Transition Q & A: Hillary Hutchinson

My newest blog post for University Affairs is an interview with career coach Hillary Hutchinson:

What do you do now?

I am a career coach specializing in helping people in academia either get their writing done in order to advance through the tenure process, or help them find an alternative career to academia if they decide to leave. I love helping career changers. Many people need help telling their new story in a positive way, showing that the current direction is built on past experiences.

Read the full post here.

Transition Q & A: Kelly J. Baker

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.

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: 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.

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.

Changing the post-PhD success story

In this week’s post I wonder how to change the dominant narrative of career success after a PhD. I share anecdotes and reflect on my own experiences and judgments. Let me know what you think! This is such an important issue, and I’d love to hear what solutions you think might work, or how the situation is or was different for you.

Read “Changing the dominant narrative of success after the PhD” at University Affairs.

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!

Transition Q & A: Joseph Fruscione

Earlier this week my Q & A with English PhD Joe Fruscione was posted to my University Affairs blog! He’s making the transition to post-academic employment, dropping full-time adjuncting in favour of a freelance career as a writer, editor, tutor, and teacher:

Now, I’m at peace with my decision to leave after this year: I’m set up to do some editing and writing-consultation work, for which I’ll draw on the skills and knowledge I’ve gained in the last 16 years in higher ed as a student and teacher-scholar. I’ve always been a great editor and proofreader, and I’m happy that I’ll employ these skills regularly in the near future.

For lots more from Joe, check out the original post!