Thursday, January 19, 2012

10 days later...

It's been 10 days since Simpson College told me I would not be returning next year due to budget cuts. Aside from finding myself incredibly unmotivated to support the college at this point, I haven't given up on my students. And they haven't given up on me. I want to first publicly thank the students who have vocally and otherwise protested my layoff. I want you to know I'm still in your corner, and I remain completely devoted to you and the classroom and my responsibilities to you.

I've spent the past 10 days reflecting on what it is, exactly, I want to do next. I honestly still don't know. I thoroughly enjoy teaching, and I can honestly say the students at Simpson have been among the best I've ever taught. I love our interactions and relationships. The faculty here have been overwhelmingly supportive as well, and I will miss them terribly when I leave.

In the meantime, my search is underway. I have to say that today's high temperature of 14 degrees has me looking South as much as possible (sorry, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, I won't be applying for your vacancy), but I remain open. My wife is also being incredibly supportive, telling me that I should be looking for my dream job. Frankly, I thought I had it here, which is what makes things so difficult. Hopefully, the next place that hires me will appreciate me and see me as a valuable asset. I still don't know if that will be in higher education. Since I'm over 40, though, I'm not sure how to reinvent myself at this point. I have to say I find myself extremely frustrated. I've applied for three jobs in the past week. I was very selective and applied only for places I felt I would be valued and for which I would value working. I imagine if I'm still unemployed come May, that selective application process will fall by the wayside. We'll just have to wait and see.

I could always plant a chile pepper farm and enter the salsa business....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So, I need a job...

As many of you know, I was "laid off" from Simpson College Tuesday afternoon as part of a major cost-cutting initiative. Enrollments here are at an all-time low, and the college is hemorrhaging money, and letting faculty go is now part of the way to get students to come back. Yeah. It makes no sense to me, either, but it is what it is.

As I begin the job hunt again -- something I honestly wasn't ever hoping to do again, because I liked it here at Simpson -- I find myself wondering two things: (1) Do I want to stay in higher education, given the climate nationally, and (2) is there anything out that there that is stable at all? I love teaching, and I'm rarely happier than when I watch that proverbial light bulb go off over a student's head during that moment when he or she "gets it." I have also started a small side hobby, a Twitter feed called @comminternships, dedicated to helping college students land that first job during and after college. It has also expanded to a regular blog post at College Media Matters. I will endeavor to continue that regardless. In fact, I am already considering ways in which I might be able to monetize that in the future. Let's just say it may be time for me to practice what I preach in the classroom regarding entrepreneurial journalism.

The nice thing has been the parade of students and faculty stopping by to tell me they can't believe I, of anyone, was let go. The fact of the matter is that wear a lot of hats here -- I teach three classes a semester minimum (I usually teach an overload or two in our night program as well); I advise the newspaper, magazine and the radio station; and I serve as the internship coordinator for communication and media studies. Now, all of those duties are going to be distributed among the three remaining journalism faculty members -- each of whom is already stretched to the limit. I feel sorry for them, because my departure hurts them almost as much as it hurts me.

I am hopeful this job search is as fruitful as my last. When I chose Simpson, I had four other job offers on the table at the time. This seemed, at the time, to be the most stable option. One lesson learned: I'm clearly not a good judge of stability.

If you have any knowledge of job options, please let me know.