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Wednesday: July 29, 2015

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Now I owe posts on Peru and on my HPF grant project! But let me tell you why I am too busy to post now. When my classes got cancelled at my local university this spring, I decided that I cannot do adjuncting anymore. I gave it about a year, which some of you may scoff at, but I’ve been in the real world (no offense meant, but academia is not a normal workplace), and I can get a real job elsewhere that has stability and benefits and a liveable wage. I got my education for myself; it does not define me and I am fully comfortable not working in anthropology as long as whatever work I find feels satisfying. And it feels really good to finally realize that.

Because, if adjuncting is it for me, no thanks. The reality of adjuncting? About 2500$ per class in my area for having an M.S. degree, capped at no more than two or three classes a semester, depending on the university. No benefits, even though you work full-time hours if you have the opportunity to teach 3+ classes (stretched out between multiple universities – which for some people means a lot of commuting). And, depending on the university, you could lose your job the weekend before the semester starts, which is what happened to me this spring. [The other university I teach at does things a little differently – rather than handing over an adjunct’s course load to a full-time professor whose classes got cancelled for low enrollment, they make up the differences in the following semester so you know a few months in advance. That gives you more time to prepare and look for another job to get you through the year.]

So this spring, I wrote a letter to my boss that I wanted to be considered for a full-time position, or I would have to start looking elsewhere. But I did not send it, because, well, I thought it might be a bit naive or something, and I had just found out that a friend didn’t make tenure and was being let go and I didn’t like the timing of it all. Instead, I went on an 8-week archaeological project.

During this time, I got my QP status, huzzah! I submitted my application and CV to the state’s DNR about a week or two into the project. A week later, I became an official Qualified Professional archaeologist for the United States and the state of Indiana (which has separate, higher standards), and I became a Principal Investigator as far as the federal government is concerned (but 21.6 months shy for Indiana). I decided instead, then, to contact the other local universities I had applied to when I first graduated with an updated CV laying out my grant award and new status.

Choices appeared! One school had an adjunct position open to teach a single class, online, in exactly the way they structured it. I decided not to apply – I already don’t prefer online teaching, and to basically be the voice of someone else’s work seemed even more disconnected to me. Another school told me the application steps, which I didn’t have time for. A week or two later, they contacted me back to let me know they had a lecture position upcoming if I was still interested. I was about ready to look into that when I received another email.

My retired advisor informed me that my university had a full-time position now available and I should apply. At this point, I just kind of said to myself, “what the hell!” and sent my letter and CV off to my boss. A couple of phone conversations later (some literally while I was hanging precariously to a cliffside), I got a visiting lecture position.

And so that is why I am busy now. I let the other university know I was taking this job instead and completed my archaeological field work. I could not focus on my teaching grant during that time, so I have to address that first now that I am home. Then, I have to prep for my upcoming courses, two of which are a bit daunting but I’ve come a long way and will trudge ahead at a sustainable speed (a year ago I would have said high speed, but things change). The classes are not my own choosing, but the previous lecturer’s, and they lie a little beyond my speciality but not entirely outside it, so I will manage. I also have to do some research writing for the field work. Ergo, between all that and my lovely ability to procrastinate in times of stress, my schedule is packed.

TL;DR? I have a full-time job beginning in the fall.

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Wednesday: March 13, 2013

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My life changes completely in the fall. I had thought my life changed completely when I quit the bank and started grad school far from home, and to an extent it had. However, I had been in school since time immemorial, so although I no longer work outside of school, it isn’t entirely new. Graduating this August means that I have officially changed careers. Not many people I know have experienced this – most people have gone to school and then gotten jobs in their new field, ie. they began their career, or changed positions but stayed within the same company. I had a pretty good thing going at the bank for an entire decade, and this new life will be utterly different.

I am leery to become a full-time teacher at the get-go. For so long, I was against teaching at all. Only through my Supplemental Instructor position as an undergrad, and now adjunct position at grad school have I come to enjoy opening minds (and realizing that I may be slightly decent at it maybe has helped, too). Therefore, I am not in a rush to get a PhD any longer. Limiting myself to an adjunct position by only having a master’s degree will leave me with free time that can be spent on other projects (or if necessary, I can fill up that time with adjunct positions at multiple universities). One of these will be officially helping my husband in his career for a time (self-employed computery mumbo jumbo that you wouldn’t want me to get into here). Other prospects, I hope, will be anthropological in nature.

The wires of the Interwebz at Boy’s office.

So where does this leave me? Well, I did have an interview at my alma mater and I do have a teaching position this fall, yay! It really wasn’t much of an interview, I admit. I stayed in contact with one of my professors and she let the Chair know I was interested in the position. My advisor also caught wind and all three were very excited. I brought my updated CV, and we chatted for quite some time but I was essentially hired immediately. They always felt I was a star student, and I excelled as an SI leader. In addition, they get a lot of adjuncts from bigger universities (with money and dorms). These adjuncts do not usually understand the student base; the school itself is in one of the most down-trodden areas of the state and most of the population commutes (as far away as 2 hours!). People have full-time jobs that take priority because they have to support themselves, and many students have families (whether or not they are traditional or non-traditional students). I get this entirely; in fact, I had a hard time adjusting to the students at UIndy where many have never worked a day in their life, everything is paid for by their families, and they live on campus. UIndy has many more dedicated students, but my alma mater has many more life-experienced students. It is interesting to me that academia can be so different, and a shame that not everyone can have both qualities.

To start, I will do intro classes to either cultural or physical anthropology, and in the future I may be able to teach 200 level courses like archaeology (I already have plenty of ideas for that!). The program has been changing since I graduated there (indeed, when I was there, there was no anthropology bachelor degree), and I am excited to aid in that change. Here’s another photo; I am with the Chair 5 years ago – you can read about it here.

I received many awards at the College of Arts and Science Honors Tea Ceremony over the years at my alma mater.

The faculty at UIndy seems sad to see me leave (side note: I’ve been known around the lab as Rebecca the Grey because Boy’s computer wizardry has worn off on me slightly and they believe I have magical powers with technology – but recently we had a get-together and I was elevated to White, whoo!). They have said that I can always count on them for support in the future and such. And, since they know I am dedicated to the field, I may be able to do summer archaeology projects around the state with them (starting with, perhaps, my home county in Southern Indiana). I will use my free time to write grant proposals and they will help mentor me with their experience in the field. I love this idea – it keeps me from being “just a teacher” and I do not mean that as if teaching isn’t a worthy occupation. I simply mean that I don’t want to be only a teacher; I want to be an active anthropologist.

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the grad school interview

Tuesday: August 16, 2011

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In my case, I did not have an interview with UIndy, exactly. Dr. LP, from IUN, had suggested that I speak with the school because I was not sure whether I should enroll under the biology department for human evolution, or the anthropology department, for bioarchaeology. I decided to learn about the new anthro program first and began email correspondence with Dr. S, the director of the master’s program. He offered to meet in person to go over the specifics.

I had scoured the interwebz about what to expect at interviews, what to bring, and other ways to prepare, but I could not say for certain this was the situation I would find myself in. Was it a casual meeting, or was this to be an interview? I decided to dress up and bring a copy of my CV-in-progress, my unofficial transcript, and a copy of the paper I churned out for the Peruvian field school, just in case.

I arrived early and first sat down with Dr. R, the chair of the anthro department. From that conversation, I decided it was going to be more of an interview process, but surprisingly my nerves were not wrecked.  I think because I hadn’t actually decided if I was going to do anything about grad school in the near future. Of course, once I met with Dr. S and he asked the life-changing question, “So will you be enrolling for this fall?”, that decision was pretty much made. The thought of enrolling so soon made me as as giddy as a school girl.

Dr. S allowed me to sit in on his mortuary archaeology class. [I would like to note that although I personally have zero desire to partake in excavating cemeteries for the sake of excavating, it would be lying to say the subject did not interest me.] Sitting in on the class was nice – it allayed my fear of how formal grad school may be, or how formal UIndy would be compared to IUN. It was a relaxing atmosphere, open and inviting.

I had gone in to this interview expecting the worse. Was it a commuter school, like IUN? I did not want that. Was it going to be all secondary research instead of the real deal, similar to IUN? The stroll through the lab, with the white light confocal microscope, proved this was not the case. Would the teachers be grueling in their expectations of student’s “free time”? I got the feeling the faculty understood personal lives. Overall, it was a great experience. Except for the lack of major funding and the uncertainty of a brand new program with a teeny cohort, I had no issues and decided to kind of pursue the idea.

There was just this little dilemma about a solid job I had had for over ten years…


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