What do you (temporarily) do with an MA in History?
February 8, 2014 8:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm currently enrolled in a History Ph.D. program and will be eligible to leave with an MA in a couple of months. I've applied to finish my doctorate elsewhere, but, given some recent developments in my department, have decided that I would really rather leave after my MA regardless of whether I get in elsewhere this cycle. Help me brainstorm options.

I had already decided that I'd rather complete my graduate work elsewhere and had applied to other programs, but over the past month and a half or so, my program has taken a sharp turn downwards -- one esteemed faculty member left at the beginning of the year, another left suddenly in January, my advisor is probably going on the job market soon, et cetera. There are also some funding-related issues I'm not going to go into here. But all of this together means that I'm looking for backup plans in case none of the other schools I apply for work out. I experience teaching as a vocation and am also passionate about research; I have every intention of returning to the academy.

I'm already applying to NYC Teaching Fellows and am probably applying to the AmeriCorps National Civilian Conservation Corps, but would appreciate suggestions for other places to look. I'm generally looking for 1-2 year full-time volunteer commitments. (Of course, I wouldn't be opposed to an actual job, as long as planning on leaving in a year or two from the outset wouldn't be a problem.) I'm very geographically flexible, although staying in the NYC metro area would be nice. History-related would be a perk, but I'm up for basically anything. Fluent in German, have some French and Spanish. Openly queer and a member of a religious tradition without a related volunteer corps, so nothing too conservative.
posted by anonymous to Education (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Look at independent schools. It might be less social justicey than you want, but in all honesty the first year of teaching is extremely difficult even without the additional stress of students not reading at grade level, behavioral issues, etc. The Andover Teaching Fellows program or similar might be a good fit.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:20 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Whoops, looks like the Andover deadline recently passed -- here are a few other similar programs, all at secular independent schools in Massachusetts:
-Wilcox Fellowship at Concord Academy
-Nashoba Brooks teaching fellowship
-Noble and Greenough teaching fellowship
posted by oinopaponton at 8:37 AM on February 8, 2014

(In a similar spirit to oinopaponton.)

I work for a NYC-area based charter school network, and we have "practice teacher" positions for people who think teaching might perhaps be for them but don't have training/experience. These are on a one-year contract and don't pay a ton, but would allow you to get into a classroom (I'm assuming high school, probably...?) and learn on the job without having to go through the quite terrifying experience of managing your own classroom in your first year. Like most other charters in the city, we're serving mainly non-white and low-income communities, so that would be more on the social justice-y side. Tons of young/liberal/queer/queer-positive people, too. :)

Just something to think about before going down the private school route...
posted by yonglin at 8:49 AM on February 8, 2014

Of course, I wouldn't be opposed to an actual job, as long as planning on leaving in a year or two from the outset wouldn't be a problem.

FWIW, I can't think of any entry-level civilian jobs where this would be a problem. As long as you're not openly scornful of the job you've got, and don't act like you're liable to vanish at a moment's notice, nobody expects a real binding long-term commitment out of you as an employee.

The right answer to "Where do you see yourself in ten years?" is never "I still want to be doing this exact job that I'm applying for right now." But most interviewers would be fine with hearing "Eventually I want to go back to grad school, and I see this job fitting in with that because $REASONS" — especially if the reasons make it clear that you're interested in learning to do the job well, and not just trying to collect it as another line in your CV.
posted by this is a thing at 9:11 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Look at public history jobs. Not all teaching takes place in a classroom!
posted by Miko at 11:23 AM on February 8, 2014

The NYC Independent Schools almost always have Assistant or Associate teachers, usually K-5th. Almost without exception, these positions are 2 years at the most - you wouldn't be able to continue beyond that unless hired as a Head Teacher, so this might be just the thing for you. As for the culture and mission of the schools, they are greatly diverse. For example the school where I taught for 10 years in the West Village would be ideal. It would be easy to shop around for a position that was comfortable and welcoming.
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:57 AM on February 8, 2014

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