looking for work transitioning out of adjuncting
December 6, 2017 5:31 PM   Subscribe

After being promised classes for the spring, I found out that underenrollment and the shifting around of more permanent and more senior personnel meant I would not have a class after all. I am ready to move on from adjuncting but don't have much experience outside this context and am a bit at sea trying to figure out how to begin looking for work. I expect there won't be much opportunity to apply to jobs before the holidays anyway, but I definitely want to hit the ground running in January. Where do I begin? What job sites are effective for someone with an undergraduate degree in writing and an MFA in creative writing, whose job experience primarily entails teaching college English and managing an independent bookstore? I'm willing to consider big changes but I expect I would be most employable in higher ed admin/staff in some form. I am geographically bound to the Milwaukee, WI area.

Are there employment agencies anymore? Should I try to temp? I don't know what to do. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can probably get a job quickly from a temp agency. You might want to meet with more than one and see what they offer you. You could probably get a job as soon as the semester ends. I'm sorry this is happening to you, and I wish I knew a better way.
posted by Kalmya at 6:08 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Definitely temp for the meantime, just to keep the money coming in.

What about TESOL? You can teach English to Chinese kids online!

posted by mccxxiii at 6:15 PM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thirding temp agencies, and it couldn't hurt to put your resume on file with them just as soon as you're available, just in case. Probably there are some job seekers resolving to expand their search in the new year, and maybe some employers needing to fill in a sudden need or a year-end crunch, and you might be the early bird if you can start sooner than the new year.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 6:18 PM on December 6, 2017

While you're looking, don't forget to file for unemployment! In many states, adjuncts can collect unemployment benefits even on time off between semesters.
posted by tapir-whorf at 6:54 PM on December 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

PM me if you want more specific details or answers about transitioning to an admin/staff role.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:04 PM on December 6, 2017

UWM does not have temporary positions right now, but keep them in mind in your search.
posted by princesspathos at 8:03 PM on December 6, 2017

If you haven't already, have a look at the Chronicle of Higher Education Leaving Academia forums - loads of useful advice
posted by coffee_monster at 4:05 AM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

My husband transitioned from teaching English to proofreading via a temp agency that specializes in "creatives" (even though proofreading isn't a creative gig, it's adjacent to graphic design and layout when it comes to print materials).
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:09 AM on December 7, 2017

Definitely look at higher ed jobs of all sorts. If you especially enjoy working with students, it seems like I'm constantly seeing academic advisor jobs that mostly request a familiarity with higher ed and the ability to work with a diverse student body or something along those lines. I imagine those are pretty rough (you're probably spending a lot of time on a few students with a lot of problems), but it would probably be a good base from which to then apply for more senior positions at the same university.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:10 AM on December 7, 2017

I transitioned from teaching to publishing twenty years ago. Small academic journals can be located in lots of areas, and many universities have publishing arms - so you’d have to look in your area. It’s a competitive field - it can be tough to get a foot in the door - and you really have to start at the bottom. Look for job titles like “editorial assistant.” (My first job title was “technical library assistant.” ) The pay will be low, but it’s steady work with benefits, though with publishing in such transition now, it’s hard to know what will happen. But it’s a lot less stressful than trying to make a living as an adjunct. Memail me with questions.
posted by FencingGal at 6:28 AM on December 7, 2017

Have you considered reaching out to the distance education folks at your current institution or other institutions in the area? The specter of soulless work for the big-name, assembly-line online institutions isn't great, I know, but in my experience, a lot of bricks-and-mortar institutions are looking to create new online, locally-hosted courses -- and the pay can be really good for designing these, especially if they're designed in such a way that other future faculty could teach them, too.

Also, are you pitching freelance work? Like short essays for online venues? Maybe you already know/do this. When you're first doing this, the pay isn't great. Sometimes, even, you have to give content away for free. But you could work up some pitches/drafts over the break and develop a portfolio you can link to; a few paid pieces a month might end up equalling an adjunct salary, especially if supplemented by temp work. If you're a woman, you might see if there's a Binders FB group for your area, too.
posted by pinkacademic at 7:12 AM on December 7, 2017

I got out of academia by way of freelance editing. Step one was freelancing for old classmates and colleagues, editing dissertations and journal submissions. Step two was freelancing for a journal in my old field as a proofreader and copyeditor. That experience was enough to get me a well-paying job editing software documentation. It's less interesting than editing academic writing in my field for sure, but it's in an industry that I trust not to collapse any time soon, and that stability is worth it to me.

If your academic experience included anything you could spin as editing experience — even if it was unpaid "service" rather than part of your job description — you may be able to skip some or all of those first two steps.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2017

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