Transition Q & A: Bruce Harpham

I’m pleased to show you my latest Q & A, this one with a fellow U of T alum who’s now a banking industry professional. Bruce earned his BA from the University of Toronto then went on to do an MA at Western University and an information studies degree back at U of T. He eventually landed at the Bank of Montreal. He is now a senior financial analyst. Check out his Q & A!

What did you want to do after earning your library degree?

I was interested in finding a role where I could do research and publishing such as a librarian role at a university. To that end, I had a job interview at the University of Saskatchewan in 2009. In the end I did not receive an offer, and that worked out for the best. I love living in Toronto and I have no plans to move at this point.

Be sure to read to the end. Bruce gives a few great, practical suggestions for graduate students and recent grads, things that you can start doing right now.

Coaching graduate students

Today’s blog post over at my University Affairs blog includes my thoughts on key themes when working with graduate students.

Here’s the first (of six) points I make:

1. Taking control. Graduate students often don’t feel in control of their lives. Part of my work as a coach is to help clients take and feel they are in charge by making changes to habits, mindset, and embracing who they really are. This isn’t something that comes from me, but follows from the client taking steps in the right direction.

Read the full post here. Let me know what you think!

Transition Q & A: Christine Slocum

Christine Slocum, a sociology MA who left a PhD program after two years, is the latest Q & A participant. She writes about how she transitioned into her current job. Here’s how her post begins:

You left your PhD program before finishing. Why?

​I left because, in retrospect, I was burned out. It was beginning to feel like I was in some weird life purgatory where the PhD was an obstacle to complete before I lived the rest of my life. I realized that was silly. After some soul searching, I remembered that the reason I was pursuing sociology in the first place was to better understand the mechanisms of social stratification because I wanted to better understand how to undo it. ​Four years of graduate study (two for my MA at the University at Buffalo, two towards a PhD at the University of Washington) and I felt like I had enough that the next five years would be better spent working for an NGO, nonprofit, or government position getting practical experience in the field.

Read the rest over at my University Affairs blog!

Feeling rooted in the midst of uncertainty

My latest for University Affairs is a personal reflection on where I am now and where I’m headed, finding certainty in the midst of much uncertainty. Here’s how it begins:

I’m in the midst of packing up my apartment in anticipation of a move on Monday. “In the midst” is how I often feel these days in terms of my business building. I’m learning and gathering and thinking. It feels like I’m preparing for something, but I haven’t quite figured out what it is.

For the rest, head over to my UA blog.

Twitter chats as public outreach and engagement

Do you know about Twitter chats? These planned interactions are an important part of my work, for different reasons. You may know that I host a biweekly chat using the hashtag #withaPhD. (Find out more details about that.) Here’s an excerpt from my latest blog post for University Affairs:

These Twitter chats are fun, engaging, and meaningful for me. I connect with graduate students, professors, and other working professionals with PhDs from around the world. We ask questions, provide answers, suggest and advise; we share insights and resources; we crowd-source information; we commiserate and celebrate. Anyone can join in or read our tweets, and I archive each chat using Storify.

To find out about other PhD-relevant Twitter chats you may participate in, see the full post!

Transition Q & A: Carolyn Harris

I’m excited to present a Q & A with royal historian Carolyn Harris, a fellow history PhD. The full post is available on my University Affairs blog. Here’s a bit of what she told me:

What kind of tasks do you do on a daily and weekly basis?

The first thing I do each day is review current events, particularly royal news, looking for stories that would benefit from added historical context. I spend a lot of time reading, researching and writing. When there is a royal visit to Canada or another big event where I provide royal commentary, I spend time discussing interview content with TV and radio producers before going to the studio. I also spend time on social media. I tweet daily about articles I have read or written and post history facts of the day. I update my blog regularly with new content and updates about my work. There are also a lot of entrepreneurial tasks: writing article proposals, following up on article proposals, maintaining spreadsheets of freelance income targets and accruals, sending invoices and following up on them.

For more about her media commenting, cruiseship lecturing (!), and other work, see Carolyn’s full Q & A.

Transition Q & A: Patrick Vitalone

Patrick Vitalone took his MA in history and transitioned into a job in sales and marketing at a technology startup company. Here’s how he got his first job after earning his degree:

Aside from bartending at upscale establishments, which I had been doing off and on for five years prior, my first research job was for the BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” I was living in Salem, Massachusetts, and a fellow grad from York had moved to London to work in television. One of the show’s guests had an ancestor with alleged ties to the Salem witch trials, so it just made sense to recruit me. I had the archival research skills, and was living on location. I used that to my advantage when negotiating pay. It was a lot of fun. I travelled not only to the archives, but also historic sights around Essex County, Massachusetts. It really gave me a new appreciation for the area where I grew up.

Neat! Read the rest of Patrick’s Q & A, complete with insights about how his interests in history and nationalism nicely align with his new career in international technology sales. Thanks, Patrick!

Why job hunting is like an election campaign

What? Yes.

It’s election season here in Ontario. Where I live, the lawn signs went up a few days ago, and the campaign offices are up and running, their outsides and insides plastered with orange (NDP) and red (Liberal). On my walk home from the library just now, I noticed one home sporting two election signs, one for each of the top two contenders. I was struck by the duelling loyalties expressed on this neighbour’s lawn, and my thoughts turned to my own work.

Curious about how I connect the election to post-PhD employment? Head over to University Affairs to read the rest of this post.

Transition Q & A: Daniel Mullin

I’m pleased with this latest contribution from Dan Mullin, whom you may know from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Blog. Dan’s honest about why he sought out and is now happy in a non-academic job. He’s working in sales, and has this to say about why it’s a good fit for him and other PhDs:

The closest continuity between my sales job and academia is the importance of being an effective communicator. The communication skills I developed in grad school serve me well in my new role. Despite the negative connotations that being a salesperson has in some quarters of the academy, good teachers are good salespeople. They have to sell their students on the importance of some very abstract ideas, which is much more difficult than selling a physical product.

Absolutely! There’s lots more advice and wisdom in Dan’s full Q & A. Head over to University Affairs to read the whole thing.

Resume writing tips for academics

This post was inspired by the most recent #withaPhD Twitter chat as well as a real-life in-person conversation! Here’s how it begins:

I was recently chatting with a friend here in Toronto who’s ABD and looking for full-time employment. He told me that when he “buried his degree” on his resume — placed education last instead of closer to the top — that he’d received much better responses from potential employers. Previously, his applications hadn’t resulted in anything; now, he’d been on two interviews in the past month.

Check out the full post at University Affairs, which includes the six tips alluded to in the title! Don’t miss it.