Writer and Professor Phil Lemos on a Profession That Is Both Traditional and Remote

Writer and Professor Phil Lemos on a Profession That Is Both Traditional and Remote

Phil Lemos has worked a variety of careers and somehow, through the many different experiences, he found himself a writer and college professor. 

Being an adjunct professor, Phil limbos between having both an in-office job and a remote one. He teaches his students in the same room every class; yet, he is forced to carry all his own materials, travel between different buildings — different colleges even! — and complete his grading and other work in his own home. 

We caught up with him to find out what it's like to work in both a traditional and remote profession. Here's what he has to say.

Tell me about your career trajectory. How did you fall into your current role?

I started teaching English Composition while getting my MFA in nonfiction. Through that, I’ve made contacts with faculty at other schools, and so I’ve been able to branch out and be an adjunct at multiple places. This coming semester I’ll be teaching five class sections, four in Composition and one in Creative Writing. 

What’s it like teaching at multiple schools while also being a student in a graduate program?

It’s always a little chaotic. It forced me to become really good at time management. I protect the time I have on weekends to do my graduate school work. 

What is a typical day in the life look like for you — that is, if you have a typical day?

Typically mornings are for teaching class, afternoons are for office hours, evenings are for grading papers. Weekends are for grad school work. There are always variables, and sometimes I can multitask and do multiple things at once. 

Do you feel like you’re able to connect with your students — and the other professors in your department — without being tied to an office on campus? 

I don’t see that as a major barrier. My students have my contact information. I often chat with them through email, text, or phone calls. Department meetings are scheduled through email, so I’m always in the loop.

You’re a different type of remote worker because you’re working in various environments: at home, in a classroom, and I’m guessing in random university offices. How does traveling in between all these spaces work for you?

I try to keep all my workspaces organized. Sometimes I’m better at it than others, but I don’t find that it ever becomes overwhelming. I try to work electronically as much as possible--posting assignments and grades online, so that I don’t have to tote stuff around all that much.  

What do you feel are your ideal working conditions?

Ideally I’d like my own office, but that’s not realistic right now. Just having a desk where I can keep stuff and spread out a little is sufficient for me. As for classroom space, it’s nice to have a big classroom with individual desks so students have enough elbow room.

What does your workspace look like?

All my spaces look pretty much the same--a desk where I can spread out a bit and work on my laptop. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

What I’d really like is to have a published book or two, and teach in a low-residency MFA program. And maybe also teach a novel-writing or creative writing class. That’s probably ambitious, but it’s a long-term goal. 

What is your advice for current remote workers?

Figure out what you need to do to keep yourself self-motivated, and work toward that goal. Everyone needs to keep themselves organized and motivated in different ways. And come up with a plan to achieve what you want. 

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