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Will he get a job?

(7 Posts)
thestickereconomy Mon 02-May-16 22:15:11

I have name changed for this because the details are identifying, but hopefully it's clear that no troll would post anything this boring smile . I just thought I might get a bit of insight here, can't think of anywhere else where I can really ask...Hope this isn't too stupid a question.
My husband has been a musician and composer for most of his life and is about to submit his PhD. The PhD is in composition and is awarded by a conservatoire. It is 50/50 creative-critical. The focus is electroacoustic music, and he composes using various programming languages, etc. I am just mentioning this because it means he can teach quite a wide range of techniques within music - performance, analysis and composition but also use of programming for composition, sound engineering etc. (I personally know absolutely nothing about music, so please excuse any mistakes in terminology etc.).
I am an honorary teaching fellow (basically, HPL but I give a specific module) in a creative subject at a well-established university and have been for some years, so I have some understanding of how tough the job market is for academics. I am just wondering how much hope it is reasonable to have, about him eventually getting a full-time post?
On the positive side, he's actively giving papers, at international as well as national conferences, and is teaching two modules, one of which is a core module. So he is getting a bit of experience. We are also prepared to move anywhere.
On the negative side, he's nearly 50 and he's not famous. He has worked with some good people, but mostly abroad.
Obviously I'd love him to get a full time post, but I honestly fear that his age is against him. Also, in my own field (not music but also a 'creative' subject) it matters very much to be prize-winning, famous, etc. and he isn't really that.
Any thoughts?

thestickereconomy Mon 02-May-16 23:16:53

Actually, I think the PhD is awarded by a university, but he's studying it at a conservatoire which is a part of that university - if that makes sense. The uni is not a very good one (add to the negative side). But the conservatoire is a good one.

afussyphase Mon 02-May-16 23:21:39

No experience in music but I wouldn't hold my breath for it if I were you.. Age shouldn't have anything to do with it , and if his PhD is recent at least he hasn't been out trying for years without success...?
but you really have to be willing to relocate anywhere, it's not a meritocracy the way we all thought it was going to be, and jobs are specialist and few and far between. Ask colleagues and friends for honest opinions, people in the field will have the best predictions for you...

Rollinginthevalley Tue 03-May-16 08:56:00

He can leave his age off his CV. You don't have to give age. In interview, he should emphasise "career age" rather than chronological age.

If he has papers and plans for publication, then he can demonstrate a research trajectory. He should also look at REF2014 for guidelines (Panel D is broadly Humanities - music is in there somewhere I should think) for the presentation of creative work as research (still needs to have research questions, methods etc).

Has he had external funding? Arts Council, for example? How was his PhD funded?

He needs to be prepared to do grunt work in an early career post - admin, basic teaching etc. I think some of the prejudice against older starters is the suspicion that they will be impatient with starting again at the bottom - I've seen PhD candidates like this - reached a certain (often senior) point in their first careers, and find it hard to go back down the hierarchy to start all over again. If they can exercise some emotional intelligence common sense? and realise they need to just hold it in for a couple of years, and bear with being junior, they can then progress quite quickly drawing on the experiences of the first career. I've noticed this particularly in men, rather than women.

The not-so-good university but good conservatoire is odd, but the conservatoire bit is good. And Huddersfield, for example (not-so-good in most humanities, certainly not great in my field) is one of the top places for music technology research. So go figure.

But he should be talking to his supervisors. The problem there could be the combination of not-so-good university & good conservatoire - not-so-good university is often not-so-good on research, so his supervisor there may not be plugged in, and people at specialist institutions such as conservatoires often have no idea about the world of "full service" universities.

But from what you say, it sounds as though he's got most things an early career person should have on their CV.

MedSchoolRat Tue 03-May-16 11:28:39

Friend (mostly music and music engineering background, age 50+) is lecturer in a broad creative dept at my Uni.
He is not anybody famous but quite accomplished in various ways. No PhD (I think).
He seems to have a job he loves. Hates some aspects of it but loves many.
Therefore from my broad sample of 1, I think that jobs are out there, but I agree with Rolling that have to be pragmatic about going for junior positions, at least to start.

thestickereconomy Tue 03-May-16 21:00:59

Thanks everyone, this is really useful and actually a lot more hopeful than I had anticipated. We would absolutely be fine with him starting at the bottom and with moving, including abroad. Huddersfield is definitely on his radar. Both his parents are academics (obviously a different generation, different times) so he is realistic, I think. And I think he is genuinely good at what he does. He has publications in national and international journals and plenty of ideas & plans for more, also he has ideas for a post-doc. I just worry that people will look at him and think, 'only 15 years left in him..' and pick the younger guy!
The PhD was self funded, and he has not applied for Arts Council as he hasn't really practiced as a composer in the UK(he isn't a UK national, he's Scandi and has had many grants from his home country - he has only been here a few years, most o which he's been doing the PhD).
The problem there could be the combination of not-so-good university & good conservatoire - not-so-good university is often not-so-good on research, so his supervisor there may not be plugged in,
In all honesty he hasn;t been thrilled with his supervisors. The supervisor who was most knowledgeable in his field has only been able to meet him about once a year, and the one he sees most of has no expertise in composition He asked for & got a 3rd supervisor from a different uni who has more relevant expertise.

jclm Thu 05-May-16 20:04:12

Are his skills useful outside of academia? Could he also be looking more widely? Tbh academia is not a great career path even if there were jobs available...

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