April
18th 2011
Is there a Whole Foods in Lowell yet? Plus advice & links on job searches

Posted under: American history, bad language, class, jobs, local news, unhappy endings, wankers

I love the sea vegetable salad!

Today’s post is a roundup of sorts–be sure to click to read a follow-up question from yesterday’s War on Teachers post, and also to see more linky goodness below. 

But, to the matter at hand:  I just couldn’t resist this.  According to the Boston Globe’s Joan Venocchi, organized labor’s big problem is that they desperately need makeovers:

All the classic accessories were on display at last week’s union rally in downtown Boston: Burly guys in sweatshirts hoisted “Solidarity’’ signs. The song “We’re Not Gonna Take It’’ thumped in the background. Cigarette smoke and angry rhetoric filled the air.

“We’re going to hold those sons of bitches accountable,’’ bellowed Rich Rogers, executive secretary of the Greater Boston Labor Council. This time, labor’s ire was directed at State Street Corp., which confirmed that it expects to receive a federal tax refund of $855 million for 2010 — even though this Boston-based recipient of a $2 billion taxpayer bailout reported a $1.6 billion profit last year.

That really is outrageous. But watching the usual suspects take on the injustice of it all in their usual fashion felt a lot like watching Snooki in “Jersey Shore.’’ Stereotypes make entertaining TV, but they don’t always get action or respect.

This is pretty funny coming from someone working in a dying industry.  Here in Colorado, the flagship university has shuttered its School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and I can’t count the numbers of students I have who either started as journalism majors or who completed their degrees and are seeking a second B.A. in History–History–because it seems like a more practical choice!  I suppose it is more practical if only because however beleagured History departments are, we’re likely to stick around because we’ve been a part of the curricula for several hundred years now.

How can it be that white collar, college-educated “information workers” like newspaper reporters and columnists are all scrambling for work, when they all shop (or aspire to shop) at Whole Foods and use “summer” as a verb?  They gave up smoking years ago–where is their reward for joining the so-called “creative class” and making fun all of those people who take their showers AFTER work?

Speaking of class, money, and “creative class” expectations, don’t miss Tenured Radical’s post today on how to survive life as an adjunct and maximize your chances of landing a tenure-track position.  She offers excellent advice–especially the part about “Don’t listen to senior colleagues who tell you that there will soon be a line in your field and that you are ideally positioned for it.”  Not only should you not put any stock in that, don’t even feel the slightest bit flattered by it.  If someone says that to you, that’s a measure of their hopes for getting a tenure-track line, not an estimation of your personal worth and chances of landing said tenure-track line if and when a search in your field ever materializes. 

Institutions DO NOT REWARD LOYALTY.  They may however reward displays of your market value, which is to say another job offer.  Therefore, if you really want a tenure-track job, you must conduct an aggressive national and even international job search.  Even if your heart’s desire is to stay exactly where you are and never to move again, you must conduct a national and/or international job search.  Worst case scenario:  you get a job offer but no counter offer, in which case you’ll have to move, but you’ll move into a tenure-track position.

Trust me:  there really is a whole country out there that’s not within 50 miles of major Atlantic or Pacific coastal cities.  Some even prefer it, and many others come to enjoy it.  Once upon a time, I thought that getting a job in Massachusetts, Maine, or New Hampshire would suit me perfectly.  That never happened, but you know what did happen?  I took a job in sunny, dry Colorado, and now the last thing that appeals to me is moving anyplace with humidity in the summer, permafrozen piles of goop in the winter, or anyplace that doesn’t regularly offer champagne powder to ski on.  Suck on it, New England!

And speaking of international job searches, we have a follow-up to yesterday’s post on the Mister Gradgrinds of the world and how they’re ruining education in the name of raising standardized test scores.  The teacher in question e-mailed me yesterday after I published the post reporting on her being formally reprimanded for daring to put an inspirational Goethe quotation on the board in an American history class.  She writes, “it is time to get out of teaching in the states. Do you have any suggestions on teaching jobs overseas–say France or even Australia?”  Alas, I don’t have a clue about this, so do any of you have any ideas about how a creative high school teacher can find a job in a Francophone or another Anglophone country?

47 Comments »

47 Responses to “Is there a Whole Foods in Lowell yet? Plus advice & links on job searches”

  1. J. Otto Pohl on 18 Apr 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Teaching jobs in developed countries like France and Australia are even harder to come by than in the US if you are American. Unlike the US these countries have pretty strict laws severely limiting the hirign of foriegners. But, if you can speak fluent English there are lots of jobs teaching English as a second language overseas in developing countries like China or even South Korea. They, however, generally do not pay a lot. If the person speaks French then teaching English in a French speaking country like Togo, Mali, Benin or Burkina Faso might be a preferable option to living in a country where they do not speak the language.

    On the university level it is a bit better. Getting a job in Europe is again probably harder then getting one in the US even with the current job market. But, there are possibilities in parts of Asia and Africa. Most of them pay very low relative to the US, but some like American University of Afghanistan pay up to $40,000 a year if you include the various benefits. Of course you have to sacrafice your freedom of movement to work in Kabul.

    That said it is quite possible to live if one is frugal on the $10k-$15k a year including benefits that most overseas university jobs provide. You will have to adjust your life style to local norms, but you won’t go hungry. It beats being unemployed and it may even beat being an adjunct, but you won’t make a lot of money.

  2. Tom on 18 Apr 2011 at 7:58 am #

    Quoting Historiann: “Even if your heart’s desire is to stay exactly where you are and never to move again, you must conduct a national and/or international job search. Worst case scenario: you get a job offer but no counter offer, in which case you’ll have to move, but you’ll move into a tenure-track position.”

    If only, Historiann. Worst Case may be conducting a national/international job search (or doing so for several years) and being, perhaps, overqualified–or at least otherwise unable to generate any interest on the market.

  3. Historiann on 18 Apr 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Thanks for the advice on international job searches, J. Otto. That’s really helpful.

    Tom, you’re right, of course. I guess I was just trying to make the point that having more rather than fewer options is a good thing. (And I’m sorry.)

  4. Jonathan Rees on 18 Apr 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Historiann:

    I must not have gotten enough sleep last night because I can’t tell whether or not you’re making fun of Whole Foods. Rumor has it that there’s one right near Bah Ram U, which would explain your knowledge of their take-out salads.

  5. J. Otto Pohl on 18 Apr 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Tom:

    What you say is very true. I had two academic books and a number of articles published and it still took me three solid years of applying before I landed my first position in 2007. Which was not in the developed world and did not even pay a salary equal to minimum wage in any US state. In retrospect the whole academic search might have been a mistake. It probably would have been a better job strategy to seek a career outside of academia. After all having a Ph.D. does not prevent one from working in food service. But, if one is really determined to work teaching at a university I think it is possilbe to get a job somewhere in the world if one has a legitimate Ph.D. and a few publications. One just has to make sure the search really is international. Until last year I never even thought to apply to jobs in Africa.

  6. Historiann on 18 Apr 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Jonathan: I’m making fun of white collar workers who mock out blue collar workers for their “outdated” expectations, when it turns out that a lot of “creative class” workers (like reporters and academics) are just as vulnerable as our working class siters and brothers.

    And as for Whole Foods: there’s a WF in Fort Collins, but I live in blue collar Greeley, so I don’t shop there. (Who can afford it, for cripessakes?) We have a Sprouts now in Greeley, which is like Sunflower, the affordable way to find organic food/good takeout food/produe loss-leaders.

    One time I bought a piece of fish at the WF in Fort Collins. It was rotten, so I threw away the fish (of course) and took the package back for a refund the next time I had to drive to FC. The store management gave me $hit about not having the original cash register receipt and refused to refund my $6.00 or whatever it was. Yeah, that’s right: I fished this fish pack out of somebody else’s garbage and drove all the way back to Fort Collins from Greeley just to rip you off. It’s totally worth my time, energy, and gas money to rip you off for 6 or 7 bucks!

    Seems to me like they would have wanted to know that they were selling rotten fish–but no. So that’s another reason why I won’t shop at WF.

  7. LadyProf on 18 Apr 2011 at 9:26 am #

    I’ve tried to avoid Whole Paycheck ever since its CEO published that editorial (will paste the link; I am not sure about HTML-ing here)
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html
    that the Wall Street Journal titled “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare.” In it John Mackey said one of the solutions to the lack of health insurance is more charity by the rich to pay for poor people’s medical expenses. He also said that “All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.” When he wasn’t editorialing against health care for all, Mackey was promoting Whole Foods on Yahoo message boards under a fake name. I’ll take my grocery dollars someplace else, TYVM.

  8. Historiann on 18 Apr 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Yeah–that, too. The New Yorker published a long profile of Mackey recently that made clear his conservatarian roots. Apparently, cancer and other diseases only afflict those who don’t take care of themselves the way Mackey thinks they should.

    And guess what? All countries socialize medicine–but some do it more efficiently by cutting out the for-profit insurance industry!

  9. Indyanna on 18 Apr 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Hah, I would have brought them a dead hallibut the next day, Historiann. Even at a place more than fifty miles from one of America’s four coasts (and if you can believe the possibility such a place exists, maybe especially at such a place) businesses know that a dead hallibut on the doorstep at dawn is a sure sign that it’s not going to be a good day for upper management. They might have revoked that receipt requirement the second they saw you coming in the door.

  10. Perpetua on 18 Apr 2011 at 10:23 am #

    I’m always amazed by the prejudices harbored by academics about any place between the two coasts (excluding Chicago), especially since many expressing such prejudices have never actually left the coast and ventured into the vast wilderness between. I know someone who almost didn’t apply for a great job because of its location in one of said Middle States. My argument was twofold: first, don’t make fake decisions about what you would or would not do based on an offer *you don’t have yet.* Because #2, you don’t know. You might go for a visit and love it; if not the town, you might love the people/ department. Also unis in terrible places frequently know that and sometimes have tighter knit communities and better packages for junior faculty. You can always get out later if you really hate it. Ze got the job, & took it!

    Colorado is one of my dream state to live in, H’ann. I would trade expansive western skies for the east coast megalopolis nightmare-scape any day of the week.

    This simply cannot be repeated enough: Institutions DO NOT REWARD LOYALTY. No matter how “nice” the members of the department/ chair are to you, they aren’t going to make a hiring decision based on guilt for having exploited your hard work, or because they really like you.

  11. Historiann on 18 Apr 2011 at 10:37 am #

    I’m always amazed by the prejudices harbored by academics about any place between the two coasts. . .

    To the contrary: I’m never surprised by it. There is no provincialism like the provincialism of urban East Coast dwellers.

    But, it works for me that everyone (except you) thinks that I must have fallen off the edge of the known world. It keeps housing prices down and my commute time lower. (And, there’s more sunshine and powder snow for me! Not to mention, no earthquakes, tornadoes are a rarity, and no humidity.)

  12. Janice on 18 Apr 2011 at 11:11 am #

    As I said over at TR’s, when we searched in the same field as a more congenially located and slightly higher status U, I know for a fact that we got 1/3 of the applications they did. Not 1/3 less. 1/3 total. Those proportions have held true for almost all our hirings across many fields.

    So there were literally dozens of people who were qualified but didn’t want to apply. We got an awesome hire out of it and I know the southern U did, too, but a lot of people who just wrote off our location didn’t do themselves any service. This is NOT my dream town but a job’s a job and this community has been very supportive of our autistic youngest, so things have definitely worked out. No champagne powder here, though!

    As for your teacher friend: times are tough looking for jobs in a lot of places including Canada. My most successful students w/teacher’s college beneath their belt have gone this year to teach in the far north (and do I mean far north!). And the expectation is to have teacher certification, a B.Ed. or the equivalent. That said, being fluently bilingual as a teacher is always good, pretty much across the country and there are some sites with job search information: http://jobsearch.educationcanada.com/

    Maybe staying in the states but side-stepping out of the public schools is an option? Has anyone brought up NAIS? http://www.nais.org/career/index.cfm?ItemNumber=146045&sn.ItemNumber=142458

  13. Matt_L on 18 Apr 2011 at 11:33 am #

    My sister just got back from visiting a teacher friend who had relocated to one of the Persian Gulf States to teach primary school.

    This person had taught for a couple of years in the LA unified school district, got sick of it and decided to go work overseas. She found the job through a recruiting firm that specializes in education. After ze finishes up the contract in the Gulf, ze can opt to renew or go someplace else, like Singapore.

    Working conditions sound ok and it has given her some time and money to go travel. Great if you are single, probably not a good option if you have a family or life partner.

    Yes, I remember hearing people in grad school talking about where they did or did not want to apply for jobs. It was unreal. Its one thing to make the choice about where you want to live when you have the job in hand. Its another to just rule it out before you have a concrete offer.

  14. Jonathan Rees on 18 Apr 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Historiann:

    I aspire to be able to shop there more often because they sell better food. I aspire to live in a world where working class people can buy better food too. I can handle the cost better than most because we’re vegetarians and don’t have to pay for expensive meat products. Unfortunately, the closest one is in Springs so we shop at Vitamin Cottage most of the time.

    And I may hate Mackey’s politics, but in terms of disease prevention the man is on the side of the angels.

    PS The existence of a Whole Foods near your campus is a major selling point with my daughter for the institution in the college selection process. I figure it can’t be any more expensive than dining service.

  15. squadratomagico on 18 Apr 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    There have been studies that show that individuals have a sort of innate happiness “set point” that they will revert to in quite varied circumstances. Obviously, environment can affect happiness, but many people underestimate their tolerance for a wide range of less-than-ideal circumstances (or what they envision as less than ideal at the outset). A person who is temperamentally inclined to be happy will often find ways to continue being so, unless the environment is truly adverse; conversely, a depressive person will usually continue to feel melancholic even in ideal circumstances.

    This is not to say that environment, colleagues, region, don’t matter at all: clearly they do. But most people are astonishingly adaptable.

  16. Historiann on 18 Apr 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Jonathan: I think you’re seriously kidding yourself if you think that WF is a better deal than the meal plan for your daughter. If she’s not on the meal plan, then she’ll need both an apartment and a car, which cost money. (WF is not far from campus, but it’s on an extremely busy and dangerous road for bikers.)

    Then, she’ll need a substantial amount of time to shop and cook for herself, unless she can seriously afford the premade WF salads and entrees. I would counsel her to enjoy the dorms & dining halls while she can, because she’ll have the rest of her life to cook and clean up after herself. I still dream of my college days precisely because of the carefree lifestyle with little or no housework ordomestic chores. . .

    Squadrato: you make a really good point. People are adaptable, if they want to be, and I completely agree that most people have a happiness set-point that’s difficult to budge one way or the other.

  17. MsMcD on 18 Apr 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    I grew up overseas- I went to English/French speaking schools in Geneva, Paris, London and Brussels. My mother taught 7th through 12th grade English and History and supervised the yearbook at each of my schools. She didn’t always work full-time, but every time we moved (for my father’s work) she was able to teach some classes at the local ex-pat school. She had a Bachelor’s degree in English and History and a teaching certificate from a large state university. The hiring practices at these schools hasn’t changed much. Yes, the students are mostly privileged, but they are very international- Americans are the minority. The pay is okay not great, but you live in some truly amazing places. And the community is really strong.

  18. Historiann on 18 Apr 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    MsMcD–are you suggesting that interested possible teachers should just contact individual schools directly? That’s what it sounds like to me, but if that’s not the case, please clarify.

  19. MsMcD on 18 Apr 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Historiann, yes, interested teachers can contact the schools directly. Most of these schools have active recruiting processes both in America and abroad. Here’s the recruiting page for one of the schools I mentioned, The American School in London. http://www.asl.org/page.cfm?p=1399 But it’s not the only American or International school in London. There are several.

  20. LouMac on 18 Apr 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Just to echo what J. Otto said: if you’re a US citizen and/or are a product of its higher ed systems, it will be even harder to get a job outside the USA than inside. This excludes places like the middle east (where there are sometimes some good gigs in English-speaking unis, and well-paid), Asia, and Africa, but it sounds like this person was asking more about the “global west” countries.

    A few US PhDs get jobs in Britain, but with the austerity measures that’s less and less likely. And there is still considerable entrenched snobbishness there about “American” degrees – I’m a Brit with a PhD from a leading US university, and I’m still treated with suspicion there – they see my studying in the States as proof of less intellectual rigour or something. I find that the US are actually much more open to hiring from outside their borders than almost anywhere else. In my current home department, we have people from Italy, France, Canada, South Africa, and India. You wouldn’t find this in a humanities department in the UK.

    Forget a long-term contract in France and any other European country where a university job is essentially a civil service job – they only hire their own. You *can* get year-long “lecteur” or “assistant” positions in French high schools / universities, to help with English instruction, but they are mostly open to recent BAs, or to grad students whose US institution have an affiliation with a French uni. They pay up to 18,000 euro/year. A good place to look for these year-long gigs is the e-mail listserv Francofil.

    Canada has a law of national preference which makes it very hard to get past the circular file. A search committee has to make a watertight case to even consider a non-Canadian citizen – they have to be able to argue that there really was/is no Canadian candidate at all in the whole country that could do the job as well as this non-Canadian candidate. (This tends to work in favour of foreign scientists, for whom such cases can be made more empirically). I work in French, am bilingual, but still got the standard “I’m sorry we can’t even look at your application” letter in response to every Canadian application I made.

    I have no direct experience with Australia or New Zealand, but I only know one non-citizen who was hired at a university in either place – everyone else I know was either a citizen or married to one. Nevertheless, Australian universities do publish their job postings on US listservs, which indicates they are at least open to considering foreigners.

  21. LouMac on 18 Apr 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    just realised that the original question was about high school rather than university teaching – I think that most of what I said applies there too, in terms of regular, full-time and long-term employment. But you can find part-time or short-term gigs subbing or assisting, especially in private schools, or the international schools that MsMcD mentions.

  22. Susan on 18 Apr 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    As someone who relatively recently moved from the BosWash conurbation to a place more than 50 miles from a coast, I’m astonished by the number of people who ask me, “How do you like living in nowhere?” My standard answer is that this is where I live; I occasionally miss having the choice of theater or art galleries there were in my old city, but I didn’t actually drop in on them that often. So it’s just fine: as Squadrato says, you adapt.

    I remember a grad school student a year behind me, who announced in her first week that she would only teach at an Ivy, or prestigious SLAC. She’s now teaching at a second tier public in a flyover state. Just saying…

  23. Susan on 18 Apr 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    PS Here in nowhere, we’re much more eager for a Trader Joe’s than a Whole Foods. Even have a facebook page for it…but they have income standards that we are currently too poor to meet.

  24. Canuck Down South on 18 Apr 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    “There’s no provincialism like East-coast provincialism”–that gave me a laugh, as I’m constantly amused by the east coast transplants here who insist we show prospective grad students/new faculty from New York the wine bars, etc., just so they’ll believe that there is some civilization in flyover country…what on earth do they expect to find in a large Midwestern city?

    More info on international work: while immigration laws require Canadian universities to publish on every job description that they have to give “preference” to Canadian citizens, in practice that almost never happens, as the universities are very good at making the case that their favoured candidate is the “only” one qualified in the world (this is especially true for research-intensive universities). Canadians have always liked international flavour: 30-40 years ago the biggest humanities department at the University of Toronto had an unofficial policy that they’d hire 1/3 British, 1/3 Canadian, and 1/3 American, but nowadays that translates into almost entirely American (except maybe among a few of the less-competitive universities in more remote locations–but most Canadian universities are in major cities)…so I’d suggest that anyone who really wants to get into Canada should keep going for those jobs. The problem is that the number of oppurtunities is much, much smaller than in the US–in my field this year there was only one tt position in Canada, and I’m in one of the larger fields. Australia _might_ be easier to get into, depending on your friend’s age–it has some good programs for work visas for the under-35 group.

    But I have to agree with those upthread that it’ll be hard for you teacher friend to get into another rich Western country: I know there are no jobs in Canada, for example, and a few of my teacher friends, despite excellent credentials and references, have had to leave the profession and re-train as bureaucrats recently, simply because there are no jobs–the school-age population is shrinking right now (there’s a generational gap after the echo boom, I think), and school districts are slashing jobs everywhere. I’d also caution against taking some of the jobs in state education in the UK…I’ve heard a couple of horror stories from Canadian teachers who’ve responded to UK (London, mainly) recruiters, and then found themselves teaching in inner-city schools with the same or worse conditions as the poorest American school districts. Basically, if your friend is looking overseas, she should check whether there’s typically a surplus of teachers in that country or not (the UK usually has a surplus, so if there are open jobs that they’ll consider non-citizens for, there may be a good reason those jobs are open). But some organizations have interesting exchanges with other countries–perhaps your friend could start with those?

  25. dandelion on 18 Apr 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    I guess journalists don’t even know the history of their own profession. I can well remember newspaper strikes in the not so distant past — the Detroit Free Press, the SF papers. I have many friends who were journalists and now are not. The ones who managed reasonably well with the transition were members of the Guild and were given contract buyouts that helped see them through. The others were, as one of my reporter friends was told by her paper: not eligible for the buyout plan but eligible for the layoff plan instead. What’s that? she asked and management helpfully told her that meant she was eligible to get laid off. And so she was. And is now scrabbling freelance work at approximately 50% of her prior income.

  26. Historiann on 18 Apr 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Heh. The Free Press strikes were well within Vennochi’s career span. But that is exactly my point: we’re all vulnerable, even if we shop at Whole Foods. Reporters and academics who have made their careers writing narratives to please their corporate overlords are fooling themselves if they think they’re any more secure in their jobs than those schlubby guys and smoking gals and their unfashionable anger.

  27. Comrade PhysioProf on 18 Apr 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    I took a job in sunny, dry Colorado, and now the last thing that appeals to me is moving anyplace with humidity in the summer, permafrozen piles of goop in the winter, or anyplace that doesn’t regularly offer champagne powder to ski on. Suck on it, New England!

    Oh, yeah? Well, we’ve got motherfucken CLAM CHOWDER!! Suck on *that*, Colorado!!! Oh, wait! You can’t! Cause you don’t have any fucken CLAMS!!!!!!

  28. Historiann on 18 Apr 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    I miss the oysters, but you can keep the clams.

    (Clams are just a weird food.)

  29. wini on 18 Apr 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    What I miss is the ocean itself.

    And Trader Joe’s.

  30. Indyanna on 18 Apr 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Hey, the Philadelphia Orchestra declared bankruptcy yesterday. The techtonics are beginning to look good for us inlanders. I’m not going to retire until the Atlantic reclaims its natural shoreline, lapping along the Allegheny Ridge. Johnstown, Pittsburgh, Morgantown, Wheeling will rise again. Trilobite, anybody?

  31. J. Otto Pohl on 19 Apr 2011 at 4:02 am #

    LouMac:

    I have the opposite problem you do. I am a US citizen with a PhD from a British University. Everybody in the UK, Africa, the Middle East and most of Asia knows SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London). But, it seems Americans and lots of Canadians only have heard of Oxford, Cambridge and the extremely overrated LSE. So while having a degree from SOAS has undoubtedly been one of the reasons I have not found work in the US and Canada it did help me immensely in finding work in Africa. I am also not too far from the Atlantic Ocean.

  32. Charles on 19 Apr 2011 at 5:27 am #

    “I’m constantly amused by the east coast transplants here who insist we show prospective grad students/new faculty from New York the wine bars, etc., just so they’ll believe that there is some civilization in flyover country.”

    Look, that’s just good sense. Yes, it’s sad that East Coasters are hopelessly provincial. I’m one of them, and it’s a stereotype that holds up nearly 100%. I took a job in a small rust belt city after going to grad school in a big East Coast city. During my campus visit, a kind and very well-meaning emeritus professor gave me a driving tour of the area around campus that highlighted the Athletic Department’s field house, many blocks of suburban houses, and a supermarket. The tour would have been much more effective if he had shown me the nearby walkable neighborhood with a food coop, and a couple bars and restaurants. But he skipped right by it–I think he thought of it as too “studenty” without realizing that it’s just the kind of place I’d like.

    The east coast transplants are telling you what they are glad they saw or what they WISHED they saw on their campus visits. Don’t assume that they’re being condescending in highlighting “civilization” either. Look, wine bars, art house cinemas, good bookstores, these are nice things. And to move beyond the bougie realm, urban vitality and density in general is a really attractive feature to many young PhDs and grad students. With apologies to my emeritus tour guide, I don’t care about our NCAA franchise or the ample parking at the supermarket. Not every town has a lot of these urban amenities, including many “east coast” burgs–this problem of dying cities and the “geography of nowhere” transcends region. So if you’ve got some life in your city, flaunt it.

  33. Perpetua on 19 Apr 2011 at 5:44 am #

    “Don’t assume that they’re being condescending in highlighting “civilization” either.”
    @Charles – I get what you’re saying, and it’s true amenities are just amenities. But what those of who live or have lived in flyover states are saying is that the majority of time East Coasters are talking about or visiting said states, the civilizational discourse is extremely condescending. It suggests first of all that there is no culture outside of the coasts; said culture must be demonstrated amply and always with a zillion caveats about how even-though-it’s-not-New-York-it’s-still-okay. I mean, there ARE of course some grim places to live in the Great Yawning Chasm between the coasts, but frankly there are some very grim places on the coasts as well. The point is simple – job candidates shouldn’t look down at any job prospect based on location without an open-minded visit. There is culture aplenty in Kansas City MO, Billings, MT, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, Lincoln NE, and some really nice smaller towns as well.

  34. Feminist Avatar on 19 Apr 2011 at 6:10 am #

    As a UK academic, married to a UK teacher, I have to agree that there are NO jobs here in either field. This is especially true if you don’t want to live somewhere undesirable. Teaching has a major surplus, so jobs are hard to come by. The few avaiable are in the poorest schools and usually in undesirable areas (which might not be the end of the world if you want a challenge, but you should be prepared).

    Academia works slightly differently here in that we don’t have TT. We have temporary and permanent jobs- and one DOES NOT translate into the other as temp jobs are usually to work on research projects or to cover people who have time off to research or for maternity (so are created by time-limited funding). The temp work is what you do for the first 5-7 years of postdoc life (if my cohort’s experiences are anything to go by). Hopefully you will get a permanent job after that, but you might have given up by that point (as moving every year and/ or periods of intermittant unemployment are stressful). It is now unusual to get a permanent job in the UK without a first book, unless you manage to hit a niche demand in the job market. As a result, I think early-career Americans who try to get into permanent positions in the UK don’t have the publication record for that type of post, and are possibly not applying for the temp jobs that effectively act as our TT training.

    I have a number of UK colleagues who have got jobs in Aussie this year, where the Uni’s seem to be having a bit of a boom. So it might be worth a shot in the current market…

  35. Charles on 19 Apr 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Perpetua–I agree with you 100%. I just think that understanding East Coast provincialism (and treating it as just that, provincialism, not snobbery) is a better idea than being defensive towards it. Sure, there are many snobs out there, particularly in academia, but don’t you down-home-folksy middle-staters have a cute little saying about flies, honey, and vinegar?

  36. Nicole on 19 Apr 2011 at 7:27 am #

    I just don’t like snow. Or winter, really.

    CPP– now that I know you’re in New England (I’d thought you were on the other coast), I am no longer jealous of you at all!

  37. squadratomagico on 19 Apr 2011 at 8:13 am #

    @Nicole: I think the *only* job in my field I didn’t apply for back when I was on the market was in North Dakota. I was willing to move just about anywhere, including some pretty wintry places, but the thought of a North Dakota winter was just unbearable. Luckily, I ended up someplace relatively mild.

  38. Historiann on 19 Apr 2011 at 9:33 am #

    CoughCoughUNDERSTATEMENTcough.

  39. Dr. Koshary on 19 Apr 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Seriously? There are still prospective academics out there on the job market who are declining to apply for a perfectly good job because it’s in a geographic region they don’t favor? WTF? Who on earth does this nowadays?

    I apply for every job that I could convincingly do, in every location. Every one. The only continent that hasn’t come up yet for me is Antarctica. The only job I ever saw that seemed a good fit for me that I didn’t apply for was in Saudi Arabia; my spider-sense told me that it was a really bad idea for me to live in Saudi. And it takes a lot to make me worry about danger.

    I’m simply dumbfounded at the idea that an apparently sane academic on the market now could skip applying for a position in, say, any of the cities that Perpetua names, on the basis that they wouldn’t feel maximally bourgeois and comfortable. How does that make any goddamn sense?

  40. Historiann on 19 Apr 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    I’m somewhat sympathetic–for example, one friend declined a campus interview at one uni because it’s too close to where his toxic family lives. My non-white friends have felt really marginalized and without a community at schools in isolated, rural areas (although they took them, at least until they could find a job in a better location for them.) These qualms are along the lines of your refusal to apply for a job in Saudi Arabia, I think. (That might be a more extreme example, but you get the point.)

    Not all jobs are equally attractive or equally objectionable to all. And, over the course of your career, you might find that your tastes or needs change, too.

  41. Charles on 19 Apr 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Dr. Koshary, I understand your general point–don’t be too picky, as that’s a course for disaster–but it’s equally insane notion to claim that all academics must be willing to live anywhere and everywhere. In fact, I think that kind of thinking can lead to the cultish, vaguely monastic or missionary mindset of academia, that it’s shameful to leave this profession for mundane concerns like enjoying the place you live in.

  42. Nicole on 19 Apr 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    Dr. Koshary–

    There’s an alternative… it’s called leaving academia.

    Most professions let you choose basic locational preferences… urban/rural, area of the country etc. If my current job doesn’t work out, I have my eye on the CA Bay area. I could (probably) get an industry job there that pays quite a bit more than my current salary and would be in my favorite place to live. In the mean time, I’ll go with a job I like in an area that doesn’t make me miserable.

    I also didn’t apply for a job in my home town. I love my parents, but I also love distance.

  43. Feminist Avatar on 20 Apr 2011 at 2:13 am #

    I don’t apply for jobs in the middle-east or in countries where I’d have to live in a compound (despite there being many, many of these right now). Being a woman is a big part of the reason for this- I don’t want to live in a culture where my movement was seriously restricted; I am also very ambivalent about living somewhere where the very poor are locked out of your rich compound for ‘your safety’. What does that say about us if we are willing to ignore such poverty when it’s on our doorstep? At least, in the Western World, I can pay my taxes and do some charity work and lie to myself…

  44. J. Otto Pohl on 20 Apr 2011 at 7:12 am #

    Feminist Avatar:

    Other than Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan I am not aware of any countries in the Middle East or elsewhere where foreigners generally have to live on compounds. Certainly foreign women are free to work and travel around Lebanon, the UAE, Turkey, Morocco and most other countries in the region. If you ever watch House Hunter International there is an episode on the UAE which stars a couple of foriegn women teachers. They are allowed to live and travel anywhere they want in Abu Dhabi and do not have to wear any hijab. So rather than many countries I can only come up with three Islamic states where foreigners often live on compounds. One due to the host government’s policy (KSA)and the second two due to safety concerns due to ongoing military conflicts. In none of these cases are people being locked out on the basis of being poor. Rather foreigners are being locked in to segregate them from society as in the KSA or prevent them from being killed as in Iraq or Afghanistan.

  45. Feminist Avatar on 20 Apr 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Most of the jobs in the middle east, I have seen, offer compound living as part of the wage package, which suggests it must be common for certain employers at any rate. But more generally, I was thinking of African countries like Nigeria and Kenya, where foreigners often live on compounds, sometimes perhaps because they are paranoid; othertimes because it is genuinely dangerous not to.

    I was being a bit facetious when I said ‘locking out the poor’- I appreciate compound living is usually to do with security concerns (real or imagined). But as left wing softhearted type, I tend to see those security issues as being related to the fact the general population are living in desperate poverty. And all compound living seems to do is highlight that social disparity.

  46. J. Otto Pohl on 20 Apr 2011 at 8:31 am #

    The Middle East is a big place. But, other than Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan I do not know anybody who has worked there that lived on a compound. Certainly lots of foreigners live in places like Lebanon, Dubai, Turkey, and other places without being confined to compounds. I can not speak for Nigeria or Kenya, but I live in Ghana and live on a university campus. I live here because the university is 15 km from town, not because I think Accra is overly dangerous. It is safer than most big American cities. I have walked through Jamestown without any fear and it is quite poor by Western standards. On the other hand Nairobi, Lagos, and Johannesburg are dangerous cities. Or at least according to the crime statistics. But, then again so is Los Angeles.

  47. passante on 29 Apr 2011 at 6:23 am #

    I just wanted to stress the fact that it will be even more difficult for an American with an US higher education to land an academic job in Western Europe than in the US.
    First, forget about it if you’re a newly minted PhD (And forget about it if you’re ABD – I don’t know a single European country where they would even consider an application from someone who hasn’t finished his dissertation. In Germany, it even has to be published for you to be eligible). International candidates who do get hired must already have proven that they are outstanding scholars and must be known to the people in the field.
    Then there are different sets of institutional and cultural constraints. France and Germany for example are not really international in their recruitement; moreover, they do expect fluency in their respective languages, as courses taught in English are few and far in between. In France or Germany, they will only consider an American hire if it brings them some kind of real prestige. So they might try to get that young Ivy League Professor, or an old Nobel-Prize winner, or even a young sexy scholar who’s doing something new that’s still not really being done here (aka gender or area studies), but that’s it. Among the countries that are more hospitable culturally and institutionally, you have the UK, but also Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland and Scandinavian countries (all “small” countries that have at least some understanding for the fact that few foreigners speak their languages).
    Besides, you have various problems linked to the present financial situation in all those countries. Bear in mind that in most of Western Europe, the overwhelming majority of higher ed institutions are public. They have always had much less ressources then the American private research universities, and it’s only getting worse, with deep cuts in state budgets hitting universities everywhere. There are no jobs to be had at all in the UK. The job markets are also fragmented and small, thus may be even more competitive then the US. In France for example this year, there are 40 job openings in modern history (16th-20th centuries, all fields, including art history) in the whole country. In France, there are much fewer “contingent faculty” positions (except for PhD candidates TAing); most of the teaching is done by the assistant and full professors (well, and for those who do consider “adjuncting” – pay per course is about 500 euros, per SEMESTER – this is almost only done by professors who are teaching one course at another institution, for whatever reason they want, on top of their normal work load at their institution). Native English speakers might get one-year contracts on the secondary or higher ed level to teach English, but those positions will never be available for more than a couple of years (and at the higher ed level, some kind of qualification to actually teach English will be needed). They will necessitate that the candidate has a visa and work permit. In Germany on the contrary, there are no permanent jobs below “full professor”. You have absolutely zero chance of lending a “real” job in France or Germany doing teaching alone, no matter how good you are at it. In Germany, you actually have people teaching university courses for free or for a couple of hundred euros a course just because they are not yet full professors (which is achieved at 40+ years) and have to stay in the game.
    Coming to Western Europe to teach is doable for young Americans just looking for a way to earn some money during a few months while they’re having fun or learning the language or whatever. Western Europe is no viable alternative for American PhD’s unless they have some deep connections in those countries (come from there, speak the language, have studied there, know a lot of people) or they are stars who just happen to be happy to spend a couple of years away from the MIT tenure track and work for a small fraction of their American salary for the love of wine & cheese (or beer & sausage!).
    Oh and the Europeans usually have only heard of the most prestigious American universities and will look with skepticism or disdain at anyone who’s not a graduate from an Ivy League or equivalent. Finally, each of those countries has its own culture and system, which are all very different than the American one, and Americans will be expected to fit in.

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