This year, a friend went on the job market with a PhD in Germanic Studies. The field is currently in a very bad situation, so the search was not successful. The friend has one more year of funding and if the second job search is fruitless will have to decide what to do next. There are several options people get in such cases:
1. Try to get a Visiting Professor position (the best option of all these because it does not preclude the possibility of a subsequent tenure-track job);
2. Try to get a post-doc (a less appealing option because in the Humanities this is a position that brings zero respect and offers zero added value on one’s CV);
3. Get an adjunct job (the worst option of all because this is pretty much a professional and financial suicide with zero prospects. I would advise everybody to think very very carefully before embarking on the adjuncting path);
4. Look for employment outside of academia (it heavily depends on one’s personality whether this is a viable option. For some people, it is the best choice of their lives, while for others it is an unmitigated tragedy. It’s quite like getting married or having children: phenomenal for some and horrible for others).
My friend, however, is a very original thinker, so she came up with option number five. If her second job search is not successful, she will start doing a second PhD in a different field. Such a plan would have finished me off because I was as unhappy as a PhD student as I’m happy as a tenure-track professor. For my friend, though, this is a great decision. She thrives in the PhD program, travels constantly, has a very rich, fulfilling existence. So a second PhD means five more years of joy for her.
People are coming up with very inventive ways to address the problematic nature of the job market in the Humanities.