Sunday, February 20, 2011

Overheard in York.

I overheard a conversation on the bus the other day. No, I wasn't eavesdropping: they were so bloody loud I couldn't have stopped listening if I wanted to. And no, I didn't want to. But that's besides the point.

Two girls, PhD students as it later transpired were discussing the woes of not getting published and not being able to get jobs. They were claiming that you cannot get an article published unless you know *someone*. Now from my (fairly limited, it has to be said) experience of the academic publishing world there seems to be something to this. But it's not strictly true. You may have a greater chance of getting your work in a big journal if you know the panel, or rather if they know you. And you may have a greater chance of getting to present at international (or national, for that matter) conferences if you know the panel, or, again, if they know you. But these girls were so incredibly defeatist about it, that's what annoyed me. Hell, if my undergrad dissertation got me a slot at a large conference surely a decent PhD student would have a shot.

As for the jobs thing... well, it was the usual 'I'm so overqualified for all jobs cos I have an masters/PhD/whatever'. Yeah. Sure you are. I hear that a lot - but I'm not overqualified for my job at all; I have no letters after my name attesting to my ability to do student admin, website maintenance or whatever the hell it is I do. Ergo, not overqualified. It's a completely different kettle of fish - being good at phonetics/maths/history/whatever your degrees may have been in doesn't (over-) qualify you for anything other than that. And I know, I know, there are transferrable skills in all these things, blablabla. But I resent insinuations that I'm somehow wasting my life because my job happens to involve filing. Because believe me, I've had them - both from colleages and others.

Anyway, I've gone slightly off tangent here. I realise now that the last little rant sounds like I'm defending my choice of job. Who knows, maybe one day I'll do a PhD or get a job I'm not overqualified to do (HA!) but that day is not coming up soon. What I'm doing isn't a second choice to me at the moment - I wouldn't be doing something I wasn't happy to do.

Wow, tangent again! Back to the girls. The tale sadly doesn't tell us what their PhDs topics are. And I don't know that knowing would make any difference. But I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I'm sick of this elitism, this notion that adding some letters and years of debts to your name makes you somehow superior to someone else.

To quote a brilliant man: 'It takes all sorts to make a world.'

1 comment:

Meg said...

I'm not sure how it is by you, but unfortunately here in the US, you actually can be overqualified for a job, not just in an elitist/snobbish way. but in an employers will actually say, "you're overqualified for this job" and not hire you way. it's happened to my aunt. and she doesn't even have a phD or anything, just a regular degree. she just had too much experience. it's a shame really.