to a few people that I'm contemplating pulling out of the process altogether and benn told to give it time, that things will pick up.  Be that as it may, this was before the government's announcement before Christmas that it would be reducing funding for higher education.  This won't mean job losses but there will probably be a hold on hiring into the future - by which time I'll be several years down the line and competing with other new PhDs.

And the situation in the US isn't any better, as this article shows (it's about humanities I think it's as relevant for social sciences as well).  Couldn't have said it better, although he's clearly got many more years' experience of the market than I do.

Which explains my thinking for this year: last year I was caught out by finishing my goals in the first week of January.  This year I have a few ideas in the pipeline - and they do not involve academia.  I therefore hope in 12 months' time to be feeling a lot more satisfied - and have achieved something - than I did a few days ago.

No comments: