So, this is my third year on the market. The first time around, I had a half-finished dissertation and no clue what I was doing, so I applied to fifty-odd jobs in the hope that some of them would stick. The second time, I was in a blind panic and applied for every early modern or generalist job on the table, interviewed every which way, and finally ended up in a visiting position here at New SLAC, after one of those fabled late-April miracles.
This year is different. Among other things, they say it's easier to get a job when you have a job, but I'm not sure yet how much easier it is. Then, too, the flip side is that it's a lot harder to apply for jobs when you already have a job, particularly if that job is at a SLAC that emphasizes faculty involvement in the life of the campus, whatever that means. Do I go to the English club meeting, or use the time to revise the teaching statement? Spend the weekend being convivial with the new colleagues, or send applications?
Mostly, I've chosen to put New SLAC stuff first -- partly because I think I have a better shot at being hired for a t-t job here than I do at a place where they've never heard of me before, but mostly because it's what I genuinely want to do. I like this job and I like hanging out with the people here, and I have an uneasy feeling that this, too, is a trap, because for all I know they don't like me enough to hire me for the tenure-track position, and it's best not to get your heart set on any particular job. But I'm here, and this is my life right now, so how am I supposed to not get attached to it?
At this point, it looks like I've definitely caught the attention of a couple of search committees, both at other SLACs that look like they would be quite decent places to work, one of which is in a cool and interesting if rather troubled city. And what worries me is that I should be excited about having one MLA interview lined up and another strong expression of interest this early in the season -- this time last year I would have been jumping for joy -- and this time around I'm not all that excited about these two unknown schools, more worried that I haven't heard anything from the search chair at New SLAC yet. Last year I was all about the great leaps into the unknown, and this year it's like my inner two-year old is stamping her feet and howling "Don't WANNA go anywhere!"
Well -- things will get resolved, one way or another, and in a way it's a comfort to know that so much of the process is out of my hands. It's a bit like getting on the bus in a strange city and seeing where the driver takes you, which is the very best way to take buses, except when you end up at the landfill. (Uh, I'm not sure this analogy is all that comforting after all. Never mind. It's late and I'm tired.)