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Getting A Job close to family

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Impossible? No. Likely? Also probably no. It depends on a whole variety of factors including what you're willing to compromise on, what you count as "close", how good you are, and to a great extent, how lucky you are. Right out of grad school it can be very hard to choose where you live, you need to go where the opportunities are. So one thing I've seen people do is decide that they want to be back in some area by X date, or they will look for other employment. Being able to do this obviously depends on your personal circumstances, so your mileage may vary. 

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On 6/24/2016 at 3:04 PM, RhetoricWoman said:

Is it impossible to get a faculty position close to family? It's probably a top priority to be happy.

It depends on how much you are willing to compromise. You need to choose what is more important to you - faculty job or being with family. Can you let go a faculty position at a reputed university in far off city for the sake of being close to family? If your answer is  yes, then you can always find some teaching job or the other at colleges that are near your hometown. But if you want to a faculty position at some of the best universities, then you should be willing to make sacrifice of staying away from loved ones.  

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It depends on where your family lives and how competitive the market is in that area, as well as how competitive you are as a candidate.

If you're a superstar with lots of publications and glowing recommendations from high-level people in your field, your chances are better to end up where you really want to be. If you're a pretty average candidate, you may have to take what you can get.

If your family is in a place where fewer academics want to live - the rural or suburban Southwest, for example - you may have better prospects. If your family lives in or near New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc., you may have a harder time, as lots of academics want to live in these areas. Sure there are more institutions there, but the competition is great. (One thing I noticed when looking is that small, lesser-known colleges in urban areas have more distinguished faculty than you would otherwise expect, or than comparable/peer schools in rural or suburban locations. I think it's because graduates from better programs may choose those colleges just so they can live in a certain area).

The other thing is it depends on what you're willing to do to get there. Some people manage to publish their way into a position they want - so they may go do a postdoc after graduate school for 2-3 years, then start off at a college in a place they kind of don't want to live in, and then in a series of moves move their way up or laterally into the geographic location they want to be in. If you have to be there right off the bat that can be tricky, but if you are willing to try to sashay your way there over time you may have a better chance. (Of course, any honest academic will tell you that - especially in certain fields - the first academic job you hold may be the only and last offer you ever get, and you may never really get a good chance to move. And even if you do, it may be to somewhere equally distasteful to you personally.)

This is just my opinion, but I think that if you have somewhere really specific that you want to live and you know you wouldn't be happy unless you lived there, you should probably try to prepare yourself for a non-academic Plan B just in case.

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  • 3 months later...

In my case, I wasn't sure if I could get a job close to family, and I was willing to do a nationwide search. But... a job opened up at a university that is 1 hour from my family, and the preferred research area is pretty much my dissertation, so I'm hopeful about my competitiveness for the position. The next closest job is about 4 hours, and the next closes one is probably about 8-10 hours driving. So, it's not impossible. :)

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