Adjunct or sessional teaching can be a godsend for those of us crazy enough to go to grad school and is even gaining some currency as a way to teach at university level for those who are having difficulty in securing ongoing, full time employment.
I have been away from sessional/adjuncting for about 5 years and I have noticed that it is much more common to have long-term adjunct staff than it was. This is no doubt a simple manifestation of the financial realities of higher education – there are not enough jobs for everyone. But there is also the possibility that more people are choosing to downsize their lives and to work part time in more than one position and/or occupation. For the 9-odd years that I taught at tertiary level previously, adjuncting was primarily given to the graduate students currently studying the faculty/dept/school and while this still seems to be the case, I have noticed that there are now formal channels for applying for adjunct work such as registers, calls for expression of interest and formal advertisements on job boards, Together with this formalisation, the experience and qualifications required from the adjunct seems to have risen as well. Tonight I saw an advertisement from a private university on a large internet employment board asking for adjuncts in general humanities. The requirements were to have an MA, 3 or more years industry experience, teaching experience and preferably a PhD – times have changed, competition has increased and all bets are off it seems.
And yet, I have managed to put together a calendar of teaching that rivals my FT salary and I have had another email this evening asking for confirmation that I am still available and looking for online teaching. The best part is that I have not even been given the (expected) hours from my home university yet and if I am honest, I am fairly confident that I could get at least another 3-4 classes without too much trouble – If I wanted to go for gold (and utter exhaustion!) I could probably surpass my FT income by quite a margin for the coming semester and I have done this in less than 3 weeks. So while things have changed, and standards have risen, I have found that there is work there if you know how to get it. I used the very same process that I used 5 years ago and have had a fantastic response – the work is there, you just need to know how to find it and how to bypass the channels and put yourself in the position to receive the work.