How to utilize your degree
Well, I hate to say it, but at this point, your career path does look to be in fairly bad shape. Why? Because you keep trying for a faculty position and can’t find one. And statistically, you probably won’t find one. The longer you do this, and the longer you remain on the unemployment rolls, the worse your resume looks for finding any position at all. Seriously. There are literally tons of jobs out there in the current economy. Most likely don’t appeal to you. But what the heck, why live in poverty? And why mourn a career that is increasingly likely never to happen. And why let the bastards wear you down?
Look, I’m seriously sympathetic. The same damned thing happened to me. I have a humanities Ph.D. After a brief, dead end teaching career (no tenure track, of course), I needed a plan B. But, just like you, I didn’t have one. And I also had a small family to support. So, at various times, I waited tables, counted cars and logged license plates to catch toll road cheaters, etc. To make ends meet in lean times. Reality forced me to give up on that academic dream pretty quickly. That moment was not an enjoyable one.
But, on the flip side, I still ended having a pretty fun life and about 5 totally different careers in the process. In completely different areas, ranging from computer work at a big printing company, to working as a stockbroker, to working for an Executive Branch (US government) agency as a Federal contractor to write, edit, lay out and produce a major annual White House report for Congressional and public consumption. I also reviewed classical music and opera for the Washington Times.
Was this the career path I wanted? Absolutely not. I wanted to teach college level writing and English and American literature, forever. But then (1970s and 1980s) as now, there were, effectively, no tenure track positions in the field. You either got a job as a floating assistant prof without tenure track, meaning you got laid off after 3 years, had to find another elusive temporary position, and had to move your family across the country again and again, all on slave wages. Or, worse, work as an adjunct on sub-slave wages before they eventually threw you out, just because. There’s no future in this nonsense, because once you go down this path, you’re pigeonholed forever as non-tenure-track material.
I’m amazed that, after all these years, nobody has bothered to do one damned thing about this horrendous and tragic situation. But I guess nobody cares, least of all the tenured professors who encouraged you to stay in graduate school so they could teach tiny seminars and avoid teaching freshman comp. Sound familiar?
For the better part of the last 50 years or so, unless you have an advanced degree in a STEM discipline, you have little if any chance, ever, at a tenure track position. Fortunately, I spotted this pretty quickly and just got out of “the profession.” After all, why “hope” when there is no hope?
On the other hand, throughout my weird career path and until I finally decided that 40 years of steady working was enough and retired, I was unemployed for a grand total of 3 weeks. Did I love everything I did? Absolutely not. But hell, this is still America, and there are plenty of opportunities if you just head out and look for them. And after awhile, you can even make really decent money anyway, even though the original dream is gone.
BTW, on paper, I was entirely unqualified for every position I got, except maybe the last one. You just need to find something close to what you’re good in and talk the interviewer into giving you a shot. The rest is up to you. You have to start somewhere. And, unfortunately, that often means you need to get your foot in the door. For whatever you can get. For starters.
But above all, go earn some money. Right now. The bigger the hole in your resume, the more problems you’re going to have getting back into the work force. And if you’re depressed, well, you’re entitled to be. But get some counseling and try to develop a positive attitude. That certainly helps in the interview room.
I hope this helps. Your university and your professors likely lied to you about your prospects for getting a tenure-track position. Don’t hold on to something based on a lie. Move on, develop a positive attitude, and go change your life and your prospects. The economy is great right now and there are a lot of opportunities in a lot of fields. Don’t wait until the next recession!