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don't lose hope

Not sure if this is the kind of thing OP is looking for, but...

I applied to a lot of TT jobs for several years in the country where I got my PhD and wanted to stay. When I was rejected for a TT job at the institution I was already currently working at as an adjunct, I felt totally despondent and hopeless. If my own colleagues didn't want me (I'd been given merit bonuses for excellent work, so it wasn't a matter of poor performance on the job), who would?! Then I got an offer for a job in another country, went there, got paid significantly more, have great colleagues, and have a substantially higher quality of life than I would have in my former 'dream job'.

Yet to win

I want to chime in by saying that I also look forward to reading more such stories, so thanks for the thread.

While I am waiting, I want to mention something related to the topic, although only very loosely.

When I was a graduate student, I had never anticipated what I have been experiencing now, which is that it is extremely hard, nearly impossible to get people to read my papers or drafts. No exaggeration here. I didn't expect that my drafts will have no readers other than my referees no matter how hard I try to solicit feedback from philosophers---even if I know them personally. To be clear, I mean no blame or complaint---all of them are very kind and helpful people. It is just objectively difficult for making room for reading my drafts. (An extreme case to illustrate the lack of readership I experience is this: I assigned my own draft for a seminar I was teaching on a specific topic we were talking about. But that day, no student came to class because none of them managed to read my draft even in part.)

Of course I am putting a lot of work into my work, and really hope that one day I will gain some readership. Then I will be able to share my experience. Looking forward to see other people's inspiring stories!

stupid dreamer

As a graduate student, I always imagined myself working at an R1. I *loved* research and was not a particularly good teacher.

Global economic crises, among other things, killed that dream. I had multiple on-campus interviews in Leiter-ranked departments, but there was always someone just a bit better - whether that was due to pedigree, publication record, or AOC.

In the meantime, I found stable full-time employment, first as a VAP and then on the tenure-track. But the teaching loads were heavy; in two calendar years, I taught 19 courses and 8 different preps. I became a good teacher - it was a matter of survival.

Through this, the dream of research stayed alive. I became a sick and unhealthy mess, but managed - much to my extreme surprise - to place an article in a top journal.

That publication helped me get a slightly better TT job, though it still did not leave much time for research. I decided that, maybe, this was enough. I did my job well and I earned a paycheck. I bought a house, supported my family, and watched TV in the evenings. I pulled off some decent publications.

After some time, I realized that this life was not my dream. My location was, socially, quite isolating and uncomfortable, and my family was unhappy. We tried to put down roots, but they did not take. I seriously considered leaving the profession so that we could have some choice in where we lived.

The dream of research had still not died, so before leaving the profession, I decided to give it one last shot. The pandemic hit that year, and searches were canceled. So, one last shot became two last shots.

At the moment when all hope was lost, an offer came through. From a research department that happened to be a very good fit, in a location that we were extremely enthusiastic about. After many years, the dream came true.

That's my story.

K-12 Philosopher/Philologist

Finishing PhD at a good but not ranked school, constantly striking out on the job market. I'd been a Classics major in undergrad and had thought about getting an education degree to teach Latin or History as a fallback, but I didn't think I'd really enjoy it and couldn't afford more school. I also had several years of tech support experience, but no certifications, so again, not an ideal fallback because of the extra education I'd need.

One Saturday night I procrastinate on dissertation work by applying to a posting at a K-12 school a couple towns away for a Latin teacher. A few days later the head of the school calls me, we have an amazing conversation. Turns out they're not only looking for a Latin teacher, but also someone to teach logic/philosophy to high schoolers, and a tech support person. I end up getting a job that is perfectly tailored to my skills and experience, teaching two subjects I love, at an institution whose mission I believe in. I wish I had more time for research/writing, but in almost every other respect I'm living the dream.

former chair

I dropped out of my first grad program after four years. I took a job at a grocery store. Five years later, I decided to give it another try. I entered a different grad program and managed to get through in about eight years. After five job seasons (one ABD), 350+ applications, and two lecturer gigs, I landed a tenure track position. I'm tenured now.

Shoulda Been a Lawyer

I am trying not to doxx myself, so this will be somewhat vague. I was kicked around on the job market for five straight years in every way that one can be kicked around. I was not considered for the opportunity to jump up from NTT in a department to TT, when I was clearly a strong candidate. I was laid off from a "TT" position. I sabotaged myself by declining an opportunity for an incredibly attractive TT job (I still don't fully understand why I did this). I had a flyout where nobody from the search committee contacted me afterwards to let me know I didn't get the job. Eventually, I landed on my feet in a TT job in a department that supports me. I don't know if I'll stay in academia forever, but it's nice to have stability while I figure that out.

I owe a lot to the continued support of my mentors.


My department had 6 full time members when I joined.
We're now down to 3. During the time we've lost faculty I as chair have every year asked for replacement hires with all sorts of documentation, but at each point there has been some other department with hiring priority. This year again I was told the same.
The admin person holding that purse-string took a permanent medical leave earlier this month. I was talking to their replacement (essentially the even higher ranked person extending their role for 6 months) as they came in, and I mentioned that next semester we were going to be offering 27 sections with just 9 covered by permanent faculty.
"That's insane. I can authorize two permanent hires if you can get the paperwork done by start of August"

Well, let's see if it happens. But it's a proto-win, at just the point I'd given up.

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