roasting marshmellows in phd hell

The Ivory Tower Needs Your Life Essence!

with 2 comments

I went to a ‘how-to’ academic careers type thing given by my phd program

The Ivory Tower is not pleased with your progress. Proceed to the nearest emergency exit.

recently.  Ze said some shocking shit.  I wish I had the powerpoint slides for proof, but since this is the internet, I’m sure you guys will believe me.

Prof X/My Dept Proudly Presents:  How To Get an Academic Career!!!!!!

Step 1- You’re here so you’re probably brilliant!  Well done! Your phd will take you 3-4 years to complete (provided you have no heinous problems which the school will pretend doesn’t exist!)

Step 2- Now your mail will say Dr. XYZ.  This will feel really freaking good. Next use that considerable brain power to publish a few articles from your phd.  Then turn your dissertation into a book, but only publish with the best house possible.  I hear Oxford University Press ain’t too bad.

Step 3- Ok Dr. XYZ with a book and some articles under your belt.  The job market is a bit shit, as you may have noticed, so you may need to take a postdoc position or two.  This will involve working like a maniac for below market wages and probs living in some hideous places.  These positions will last 1-2 years each, so good luck finding a partner/social life.   During this time, you should write another book.  It shouldn’t be that hard since you won’t have a life, anyway.  Figure 2-4 years total for postdocs.

Step 4- Job Market Time!  Give yourself 3 years on the market.  If after 3 years, nothing turns up, GET OUT.  THERE’S NOTHING FOR YOU HERE.

That last bit was not exaggerated for comic effect.  As soon as those words visibly flew out of hir face, they were prison tattooed onto my grey matter.


So, using my sophisticated math skills, this plan from phd to job search takes about 10 years.  10 years of training, publishing, furthering those job skills needed for a tenure track position (and wouldn’t leave much extra time for gaining other concrete skills for some alternate career).  And if, at the end, there’s no pot o gold, don’t let the door hit you on the way out?

(I know I’ve posted this before but it bears repeating.  This is some shameful shit.)

Are you fucking kidding me?  At this point in the ‘lecture,’ I was actively giving Prof X the superman laser eye stare, trying to wipe hir and this idea off the planet.  How can you tell us to bleed for academia for 10 fucking years, making no other plans, and then at the end, just get the fuck out leonardo, there’s rich first class ladypassengers who are more entitled to that piece of driftwood?

Playing the lottery and reading at the public library might be a smarter career plan.

To make matters worse, Ze also made the offhand remark that it was way easier for hir to get a job 20 years ago, back when you didn’t even need a published book to get a tenure track job. AH HA HA HA.  This made me feel loads better.

I also did not appreciate the subtle shift in attitude that occurred throughout the presentation.  The beginning was all ‘you brilliant sexy beast you,’ and by the time ze got to the whole ‘GTFO’ portion, it felt downright hostile.  Like ze was annoyed by the hangers on who can’t get the message and just cut their losses.  losers!  If you devote a decade of your life to this so-called training scheme (and are crazy enough to make the kinds of sacrifies discussed in my last entry), you’re not left with much.  No social/personal life, no job, no plan b, no other work experience, no money.

Where’s step 5?

There is no step 5 because it’s your fault.


Written by universityoflies

July 14, 2012 at 13:15

2 Responses

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  1. ::slow applause::

    clap. clap. clap.

    thanks, that was simultaneously horrifying and massively entertaining. the presentation sounds all too familiar…


    August 10, 2012 at 13:32

  2. thanks for commenting, anon.

    Yeah I was pretty horrified too. The whole thing is such a pyramid scheme. And in its very definition, a pyramid needs a shit ton of people at the bottom to hold the structure up. so depressing. I’m kind of working on an escape route now.. I’ll be posting more about it in the next few days.


    August 10, 2012 at 20:06

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