Finding a Job Sucks: Community College English Instructor

Returning to my English Roots

Somewhere along the way of my job search, I thought about why I was failing at getting an office job. I think, subconsciously, I didn’t (and still don’t) want another office job.

Though I would argue that office-type jobs offer more stability and usually more benefits, I’ve already done that for 10 years. There’s only so much sitting my butt can take before it becomes unbearable.

Not only that, but the act of sitting all day is completely unnatural and detrimental to your health

The idea of teaching again appealed to me, though I haven’t taught in a very long time. Thirteen years to be exact. 

Even though teaching is rough, it has its own rewards. I had an overall pleasant experience teaching English 101 at my alma mater NC State University as a graduate student. So why not try the community college route?

The Application

So I applied to Wake Tech Community College for their English instructor position. At first glance it looks like an okay type of job, paying $34 per hour. Not bad, right? Until you learn that the pay only includes in-class hours, excluding office hours, lesson preparation, and grading. Also, no benefits of any kind because it’s a part-time position.

Apparently, this hiring practice is the current trend of community colleges, and some four-year universities. The bulk of their teaching workforce is composed of part-time adjunct positions that do not come with any benefits. Most of these teachers have to teach at various locations just to cobble together a somewhat full-time income.

As an adjunct, “access to orientation, professional development, administrative and technology support, office space and accommodations for meeting with students typically is limited, unclear or inconsistent” (source).

Sigh. Is this what I really want for my life?

So this question is swirling through my mind as I apply. Just swallow my pride and suck it up. I’m out of options. 

So I went ahead and put in my application. About a three days later I got a response and set up my interview for the next week. There was no phone interview.

I had to prepare a sample lesson. And this is where I kind of lost it. I haven’t taught in over 13 years. So dug through my digital files from the English 101 course I taught. Thankfully, I still had my work and didn’t delete it. I even had the old HTML files from a makeshift course website I had created. It was horribly ugly and crude, but back then it served the purpose.

Unfortunately, none of my notes or lesson plans were very useful. Some were even cryptic, which leads me to believe that I winged it for much of the time as a crazy busy grad student. It was sink or swim back then.

Because my old notes were completely unhelpful, I turned to ye olde internet for help. And found more than I needed. Just settling on a writing topic for my sample lesson was thoroughly nerve-racking. 

Then I canceled my interview.

The department director was understanding and asked if I’d like to reschedule. I took her up on it and did so.

My Sample Lesson

Semicolons and colons. Seriously. There are important distinctions between the two, and they are helpful to know for any writer. I won’t bore you with the details for now. Maybe I’ll add a link to my lesson later.

Because I was so nervous about the interview, I asked my mom to be my guinea pig and let me practice my presentation on her. 

What I Wore

I wore my black v-neck blouse, black slacks, red and black striped cardigan, and black heels. I skipped the interview wig this time around and just had my hair slicked back into a low bun.

The Interview

The interview took place in Fuquay-Varina, a thirty-minute drive from my home. 

I found a good parking space and made my way to the building where the interview would take place.

I met with the English department director (female) and some administrator (male).

The first part of the interview was 20 Questions, and the second part was my sample lesson.

The 20 Questions went okay. They seemed somewhat neutral towards me and I was bored with the questions. But this portion went be relatively quickly.

Then I went into my lesson. It was awkward because for some reason I pictured us in a conference room or classroom where I could get up and use the whiteboard and give more of a “presentation.” However, I remained seated the whole time with the interviewers. It just diminished the impact of the lesson and my positioning myself as a teacher or person in authority. Honestly, there was nothing to stop me from standing up during my lesson, but I guess I lost my courage.

I left the interview feeling neutral. Though I think I did a good job presenting my material, I don’t think the subject was what they were looking for. Something a micro-level as sentence punctuation might have seemed too remedial and tedious to them. But it was what I felt comfortable presenting at the time.  

Of course, I did not get the job. And I was partially relieved. I just don’t want to teach this type of material for so little pay and support. There just has to be something better….

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