Adventures on the employment front

A happily anonymous friend writes of her recent job interview at an institution which will also remain happily anonymous:
The [adjective applying name of university] were not exactly a love at first sight. They are more like a former polytechnic with an excellent business school, 5 sociology people total so far, no research funds of their own, they were even asking how much money exactly I will be able to bring per semester if [name of a perfectly innocent friend whose project we work on]'s project continues, and can I guarantee that the article that I have under revision is going to be published by December 2008 (RAE cut-off deadline). Plus (or minus) large teaching load with students who take sociology for instrumental reasons mostly. Ooh, I should also mention one puffin-guy with a "am I not an aristocrat bohemian" look, who asked if for my research on antinationalism and women's groups I would not use Žižek's work on hegemony? My reply: I could not possibly rely on my concepts of hegemony vs. nationalism taken from a person whose empirical knowledge ends with the view of his kitchen (if that). There was also a [name of an academic discipline which is not ours] professor with the look "I should be at a better university" who asked how I would object to some Weberian criticism that what I am doing is too political. My reply: I don't think that Weber suggested that we abandon politics.

Hideous poor library they have for social sciences, old books, no money for JSTOR database even. But business school is thriving.

On the top of all, they staged the interviews like it was recruitment for a professorship, asking candidates to make two different presentations to two different audiences. I should say that there were some quite friendly faculty people who also looked like they would be trying to get jobs elsewhere.

Thank you, my comrades-musketeers, for writing the letters, let's hope that if you would be pestered to write them again it would be for a more research oriented interesting place. The proximity to [toponyms for locations more appealing than the unnamed one] was the primary reason for me applying. Apart from that, I, of course, do have some torments of conscience for criticizing [unnamed university], because such universities have 2, 3 times larger presence of students children of newer immigrants than, say, Uni [deleted toponym which appears frequently in the work of Billy Bragg]. And now you know everything you always did not need to know about [unnamed university].

One bonus detail I just remembered from yesterday:
Professor Dr. Herr [surname of a person] also asked (cautiously half-smiling like he feared I may jump and bite if he moves too swiftly) if I had instances when people were strongly objecting to what I am saying in class (I think he meant if some Serbs and Albanians were attempting to murder me or each other in my classes). The question really is why one SHOULD be AFRAID of that while doing research, and since when it is ordered that we should try not to disturb feelings of hatred or ignorance. Long live intellectuals' courage Made in the West (sadly it WAS made in the West)!
I am happy to say that she is happily employed at a happier place than this one.


Yakima_Gulag said...

oooooj! basically there is no place left for real people anywhere else either, except for maybe in stoop labor. Everyone is being so slicked down it's not even funny....

Well totally off topic, but Yakima Gulag Literary Gazett now has a talk show, there's a link in the sidebar, and in a post from last night. It begins 3pm West Coast U.S. time

I have to do the Klingon Word of the Day LIVE! :)

Happily anonymous, too said...

Well, it would have been a job, and those are pretty hard to come by these days. I'm certainly glad she found a place more to her level, though.

Why be snarky about the professor who felt he should be at a better place? Our anonymous applicant certainly felt the same way.

(Subtext: we could all say much the same thing about our places of employment if we wished to.)

Eric Gordy said...

I wouldn't want to speak for her, but I thought her note described some frustrations that a lot of people share -- first the scarcity market that puts job seekers into these sorts of situations, and second the odd lenses of exoticism through which our chosen (or unchosen) region of interest is perceived.

As for people who feel like they should be at better places, yeah, for the most part I have sympathy for them, and often they are right.

Paul Stubbs said...

What is a toponym ... and all I know is that Billy Bragg has a song which refers to "a cousin who once played /for Red Star Belgrade" !!!!

Eric Gordy said...

Toponym = place name.

But Paul, you've inspired me to remember the best navijacka pesma ever written: jedem leba i parizer / Zemuna sam simpatizer.

Paul Stubbs said...

... or, to quote Ian Dury, "there ain't half been some clever bastards!"

talking of football, well, as long as the match is not vs. Hajduk, me and my 10 year old Luka are REALLY enjoying watching the best Dinamo side for years (de Silva, Modrić, Čorluka ... probably all sold this year ...) with about 17 other people ... volim Dinamo, volim Dinamo, volim Dinamo ...

Eric Gordy said...

Wow, Luka is 10 now. I guess he would be.

DarkoV said...

This is, almost, the most singualr depressing short bit I've read about Academia and the desire to be employed within its life-sucking environs.

I can only try to empathize.

Eric, a few years back when my son and I were doing the college visit thing, we spent a glorious day at Clark U. I was most impressed and was hoping, along with my son, that he'd be accepted and (somewhat) financed. It was a Yes ( ;} ) on the former and a No ( :{ ) on the latter. But, that's another matter. The students and professors all seemed to be quite content if not happy being there. Is it asking to much to ask how you feel about Clark? No life-sucking tape worms, right?

Eric Gordy said...

Ah, Darko ... we have a great faculty (if I do say so myself) and some really very good programs, a few of them are outstanding. Not everyone is in love with the city, but having lived there for six years (we did eventually escape to Boston) I can say that it has many good points, some of them hidden.

But drop me an e-mail for more, eastethnia at gmail dot so forth.