Monday, August 15, 2011

Post-MFA Jobs! Teaching

There is much gloom and doom in the post-MFA job marketland, but you know what? I know people getting teaching jobs. Granted, to land as a tenure track creative writing prof, it seems you need three creative books and multiple pubs and a critical theory book and edit a renowned lit mag and quite possibly some trapeze skills, but a regular ole' teaching job? (Summers off! Still!) These can be found. (She blogged optimistically.)

I found the following advice online while randomly trawling around. The writer prefers to remain anonymous. But I thought this solid advice deserved re-posting.

"This is just my opinion, but I think too many MFA grads assume that they can only serve as adjuncts, when in fact there are numerous full-time non-tenure track gigs out there to be had, particularly at large state universities. You just have to play your cards right and be patient.

I graduated from a small MFA program that most people have never even heard of and was able to land a full-time non-tt comp gig at a large state university. I make 32K and have full benefits. These kinds of jobs are out there, and 1-2 years of TA experience can get your foot in the door. In the fall of my second year of my MFA program, I checked Higheredjobs and The Chronicle religiously. I didn't even waste my time on the small liberal arts colleges and went after the "State U" type schools that have to fill 5,000,000,000,000,000 sections of freshman comp per year and don't want to burden their research professors with such "service courses."

In fact, the job that I currently hold was landed because I sent my CV to a large state university on my own; this university didn't even post a listing, but needed full-time instructors come July and simply pulled my file; after a go-through-the-motions interview, I was hired and signed a FT contract on the spot.

So, in short, if you want to teach comp FULL-TIME after the MFA, make sure that you:

1) Target the large state universities; you need to target the universities that have the most sections to fill, which obviously increases your chances of being hired; don't waste your time on the SLAC's that have like 5 sections of composition to fill each year.

2) Be open about location. If you picky about location then you're in the wrong profession. The English job market is dreadful and you might need to be willing to teach for a year or two at Middle of Nowhere State U.

3) Don't just send your CV to large state universities that post listings. Any halfway decent comp director will gladly take your CV to put in a file somewhere that just might be accessed in the summer when administrators are scrambling to fill extra sections. I sent emails to tons of comp directors at large state universities and had my CV in their files within a week.

4) If you plan to teach after your MFA, understand that a fellowship to a program that allows you to not teach might actually do you more harm than good. Yes, obviously the main objective of an MFA is to write and not to prepare yourself to teach freshman comp full-time, but at the same time you absolutely need that 1-2 years of teaching experience to get a full-time gig after you leave your MFA program. For full-time comp gigs, is all about the teaching experience; where you earned your degree or whether or not you're published is meaningless for these kinds of jobs. (Obviously that will change as you work toward applying for tenure track creative writing gigs, but that's a completely different ball game)."

So maybe not so sexy. But practical. I also have friends getting Fulbrights, landing instructorships, or just (*gasp*) getting jobs and writing when they write.

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