I started graduate school thinking “I need to be able to walk away and not be bitter if this doesn’t work out.”
I just barely got a job, just before finishing, and I was willing to walk away even then.
Now, I haven’t done my book. There is no way I will get tenure at my institution. It’s time to walk away.
The question is, where to walk to?
I’m 33. I have no debt, but I do have two cats. I expect to have at least the next academic year as a lame-duck year in which to reinvent myself.
Do I continue to teach? Without a strong publication record, I could aim at high schools or community colleges. But there are enough weaknesses in both my teaching and the way I feel about teaching that I’m not sure about this.
Do I consider administration? For a faculty member, I am administratively-minded, and academia is the system I know. But without publishing, the faculty side of admin is a dead end, and I don’t know that the student affairs side appeals. Maybe it does—I am good at advising (but not counseling!) and basically wrote a draft of a student handbook for my department.
Do I go back to school? The historian/law school overlap is not uncommon, but I don’t think it appeals to me. Library school, merged with technology, might be a good fit, and a PhD in history would be an asset there. I doubt the job prospects are strong, though.
Do I try to become a tech writer? I have a small sideline in answering technological questions on forums, which I enjoy, that might parlay into working on help manuals.
Do I say the hell with it and look for any office job that offers a regular workday and benefits?
Regrets? Yes and No. My job was a very good fit for me. It’s been aggravating me lately, but I felt it offered me room to grow and drew on a lot of my varied skills. I had a thirty-year plan all sketched out (okay, it didn’t have much in it). But I feel that if I really wanted to stay, I would have gotten my book done. I’ve had the time, I’ve had the resources, and I haven’t done it. I suppose if I could do it over again, I would have hired a writing coach around my second year on the tenure-track. But I didn’t, and that’s that.