It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these, but since it’s the beginning of the semester, I’m sure we have lots of gripes, because ACADEMIA SUCKS! Here are my current gripes:

—The first round of academic job applications are due next week, and I’ve been good and already gotten a couple out (though not enough, because there’s a whole slew all due Sept 15). And I am so’ tired of the fact that so many of the early ones want a giant package of documents all tailored to the department and oddly specific job specifications. For the ones that want multiple writing samples, the whole application packages can reach up to 100 pages. There’s no way in hell the whole committee is reading all of that for anything but their top few candidates.

—I am SO TIRED of the way everyone in academia, at every level, constantly whine about how busy and tired and overworked they are... yet are convinced that THEY are busier than everyone else. And in many cases, even though I am as busy and tired and overworked as everyone else, there’s still too many people refusing to acknowledge that workload and/or trying to offload more of their work on me.

—My terrible mentor has decided to put on her “I’m a nice kind mentor” act lately, which means she has been much less of a bully, but continues to invalidate/diminish all the work I do, and barely acknowledges some recent accomplishments I’ve had. I’m getting recognition from other, higher levels, and yet... the most she will say is “oh that’s nice.” And every meeting we have, she seems to have a new story about how someone doing similar work to her is really the most terrible person ever and their work sucks. Or that faculty at places I am applying to are terrible bullies and no one is happy there. Basically, even in her “nice” mode she’s still... not very nice, but she’s really convinced she’s the only nice, kind person doing all the right things in academia.

I’m worried about the recommendation letters she’s writing for me, but at this point I have to just play nice and hope that she’ll write a good letter, if only because she wants to be viewed as the kindest most wonderful mentor, and it would make her look bad to some of the professors on the search committees if it was overtly horrible. But I know there is a risk she will damn me with faint praise, while going superlatively all out for her favorite grad students/postdocs who will be applying to most of the same jobs.


—A tenure-track faculty member who is also going up for some of those same jobs recently told me her senior faculty mentor—who advised her that at this stage of her career she should be applying for jobs elsewhere—won’t write letters for her for any of the positions he’s already earmarked for his grad students/postdocs on the market. Which, in a thin market, are basically all the positions located on the coasts or in/near any major cities.

If I don’t get an academic job and finally give up this year... perhaps it will be for the best.


Please regale me with your academic whines so I feel less alone in my misery.