Tuesday, April 17, 2007


It's finally sinking in, what a risk this new job thing is. I've received the letter of appointment, and a packet from human resources at the new college, and it all has me thinking.

As I read the appointment letter, a lot of things sort of leapt off the page. Pretty standard in terms of a teaching contract, but new to me.

You see, I'm leaving nearly five years of relative job stability, with a nice schedule that I have control over. There's no one else here who does my job, and if there weren't someone doing it, the uni would get fined tens of thousands of dollars by the state and the feds. And it would be too overwhelming for my boss to hire and train someone else, so if I hadn't left, I'd have had relative job security for the foreseeable future and beyond.

But instead, I'm going into a job that contracts with me annually, until I get tenure. And that is 7 long years away. So my job each year will depend upon whether I get along with everyone in the department, get good student evals without being a pushover (a very fine line), and ultimately the uni's budget. Because unlike my current job, there are any number of adjuncts out there who would like to teach a course or two, and if the uni has a budget problem, it's the non-tenured who will be replaced with those less expensive adjuncts.

Yes, if I get tenure, I'll have some job security, which is one reason for accepting this offer. But, I have seven nail-biting years before I get there. And, what if they don't give me tenure after I put in those seven years? I'll be 54 then, and no uni will hire me if I have a big 'not offered tenure' sign on my back.

I also have little control over my schedule now, and it will change twice a year. It depends upon what classes I'll be assigned to teach, what meetings I have to attend, when students can meet, when deadlines arise for publications...and that's just in the uni. I'm also expected to be an active member in professional organizations, meeting and presenting.

I also have to change medical insurance, and all of the plans are more than I pay right now. We'll have to change doctors again, after five years of having some good ones. And the new uni does not have a dental plan apparently.

And I have to join the union and pay dues. If I choose not to join, I still have to pay a fee comparable to dues. I have no idea where that money goes. But if I have to pay anyway, I'm going to opt for the union -- I'm not paying for nothing, I want something for my money.

I have to use public transport, and that's pricier than the gas for my car, even at the $3.04/gallon I paid on my last fill-up. The train is 180/month, and the subway is 76/month. That's 256/month just in commute bucks.

When you consider that the 3500 annual increase over my current salary is under 300/month, you can see that all my extra income will go to transportation. Plus more to medical insurance, and those union dues. It looks like I wind up losing money in this deal.

So yes, this is me, complaining about getting exactly what I wanted and worked for, isn't it, lol. And yes, now I need to remind myself that I took this job because I really like teaching. I really like teaching. I'll be doing what I want to do, and that's a good thing. And clearly it's never been about money for me, or my major would've been law or business. I guess I just needed to put my fears on paper. Now that I've said them, maybe they won't bother me anymore.

I found this photo here, and had to add it to this post; this is exactly how I feel right now.


jenny14 said...

Wow! Hardly encouraging to enter Academia, is it? But hopefully, you will ultimatley have more security and you salary will rise commensurate with your experience


fellahere said...


Infinitesimal said...

yeah, this is a big yikes.

do you know why the position opened up in the first place?

Did you take the job for sure? give notice at your other job? wowie!

Do you have to do writing too? like a certain amout of published pieces per year? or am I mistaken on that one?

I'm pulling for ya, sixter.

Pooh said...

Wow.... Now you've got me just as nervous about it. Do you feel deeply that this is the right opportunity for you? If you held out for a different job AFTER you complete the dis, is it possible you could get a teaching gig with better perks, salary, and benefits? Not trying to be the voice of negativity. Its an exciting time, I know. I guess risk taking like that makes me worry enough when its just me, so I know its got to worry you more when you've got a rugrat at home. You'll do a great job teaching, though I know! But "eeegads" that commute and the cost...and no dental?!?!

We're all pulling for you though!

Spring said...

Hello all, and thanks for the comments and concerns. I think a large part of this post was me getting scared of making the change. The paperwork I received in the mail was a bit overwhelming, and it all just sort of 'hit me' what a big deal this is.

Yes, I'm already committed, and I don't think anything better will happen if I wait. Iin fact, I think, given the competition in this area, that I'm very lucky this place took a chance on me.

Most of this is standard for faculty, like the year-to-year contracts until one gets tenure. But once I have tenure, I do have more security than I'd have in any non-faculty position. I just need to get through those 7 years, and it's a little bit scary.

Someone else pointed out that the cost of my commute on public transport will come through pre-tax dollars, which will help, and which I couldn't do when I was driving to work. And, I can sleep on the train, lol.

And a couple of positives I forgot about are the employer matching contributions to the IRA, and that NYC has a city retirement program in addition to what I put away through IRA contributions.

And it might just be that rugrat can attend this junior college rather than the one in our own county, and there's probably tuition remission for her in my benefits package, I haven't checked yet.

I need to keep myself focused on the positives, and not let the scary things get to me.


infini, at a four-year college I'd have to be publishing, yes. At the junior college level in nyc, I don't have to publish to get tenure, but I do if I want promotions after that (like to associate prof, or full prof). I should look at that as a another positive. I can publish without feeling any pressure in the first 7 years.