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Life After the MFA Series
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December 2020, Part 2
Last week’s email, “Finding a Writerly Job, Part 1,” focused on securing non-academic jobs. In “Finding a Writerly Job, Part 2,” we tackle the world of academia. Many MFA programs offer their students opportunities to teach, especially in exchange for tuition remission and a stipend. If you learned during your MFA (or PhD!) that you love to teach and you feel that it’s the best employment option for you right now, this email is for you.
Juggling adjunct positions, finding professional mentorships, crafting a winning CV, preparing for the interview, and identifying teaching alternatives to higher education—there’s so much to consider, especially at the start. Here we do our best to provide a clear window into the world of teaching writing in higher education and beyond.
AWP’s 2017-18 Report on the Academic Job Market offers a glimpse into the higher education landscape: its continued shift from full-time, tenure-track positions toward adjunct positions, the average salaries for both job types, and the rise of both adjunct unions and generalists. It's a vital read for anyone considering entry into the academic job market.
In AWP’s podcast, "The Pedagogical Push: Post-Graduation Transition to Being an Adjunct," emerging writers discuss strategies for maintaining an active writing life while managing the stressful juggle of jobs, both adjunct and otherwise, following graduate school.
Convinced that the academic route is right for you? Cathy Day advises us on crafting a CV that will represent the arc of your professional career in her webinar “The Curriculum Vitae.”
Did your carefully crafted CV land you an interview? Get prepared with Dora Malech’s advice in “Show Your Joy: Getting and Preparing for an Academic Interview” over at AWP’s Writer’s Notebook.
Once you land that coveted position and are preparing your syllabi, choosing your course texts, and getting to know your colleagues, it might be time to consider how to progress in your field. Gerry LaFemina advises writers on honing their pedagogical craft in “More than Just Mentorship and Modeling: Creative Writers and Pedagogy.”
Maybe you love teaching, but adjunct life doesn’t appeal to you. Kurt Caswell makes a solid argument for broadening your horizons in “Look Here, Graduate: Consider Teaching in a Private School.” Or perhaps the academic setting appeals, but teaching is not the right fit. Kevin Haworth explores working at a university press in “The Creative Writer at the University Press.”
Finally, consider continuing your education with the creative writing PhD in Stephanie Vanderslice’s “The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life: The Creative Writing PhD Option.”
This month, we will leave you with advice from former chair of AWP’s Board of Directors David Haynes, as he reflects on his teaching experience in public schools:

My fifteen years working in urban middle schools remain among the most treasured of my over forty-year career in education. The work was always challenging, but I found that working with children fed my creative life in important ways. Young adolescents still believe in the importance of art and writing and in the power of story. Every day I was reminded why the work I did as a fiction writer was worth doing. 

While I have rarely written fiction about teaching, I cherish great books about the profession. If you haven't discovered the vastly underappreciated writing of Jon Hassler, let me recommend you begin with his glorious novel StaggerfordHassler understands teachers and teaching, and it is a beautiful book.

That’s all for now. Next month, we will be diving into the world of publishing headfirst with a look at surviving rejection.
Warm wishes,
Jennifer January
Communications Coordinator & Membership Assistant