I've been mulling over a couple of posts that showed up over the weekend, which began at B*'s, and then continued over at Bella's (she's password-protected, and so I won't link), about PhD candidates who don't want research positions after they graduate. These posts have had me trying to figure out what I actually want out of my degree.
I am a PhD candidate who spends a lot of time maintaining that "I just want to teach" after I finish. In fact, a big incentive for me to get my PhD and not just stop at the MA was the fact that it is really difficult to get regularly hired as an instructor in my field, in this country, with just an MA. Everywhere I look, I'm seeing advertisements that ask for at least an ABD (all but dissertation), but preferably a PhD.
And so my initial incentive to pursue a PhD was teaching-focused. As are my immediate post-graduation plans. Honestly, for the first several years after I finish, I just want to settle down somewhere where I can get regular sessional work, where Chris can get a decent teaching job, and where we can buy a house. It would also be nice to be nearer to our family. And that's when we'd like to have kids.
I talk about that part of our life plan a lot, partially because I've been having to come to terms with how non-ambitious that plan sounds. I feel like I ought to be looking for faculty positions right away or something.
But the thing is that, when I say such things as "When I'm done, I just want to teach," I'm not speaking about the long term. Actually, down the road I really do want to get on to the tenure track. I absolutely love research. In fact, I am so attached to my own research that, when I get really focused on teaching and on the basics, I begin to feel discouraged and a sense of detachment, and the main way out of that is to focus on my research. Actually, a large factor that drew me to graduate school in the first place was the prospect that I could spend my life researching and writing. Also, even though I am still a graduate student myself, I love advising graduate students and helping them figure out their life plans and their research. I love other people's research plans almost as much as I love my own.
And for those reasons I know that I could only handle being an instructor for a decade at the most. And hey, maybe some more Baby Boomers will have retired by that time, and so there will be some job openings in my field.