As I eluded to in my last post, I have taken on a second job – it is another teaching job and consists of teaching two public speaking classes for our local community college. I have been thinking about doing this for awhile, but for various reasons, most of them revolving around my inability to get a grip on my life during the last four years due to my daughter’s and my parents’ health problems, I have not done it. This semester just seemed like a good semester to do it. I feel like I’ve started to get a grip on my life lately (just a little – but fingertip grip will due for now) and we just bought a new (to us) car and my husband took a pretty big cut in pay this year to be able to be at home more often (he was on the road at least three days a week last year – this year, that will change to mostly only three days every other week instead. So, the extra job will come in handy. In addition, it gives me a chance to get my feet wet in the community college instructing, which I’ve never done. I have taught only at four-year universities in the past. So, overall, I am both excited and slightly scared about this semester.
I am lucky in that getting a second job was pretty easy for me. I had connections to the college and was told they needed an instructor. From there, it was just a matter of getting my application packet together and getting it in before the start of school. I am also lucky in that I am teaching a public speaking class, which I taught before for a number of years (probably about five total, but with summer sessions, probably about 13 semesters of it total). So, the prep is not terribly difficult, although it has been six or seven years since I last taught public speaking, so I will have to do a little work on prep. I was also lucky in the classes fitting within my already established schedule at the University where I teach full time. So, all-in-all, it seemed like kismet. The first week was good, hopefully it continues that way.
Second jobs (and sometimes third and fourth jobs) are pretty much the norm with higher education instructors who work as “adjuncts” or part-timers. My job started out as a contract lecturer position, but because of my unique position (directing the speech and debate team) and the cost of having to advertise the position nationally each contract period, we changed the status to that of part-time. It is confusing because I actually work full time (I have a full load of classes), but my “status” with the University is considered part-time. I am what they call a full-time part-timer. It is very strange. I have a contract (now three years – woot!), and benefits, and regular schedule of classes. So, all-in-all I am like any other full-time person, other than my status with HR on the paperwork.
At my second job, I am a true part-timer. I teach only two classes (a full load would be five). I don’t have an office on campus. I don’t have office hour requirements (at my full-time job, I have to hold five office hours each week and I have a permanent office on campus). I could request temporary office space, but I don’t feel like I need it and I know the space is tight so I would rather have other people have access to it. I actually teach one of my two classes at a satellite campus, so I really don’t need office space on campus.
For those unfamiliar with higher education and academia, positions such as mine are controversial. My jobs are already unionized, but here is a recent article about national efforts in that area. In addition, the biggest negative with adjunct positions are typically the lack of benefits. But, since my University job is a full-time, part-time position, I have full benefits through them. Thankfully. The controversy is a tough call for me – the budgets, especially in California, are so tight and so volatile, that hiring long-term tenure track positions is dangerous. And, the cost to students is already so high that forcing colleges to raise tuition to cover more tenure track positions seems to also be dangerous. So, part time adjuncts are able to fill the bill. I also think that there are more jobs coming available around here, so people are getting full-time, tenure track positions. But, not everyone. It is a tough call, to be sure. And I’m not sure what the “right” thing to do is at this point.
Anyways, I’m glad to have the extra work (and especially the extra money) at this point. I’m also glad to have a full time job with benefits that allows me to take this part-time gig without any discomfort in that area. Now, if I can just get my budgeting and spending in control, we should be in good shape going into 2014.