regrets

December 11, 2012 § 6 Comments

Bleary-eyed and still shaking off sleep-induced confusion, I checked my e-mail on my phone. 10 new messages awaited my attention at 6:03 a.m. As per usual, the plethora of e-mails were not as urgent as the subjects suggested. I highlighted message after message, selecting these for eradication. “Save 40% storewide TODAY ONLY!” “A special gift for you, A.Hab.!” “Your 20% coupon to Spas Unlimited awaits you!”

Ugh. How do these people find me?

Just as I started to click the “Delete” button, my brain began to sift through the cobwebs and exclaimed, “WAIT!” I paused a moment. I had highlighted a message with the subject “regrets”.

“Don’t you think that looks curious?” mine brain urged.

“Uhm…yes?” I supposed. Frankly, I was eager to return to that last dream I had been having before my alarm so rudely roused me. I was not really curious about anything.

“Then let’s open it and just give it a look.”

Shrugging to no one but the cats, I clicked on that unassuming, all lower-case “regrets” to find this message:

regrets--John-Carroll-University

Suddenly alert, it dawned on me what this unassuming e-mail had accomplished in so few words and with utter absence of personalization: eliminated a possibility from my potential professional future.

I read and re-read the message a few more times before responding with a much more polite e-mail, this one addressed to its intended recipient, and thanked the university for its consideration.

For the remainder of the day, I considered two things: the first, how very like applying to college it is to apply for a job within academia; the second, how surprisingly unscathed I was by my rejection.

Tackling the latter first, perhaps it is because I am already hired for a teaching position next semester that I do not feel the same amount of soul-crushing defeat I once felt when rejected from educational programs. Perhaps it is because I was rejected from a job that was not my top choice. Perhaps it is because I am still not entirely convinced that this is what I want to be when I grow up. Whatever the reason, I am not eager to dwell on it for fear that I will begin to feel defeated.

As for the similarities within academia between applying for programs and applying for professional jobs…the overlap is eerie.

Materials required for both types of applications:
–Cover letter
–Transcripts
–3 letters of recommendation
–Writing sample (longer page requirements the higher you climb through the educational system)
–Curriculum Vitae (CV)

The only differences I noted in my application materials were my statement of teaching philosophy and my teaching portfolio. (Although I did not submit a full teaching portfolio during my initial applications, it has been recommended to me that my portfolio be ready if requested.) While I recognize that my recent graduation from my doctoral program should indicate that I have reached the inevitable telos of my academic pursuits, somehow I feel uncomfortably tied to my 17-year-old self who anxiously attended the college fair at her high school, unsure if she would measure up in the first place.

Following sage advice from peers and professors alike, I applied for all job postings for which I was qualified. Unfortunately, that left me with sending out a paltry six applications. Thus the academic job market and demand for Shakespeareans. With last week’s rejection, I am left with five jobs from whom I have heard nary a peep. It bodes ill for me–I am under the impression that I should have heard more if they were interested in additional materials by now. In a different post, I will explain the way that the American academy handles professional hirings for those who may not already be familiar with it.

Suffice to say in the meantime, the process is similar to applying for educational programs, replete with frightening deadlines and the need to impress faceless names.

If I receive more rejections, which is likely to happen at this stage, I will make a six-part series of it. Then we can all compare the best of the worst rejection letters.

Have you ever had a surprising or unanticipated reaction to rejection? Have you ever received a form rejection letter?

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§ 6 Responses to regrets

  • Yeah. Rejection blows. And yeah, it is definitely part of this world. But the link to a sense of validity is what strikes me as I think about what you’ve written. We are so tied up in the notion of achievement and success in academia- both as students and as teachers- that being rejected from a job pool feels like a rejection of our validity as professionals. As in, when we receive such rejections, we wonder if all of the time, effort, and work was worth it. I hear that. I’m sure that’s something all professionals feel, but as you say, this is a system that seems to be structured the same, regardless of where you are in it. Weird. Love and hugs and thanks for sharing!

    • Dr. H. says:

      Yeah, there is certainly something more than just “getting a job” about being rejected from academic positions. I haven’t been able to articulate it yet, but I’m ruminating in the meantime.

  • I always beat myself up after a rejection, even when I expect them. I have also recently been told that I’ve “aged out” of even being considered for a lot of tenure-track positions (because most places want newly minted Ph.D’s and my degree is 11 years old. You know what, I’m okay with that. Now I just have to figure out what I really want to be when I grow up.

    • Dr. H. says:

      Oh man, “aging out” is a scary and looming dark cloud. I honestly wasn’t going to even go on the market this year because I knew I wasn’t an attractive candidate with zero publications. But after talking to my director about that decision, I changed my mind because she was a bit hesitant. She said that there is an attitude after a year past a degree has been conferred of “what is wrong with this candidate?” The feeling only gets worse as the years go by. Unfortunately for us, our degrees simply don’t age well, do they? I hope you can find employment that makes you happy soon!

  • I’m sorry, Amanda. Thinking of you and hoping that the future brings good things! Congrats, by the way, on your graduation! I am so thrilled for you!

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