A Reflection on Multiple Job Markets and their Present Promises and Perils for Graduate Students

Larissa Saco
UC Davis

The recent 2022 University of California academic workers’ strike highlights the tension between refuge and its refusal in shaping the nature of work within the university. Workers on the picket line vocalized their passions for teaching, engagement, and research, while at the same time rebuking the unlivable working conditions that disrupt work inside and outside the university. The experience prompted my classmates and I to not only consider our current precarity as graduate students, but also its likely extension into our future occupations within the neoliberalized workplaces of universities, policy firms, companies, and nonprofits. Reflecting on my own scholarly development and contextualizing it socially, politically, and historically, I share how my diverse research experiences (within or in close connection with universities) in traditionally academic, publicly engaged, policy-oriented, and instructional technology settings allowed for creative expression and scholarship grounded in humanistic techniques, but also exposed the attacks of the neoliberal workplace on human dignity. This reflection will conclude with practical recommendations for not only improving graduate student preparation for future jobs, but for more importantly improving university workplaces in each of the four aforementioned areas of scholarly life.

Image credit: Arek Socha from Pixabay.