Thursday, March 29, 2007

I have a real job

Many people, especially some members of my family do not believe that I have a real job. They believe that being a graduate student is not productive and that I am not a contributing member of the society because I do not have a real job. I can see why some would come to this conclusion because they do not understand the work that I do as a graduate student and the fact that I do not have a set schedule with defined hours of when I begin and end my work.

I would like to challenge that perception that some people may have. My job as a graduate student is year round. I do not have any defined work hours, as my work never stops. Since I am working on my doctorate in history, I will have three rounds of exams to take in addition to my foreign language requirement and my dissertation. The best time to study for these exams is during the summer break when I am not taking classes. The first exam that I will have to take are my comprehensives. Comprehensives are two eight hour days of answering questions that cover Modern European history from 1600 to present day. I will be tested on the facts and the various schools of historical interpretation on topics such as Absolutism, French Revolution, Congress of Vienna, Liberalism, Nationalism, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Each answer has to include the facts, the names of historians and their works. This is not an easy task to remember and requires a lot of hard work and time on my part to master.

In addition to preparing for my doctoral exams, I take a full load of classes and either teach my own independent course or assist a professor with one of their classes. Last semester I assisted a professor with a class of 275 students with 3 graduate assistants. When this class had either essay exams or papers to grade in addition to weekly online discussions over course material, it consumes a lot of my time. But the time is well worth it as it contributes to my development to be both a good teacher and historian.

Some of the members of my family do not understand about job searches and academia. Some people believe that it will be extremely easy for me to get a job teaching history at the University of Toledo or other local colleges when I graduate. They do not understand that in reality, it does not work that way. I will have to go wherever a job is offered, whether it be in another country or in other states in this country. The academic job market is extremely competitive with a plethora of PhDs and few jobs. I am optimistic that if I market myself as a historian of the world who can teach a wide array of courses at a small liberal arts college or community college, that I will be ultimately successful in my quest.

I am not going to school to further delay being in the real world. I am earning a degree because I desire a career as both a historian and teacher. I am a contributing member of society who receives a paycheck for my work as a graduate student. I also work a non academic job in the summer in order to help make ends meet since I do not get paid for my academic job during the summer.

This was my first post. Thanks for reading.