I don’t want to call it an addiction; because honestly, I can walk away whenever I want. But I realized that to support my predilection for adjuncting full time, I’ve assembled a range of jobs that help me keep doing what I enjoy. In other words, I have jobs that help support my full-time job. Granted, I’m not in the stuck in the situation of those full-time Wal-Mart employees who still qualify discounted state-funded healthcare, but I do find that in order to keep everything flowing smoothly, I hold onto several other jobs and am constantly keeping an eye on potential jobs to fill the gaps (for both current teaching and non-teaching gigs). But really, I can walk away whenever I want.
In total, I am employed by 10 places (5 colleges; 1 residential program, 4 publications). Over several years, I’ve synergized my various skills, interests, and goals so that my jobs overlap or help one another. For instance, some of my writing includes reviewing audiobooks. The reviews themselves aren’t necessarily taxing but listening to 6-12 hour audiobooks could be. Therefore, I often listen while commuting to the various colleges I teach at or when doing chores around the house and usually cover 2-3 audiobooks a week. I work overnight at the residential program 2 nights a week, which may sound crazy, but the situation allows me to grade papers, prep and correspond with students via email since I have to stay awake and keep myself entertained for some 7 hours. Ok, I can be a little sleep deprived at times, but I can still perfectly function and nobody notices…mostly.
External jobs can offer a variety of things that can help and support your primary goals as a full-time adjunct. They can provide you with benefits; the overnight job gives me my health insurance. They can provide one with more diverse experience to further expand one’s CV and other opportunities. Along those lines, they also provide “real world” experience to temper one’s pedagogical experience. They can serve as financial padding when the course load is a bit too light. They can provide a larger network of people including potential guest lecturers to bring into the classroom. They can be a much needed source of relief and distraction from the demands of adjuncting. So frankly, it’s better that I keep doing what I’m doing. I’m better that way.
The key is to blend interests, opportunities for double-dipping, and maximizing unused time to make it all fit. In the short run, one may have to take a few jobs that were less desirable, stressful, and taxing, but in taking the long view, one can strategically shift into those positions that not only help to support the full-time adjuncting, but also, can be enjoyable in their own right. That’s right; I make it look easy and enjoyable so that no one knows about my predilection.