A few years ago I met Jenny (not her real name) at a friend's BBQ party. Jenny was the mother of two young children and an Adjunct Professor in the Humanities. "How do you like your job?" I asked her. "Well, it has its ups and downs," she said. "I love working part-time as a Mom, but I get paid very little. Plus, I always have to look for new positions." Overall, Jenny was satisfied with her job. Her friends who held tenure-track positions worked much longer hours than she could have imagined for her lifestyle as a parent, and she enjoyed teaching very much.
Adjunct positions are usually not the top priority career paths for PhD's because they offer low salaries and are not permanent. Yet, many PhD's apply for adjunct positions because of the flexible schedule and the teaching experience that come with the job. If you interested in testing the waters in academia and developing your classroom proficiency, begin with the following:
- Talk to your adviser, professors in your department, as well as alumni to help you decide which institutions to apply for and which ones to avoid,
- Discuss teaching opportunities with your career services office,
- Think about the types of institution and the courses you are interested in, and
- Look at job postings in the online resources at the end of this post.
The end of the school year is usually a good time to look for adjunct positions, because that is when many universities look to fill positions for the upcoming semester. Adjunct positions do open up during the school year as well, and if you submit your C.V. mid-term, the department will keep it on file until something opens up. Since adjunct faculty are paid less than full-time faculty, schools with tight budgets and expanding enrollments are more likely to hire them. You might find also openings in evening and weekend continuing education programs, and possibly museums and local libraries too. If you have no teaching experience, you can still outline your course plan in your application, and highlight your public speaking experience.
The Adjunct Advocate is an excellent online magazine with job listings, blogs, forums, and online tools. I have also listed other online resources, as well as a link to an excellent article by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Article from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Wishing you the best,
Dora Farkas, PhD, Founder, PhDNet