wrapping up a job

Photo Credit: stevendepolo via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: stevendepolo via Compfight cc

There are a number of things to do when you end or change jobs, and whether you are just ending or changing to another one makes a lot of difference. When I moved from a faculty position to an administrative position at the same institution, the move was more like moving to a new house in the same neighborhood. I had some things to be moved to a different office in another building, but I was still teaching for a while in addition to the new work, so the transition was not a radical one. When I lost that job, it was completely different, because I had two weeks to deal with papers and digital files and furnishings. It was a blur. A sad blur.

Since then I have been in this one position (although I have tried to get out of it and move home for lucrative reasons) and have been planning the move for months, so I have had a lot of time to think more carefully about how to leave, what to take with me and what to leave for my colleagues and a possible replacement. Some files I have duplicated, leaving copies for my colleagues to do with as they please—workshop materials, blog instructions and materials, office documents. I’m not sure I need those things, but for now, I’m taking copies if only for posterity, and will figure out later on whether they are useful or just nostalgia.

I made some recorded lectures when I was teaching online here that are streamed from a college server and I plan to capture those at home with Camtasia so I have copies for this portfolio. Otherwise, I would just have the PowerPoints that I used in the lectures. Any digital presentations that I created in technologies outside of the college, like in VoiceThread or Prezi or Storify will remain mine, obviously. Do I think I’m going to teach again and use these? No. I don’t know how long they will stand up to new ways of teaching composition, anyway. Just more evidence for the portfolio. Historical artifacts, if nothing else.

Account logins that used my work email had to be changed. I think I have done all of those, except for that one VoiceThread account. Sadly, if you can’t afford to purchase an account, you end up creating multiple accounts with different email profiles as a workaround. I think there are one or two that use my work email that I would like to keep. If I can’t transfer them, they will be screen-captured.

Unsubscribing from annoying vendor emails. Hooray! I am not going to miss those and the ones I have forgotten will just fall by the wayside when my email is shut down.

The big task is this darned desktop computer. I’ve been trying not to save too many things, but I still have two months of work left, so what I do save is either in the drive folder I share with my colleagues or in the personal drive my school affords me or in my Dropbox folder. Retiring has been a great opportunity to clean out the mess of digital files I have accumulated and create some order. The final spring cleaning. And oh, the passwords o_O I have saved way too many without using a good password manager at work. I have one on my home computers but never got around to using it here. Easy enough to export them from Firefox, but those need to be cleaned out, as well, to see if there are any here that I don’t have at home. A good time to change the important passwords.

That’s about it, except for the number one task: avoiding congratulatory encounters and just quietly walking away. I’m working on that plan.


Can an Academic Failure Retire?

Yes, apparently, if you find some kind of job with a pension or have enough SS credit years. But if you were an academic wanderer like me, don’t expect it finally to add up to much.

I’ve thought about this post for a long time and have a story, but am weary of recounting it to myself. I’ve gone back and forth over which of my blogs to post it on, but as it signals the end of my academic employment, as far as I can see, the portfolio seemed like the right place for it. This article in Inside Higher Ed is timely and hits the mark for me here:

Yet of all the machines that humanity has created, few seem more precisely calibrated to the destruction of hope than the academic job market.

So, I retire at the end of June. Here’s a mix of the high and low points without a narrative thread to bind them into a shroud:

Both high and low:

  • I began college as a freshman in my 30s and finished the PhD at 48. In hindsight, this was one case where it really was too late to go to college. I have anecdotes about age discrimination in higher ed, but I’m sure it’s not the only reason I failed.
  • I tried to be a good teacher of composition in all the adjunct positions I had, even though that’s not what I ever wanted to be (See the post on Why I Probably Won’t Teach Again for that explanation).
  • I found one niche in online teaching, but could not continue riding the adjunct train, especially in conjunction with another full-time job (my fault).
  • I am pretty good at designing and delivering teaching online, but the grading of essays is just too much for my sanity (my fault).
  • I successfully moved into another field as a director of a center for instructional technology. I thought it was my dream job until they fired me and closed the office for what they said were budget cuts. That changed me forever. (Maybe it was my fault).
  • I moved into a second position in the instructional technology field, a lesser position down the ladder.


  • I had publications in good journals before finishing my degree (see CV).
  • I started an editing project that may prove to be satisfying (see Special Projects).
  • I paid off all my defaulted credit card debt after the job loss in 2008. Yes, this was a high point, enabled by academic employment.
  • I’m finally going home and will not miss the lonely apartment.
Photo Credit: robynejay via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: robynejay via Compfight cc


  • I never got one interview at MLA or elsewhere for a tenure-track job (so you can’t blame my flawed personality). My application letters must have been the worst ever and/or my academic pedigree really did matter, despite what people may tell you.
  • I gave up, probably too soon, trying to publish more articles, etc., after so many years of failing to get an interview (my fault).
  • I made no attempt to turn my dissertation into a book, because I was waiting to get into a tenure-track position where I might be mentored (my fault).
  • I’m kind of embarrassed to say my field is American and working-class literature, because I was never able to develop or teach a course in either. I tried to incorporate such literature in Western Classics and World Literature surveys, but that’s not the same as developing your expertise.
  • I will never be able to pay off SallieMae and have a deep fear of this organization (my fault).

Great photo of a train wreck that came up in the image search for failure.

It’s sad that I am still wandering and may always be, or maybe wandering is its own kind of profession. Maybe that editing project will be the verse that Apple > Robin Williams > Whitman have asked me to wonder about.


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