I’ve lived through enough adjunct summers to know that things get pretty difficult financially around late July. What little money you managed to scrape together during the school year is long gone, and you’re at least two rent cycles away from the next paycheck.
For adjuncts who aren’t lucky enough to score classes, the end of the summer can become a deeply stressful period of doing whatever it takes—borrowing, penny-pinching, scouring Craigslist for odd jobs—to keep the eviction notices at bay until the first paycheck of the new school year arrives.
My adjunct summer survival strategy consists mainly of selling my possessions—furniture, music, clothes. By the end of July, my apartment is significantly more roomy than it was at the beginning of the summer. Once the school year starts and the income returns, I restock what I’ve purged. It’s kind of like going to one of those payday lenders: a neverending cycle of borrowing and repaying, never earning enough to escape the pattern.
I’m also no stranger to the odd job. I’ve taken many a part-time gig to bridge the income gap between adjunct paychecks. I delivered pizzas for a few years during and after grad school, though I could never bring myself to deliver in the same town where I taught. The thought of ringing the doorbell of a current student was too much to bear.
I’ve also discovered the insalubrious world of Craigslist gigs. There’s money to be earned for doing all sorts of random tasks, from moving furniture to painting houses to, uh, posing for “tasteful” photographs. With the help of Craigslist, I’ve been a mover, a landscaper, a wedding photographer, and a ditchdigger. I was also invited to meet a potential employer at a remote location in the country, but I turned that gig down.
In fact, Craigslist is a lifesaver for poor adjuncts, and my secrets to surviving the adjunct summer mostly revolve around it. Each week during the summer break, I’m either selling my possessions or my labor in order to scrounge up enough cash to make it until September.
But I knew there had to be some other options for summer income. Tens of thousands of other teachers struggle through the dog days every year, and I was curious to hear more survival secrets. So I asked Twitter.