Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Everyone Gets a Job!

A terrifying graph for any PhD student! (source)
It's late October and that means we are squarely in the middle of job season for psychology PhDs (and PhD candidates). I was hired during the 2011-2012 job cycle, and so I recently switched to the evaluation side of the job process. Sitting on this side of the fence I feel incredibly fortunate to have a job: There are a ton of accomplished graduate students and postdocs with strong records, interesting research ideas, and stellar (!!!) letters of recommendation. If the system were running optimally, most of these applicants would land jobs. If the system were running optimally...

The reality is that the number of people awarded graduate degrees continues to increase while faculty positions do not. This market inequality creates a situation where many of the incredibly talented people on the job market this year will be on the market again for the next several years. It likely also means that there are several soon-to-be minted PhDs--people who are supremely talented researchers--who will give up on the academic job market in the next couple of years because they are tired of waiting for that job to come calling. It's a remarkably and sometimes catastrophically inefficient system. Thinking about all the bright and talented people on the market right now who would make great colleagues makes me want to go out and give free hugs to everyone [it'll be all right!]!

If you came here to find answers to the inequality in the academic job market, I'm terribly sorry to disappoint--I've got nothing that doesn't involve sweeping institution-wide change. University administration needs to stop using a business model with prophets and losses: Science and innovation prospers only to the extent that we invest in the talented people we train every year (i.e., put an end to adjunct positions and compensate faculty appropriately for their teaching and research contributions).

As well, departments and researchers probably need to train fewer students. If we were all honest about PhD job prospects going forward (imagine showing the graph that accompanies this post to each prospective graduate student), we could considerably reduce the discrepancy between PhDs and jobs available.

If you're out on the job market this year, best of luck! I'm pulling for your success this year and in the years that follow!

No comments:

Post a Comment