What's It Like Being An Adjunct Professor? The sad, secret lives of community college teachers.

Gotcha. That's sometimes the case, though not always. Post-docs (in my experience) are becoming less and less common. My degree is in Philosophy, so I'm most familiar with the Humanities in general. I'm not too sure what the situation is like for the hard sciences, as there is a lot more grant money to be found for research projects in the sciences.

For the humanities, you usually start job hunting the last year of your dissertation, and if you're lucky to get invited for a few interviews, but generally you don't. Instead, you grab an adjunct job while you keep looking for a real job. Real jobs don't materialize very often, so oftentimes this leads to individuals adjuncting for a long time. Once you've been adjuncting for awhile, and not been a part of the intellectual community by publishing (which you don't have time to do, because you are teaching 5 or 6 classes a semester) you will pretty much never get a full time position.

Sometimes you can get short term-full time positions (a 1 or 2 year full time appointment). These are pretty excellent, and though they are short term, you get benefits and enough money to live in more than a studio apartment. Also these allow you to function in a department, get to know your colleagues, and have enough time to publish some. Publications are what you need if you ever want a permanent position, so that's a big deal.

Generally speaking though, you get hired tenure-track or you adjunct. If you're tenure track you'll go through the Junior/Senior/Professor AKA Assistant/Associate/Professor. This is all still full time and with benefits, it's just a "how long have you been working here" pay grade (generally speaking). So some lucky individuals get hired right into full time tenure track positions, but the vast majority of us do not, and we either end up adjuncting forever, or stay on the job market for a few years trying to secure that full time position, but doing so is incredibly hard, as getting a full time position is very time consuming, so it's difficult to hold other jobs in the meantime.

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