The Well-Rounded Adjunct: Moonlighting

LanceBy Helene A. Matheny

When I returned to the United States from my graduate studies in London in 1998, I knew I wanted to teach, but didn’t really yet know how to find adjunct work. In the meantime, I needed some income! By strange fate, I happened to see a want ad for “planetarium instructor/director” in one of the local newspapers. Astronomy was the farthest thing from my graduate degree (Russian History and Literature), however the cosmos was one of my childhood passions and, coincidentally, I had worked in the local high school planetarium while in Middle School. Needless to say, I was hired, and although the little county-run facility, Trailside Nature and Science Center , had not upgraded its equipment since the 1980s, I relied on my creativity and flexibility to present shows and educational programs to school groups, scouts and the public. In the end, this job ended up preparing me to be an adjunct – as the bare bones environment helped to hone my organizational and improvisational skills. (They sadly have since closed the little planetarium in the center).

As Freeway Flyers, we often juggle odd hours and schedules. But that does not mean that we cannot also find fulfilling work that not only provides extra income, but complements and enhances our teaching as well. After my stint at the planetarium, I did get my first adjunct teaching job at a small community college, but I was able to find other related work, as well.

I taught for a couple of years at the Newark Museum, a small but well-stocked museum near Rutgers University. The facility has an extensive American Art collection, cultural exhibits on Africa, Asia and Native Americans, kid-friendly science labs, a planetarium, and an on-site 19th century school house and Victorian mansion. The museum offers all kinds of learning programs to schools and the public on history, culture, science and art — employing many experts from those many fields.

There are many similar museums throughout the country offering programs that intersect many fields of study and they are always looking for qualified educators. I found that working with artifacts and artwork to teach history in the museum enhanced my college classes as I began to use many of the same references and even some artifacts from the museum.

I also worked at a Jewish Cultural School for a while, again teaching history. This gave me yet another perspective and more material to bring to my college classes. In addition, I have also been a substitute teacher and completed my certification in social studies and English, though I quickly found out that teaching middle and high school was not my cup of tea. Nonetheless, the training in the alternate route program I took for certification gave me valuable skills and training I still use today.

Other opportunities for supplementing adjunct work are tutoring, government jobs, internships and volunteer work. While the latter two may not bring income, they often can enrich your experience of your subject. You’d also be surprised at some of the jobs that are available at the state and federal level that may be related to your field.  I once interviewed for a state historian job that involved development of historical exhibits and programs in the State Capitol building of Mississippi. Even though I didn’t land that one, it gave me a new perspective on work that is available to academics.

Another path to consider is to take some extra graduate credits if there is another subject you are interested in teaching. A colleague of mine who teaches history recently completed 18 credits of graduate geography course. This helped her land a full-time position teaching both history and geography.

Short URL:

3 Comments for “The Well-Rounded Adjunct: Moonlighting”

  1. […] some extra graduate classes to qualify you to teach an area you would like to. In my recent post The Well Rounded Adjunct, I discuss ideas for related work and some ideas for where to find it. Working and teaching in […]

  2. Thanks Lance – I enjoyed and agree with your post as well. I enjoy the freedoms being an adjunct allows for!

  3. Hi Helen!

    I think use Frequent Flyers tend to have our fingers in more pots than actual fingers! My CV grows by leaps and bounds each year by keeping involved in all of these things too. And thanks for some good ideas for me to explore!

Leave a Reply

Keep in Touch With AdjunctNation

Graphic Graphic Graphic


Want to see your advertisement on Click here.


Want to see your advertisement on Click here.


Want to see your advertisement on Click here.



From the Archive

  • GW Adjunct Union Asks For $5K Per Course But Settles For 3 Percent Pay Bump

    Adjunct professors secured a wage increase and approval for a dispute resolution committee after GW’s part-time professor union finalized its third contract with the University last week. The University will pay adjunct professors with Ph.D.s $4,032 per course, a 3 percent increase that is just enough to keep up with inflation but less than union […]

  • Adjuncts Rally for Union at Temple University

    by Rosella Eleanor LaFevre The Adjunct Organizing Committee, a group that aims to unionize Temple’s part-time faculty, declared the week of Nov. 16th Adjunct Awareness Week. Members of the committee stood at the Bell Tower around noon every day through Nov. 20th. The AOC has worked for several years to unionize adjuncts. Its goals are […]

  • Taking Courses at the Local APM

    by Bob Robinson IT’S 7:30 A.M. You polish up your term paper (actually, you fill in the blanks on the cover page of the paper you purchased on-line), copy it onto a floppy, throw on your coat and rush out the door, mumbling something about being late for work. You rush down to the nearest 24-hour convenience store and notice with […]

  • The TKO of Washington State House Bill 5802

    by Brooke Pielli Bill 5802 should have been on the fast track to passage and signing. Fifteen state senators and the American Federation of Teachers sponsored it. According to Keith Hoeller, Washington’s 7,900 part-time faculty would certainly have benefited. Hoeller, is the co-founder of the Washington State Part-Time Faculty Association, and a member of the […]

  • Adjunct Critical of Union’s Refusal to Cooperate With Police on Embezzlement of Dues Urges PTers to Boycott Union

    by P.D. Lesko In Washington State, the AFT and NEA have a virtual lock on the organization of higher education faculty. At Green River Community College (GRCC) in Auburn, Washington, the faculty are represented by a singular AFT-NEA joint affiliate. Kathryn Re teaches mathematics at Green River Community College, and in 2011 helped co-found an […]


Want to see your advertisement on Click here.


Want to see your advertisement on Click here.

Recently Commented

  • Rick: If your looking for non-academic jobs, or “menial” jobs do not even mention your graduate...
  • AdjunctNation Editorial Team: @Jeffr thanks for pointing out the distinction.
  • Jeffr: Note that adjunct faculty are considered to be on a “term” basis and receives no protection except...
  • Scott: I believe Sami is correct in that this no reasonable assurance language will allow adjuncts continuing access...
  • Nancy West-Diangelo: It’s as if we’ve lost the ability to listen critically. If the point of the work we...