I'm writing to seek a bit of advice. I'm in currently working at a SLAC and my work life is miserable. The department is dreadful (read hostile), the city I live in is dreadful, and I have made few social or intellectual connections since arriving here about 2 years ago. I started applying for jobs back in August and I've had some success—a lot of phone interviews and a campus visit but no offers. I keep applying for TT openings and even post docs (if they'll have me?) but I'm pretty disheartened. I love research and enjoy teaching but staying in my current job is not an option (my future mental health depends on leaving). So, this is a really long winded way to ask whether leaving academia means leaving forever. Do people return? And if so, how do they manage to do it? Perhaps I should mention that I am social psychologist/basic researcher.
Date: 01 May 2012 02:33
Number of posts: 7
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I am not sure that I understand. If you work at SLAC, even if you are not doing research, you are still in academia. Are you thinking of leaving your position for another job and then try to return for a TT position?
Yes anon. I am at a SLAC now, but I need to leave this institution. My chances of landing a position this year (at another school) are slim so I'll need to begin to broaden my search to non-academic positions. I am wondering whether it is possible to get back into academia after working at a non-academic one for a year or two or three.
I apologize for the lack of clarity. Thanks for any insights!
Honestly, it is probably going to be difficult. You need to consider the number of people who are active in academia and cannot find a job right now. It is highly unlikely that if you completely remove yourself from academia (by no longer teaching or publishing) for a few years that you will be able to enter back into a TT position. You might be able to adjunct or work at community college but keep in mind that even those positions are getting more competitive.
However, I'm not saying that you should stay in academia if you are miserable but I think it is important that you are aware of what you are doing by quitting your job. From being on numerous search committees, I know we often do not consider applicants who are not currently active in academia. Even more so, we would have a lot of questions if you were at a TT position and are no longer there and have not taken another position.
It's not too late to find a postdoc or VAP for this fall.
Otherwise, if I were you I might just stick out the job one more year based on what guestsearch said. You are clearly hire-able, given the fact that you have your current job and that you got pretty close to another offer this year as well.
One more tip — if you decide you can stay in your current job just one more year while you apply for other academic positions in the fall, do try to improve your working conditions. Try even for the next month(s) of this semester! There should be someone you can talk to about these issues, perhaps outside of your department. In your department, is there even ONE ally you can speak to?
The worst that can happen is that by stirring the pot they will not renew your contract but you want to quit anyway so I don't see the downside. For your own sanity, do everything you can to try to improve your current situation.