I have been offered the opportunity to teach one undergraduate class as an Adjunct at a good school in the US. This might mean that I have to leave my full-time Lecturer job in UK (Lecturer in UK is equivalent to Assistant Professor in US). Personally, the Adjunct position is appealing because my spouse is starting a 2-year MBA program at this US school next year, and it will be great if we could live under one roof (we also have a small baby). Professionally, I am a bit concerned that I will be giving up a permanent job in UK for this. Does anyone have any thoughts on how the Adjunct position might affect my chances at getting an Assistant Professor job in the US next year?
Date: 25 Mar 2011 04:58
Number of posts: 7
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Having taught as an adjunct can never hurt, BUT so far my experiences as an adjunct have not bought much attention from search committees.
Basically, if you apply for a position at a research oriented school, they won't care whether you have taught as an adjunct. They will look at publications and grants. Having taught classes before will be a distant third or fourth priority.
If you apply for a position at a SLAC, having been an adjunct definitely helps, but you won't be as high on the list as someone who is already teaching full time. (What is your current teaching load?) The SLAC will ask why you aren't teaching more.
Keep in mind that being offered to teach one class for one term is typically no guarantee that you'll be offered the class again later.
Considering the professional aspects alone (giving up a UK lectureship to teach one class as an adjunct), it doesn't sound like a wise move. However, how that fits in with your bigger picture (partnership, baby, life…) is another question entirely.
Thanks for your responses! My current teaching load is pretty low, only 2 undergraduate courses in the whole year- but that is a full-time load in the UK! I have done a lot of teaching as a grad student and some online teaching as well, so have a decent variety of courses on my CV…
I have heard that taking an adjunct position *can* hurt. Schools sometimes negatively "mark" academics who they see as willing to work without decent pay or benefits out of desperation.
On the other hand, since you already had a the equivalent of a Asst Prof job in the UK, your CV will show that you were wanted elsewhere.
Tough call. Sounds like a huge gamble that depends on the thousand or so personal variables that go into making decisions like this.
What kind of market is this where getting an adjunct position (sometimes all that people CAN get in this climate) is a mark against you? This is a brutal, heartless, and ice-cold business.
A choice to be with your spouse and new baby under the same roof should never be considered a bad move — no matter what ramifications it may have for your career. It's a tough market out there, but there are jobs — maybe not the best jobs, but jobs (such as adjunct positions) that will allow you to keep your foot in the door of academics.
I don't know what turns search committees off any more than the next person — but frankly, if you have someone making inferences about your level of desperation when applying for a position in their department, that speaks volumes about the climate there in general. There's always the option to put a bit of explanation about the adjunct position in your cover letters and/or statements — if you have committees "marking" you as desperate, then so be it — those jobs aren't for you.
This is a difficult decision, but it is one you should make without worrying about people in the future deciding that you are desperate and therefore inadequate as an academic. Let your scholarly work, your teaching evaluations, and your letters of reference speak for themselves. In the meantime, enjoy your new baby!
I would take the adjunct position and use the extra time you'll have to push out some publications, that will have a strong positive effect on your application, and make more of a difference than the adjunct vs. lecturer distinction. I agree with Soc, it's too hard to predict if and to what extent the adjunct position could make a difference to hiring committees, there are too many unknowns, it could go either way. So to me, that argues for making the best decision for your personal life.
Is there no possibility of taking a temporary leave of absence so that you don't have to formally leave your current full-time job? Honestly, giving up a full-time post to accompany your spouse while they get an MBA strikes me as making a very sizable sacrifice. If all else fails, would living apart and traveling be a possibility? Obviously a little one makes that extremely difficult, but it seems like a considerable roll of the dice to leave your position. What happens in two years? What are your career prospects going to look like? Even if you start another tenure track job after adjuncting for two years you've lost time toward tenure, and thus pay and benefits as well. These more utilitarian decisions seems all the more important because struggling financially won't be good for your family. More personally, you don't want to be left without a good job and regretting making this move. Do you like your current job or would you want to move soon anyway?
None of this is meant to sound unsympathetic however, as I have been apart from my family too and it is no fun. If you take the adjunct position, I could see it working out nicely and being together with your child and spouse is obviously most important. I just wonder if this is, long term, the best decision. Naturally I don't know all your specifics though, so whatever feels right in your situation is what I'd advise. Best of luck with whatever your choose.