Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Priorities: finishing or getting a job?

Applying for jobs is a lot of work. A few weeks ago I decided that I was more worried about finishing than I was about not having a job by August, and I don't feel like I can both finish and apply for lots of jobs. I've applied for one job, and I'm not planning to apply for anything else unless it seems like a great fit because staying here a little longer didn't seem like a bad idea.

What's my backup plan? I figured that I could spend the rest of 2013 in Big City and teach here. Jon can keep doing what he's been doing, and I could maybe be a TA in our department (people have done that after finishing).

Slowly but surely, holes are being poked in my backup plan. First of all, Herb told me that the average completion time in our department is so high now that not everyone will be able to get a TA position. This has basically never happened-- they always bring in extra students from other departments to TA the classes. This makes it less likely that I could be a TA in the fall. I'd probably have to teach instead at a smaller institution in the area (I suspect it would be more work for similar pay, though it would give me valuable "real" teaching experience).

Then I started worrying that I might not get my August check if I officially graduate before payday. I talked to a staff member about this and she doesn't think it will be a problem, but I don't trust her opinion 100%. I'll get a second opinion on this.

But then there's health insurance. If I finish in the summer, my coverage only goes until mid-August. I thought I could use COBRA to extend it if we stay in the area. My student health coverage is great, but it turns out it's not technically insurance, which means that I can't use COBRA- I'd have to be enrolled as a student. Our baby is going to be on that plan for the summer, but then if I don't have a job by mid-August we'll have to find something else. Jon has super high deductible insurance since he has no options from his employers. I suppose that's what the baby and I will do, too, as a temporary measure. What a pain in the ass. Can we please get our heads out of the sand as a country and offer single-payer, universal health care?

With the incentives in all the wrong places (e.g. graduation= losing affordable health care), it could turn out that my best option is to not turn in my dissertation until September and stay on as a student TA. Hopefully not.


African Fieldworker said...

I'd say keep the insurance (and keep the income) and hold off one more semester- babies are expensive

I am surprised the university ever allows someone who is not a current grad students to TA. They even cut us off after 6 years of university support no matter what. And it is a bloodbath to get one, unless guarenteed

Karina said...

Until right now, TAships were basically non-limiting (except in the summer- that's always been tough). Students from chemistry and even some engineers have been TAs for our department. And the vast majority of students are supported as TAs (not very many RAs or fellowships).

African Fieldworker said...

wow, I'm envious-

at any rate, if that has changed, may make sense to hold off graduating