not sure what bupkis is…

…but apparently it can’t be any good.* Rana posts a mini-mini-rant with that title, bemoaning the fact that a PhD really doesn’t get anyone rich. There’s a little back-n-forth in her comments, people mostly agreeing with but also qualifying her rant.

I remember when I was telling Brian’s family we indeed were going to move to NY so I could get one. My then-brother-in-law, who always thought in dollar signs, said something to me about “being able to write my own ticket” when I was done. Even then, I knew I wasn’t going to be doing brain surgery or rocket engineering–I knew very well that there would be no ticket-writing in the sense that he meant. So I smiled and said something about having a lot of academic freedom and opportunity, and didn’t say anything about money.

Why didn’t I disuade him of this idea? Mostly because I was still feeling as though I had to convince everyone we were leaving behind that it would be good for us in the long run.

We had the annual “Job Seekers Reveal the Secret Hell that is the Job Search” colloquium this afternoon, where those who are finishing up their search come and reveal the secret hell that is the job search. SU has been fortunate(?) in that so far, all PhD CCR grads have found some kind of gainful employment upon finishing (or near-finishing [ABD]) the program. Many of them have found better than decent gigs at fairly decent schools.

I sat in on their talk thinking of a time in the not-so-distant future where I, too, will worry about excessive perspiration, cheek-soreness from constant smiling, and stomach cramps from stress and multiple-rejections. God, I thought. What if I don’t get a job AT ALL? What will the family think THEN?

And THEN I thought: shit. I’ll work for Lockheed Martin. They need tech writers. I’ll just NOT TELL THEM that I have a PhD.** Because, as the comments in Rana’s post confirm, the PhD makes you so un-hire-able that Taco Bell will LAUGH in your face if you apply. [She can’t use a caulking gun to shoot sour cream! She’s been sitting in a basement for 5 years reading books and drinking fair trade coffee!!]

No, no. I like what I do. I like teaching, I like reading, I like writing. I like getting money (what little I do now, and what little I might get in the future) for doing things that I would be doing anyway. I will get my crap together. I will organize my desk. I will finish my reading lists and proposals. I WILL.

And since I had my IT band kneaded, stretched, and impossibly contorted today by a woman who shall remain nameless but is now an angel in my heart, let the training for the Boilermaker commence!

*via Bupkis: something worthless; nothing. I had to look it up. I hate not knowing.

**And I won’t tell any of my school friends that I’ve accepted a job with a company that builds planes that carry bombs, either. I gotta feed my kids, right?


11 thoughts on “not sure what bupkis is…

  1. I wish I could have been there for the “Job Seekers Hell” meeting. Let me just say: at least your degree is in CCR. Not a lot of jobs in Creative Writing. Also: I didn’t have a lot of interviews, but the people I did meet were very nice. So there are nice people out there and some of them may interview you. Some may actually hire you. Also: the job market made me realize a lot of things about myself. Namely, I talk a lot when I’m nervous. And: I like where I live. I thought when I was done with graduate school then I would be happy. Come to find out I’ve been happy the whole time. Who knew? The Buddhists that’s who. They always know everything.

  2. Hey, at least you got my list of Grooming Tips out of this! Hear this: do what Collin tells you to do, and you’ll be brilliant. Your particular mix of teaching/technology/administration will have them panting for you. As opposed to obscure historical research.

    Oh, and I got a job offer last night. From my bottom choice. It’s starting to look more attractive…

  3. Hey, an offer isn’t a rejection. You rock, Susan! Congrats. 🙂

    And btw: if anyone needed those grooming tips, it was ME. It was as though you put it together for me personally. So thanks. 🙂

  4. And just what is wrong with working for a company that builds planes that carry bombs! He tilts head and steam rolls out! Good luck with finding your “dream job” !

  5. The characters on the Dick Van Dyke show were the people I first heard using bupkas. I think it was Beloved Partner who told me the word is of Yiddish origin.

  6. Mad, I hope I know your writing and your wit well enough to know that you didn’t just take a shot at tech writers 🙂 Trust me on this one, you would be an instant super star over here on the dark-side. The pay aint as great as STC likes to tell people it is, but it keeps you writing.

  7. Madeline, I’m an unabashed retired Navy guy who spent 20 years floating on ships designed to carry the planes that carry the bombs that I maintained so you could safely be a pacifist, but as someone much smarter than I once said, “Everything is not always as it seems”, or something like that. Case in point, my URL, pink?? hehe!

  8. Mike: I am NOT taking a shot at tech writers, at ALL. I’m merely documenting this pull that I feel toward the dark side. And I don’t consider it “dark,” just scary ’cause I’ve never really *worked*. Only taught/schooled. Unless you count lifeguarding a *real* job. 🙂

  9. It’s only dark because we spend insufferable hours in cramped gofer cubes, pouring through cryptic specifications under dim, flickering gas lamps. Occasionally we venture out in Dickens-esque fashion to beg our bosses for a little more time, money, and the latest really cool software from Adobe 🙂

    It’s sort of a neat “pull” that you’re working through here, ‘cause I sometimes think of myself on the flip side. But I have to say, I really enjoy the way my academic work serves and is served by my work in the field. I no longer think of it as an “either or” deal.

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