The coming year is going to be a stressful one for our little family. This fall, Husband is going on the job market for a tenure track position. It’s going to mean a lot of single parenting on my side. A lot of late nights and stressful deadlines for Husband. In theory we were supposed to be making plans for baby #2 somewhere along the way, but obviously that's not happening any time soon...
Husband has been working some pretty extreme hours over the last month or so, trying to finish up some experiments so that he can (finally!) publish his work before he starts the application process this fall. This week he’s leaving for an international conference where he’ll be presenting his post-doc work for the first time and (hopefully) networking with people who will likely be seated on selection committees.
When he returns from his conference, the month of August will be spent hammering out a paper and hopefully submitting. This will mean more long nights and working weekends. It’ll be hard on both of us. Husband will be missing out on a lot of quality time with Bean, and I’ll be stuck with a lot of single parent duty while he’s working. We will probably have to figure out a way to split our commute as well so that he can work as late as he needs to (this month we’ve been carpooling in the morning and he’s been bussing home late at night, but his hours are limited by the bus schedule).
If the gods are kind, he’ll get his paper submitted by the end of August (this will likely be a Hurculean task, as Husband’s boss is both a perfectionist and a reluctant writer). Then Husband can focus on getting his application package together. Husband will most likely submit somewhere between 50 and 100 applications to universities across the country.
Once his applications are in, it’s a waiting game to see who is interested enough to invite him for an interview. With any luck, Husband will be invited for a handful of interviews, and perhaps receive an offer or two. Hopefully somewhere in there Husband will be able to negotiate a job for his trailing spouse (that’s me!). And we’ll hopefully be moving to our semi-permanent location next summer.
After talking to a lot of friends and family recently, it occurs to me this is a bizarre process that non-scientists think is pretty weird. One of the major issues that non-scientists don’t understand is why Husband and I expect to have virtually zero control over where in the country we end up.
The tenure track job market is a lot like the lottery. Hundreds of post-docs go on the job market each fall, only a fraction of those post-docs will end up with jobs. Getting a job isn’t just about being the best (though that helps)… it also depends on a lot of factors that are basically out of your control. Does the university need another person working on (insert model organism here)? Are they interested in your particular subfield? Do they already have someone in the department working in that subfield? Do the folks on the selection committee like your boss? Do they like the other people who wrote your letters of recommendation? Does your work involve some big piece of equipment that the university will never be able to afford?
It’s a crap shoot. No matter how much I believe in Husband and what he does, I have no idea what his chances are on the job market this fall. All we can do is wait and see. Where will we end up? Who knows! But chances are we’ll have very little control over it. As a control freak, I find the situation a little distressing.
Maybe I should just start buying lottery tickets.