One of the major drawbacks to being a graduate student at Rice (and probably at many universities) is that I lose my funding during the summer months. These three months of financial panic almost counteract the wonderfulness of getting paid to read, research, and — only occasionally — teach. Almost. Because, for the most part, I’ve been able to secure some sort of income over the summer that tides me over until my sweet sweet stipend checks begin arriving again in late August. I’ve worked at SEL, or I’ve gotten prospectus-research funding from the women and gender program, or I’ve edited for Feminist Economics.
This summer, however, may spell doom! I’m offering a course on children’s literature in the summer session, and if I actually get to teach this class, my making-the-rent problems are solved. But no one has registered yet. WTF? It’s a class on children’s literature, people. I need a minimum of five students by May 15th. Things look bleak. I’m hoping for a registration surge in the final weeks of the semester. I also plan on continuing my tutoring job at Houston Community College over the summer, but unless I can double my hours, that will not pay rent. Most tutoring agencies pay well, but they either don’t call me back or expect me to teach math. HA! Math. Silly tutoring agencies.
While I’m not above getting a retail job or something equally mindless, most — even if I worked full-time — would barely pay rent. And I doubt any retail place would really give me forty hours a week, a schedule that would preclude any dissertation progress, anyway. So why spend all that time folding tee-shirts at the Gap or shelving books at Borders when they’re only going to pay me $8/hour?
I probably didn’t pursue the whole summer job thing with enough perseverence and attention earlier in the spring, because I had high yet naive hopes that I would be teaching my class. And I was writing my dissertation, which has filled my brain to such capacity that sometimes I forget to perform basic day-to-day activities. Now I’m a little screwed.