I’d last written about my job situation a couple months ago (here, if you need an refresher). Recall that I work primarily for 2 universities (online teaching for University A and research for University B), plus I make a small amount of additional income from doing textbook reviews, selling things online, and whatever else I an hustle up.
The main thing to know is that I’m a contract employee. As such, it’s a “given” that your contract can end at any time.
Well University A (where I teach online) has been going great. We’re full swing into the summer semester. I have to do a little budget-planning because my pay is split into two lump sums: one in June, and the other in July (even though the semester goes into August). No biggie, just requires a bit of pre-planning because I don’t think I’ll get my first Fall teaching paycheck until September (meaning, no pay in August, even though I’ll still be working).
University B (where I do research)…..not so great. I mentioned in my first employment situation post that University A feels very secure while University B…not so much.
Well, surprise of surprises – I haven’t worked for University B in about 3 weeks. I’m not going to lie, it’s a major bummer as I really enjoyed this work and its relatively easy in terms of research projects. Let me give a little background into my employment situation with University B.
University B has several large, government-funded research grants. Many of these grants come from the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD will commission University B to do research on “XYZ” (not going into specifics, as some of this information is actually classified). Often there is a short turnaround requested. So the DoD may say, “Hey, we need this research report brief done within 30 days, and a longer research report within 90 days.” I have lots of experience with this type of thing so University B will come to me and ask if I’m interested in working on the project. The problem is, when the project ends that’s it. It’s over. Luckily, the DoD is always furthering their knowledge so there are often back-to-back requests. This is what I’ve been doing since I first started working with them (I think I started in September last year??) Sometimes there are a couple weeks between projects and sometimes multiple projects are overlapping. However, I’ve never gone this long between projects. It makes me worried they may not need my help (or there may be no current requests, funds could have run out, or a myriad of other reasons why I haven’t been contacted recently).
So remember when I talked about “getting a raise” (by teaching more classes for University A)? Well, I’m especially thankful for the additional work right now. It won’t end up with me making additional money, but it ends up where the funds I had made from University B will be covered by my extra class, so at least my income won’t decrease as a result of loosing this extra employment.
So that’s all – just wanted to give an update on my employment status.
Update: I had written this post early last week and, at the end of the week, I was contacted with a new research request from University B. Woohoo!! I still don’t think my work with University B is as dependable as with University A, but I’m thankful to have it. I really do enjoy it a lot. Working directly with the DoD is great because, as a researcher, you really feel like you’re making an impact that matters (as opposed to more theoretical or basic research that may not have an immediate application).
As a related question…for those who have worked in similar situations (contract-based jobs that are not necessarily “steady”), what would you have done in my situation? If you don’t hear from people for awhile do you reach out to them? That’s what my husband was telling me to do, but it felt weird….almost like I’m “begging” for more work. But it could just be considered proper etiquette to keep in touch. What do you think???