I am an AbD PhD Candidate in history, currently navigating the complexities of the job market. Recently, I had job talks for both a tenured track position at an R1 PUI institution in another state (Canpus city) and a visiting faculty role at a wealthy private institution in the big city I am living in.

A bit of background: I am a Black woman, not originally from the U.S, with a Master's degree from France and UK, and a career as a editor for academic/academic adjacent German/French press. I am also an author of 3 books.

Throughout my academic journey, I've worked in diverse fields, received numerous awards and fellowships, and authored several books for a mainstream audience. In the last five years, I completed my PhD, published 2 papers in a journal, and signed my fourth book. During my doctoral studies, I gave 14 invited talks at R1 institutions and taught three courses.

Despite my success on the job market, I find myself on the brink of burnout and anxiety due to the level of micro/macro aggression I have to deal with and the general atmosphere in the U.S. The last straw was when I read an article about the suicide of Dr. Antoinette Bonnie Candia-Bailey, a Black Woman VP of Univ of Missouri.

I am almost 40, deeply connected to my community, and while I love research and teaching, I'm not attached to a particular status. The pandemic and life events have been a harsh lesson about centering my life around my career. My wife and I appreciate our life in our current city, where Black queer couples are a banality. I am contemplating stepping back from the tenure track and seeking more flexible positions that align with my current priorities.

I have no anxiety about the job; in fact, I am open to returning to my previous life as a writer or editor for a popular academic adjacent press. However, I am keen on staying in the U.S, teaching, researching, and maintaining health insurance. I am leaning towards the visiting professor path or a research-focused role.

As I stand at this crossroads, I am seeking advice on how to articulate my decision to step away from the tenure track to my faculty advisor and department chair (they really put a lot of pressure on me).

Moreover, I am exploring the possibility of transitioning from Visiting Assistant Professor to Visiting Associate Professor over time. Any insights or suggestions on alternative career paths with flexibility would be immensely valuable.

  • Best of luck to you. It sounds as if you have a lot going on, counseling might be a helpful ally in navigating your current waters. Jan 12 at 0:47
  • 4
    ‘In the last five years, I completed my PhD’ and now you’re an ‘AbD PhD candidate’? I’m missing something here. Jan 12 at 2:13
  • I submitted (been approved) the completed manuscript in September, and went for a 4 month parental leave, my faculty advisor (and I) agreed to have the defense this Spring hopefully with a job offer.
    – user182638
    Jan 13 at 1:39

1 Answer 1


I think you need to at least have a tenure track job offer before you can describe any action as stepping away from that path.

I'd be applying for any jobs that possibly interest you and sorting them out once you have multiple offers to choose between. At that point, I think it'll be better to think about those specific offers rather than what they are labeled: everything from the job description to the location (including your spouse's preferences).