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What's the next step in my teaching and writing career?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2698 points ) August 20th, 2014

I’m 32. I make my living as an adjunct professor and journalist and balance my time between those efforts. And I’m doing OK: I teach at two private universities in Manhattan, and write regularly for one of the best newspapers in the world, among other outlets.

And I’ve gotten here within two years. Since earning my M.A. in 2012, I’ve paid my dues and worked my way up, e.g. sweating out freshmen seminars at wretched times at schools outside the city for near-bupkis pay; writing for free, or for local blogs. All worthy work, but the pay wasn’t pragmatic—this is NYC, in fact, with rents up the wazoo—and I’ve bigger dreams.

So here’s my dilemma, or rather, what I’d like some advice on: What to do next and in which direction—the journalism or teaching (or both)?

—TEACHING: Do I go for a PhD?

Universities rarely hire non-PhDs full-time, though they have no problem hiring M.A.s as adjuncts. My M.A. is actually in media, culture and communication, so I’m trained in both media theory and mass comm. And my professional practice is journalism. So I make a unique candidate in that I can hang academically (theory, history, etc), as well as bring to the table practical experience. But the life of a student is lonely and difficult, and ~7 years is quite the commitment.

JOURNALISM: Staff writer positions are becoming tougher and tougher to find (I’ve never had one) and the industry is…tenuous and changing and weird (albeit exciting). My main cash cow feels like a safe bet—for now. So what? Keep freelancing in hopes that I get hired full-time? Write books? The grind of freelance is…lonely and tough. I fight tool and nail for every word, every bit of space.

Any advice would help… Sometimes I tell myself to just be in it, but it’d be nice to set a longer-term goal…and maybe be surprised along the way :)

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