Transition Q & A: Andrew Miller

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!

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.

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!

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: 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.

Transition Q & A: Emily Simmons

My latest post is a Q & A with an English PhD who worked as an adjunct and visiting assistant professor in Canada before getting married, moving to Australia, and finding meaningful, fascinating, and fun employment at an alternative education provider. Here’s how Emily’s post begins:

What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD?

A few days after my defence I started to search for communications and writing jobs. I was still emotionally drained. I remember becoming immediately overwhelmed realizing that other people had been professionalizing themselves into this field for years. I had to go for a walk to clear my head, and then I promptly abandoned the idea. I didn’t realize it then, but academia was like a bad relationship, and that was my first attempt to break-up.

Now go read the rest of this wonderful, honest, and thoughtful contribution over at University Affairs.

Transition Q & A: Daniel Munro

Daniel Munro is a political science PhD who’s now a principal research associate at the Conference Board of Canada, the country’s largest independent not-for-profit think tank. Read his wonderful Q & A on my University Affairs blog. Here’s a taste:

What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD?

I wanted to be an academic — but not only an academic. As early as my undergraduate days, I had my eyes on career paths that would involve participating in public debate and policy-making. I thought that academia might provide a good platform from which to do those things — and my graduate education was essential to developing my most valuable skills — but I learned about and prepared for other options along the way.

Transition Q & A: Maureen McCarthy

I love these posts! Here’s another great Q & A, this time with Maureen McCarthy, a recent English PhD who parlayed her skills and interests into a good “alternative-academic” job in a city she wanted to be in. Here’s a bit of the interview:

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

One of the positive aspects of my job is that it changes every day. I write a lot, in many different genres: communications with CGS members, articles for our newsletter, grant applications, panel proposals, policies. Right now I am researching for a white paper, so my everyday tasks are similar to my dissertating days — compiling an annotated bibliography and adding sources to Zotero — but I also have meetings to attend, calls with current and potential members to complete, and other assorted tasks associated with building our new advancement program.

Read the full post over at University Affairs. Tweet Maureen @maureentmcc.

Transition Q & A: Maren Wood

My post-academic friend and colleague Maren Wood—who also happened to be in my MA history class at Carleton University way back when—is the latest contributor to the Q & A series! After years of being an “alternative academic” and an adjunct, she started her own business.

What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD?

I had always imagined I’d be a professor. It never occurred to me that I would do anything other than teach history. But, I graduated in 2009, one of the worst years to enter the academic job market. After three years applying for tenure track jobs and post-docs, I decided to end my quest for academic employment and find other ways to contribute to society.

To read the full post, head over to my University Affairs blog!