Job prospects

I need your advice, o people of the internet - should I apply to be a lecturer again next semester? Since my field doesn't have enough faculty to have any real research money available, the alternative is to TA for a course. There are two lectureships that I'm qualified to teach - the same International Law class that I'm lecturing this semester, and Intro to International Relations. Here's my thought process so far (although the whole decision is based on the possibly-wrong assumption that there are so few applicants that I'd get whichever course I wanted) -

1. On Lecturing vs. TAing -
The first question is whether I should lecture at all - or just ask for a TA position.
1a. On pay -
TAs, since they're part of the union, are paid a higher salary than lecturers, which are not part of the union. Lecturers also have to pay health insurance premiums (~$30/month) and do not receive a tuition waiver (~$800/semester for three dissertator credits). However, lecturing makes for a much stronger CV, leading to better job prospects in a year - an investment in increased future income, in you will, which is really kind of what the entire grad school experience is.

1b. On time -
TAing would probably take more time during the semester than lecturing, but would require no planning between now and January. Lecturing is a smaller time commitment during the semester (since I would only have to prepare and give two lectures vs. attending two lectures, preparing for four discussion sections, and doing all the grading), but a substantial amount of preparatory work before the semester begins (writing a syllabus, choosing a textbook, finding supplemental readings, etc). The amount of time required is important, since more time spent on teaching means less time spent writing my dissertation. That said, though, is a dissertation that takes a little longer to finish or one that isn't a thorough or good offset by teaching experience?

1c. On future grad school funding -
The department guarantees funding (though TAships or research) through five years - which will be up for me at the end of next semester. After my guaranteed funding period is up, I drop from the very top of the TAship-preference totem pole to the bottom rung (which could mean no TAship at all if there are none left over after the students with guaranteed funding are covered). Lectureships, however, aren't part of this guaranteed-funding scheme. The question is whether I should take advantage of my last semester on top of the TA totem pole to get a TAship I really want (and then hope to get a lectureship again in the fall of '06) or lecture now so that I have two lectureships under my CV for the year I don't have guaranteed funding.

2. On International Law vs. Intro to International Relations
If I decide to lecture, then the question is which course -
2a. On time -
Since I have a syllabus and course reader already, the time commitment to prepare for International Law would be minimal. There are some revisions I'd make based on feedback from this semester, but it wouldn't involve designing a course from the ground up. The Intro course would involve quite a bit more preparation, although I would have a wide variety of old syllabi to pull readings from and I'd use a textbook (although it's not clear that the time required to choose a good textbook is any less than the time required to choose an entire semester's worth of readings).

2b. On gaining future employment -
When I apply for a real job in a year, does it behoove me to be able to say that I lectured the same course twice as much as being able to say that I not only prepared for two courses, but courses at very different educational levels? For the type of liberal arts colleges I'd like to apply for, it seems like a wide variety of teaching experience would be valuable. At the same time, however, I'm sure that my course evaluations from my very first lecturing attempt wouldn't be as good as those from my second effort at the same course and material. I've learned quite a bit about how to lecture well, particularly how to present this semester's material well, which would probably mean higher evaluations if I did the same course again next semester.

A late addition -
2c. On my first year outside graduate school
As the ever-wise A.Cav pointed out to me in the hallway just now, I should not only be thinking about getting a job, but about what happens after I get that job. Lecturing International Law gives me more time to work on my dissertation now, but lecturing Intro would give me a fully-prepared course to teach my first year at a new job - freeing up all kinds of time for post-dissertation work (such as turning it into a book for publication) then. Since any program in the country is going to have some version of Intro to IR and it's likely they'd stick the new guy with teaching it, having a syllabus and experience is an appealing prospect. On question #3 above, A.Cav approves of the trousers.

2 comments:

Burrito Eater said...

My opinion is this: I would lecture the same course. The money you lose out on versus TAing can be made up with the lessened hours with your other part time job. You can also then ride more bikes and have more fun. Plus Missy makes lots and lots of money in her line of work so she can play the role of sugar momma for a while before you reverse roles and get a real job. I think your educational and experience background is well rounded already so the differences in all options when applying to schools should be minimal.

That being said I am not only a slacker but I have no experience whatsoever in these regards. Thus I am the least qualified person to provide insight into this!

It is very tempting to take the TA job because it could be your last shot, I think mostly it should come down to what you WANT to do more than what you should do. I would choose what option is most fun and rewarding.

In conclusion, I am glad I could ramble a bunch and provide no real insight!

Spice said...

I don't think lecturing more than once will help that much (if at all) on the job market, but if you decide to lecture again, I'd go with Intro (always good to show you've done a survey).

Also, not to bring up a subject we all dislike bringing up, but it may behoove your dissertation to not lecture again. I found that TAing took a lot less of my brainpower, even if it took more of my time. Actually, it didn't take more of my time, either - I did a lot less prep for section than I'm doing for lecture. But that probably depends on what you're TAing and how into prepping for section you are.