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.
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.
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!
This is one you’re definitely going to want to read! Melissa Dalgleish is a regular contributor to Hook & Eye, an ABD in English from York University, and a research officer in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at same. Here’s an excerpt:
What do you do now?
I’m a research officer at York University, one of about a dozen (including Jamie Pratt, who did a Transition Q&A for you a couple of years ago). However, my job is a bit different from that of the dozen other research officers at York, because I support graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in research-related activities, rather than faculty members. I coordinate all of our scholarship and fellowship competitions, develop applications for major grants and awards, oversee graduate research that requires ethics approval or intellectual property agreements, and coordinate graduate research and professional skills events and programs, including the Three Minute Thesis competition and our Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) program.
Read the full Q & A over at University Affairs.
Meet Kelly, a religion PhD and scholar who’s been an adjunct and now is building up a career as a freelance writer. Here’s a bit of her story:
Now, I’m building my career as a freelance writer while also wrangling a wise beyond her years five-year old and a laid back one-year old. I’m trying to shift my writing from part-time to full-time work, which is a slow process with a bit of a learning curve. Yet, I learn more about the business of writing every day. Writing is a business, and I hope more academics start to realize this too. Writing should be paid for, not given away for free.
For the full post, head over to University Affairs.
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.
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!
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.
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.