Today is the first official day of the Modern Language Association conference, the enormous annual stress-laden get-together at which scholars in English, comparative literature, and languages all gather to trade their latest scholarship and look for and hire for jobs. It’s the kind of conference at which you have to plan ahead to get to interviews, because it can take half an hour to get an elevator up to a higher floor during the worst crunch times.
It’s an incredibly important (and expensive) conference for job seekers, and yet this is reportedly the worst academic job market for these fields in memory.
If you’re headed out to the conference today — or if you’re waking up in Philadelphia, preparing to wow them — know that you’re in all of our thoughts. Remember to drink lots of water and carry extra pairs of pantyhose. Pee before you knock on that door. Keep breathing. Know that you’re interviewing them just as surely as they’re interviewing you.
And if you’re on the job market this year, whether or not you got interviews at MLA, remember that the job search is not about you. You are a fabulous, creative, inventive soul, and the job market, however distressing or disappointing, is not a comment on your worth.
And if you’re not on the job market this year, please spare a compassionate thought for those who are.