Transition Q & A: Kenna Barrett

At a talk I once gave a woman in the audience was feeling awkward that she’d have a better shot at going backward in her career than forward. She meant that she could go back to the job she had before doing her doctorate, but wasn’t thrilled about doing that. I totally get that. Here’s another take on a similar situation, one that offers a much more positive perspective. Fascinating! Kenna’s keen to get other PhDs involved in fundraising and development, so do be in touch with her if you’d like to learn more.

From Kenna’s Q&A:

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

In my role, I get to meet with faculty, connect with donors, manage a team of five, and look for ways that SAIS can raise more funds to support financial aid, research, and other core needs. I strategize about presenting the School’s needs to the public and how best to structure and steward gifts. I’m working on a couple of special projects, as well. Fundraisers are generalists—they get to delve into all varieties of research projects. Travel is another perk of development. SAIS has international offices in Bologna, Italy as well as Nanjing, China.

Very cool! Read the full post over at University Affairs.

Transition Q & A: Sara Langworthy

So what happens when you’re doing a psychology PhD and realize early on that academia isn’t for you? Well, one option is to finish and then “DO ALL THE THINGS!”

What do you do now?

Now I’m on team DO ALL THE THINGS. Seriously, sometimes I look at my life and think “Okay, Langworthy. Time to pick a direction.” But I’ve always been eager to learn and try my hand at new things. I find the challenge really enjoyable. Which is why I know that a steady job at one place doing one thing for the rest of my life is not what will fulfill me.

So, in the handful of years since I completed my PhD, I’ve worked on projects that have had me meeting with state level policymakers in several states, and projects that have had me partnering with a local elementary school in Saint Paul. I’ve done a lot of writing, research, and communicating about the science of child development. I’ve written and produced several videos on topics like historical trauma, children’s mental health, and community-based partnership work (All of these can be found on CYFC’s YouTube Channel).

I’ve also written a book titled Bridging the Relationship Gap on the effects of trauma and stress in early life and what care providers can do to help build resilience in kids in their care. The book will be coming out in September (more info here). I’ve also recently started my own YouTube channel Developmental Enthusiast where I make educational videos on the science of child development that teachers and professionals can use to help others learn about what we know from research about children and families. I’m also a co-founder of The Exchange Loop, and organizational consulting firm that specializes in helping public facing organizations to understand and address their most pressing challenges.

In short, I try to use my skills in whatever ways I can to I help other people do their work better.

Awesome! Read the rest of Sara’s Q & A over at University Affairs.

Transition Q & A updates

I reached out to people who’d contributed Q & A posts in years past, and asked them if they’d like to update us on what they’re doing. Several were eager to do so, and I gathered them in 2 blog posts so far, for University Affairs.More to come!

You can read updates from Kimberley Yates, Veronica Rubio Vega, and Rachel Mueller-Lust here. And you can read updates from Joseph Fruscione, Carolyn Harris, and Andrew Miller here.

If you head over to the Transition Q & A page of this website, you can track down their original posts (also linked to in the updates).

Transition Q & A: John Robertson

The latest Q & A comes from a medical biophysics PhD who works as a research officer at a university-affiliated institution. Here’s how John’s story begins:

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

I’ve always had a very fuzzy view of the future. I knew there were lots of things I would be happy doing, including traditional academia, supporting research, teaching or working in industry. Every day I’d picture myself doing something different, and it all seemed equally good, so I mostly focused on learning things, building my skills and keeping doors open.

I originally went into grad school and research for a number of reasons, one of which you could say was to “do good.” So I was hoping to work either on medical technology or in the not-for-profit sector in general, but it wasn’t an absolute requirement for me. I always tried to keep my eyes and options open beyond research, but I was pretty clueless as to the range of things I could apply my skills towards and enjoy.

Read the full post over at University Affairs.

Transition Q & A: Tom Westerman

Have you ever thought of teaching high school after earning your PhD? Tom Westerman did! He realized he enjoyed teaching most of all, and has just finished up his first year as a teacher. Read his Q & A over at University Affairs.

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

As completed my Ph.D. I was hoping for a teaching-centric college job. I wanted to be the typical liberal arts college history professor: small classes, idyllic campus, working closely with students and doing some interesting research and writing, but not so much that I was never around. As time went on, though, and after conversations with family, friends, and my advisor, I came to realize that teaching at the secondary school level might actually be more suitable and more closely fit what I saw as my future. So I switched gears the summer before I finished.

The full post is here!

Transition Q & A: Raj Dhiman

So what does a guy with a PhD in bio-organic chemistry do outside the academy? Work in tech sales, of course! Well, that’s one option. Read about Raj Dhiman’s transition from science postdoc to corporate sales training manager over at my University Affairs blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

What do you do now?

For the past year, I have been working at a new division of Rogers Communications called Vicinity. I sought full-time employment in a sales role because I had very little money on hand to deal with student debt while trying to make ends meet. I knew I had the right skill set to be successful in sales with the strong potential to earn some serious money.

I started out on the sales floor, making cold calls and selling to small businesses. I devoted myself to learning the entire sales process from scratch then got very good at it. After six months, I was encouraged to apply for the sales training manager position and was successful in being promoted to the role.

The full post is here.

Transition Q & A: Viviane Callier

Viviane Callier has a PhD in biology and now works as a science writer at the US National Cancer Institute. Here how the interview begins:

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

When I finished my PhD, I had lined up a postdoc in the same field of study (insect physiology). During my postdoc, I spent a lot of time applying for grants, and also had my first interview for a tenure track job. I started to realize that, the closer I got to what I thought I wanted, the less appealing it became. So I started exploring alternatives away from the bench. I wrote for the university blog and alumni magazine, which led to the idea that I could write full time.

Read the rest over at University Affairs!

Transition Q & A: Nicholas Dion

How does a religious studies PhD wind up working as a senior coordinator at the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario? Read this week’s Q & A over at University Affairs to find out! Nick spent months exploring his options beyond academia, and was proactive in his job search toward the end of his degree.

Before the interview, I prepared as best I could. I milked my contacts for anything they knew about HEQCO. I spoke to my friend’s mom – the one who sent me the ad – to see what she knew about them. I reflected on my grad school experience and did some research into Ontario’s postsecondary challenges and policy priorities. When I got to the interview, I learned that, unbeknownst to me and unannounced in the ad, they had been thinking about hiring two interns – the traditional research intern and another intern who could move into an editor role. They had never had an editor before but had been increasing their rate of publication recently and wanted someone who could create and manage a consistent process. My work on the journal, together with my research experience and my experience working with academics made me a strong candidate. So I’m fond of saying that my first job was technically one for which I hadn’t even applied.

Read this rest of this interview here.

Transition Q & A: Daveena Tauber

Rutgers English PhD Daveena Tauber is forging a career for herself in higher education, but from the outside. Read her transition story over at University Affairs. An excerpt:

What do you do now? 

At this point, I am an established writing consultant who specializes in working with graduate programs and graduate students. The first part of my mission is to help graduate programs increase retention and diversity by supporting the full range of skills required to produce successful academic work. The second part is to support graduate students through direct consulting services. You might say that I facilitate excellent working relationships between universities and their students.

Very cool!

Transition Q & A: Michael Ryan Hunsaker

How does someone with a PhD in neuroscience wind up working as a special education primary-school teacher? Here’s one part of the story:

Interestingly, actually getting the job was fortunate. The principal read the information in my application and was incredulous that someone with a PhD was going to be willing to take a part time (27.5 hours.week) job for $9.01 an hour. Further, there was no way this type of person would stick around for any amount of time.

When I arrived for the interview, the principal asked me outright why I was there. He had literally only given me the interview so he could see if I was for real.

Ha! Read the full Q & A over at University Affairs. It’s a wonderful piece, inspiring and full of good advice for PhDs (and others) changing careers. Thanks Michael!