Okay, world. I said I’d talk about the job situation eventually, and now feels like an especially appropriate time to post my thoughts on this given that I have spent the last few days spiralling into the depths of despair. (Not really, but I’ll use any excuse to quote Anne of Green Gables.)
The past few months have been a struggle. Since finishing my PhD, I’ve scrambled to finish papers while I still have library access, have been teaching my class (I’m lucky that my students are all great), have done some research support/translation work, and have been applying for a boatload of academic jobs, mostly in the UK. Some jobs reject me straight-out because I don’t have UK citizenship. This sucks, but I get it. Others send rejection emails a few weeks/months later. Cool. Others don’t send anything at all. Did my application even go through? I guess we’ll never know.
And then there are the interviews. I’m good in interviews. Heck, I even enjoy them. One interview I did was hilariously bad (saving that story for my memoirs), but I have absolutely nailed the others. I know that I have nailed them because the feedback I get in my rejection always assures me in no uncertain terms how ‘very appointable’ I was. I’ve since learned that I lost one of those jobs because they didn’t wanna sponsor my visa. Other times, someone else has had more subject expertise. Other times, eh. No idea.
I get that the academic job market is tough. We’ve all heard the horror stories. However, I am finding it even tougher with an international passport. I have gotten so close, and then… nope. So why do I keep applying in the UK at all?
I have been in the UK for five years now. I have built my professional network here – a network that serves as a solid foundation for doing great things. I understand this country’s academic and social structures, have UK credentials, and have built a life for myself. Here.
The thing is, I just want to have a life where I can meaningfully contribute to the world. I don’t need an academic job to do this – I’m happy doing any job that puts my skills to good use. I’ve simply focused on academic jobs because academia is a world I know I can rock, but relevant jobs in industry? I’m down.
But, you ask, why the UK? There are jobs everywhere. Sure there are. At this point, I will let you in on a little secret, dear reader.
Life is about more than just work.
It has taken me longer than it should have to realise this.
Life is about relationships. It’s about community. It’s about belonging. And all of these things are rooted in a sense of place.
The UK has – don’t get me wrong, much to my surprise – become a place that I feel rooted in. It is home, at least right now.
And that (complemented by my unwavering stubbornness persistence) is why I keep applying in the UK.
If it doesn’t work out, life will go on. I’ll leave, and I’ll go and build a life for myself somewhere else. However, I’d rather keep building than start completely afresh somewhere else. I want to meaningfully contribute to the world – and I want to do so while hittin’ up the local with my awkwardly-accented friends.