I’ve just come from a virtual event hosted by Versatile PhD Boston all about informational interviews and networking. Fun! Anyways, earlier today I wrote this piece about informational interviews, and it’s now posted on my University Affairs blog. You’ll see that I make a distinction between informational interviews and networking proper. Here’s a chunk from the middle:
Conducting these interviews provide career explorers with wonderful, first-hand, up-to-date information about the world of work. When you ask someone for an informational interview, chances are that person knows what to expect: that you will ask questions about his or her professional life. The benefit you as the interviewer provides is being a curious, active listener. In my experience, professionals value the chance to give advice to someone outside their field or who are just starting their career, as well as reflect upon what they do. Your interviewees will likely expect you to be unsure of where you’re going, work-wise, which makes these meetings less stressful. Don’t let uncertainty keep you from reaching out.
Read the full post here!
This summer I met Andrew Miller and talked to him about his transition from history PhD and sessional instructor (read: adjunct) to public servant and soon-to-be Strategic Leader for the City of Mississauga, Canada’s sixth most populous municipality (thank you, Wikipedia). He’s thrilled about his move and proud of the work he’s done over the past 8 years with the Ontario government. Andrew knows that PhDs have what it takes to succeed in the non-academic world, and gives some great tips in this Q & A post.
Here’s a bit of what he wrote:
What was your first post-PhD job?
If we exclude the sessional work, my first post-PhD job was working as a junior policy analyst for the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure. It might be worth explaining how I got that job: following my epiphany that this was a line of work I wanted to get into, I consulted with an old friend from undergrad days who was a civil servant. He in turn set me up with an informational interview with another civil servant who also held a PhD. He introduced me to what the life would be like. At his suggestion, I applied for an entry-level job that was advertised in the newspaper. It took two interviews and a lengthy test, but I got the position.
Read the full Q & A over at University Affairs!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.