Lookin’ for New Work

Welp, no one called from the college last week, so I assume I didn’t make the second-to-last cut for the full-time position. The chair said they would decide on the three finalists by the end of spring break, which has now come and gone.

Not that it’s any surprise. They’re hardly likely to hire a Social Security recipient into their plummy $70,000-a-year job.

Oh well.

I have got to find some other line of work!!!! Teaching adjunct helps to make ends meet, and if I didn’t have to pay into the loan on the house my son and I copurchased as we thought the market was bottoming out (how wrong can a person get? let us count the ways…), it would make ends meet. But because of that accursed upside-down mortgage and the stagnant job my son is in, I’m simply not earning enough to get by.

Late last week I applied for another job: a program director at a center for clean energy businesses. It’s short-term—ends September 30—but because it pays almost what I expect to earn in my editorial business, in five months it would earn as much as teaching six sections over an entire year.

I could probably do that job, but I’m not ideally qualified.

Tuesday I start an evening course to get myself a real estate license. You have to get through two three-credit courses and a ½-credit seminar; then take the licensing exam. I understand all of this is extremely easy, but it’s time-consuming. I can take the courses for $15 a hit as long as I’m teaching anything at the college. But they don’t seem to be offered in any timely way. The second course I need isn’t offered this summer anywhere in the district, so presumably the soonest I can finish this project will be next fall. That dooms me to a summer and at least two more semesters of sub-minimum-wage work in the classroom.

Meanwhile, my business partner and I are going to try to ramp up marketing our editorial business. I’m going to a Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast Wednesday morning; we’ll see if they’ll let me into that group. Because we don’t bill ourselves as a PR or ad agency, our business is different enough that I should be able to get us into just about any networking group. For those of you who are safely in academe and don’t have to indulge in this kind of hustle: business networking groups usually limit their membership to one person from any given type of industry.

I’m thinking, too, that we need to consider seeking government contracts. Back in the day, when a different business partner and I ran a finder’s agency for editorial, photographic, and design talent, he hit a little vein of gold when we discovered, by accident, that he had a flair for writing proposals. First one landed us a nice book packaging contract with BLM.

It was easier then, though. Now you have to join the SBA (which might not be a bad idea anyway), get yourself designated a woman-owned business, and jump through hoop after hoop before you can even get access to lists of contracts let and the forms to apply.

Well. We’re not exactly spending every waking moment in $60/hour work. And I did tell Tina (present partner) that I would spend 50% of my work time marketing us. So…next week I guess that’s what I’d better start on.

Meanwhile, on Monday another friend—a disaffected academic who’s tenured but dreams of escaping—and I are hosting a third friend of mine, a successful Realtor, for brunch at my house, where we hope to learn as much as we can about whether and how one can make a living in real estate. Not necessarily in sales: there are many ancillary jobs that bring in steadier pay. I’d settle for a part-time job that would return a little more than I’m earning in the community colleges, but pay out over 12 months instead of eight.

It’s too damn bad. I’m good at teaching. I like students, get good results 90 percent of the time, and do well with mentoring them. I get along with colleagues (most of the time). I understand how academic institutions operate and I know how to work for the benefit of my unit and my college.

But you just can’t make a decent living at it.



  • frugalscholar

    March 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm Reply

    I suppose you’ve checked out other schools. The pay per course around here ranges from 1400 to 4000, depending on the school.

    • Melete

      March 19, 2012 at 6:36 am Reply

      @ frugalscholar: Arizona has traditionally neglected public education (that’s why it shows in our students). The current legislature’s hostility to K-12 and higher ed is nothing new; one of the state’s most popular governors once said he had never read a book from cover to cover other than the Bible, and he didn’t see why anyone else needed to — after all, look where he had gotten in his life! :roll:

      As a result, the entire state has only three public universities, none of which are high-ranking across the board (each campus has at least one program that’s nationally respected, but overall…not so much). The Great Desert University is the only game in town here. It pays about $3,000 per course, $600 more than Heavenly Gardens CC, but working conditions are abhorrent. One adjunct of my acquaintance was given an upper-division composition course with 150 students in it! That’s more students than I have when I teach four sections.

      The administration removed caps and laid off most of its adjuncts. Whether they’re hiring, I don’t know, but I would not drive to Tempe again if my life depended on it. I just hate that commute. I hate the grubby suburb, I hate the sub-basement morale, I hate the heartless and self-dealing administration, I hate the atmosphere, and I hate risking my life just walking down the crowded mall, where students are allowed to ride bicycles and charge around on skateboards and pedestrians are expected to stay alert and get out of their way.

      Otherwise, the only other schools in this area are proprietary scams. The University of Phoenix, which accepts all comers who have a working checkbook, pays a fraction of what the community colleges pay. It’s true, the courses are smaller and because they’re canned, you don’t have to design your courses and write your syllabi; however, the students are even more unprepared than the weakest of the CCs’ 101 students. I can’t bring myself to cheat people, and IMHO, letting people who can’t string a few words together intelligibly think they’re getting a college education through highly questionable online “courses” is cheating them.

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