We all know how tough looking for a job can be. It can really test our self-belief and dedication to the academic life to the core. It’s hard enough if you have only yourself to please, but how do you balance the needs of your partner? And this problem is only compounded if you and your husband/wife/partner are both academic jobseekers: juggling each of your career needs can be a real challenge.
An article in The Chronicle this week highlighted this problem in the US. Of course, due to geographical realities the issue there is slightly sharper. Realistically you could get a job so far away from your other half that the distance is un-commutable on anything other than a termly basis. The authors of the article suggest you consider the following (and I quote):
“Finances: Can you afford to maintain two residences, and pay travel expenses, such as airplane or train tickets, gas (petrol), or car-rental fees?
Logistics: Frequent travel can be exhausting. How will you decide who will do the traveling, and when? Can you arrange your teaching schedules to facilitate your travel?
Social concerns: If you are living apart, each of you will need to be comfortable with spending significant periods of time alone, and building a social life in a community where most people will not know you as a member of a couple.
Time: For how long are you willing to be separated? What will you both do in the meantime to put yourselves in a position to move closer to each other?”
These sorts of questions also apply to couples pursuing any sort of career. If you husband or wife is a lawyer, chances are he or she will not be willing to move at a whim if you happen to get a lectureship in Aberdeen (nothing wrong with Aberdeen, I just mean it’s a long way from many places!). However, because of the really uncertain nature of academic jobseeking, discussed on these pages many times, it can be really tough if both people are seeking work simultaneously. In the States once you are an eminent scholar you can negotiate ‘spousal hire’ as part of your job contract, but this obviously doesn’t apply to those who have recently go their PhD.
So, what’s the answer? Some cynics would say, don’t go out with another academic! Make sure your husband or wife is happy to follow you around as you pursue your career! But obviously that’s not realistic, so instead: make sure you’re honest and open with each other about your ambitions. Oh and don’t take that job in Aberdeen without some serious discussion!