How do I deal with a big mistake in my last job?
October 24, 2012 12:24 PM Subscribe
I burned a bridge. Will I ever work in this (academic) town again?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was a full-time adjunct faculty member at University A. It was my first time teaching, and according to my students' evaluations and my one observation by the assistant chair, I wasn't bad at it and I showed potential and enthusiasm.
After a year of doing this (for extremely low pay) I got a full-time job on the industry side of my subject matter. I took it and left on good terms.
EXCEPT! Around this time I was quietly coming to pieces with what was later diagnosed as anxiety disorder. I stopped opening my mail, answering my phone; I even stopped checking my email. As a result, I wound up leaving two students hanging when I left. They had earned changes to their final grades (one was a minor thing -- a C to a B, but the other was a big deal, an F to a D). And I just let it go. The students talked to the assistant chair, who tried to hunt me down, but couldn't.
Meanwhile, I was getting counseling, taking Xanax and Lexapro, and not telling anyone. I was slowly improving.
Eventually, I faced the music, but not in the best way possible. The assistant chair showed up at my new workplace. I was gobsmacked and started sweating immediately, but I handled the situation as best I could.
I invited him into the conference room, and I immediately began to flail myself for my shortcomings. I apologized and took responsibility for my actions. I offered no excuses.
He said something to the effect of, "You're not the first person to have a meltdown in the (XXX) Department. I'm not hear to heap more coals on you. Just what should I change (the students') grades to?" I told him what they should be and why. He thanked me, wished me luck, and left.
That was a year ago. In that time, i sent him an email explaining what I was going through at the time. I also told him that I would love another chance to teach (and, I implied but did not say explicitly, redeem myself). He never replied. And who could blame him?
Now: There is a full-time faculty job open at University B. On paper, I am well-qualified for it. My anxiety is well under control.
But there's the matter of my meltdown. I believe Assistant Department Chair is an honorable guy, but I wonder what he could possibly say if he was contacted by University B search committee?
It matters to me because I've been working a number of jobs for the last five years, all with the goal of getting a faculty position (I now have the academic credentials and the teaching experience and the publications...).
Am I sunk? What do I do?