I have been teaching philosophy courses on CUNY campuses since 2005, generally two courses a semester. I began as a PhD grad student in the GC ‘s Phil. dept.; I now am A.B.D.
If you are reading this and have a full-time permanent job, the best way to convey an adjunct’s’ story is just to imagine you are not—imagine instead that you are an adjunct instructor. Each semester you have to ask for a job, without knowing what your schedule will be, and without being certain of the outcome. You may be able to count on someone’s favor, or not. You may be able to have a schedule of work that meets your needs, or not. In addition, you are observed at your job every semester, in a process whose results are often arbitrary. Despite these conditions, you are wholly dedicated to your teaching and perform your job well–that is a big part of the reason why you chose to put yourself through graduate school in the first place, to be able to work as a teacher. Finally, you are aware that, year after year, you are doing precisely the same job as many full-time, permanent staff for a fraction of the pay, and no benefits. How does that feel?