Your Leaving Academia Questions About Phd Importance

Written by Blogger. Posted in Uncategorized


Charles asks…

should i do phd in chemical engineering ? what is importance of phd in chemical engineering ?

which engineering is better chemical engineering or mechanical engineering . i want to do some research from my side too help pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee


Blogger answers:

Both are very general engineering degrees. You should figure out what you want to specialize in first, and then decide whether chemical or mechanical engineering fits better. Chemical Engineering is more science-based at a more molecular or micro-level whereas Mechanical Engineering is more macro. What do you want to research? Your research IS your pH D, so figure out what you want to specialize in first.

Also, I think most mechanical engineers get a Masters degree whereas most chemical engineers get a pH D. I’m guessing that this is because most mechanical engineers want to work in an industry or company rather than conduct research. From my experience, most universities do not even accept Chemical Engineers who pursue a M.S; it’s either just B.S. Or pH D. A B.S. Is probably enough education for Chemical Engineers to work in the industry, making a Masters useless.

If you want your main focus is research, then I suggest that you go for a ph D in Chemical Engineering, because there are more research opportunities. Again, it really depends on what you want to research and specialize in.


David asks…

is it easy for getting the PHD in microbiology? or difficult? what is the importance of that?


Blogger answers:

Any real Ph.D program will be difficult. The whole intent is to make you have a scholarly contribution to the field, which is never easy.


Chris asks…

Taking care of myself takes so much time and effort, I don’t know how/when to work on my phd?

I am fourth year phd student and very self-consicious person by nature.
I don’t have a carefree nature so I give importance to each and every aspect of life and in doing so I feel I am not able to concentrate on my actual research at all. Please give your comments on my problem. I’ll highly appreciate any sort of feedback


Blogger answers:



Donald asks…

Is GMAT important for PhD?

I am currently an MBA student with hopes of continuing into a PhD program in a private university. My GMAT scores to get into the MBA program of a state university were fine and I got into the program with no problems at all. However, I am interested in attending a private university (non-ivy league) for my PhD next year.

I have a fair amount of professional experience and currently hold and Academic Position at my University, but I am scared that my average GMAT scores will come back to bite me.

Any thoughts on the matter? Anyone with experience on the importance of GMAT scores for PhD programs?



Blogger answers:

PhD programs usually require the GRE, not the GMAT. Some programs don’t require the GRE or may make an exception for you.


Nancy asks…

Question about PhD and MD?

Okay, so I’m in my first semester of college (currently at a two year junior college) and I’m going to be a doctor. However, I’m not entirely sure on the process. Will I be getting a PhD, an MD, or both? What is the importance of each and when would I attain either? As I stated in a previous question, I am completely and utterly lost in this wonderfully scary world of college. Any and all information would be much appreciated (remember, I’m going to be a doctor). Thank you in advance!


Blogger answers:

If you want to be a medical doctor, you want an MD. If you want to be a research scientist, you want a PhD. Both require you get a bachelors degree (4-year college degree) before applying to the program. The MD is an additional 4 years, plus at least 3 more of residency. The PhD is an additional 4-8 years. An MD lets you treat patients, a PhD lets you do research and/or teach at the college level.

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Your Leaving Academia Questions About Should I Get A Phd In Psychology

Written by Blogger. Posted in Uncategorized


James asks…

Is it worth getting a PhD in School Psychology or should I just get my Master’s in School Psychology?

I know I want to be a school psychologist. But whether or not I should get my Master’s or a PhD remains to be seen. Are there any big differences in the two degrees regarding the profession?


Blogger answers:

A PhD is a research degree; the only reason you’d get that is if you want to do research and publish papers about school psychology or if you want to teach it at the university level. If you just want to work as a school psychologist, stick with a masters degree.


Susan asks…

If I want to practice psychology, should I get my PsyD or PhD?

I‘m pretty sure there is a thread for this but can’t seem to find one! Anyways, I want to be able to practice psychology, possibly clinical. Research is something that does not appeal to me and I would like to be able to gain practical experience that I can use when working. I have heard that PsyDs are less funded than PhDs. Does anyone have experience in these fields that can give me a thorough answer?


Blogger answers:

I am graduating with my BS in psychology this spring and will be attending a clinical psychology Psy.D program in the fall. I, too, am not too crazy about research and definitely prefer the clinical aspect of psychology more so. Psy.D programs are newer than Ph.D’s and do have less funding, which is unfortunate. However, I do not see anything wrong with going for a Psy.D over a Ph.D. There are a number of prestigious well-recognized Psy.D programs out there. While Psy.D programs do involve research they have a much larger focus on the clinical aspect than Ph.D programs do. I think you should definitely go for your Psy.D if you truly want to focus more heavily on clinical practice than research.


Mary asks…

what area of psychology should i study in college?

okay, so i am a recent high school graduate and i plan to get my PhD in psychology and become a family/children/marriage councelor/therapist.
but i am unsure what field of psychology i need to major and study in.

please help.


Blogger answers:

Major in psychology. Also think about volunteering at a crisis hotline or someplace that will give you experience counseling. Most programs look for a person to have about 1 year of experience in human services (work or volunteer.)


Mark asks…

Okay, I am a college student and I am pursuing a degree in psychology. What should I major and minor in?

I want to work primarily with teens because I feel they are a group that really needs help. I just want to help young people be the best they can be. I also would like to have kmy own practice eventually. Can anybody help me figure out exactly what I should major or minor in or if I should get a PhD or double major and what not. Thank you!… O ya i would also like to work with young athletes seeing as that I have always been involved in athletics


Blogger answers:

You must major in psychology to go on to grad school in psychology. You’d need a masters (6 years total) to be a counselor and a PhD or PsyD (8-12 years) to be a psychologist.


Donna asks…

What field of psychology should I get a degree in?

I am currently getting a BS in special education and am looking at grad schools. I plan on getting a masters in ABA, because I mainly want to work with autism. I want to get a PhD, but I‘m not sure which branch of psychology I should get the degree in. I would like to be a therapist, counselor, or consultant working with autistic people, but I‘m not sure which branch of the field I should focus on.


Blogger answers:

Clinical psychology. That’s the field that encompasses Autism. Also if you want to work primarily in schools, school psychology or combined school-child clinical degrees are options too.

Also, the PhD is primarily a research degree. So the programs will be more research orienated and unless you have substantial research experience, the decent ones will be nearly impossible for you to get to. You probably want a PsyD, which is a Doctor of Psychology degree. That’s almost entirely clinically oriented.

Social work also encompasses those careers as well. There are social work programs that lead to a Doctor of Social Work degree.

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Who’s Responsible For Informing Grad Students About Their Career Prospects?

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic Life

If you’re planning on staying in academia, a sometimes-reliable source of good information is the Deans’ Weblog. If you’re planning on leaving, there is an occasional post there that might pertain to you. I’ve learned a lot from this blog, including how compassionate deans can be towards the plight of graduate students. But I was kind of agitated when I came across this post:

In bureaucratic and academic circles, HQP is the acronym for Highly Qualified People (or Personnel if you like). According to Statistics Canada, the definition of an HQP is a person with at least a bachelor’s degree from a university…

The employment record for PhD graduates is also mixed. Fewer than 50% of them will go on to academic jobs of any kind, never mind tenure track positions in research intensive universities, the position for which they are Highly Qualified… In summary, we are training people for careers that don’t have have anywhere near enough capacity to absorb the graduates at the same time as we are unable to attract and retain students for careers that are crying out for people.

As a society, it does not seem like we are doing a very good job of allocating our scarce development resources in a way that is going to get the right mix of HQP. I don’t know what the answer to this might be. But it is clear that we share responsibility with the students themselves. Somewhere, somehow, we have got to do a better job of teaching them how to do their own “due diligence” prior to starting down a path that is going to end with huge debt and poor prospects in their career of choice.

Well, yes and no. Faculty and administrators do need to do a better job of making it clear to prospective and current doctoral students what their job prospects in academia really are. And sure, it is up to students to make sure they have investigated their career options at some point on the way to getting a Ph.D.

But I kind of bristle at the idea that faculty have to teach students how to do that “due diligence,”as though the current problem was that students don’t know how to investigate their career options. To put it like that entirely misses the point by misplacing the burden onto students. The problem is not with the students–it’s with programs (faculty, administrators, institutional inertia) that do nothing but groom students for lives in academia, completely complicit in the fabrication that if you just work hard enough, you will get a tenure-track position.

The fact is, most faculty a) don’t, b) won’t and c) can’t teach students how to do their “due dilligence” regarding the students careers because they haven’t a clue themselves how transportable academic skills are to other industries. Many faculty are also heavily invested in building up their own field of work by grooming their proteges; it would not at all be worth their while to emphasize the difficulties of the academic job market with their students.


The Bridge to Somewhere

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Reflection

Let’s say you’re one of those people who has decided to start looking for work outside of academia. You’re either trying to develop a Plan B in case a tenure-track job doesn’t open up, or you’re really just tired of the academic game and want a life change. Maybe you’re kind of a Type A personality who wants to set some plans in place before you make the leap, or maybe you’ve got hefty loans or a family to support and you need to move cautiously. The good news is that making the decision to find a nonacademic career does not necessarily mean living through a period of unemployment. There are some ways that you can move gingerly towards a nonacademic career, steps you can take that will bridge your academic and post-academic life. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Start your post-academic career exploration while you’re still in grad school. Commit a certain number of hours each week to job hunting/career development stuff like information interviewing, going to your campus career center for a transferable skills analysis, or reading books on résumé writing. In my own case, there was a five-month period between the submission of the final draft of my dissertation and the actual dissertation defense. During much of that time, I was finishing up my teaching and doing some thesis revisions for my committee members, but I was also cranking up my employment-seeking machine: I applied for a handful of summer teaching contracts, registered with a temping agency, started reading job ads, and did some networking that led to my first post-academic job.
  2. Another way of bridging the post-academic gap is by using the skill that you already know you have — research — in a nonacademic setting. Think tanks, market research firms, policy institutes, consultancies, social service agencies, professional associations, unions, broadcasters, documentary filmmakers, public administration (aka government bureaucracy) — all of these organizations require researchers. Sure, some need people who know how to run stats or have a particular area of expertise, but a lot of them need qualitative researchers or generalists. Some of these positions pay well, well enough to be a long-term position rather than just a bridge to your next gig. For others that aren’t as lucrative, being a paid researcher at a nonacademic organization can give you a taste of what the nonacademic work environment is like.
  3. Take another skill set you know you have, like teaching. There are more ways to teach than in a university classroom. And no, I’m not even necessarily talking about teaching ESL classes or high school or elementary school. The skills you have as a teacher are transferable to jobs that require a lot of working with the public. You know when you go on a museum/state park/art gallery/Graceland tour and a guide tells you all about the artifacts, and they’re really good at captivating your attention? Or you know when you buy something in a store and someone effectively tells you all about their products? Or you know when you go to an information kiosk for help? Or you know when you go to a public lecture? Or you know when someone shares information at a meeting or conference? They’re using the same skills you use teaching in a classroom. Think laterally about those skills, and you could hit on your bridge to somewhere.
  4. I’ve had people ask me if I think doing a postdoc can also be a good bridge to post-academic labor. I do think it can be, because postdocs typically have enough flexibility for you to make the time to dedicate to researching nonacademic jobs/careers. If the postdoc pays you enough to be able to buy time for a year or two, it can be leveraged as part of your career transition.
  5. Finally, adjuncting is something you can commit to for a year or two as a way to pay the bills while you build up your nonacademic contacts. And if you do find a job halfway through the semester, don’t hesitate to quit. After all, there are plenty of other adjunct teachers in line behind you who’d be happy to pick up your contract.
  6. Depending on your interests, freelancing is something you may be able to do during grad school, adjuncting or while doing a postdoc. If you’re interested in moving into a field like journalism, web design, or broadcasting, doing some freelance work won’t take up a huge amount of time while also allowing you to build up your contacts, get some experience and make a bit of cash on the side. I did my first freelance radio piece for Canada’s public broadcaster right around the time I defended my dissertation, and it was a fun, eye-opening experience that helped show me the world of post-academic possibilities.

There are ways of moving slowly and gradually to post-academic work that might appeal to those who don’t have much appetite for a radical change. They provide enough security to help you build confidence, while still moving you toward a satisfying postacademic career.


Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Reflection

By: Joshua Newman

In December, Inside Higher Ed graciously brought me down to the Modern Language Association conference in Philadelphia to meet with grad students about non-academic careers. On the flight from Toronto, I busied myself with reading a book called Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire. No, this was not an attempt to distinguish myself from my other MLA-bound passengers who had their noses in Cixous and Keats. It was something I picked up at the airport in the hopes that it might have some nuggets of wisdom that I could use at this stage in my own career.

In it, author Mireille Giuliano writes that life is lived in episodes and phases. This is especially the case for career changers, particularly academics who end up parachuting into a non-university sector job.

This is something that the newly-minted Ph.D.’s that I chatted with at the MLA seemed to understand: Life as a Ph.D. is just one stage of a life that may resemble more of a patchwork quilt than a slow and steady climb to academic career fame.

And yet, it seems as though a broad discussion about post-academic careers is slow to catch on. While Ph.D.’s scramble to assemble a “Plan B,” little more than hand-wringing seems to actually be going on in many university administrative offices. Yes, there are some universities that are trying to provide a modicum of helpful advice, offering two-hour resume-writing clinics and the like. Others, like the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, take the task a bit more seriously by offering week-long workshops on non-academic careers.

But where is the vigorous discussion about post-academic careers that is long overdue? The facts about the state of the job market are in, and everyone knows how dire the academic job prospects are. Yet little action has yet to be taken inside most professional associations, departments and graduate schools regarding meaningful alternatives.

It is alternatives that should be stressed because trying to stem the bleeding in the academic job market is futile. No amount of union action, funding reallocation or campus protest is going to change the fact that the very nature of the university itself has changed. Tenure is not what it once was. The reliance on contract labor that persists now is not a temporary, recessionary stage. It is is simply a part of a larger pattern of labor market restructuring across North America that has been in place for the past two decades. The very fact that 70 percent contract labor in a department could be considered a tipping point — yes, 70 percent — speaks volumes about how deeply and fundamentally the shift towards contingent labor has set in to the university.

The persistent failure to truly face just how much universities are exploiting casual labor frustrates me. I also feel totally dismayed when I read comments such as this:

Despite everything, some students remain stubbornly optimistic. Joshua Newman, a political science Ph.D. candidate at Simon Fraser University and president of SFU’s Graduate Student Society, believes the academic job market is experiencing a “temporary low” and will soon turn around. “If teaching is your main goal and you are willing to wait it out, as long as you keep up a heavy research agenda and publish as much as possible, then finding a job is just a matter of time,” says Mr. Newman.

How does this kind of attitude square with the Ph.D. I met at the MLA who was from a prestigious west coast university, on her second book contract and still had not landed a tenure-track position? How much time, how many years of making peanuts and how high do the opportunity costs have to go before a trained professional throws up her hands and quits?

Lest anyone think I am simply being pessimistic, let me set the record straight. I am a notoriously glass-is-half-full kind of person. In fact, I have been accused, here in the august pages of this magazine, of being overly optimistic. But Little Miss Sunshine draws the line in the sun-kissed sand right here: Don’t hold your breath for those academic jobs. Instead, start planning out your non-academic career now.

This is not about having a bad attitude. It’s about looking at the cold, hard reality. In the Canadian case, here it is, in the starkest of terms: in 2007, 4,800 people in Canada earned their Ph.D.’s. How many jobs were waiting for them that year? 2,616. Yeah, about half. But of course, competition for those jobs was not just restricted to those who got their doctorates that year. It was shared among foreign Ph.D.’s, Ph.D. students still finishing their dissertations, and several earlier cohorts of Ph.D.’s who were still job-hunting. Plus, the competition for fewer jobs is becoming greater and greater because graduate enrollments are up: in Canada, graduate enrollment was up 62 percent in 2007-8 than 2001-2.

The difficult, crummy truth is out there for everyone to see: You can be the smartest, brightest, most-published person coming out of your degree program and STILL end up without an academic job, simply because the positions aren’t there. So why not seize this moment as an opportunity and not an occasion to dig yourself into adjuncting hell?

I’m not against optimism. I’m not against holding out for what you really want. But I am against the drinking of the academic Kool-Aid. The idea that being a tenured faculty member is the only way to achieve personal and professional satisfaction, or that a university classroom is the only place where one can teach, or that non-academic careers don’t offer intellectual stimulation is, quite simply, rubbish. It is a hasty conclusion drawn by people who have never worked outside of academia. Come on! Why are you going to listen to those people, anyway? Put your analytical, scholarly hats on for a moment: the idea that non-academic jobs are somehow “less than” is an idea that is fostered by … academics! It is not a view that is grounded in research (and if it is, please forward this research to me c/o this magazine), it’s not founded in experience, and it’s counter to the happy, post-academic work reality of thousands and thousands of Ph.D.’s.

I’m not suggesting that now is not a time for political action. It most certainly is. The unions that are fighting for something approaching fairness in the hiring and compensation packages of adjunct professors are doing critical work. If you are doing that work, I applaud and support you. But I would also suggest that you — individual little you, not political-hat-wearing you — spend an equal amount of time and energy cultivating your own “Plan B” career.

If you are currently spending any time at all fighting political battles in your department or university, divert 50 percent of that energy to planning your non-academic career (how? Read this book). If you watch TV for more than 5 hours a week, spend 50 percent of your TV time building your non-academic network (how? Read this article). If your university is undergoing a hiring freeze, spend one hour a week reading a book about non-academic résumés (like this one). If your university canceled a hire, spend two hours a week brushing up on non-academic Web sites (like this one). If your university laid off or did not re-hire any adjunct faculty, spend three hours a week doing information interviews (information what?). If folks in your department took early retirements and slashed your photocopying budget by 50 percent, see a career coach.

Then, do the most important thing you can do when you get your non-academic career: tell everyone you know. Scholars out there have to know that there is life outside the ivory tower that is far more personally and professionally satisfying than adjuncting ever, ever could be.


#dayofhighered Adjunct Hero – Keverlee Burchett

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

The Education of Oronte Churm

In honor of #dayofhighered, I present our second Adjunct Hero, Keverlee Burchett. Ms. Burchett was straightforward to locate simply because she and I share an workplace, which has permitted me to witness her dedication and heroism first hand.

In addition to getting a tireless instructor of writing, Keverlee is a published poet, most just lately in the prestigious Southeast Assessment.

All Adjunct Hero nominations are welcome at [email protected].

– John Warner


Title/Age/Academic degrees

Keverlee Burchett / 28 / B.A. School of Charleston, M.F.A. Purdue University

Inform us exactly where you teach, what you educate, and how prolonged you&rsquove been teaching.

University of Charleston, 2008-Present, Introductory Composition

The Art Institute of Charleston, 2011-Present, University Skills (remedial writing), English 101 and 102, and quickly, apparently, Public Speaking

Burke Substantial School, 2008-Present, Poetry Writing, by means of a non-profit organization

Purdue University, 2005-2008, Introductory Composition and Intro Imaginative Writing (I count this, even even though I was in graduate school at the time, and so far better paid than I am now.)

Inform us the story how you wound up as an adjunct.

I completed graduate college in the spring of &rsquo08 and utilized to a bunch of jobs in the non-profit industry.&nbsp I am the worst type of idealist, the kind that imagines herself weighing infants in an open-air clinic or chaining herself to some object. I care about a lot of troubles, so I&rsquod applied for jobs all more than the board, but largely in the realm of sustainable agriculture, and specifically in non-profit, educational endeavors. I desired to perform with poor children. I wanted to feed poor youngsters. But I didn&rsquot get a single bite, and then graduate school was above, so I WWOOFed for a summer (this is a plan that puts &ldquowilling employees&rdquo to perform on organic farms in exchange for space (in my case, a repurposed chicken shack) and board. Then, when the summer time was more than and I was in a panic, I returned to my hometown and scored some sections at my alma mater, and filled in the gaps with nannying for a former professor and teaching poetry at an internal-city high college.

What role do adjuncts play at your specific institution?

I&rsquom not confident how to answer this question. When I initial returned to the College of Charleston, there were of a great deal of adjuncts in my division. Then, right after a semester or two, all the English adjuncts had been let go in one fell swoop. But the following semester I (and a handful of others) were back in the classroom&mdashI guess we couldn&rsquot entirely get rid of adjunct labor.

As an institution, I think we are making an attempt to depend less and significantly less on adjuncts, or to treat them better. At least, I consider this is the situation. There are committees and surveys about what we adjuncts would most like to boost about our lot.&nbsp I am not on these committees. I feel a minor guilty about not participating far more in the method of reforming the method that&rsquos trying to keep me down (and as a substitute, noting that some of my favored professors from undergrad are fighting the fight for me), but my constant (and possibly lame) excuse is that I teach 3 jobs and try out to run a Poets-in-the-Colleges plan, and time is finite.

At the Art Institute, a for-profit institution focusing on marketable arts, like vogue design and style and culinary arts, it would seem like adjuncts (who following a number of quarters are then categorized as &ldquopart time&rdquo workers, with no discernable benefits) are the preferred sort of labor, for evident causes.&nbsp The climate is very various at this institution. On the a single hand, we are manufactured to share cubicles rather than have our own, as the complete time workers do. But on the other, we&rsquore encouraged to participate a lot more in faculty goings-on, and we&rsquore necessary to attend faculty meetings (which I generally skip at the University, since I don&rsquot feel fairly as integrated that division) and produce ourselves as teachers, since, as I was told at a recent division meeting, &ldquoadjunct faculty are much less seasoned and a lot more in need of coaching.&rdquo This at an institution the place numerous of the instructors are effectively-educated in their art type, but with small or no education in education or pedagogy.

Give us a common day, or week, if you choose?

Now that I&rsquom employed in only teaching, as opposed to teaching-and-nannying, or teaching-and-farming, scheduling is a great deal easier. A yr ago I would train in the mornings, then change out of grown-up garments, slather on sunscreen, go do manual labor for the rest of the day, and then return home, sun burnt, and attempt to reply student emails and grade papers.

Since I&rsquom now teaching at two institutions, 1 on the semester program and 1 on the quarter program, I consider to preserve my schedule as easy as possible, teaching at 1 school on MWF and the other on TR. I tuck the large school into the gaps. My chair at University of Charleston has been exceptionally generous in scheduling me in extremely workable techniques, even enabling me to select my own schedule last semester, with the expertise that I have two departments to work with. At the Art Institute, I tend to train evening courses, so that means Tuesdays and Thursdays are big catch-up days for grading and then I&rsquoll go in to teach from six-eight, or 5-9.

What&rsquos the most rewarding part about teaching? Or, considering of it an additional way, what keeps you coming back?

There are a few factors I adore the most about teaching, but what keeps me coming back is that it feels like I&rsquom performing one thing valuable for the planet. Not all of the time. Significantly of the time it feels like I&rsquom working on a treadmill. But the little moments, like when college students say &ldquoI can&rsquot go see X any far more with out thinking of Y, given that I took your class,&rdquo go a lengthy way.

Also, I like the reality that teaching permits me to preserve studying. I&rsquom consistently understanding from my students, colleagues, from experiences I have in the university neighborhood. I&rsquom possibly one of these perpetual college students at heart. I feel like I could go to school forever. Since I can&rsquot, teaching is the up coming very best thing.

What are your biggest frustrations in your job?

Besides the amount of grading that I do, which is significantly exacerbated by the time and thought I put into grading each paper (a dilemma I&rsquom attempting to function on), I&rsquod say my biggest aggravation is that I don&rsquot get to stick to my college students by means of their education. Since I only train 1st-year writing at the School, I in no way have students again, so I don&rsquot get to see how they progress more than the course of their school careers, or how my class impacted them (or didn&rsquot) beyond their freshman yr.

At the Art Institute, I do have students for several courses, but the progress is much less noticeable there, mainly because a) we educate for 10 week quarters, and I question how a lot of the writing method can genuinely be taught in, say, 10 4-hour courses, and b) however a minority of intro writing college students at any college actually want to increase their writing, the impetus to understand at this institution in this class is far lower than anywhere else I&rsquove noticed. I am a hoop to be crawled through so that college students can get into the kitchen or studio.

Inform us your dream task (inside of cause, of program), quantity of sections, what you&rsquore teaching, and how considerably you&rsquore paid.

I seriously can not reply this question. This is possibly a contributing element to why I&rsquom an adjunct. Every single year I apply to items, and, as I mentioned prior to, they fluctuate wildly. I have lots of dreams. I embrace them all completely.&nbsp The only thing they all have in common is that they supply me wellbeing positive aspects.

What&rsquos the strategy to get to that destination? (Or elsewhere?)

Having been through a latest deluge of rejections, I am in the brainstorming phase of the new plan. Till then, I consider factors one particular semester at a time, because that is the length of my contract.

John Warner doesn&rsquot tweet all that usually, but when he does, it&rsquos from @biblioracle.

Inside Larger Ed | Website U


Post-Academic Job Search

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Reflection

Most PhD students likely assume they are training for a career as a university professor, but there are many alternative career choices for historians. Whatever your field of specialization, employers in a wide range of sectors want someone with your special set of skills. However, many graduate students and scholars don’t know how to make the transition to a “postacademic” career. All too often, they are paralyzed by difficult questions. Will the academy be forever closed to me if I take up a post-academic position? What will my peers and advisors think? Does leaving the ivory tower mean I am a failure? Were all those years in school wasted?

Answering these questions is all part of the process of making a career change. This chapter provides some step-by-step strategies for exploring career possibilities beyond the professoriate. Whether you have an MA, ABD (All But Dissertation), or PhD, you were smart enough to get into academia and you’re smart enough to find a way out.

Fear #1: “But what else can I do with my life?”

You may have never really seen yourself being anything other than a history professor. Envisioning alternative careers can thus feel daunting and  disheartening. But once you get started, it can be fun to explore the career alternatives that do exist for students and scholars with a history background. Former scholars who’ve come from the social sciences and humanities have gone on to successful and satisfying careers in areas as diverse as broadcasting, union organizing, school-teaching, non-profit research, fashion, life coaching, and consulting. Post-academics differ from other career changers in a few significant ways, but they can begin formulating their career-change plans using the same basic strategies. Attack the crafting of your post-academic career as you would a research project. Start by consulting up-to-date career planning resources for the best advice on making a career change and how to conduct a job
search. You can find many of those resources right on campus at the career counseling centre. You’ll learn that networking, for example, is a strategy that never goes out of style and applies to all job seekers. Even as you’re trying to figure out what other lines of work might interest you, let everyone around know that you’ll soon to be on the job market. You may face some raised eyebrows and difficult questions, but remember, there is no need to apologize. You can prepare some replies; tell people in a polite but firm manner that “academia isn’t the right fit for me.” Or “I’m excited about pursuing my long-time interest in journalism.” Or “the academic job market has dried up and I’m assessing my other options.”

In some cases, you may be an unemployed contract instructor or a cash-starved graduate student looking for a short-term post-academic job, not a career. Your first post-academic job might not pay the bills while you research other careers. One of the best places to look for the stop-gap job is in the university sector, even at your alma mater. An administrative job in the dean’s office, graduate studies office or alumni office can pay well and allow you to work in a familiar environment. Other jobs that support the university sector can be found in the offices of major funding agencies (including SSHRC), academic recruitment firms, university presses, and so forth. This work can give you the time, money, and breathing space you need before devoting yourself to serious career planning- or you might decide this is where you would like to stay and  advance. Historians have found rewarding careers as writers and producers for the CBC, as public and private school teachers, as fundraisers and policy analysts in NGOs and social justice organizations, and so on.

Aside from networking, you can pursue other traditional job-search or career-planning techniques, including conducting information interviews, perusing job postings on the web, consulting a life coach, securing an internship, finding a head-hunter, and joining a job-search club. Another tip that applies to all career-planners is to focus on your passions. Many graduate students sacrifice their hobbies and interests in the name of dissertation research and writing, but returning to the things you loved may help you formulate your career plan. be your dream job, or even in your field of choice. It might be a transition job that helps you to formulate your career plan.

Fear #2: “All I know is nineteenth-century Norwegian textile production,” Or “I’m not qualified for any other job!”

Telling yourself that you’re under-qualified is perhaps the greatest mistake that potential academic-leavers tell themselves. Many academics think the only thing they’re good at is working on their narrow topic of specialization. But nothing could be further from the truth. You are armed with a wealth of skills – many that you had before you even set foot in graduate school – that qualify you for a range of jobs.

In some cases, your academic area of interest will parlay itself into your post-academic career, but this is actually seldom the case. Miuccia Prada, head of the Prada fashion house, has a PhD in political science. Working in fashion might require her to use her research skills, but she probably does not consult her methodology chapter when designing the new spring line. Canadian novelist Camilla Gibb’s PhD in social anthropology likely helps her bring fictional
characters to life, but it’s doubtful she frequently consults her dissertation’s bibliography. Debbie Stoller’s PhD in the psychology of women probably fuelled her desire to start Bust magazine and to write her line of Bitch N’ Stitch books, but she probably did not heavily consult her thesis for either enterprise.

In other words, your qualifications for a new career may not have anything to do with the actual topic of your doctoral research. What is usually more  important is that you can transfer skills cultivated in graduate school to the new job. On the post-academic job market, you will be judged not by academic standards – how much do you know about this topic? – but on how well you can do the job. Does this mean graduate school is a big waste of time? Absolutely not! At the very least, graduate school allows you to hone a wide range of skills, sometimes even without noticing it!

Fear #3: “Skills? I don’t have any skills!”

The fear that you have no skills for life outside the academy poses another huge barrier for potential academic-leavers. Thinking about your PhD in terms of transferable skills can be very difficult because graduate students are accustomed to thinking of their skills in terms of intellectual attributes or scholarly achievement. But you can shift your thinking by breaking down the steps you took as a student and scholar, and recognizing the skills that were required to
meet challenges and to progress through the stages. As a graduate student, you are engaged, essentially, as a professional researcher. You handle
huge chunks of information – uncovering it, analyzing it, synthesizing it, finding holes in it, speaking and writing about it, and so on. In the information economy, people who do exactly what you’ve spent years doing are in high demand. Not only do you have a wealth of experience in this regard, but it is second nature to you to the extent that you may not even regard your abilities as a set of skills!

Doing what the career-planning books call a “skills inventory” may seem an either daunting or dull exercise, but it is by far the most important thing you can do for yourself as an academic career changer. To secure a post-academic job, it’s imperative that you reframe your work experience in a way that employers can understand. By articulating all the skills you used in academia and beyond, you will help your potential employer to grasp just what it is you can do.
You’re also affirming for yourself just how talented and able you are. And as you consider what your transferable skills are, more and more career possibilities will bubble to the surface.

Take the example of teaching. Ask yourself, what exactly is involved in my weekly engagement with my students? It may feel like second nature to you but you are using countless skills when you teach. If your resume states, “Teaching Assistant, 3 Years, Introduction to History; Course Director, 1 Year, Eighteenth-Century European History,” you’re not telling your future employer very much. But if you think about the actual tasks performed, you might find skills like the

  • facilitated large and small group discussions
  • provided oral and written feedback on a weekly basis
  • planned and delivered weekly presentations
  • conveyed complex information in a clear, accessible way
  • used a variety of audio-visual technologies to present information
  • developed and implemented grading and evaluation criteria
  • responded to student and course director feedback in a timely fashion
  • exercised resourcefulness without supervision
  • wrote documents tailored for specific audiences (e.g., student handouts)
  • set and met weekly, monthly, and yearly goals

This is only a partial and general list to help you start your own teaching skills inventory. Consider the other skills involved in teaching – those you use when attending a course director’s lecture, working with a TA team, reading the textbook, drawing up a lesson plan, grading papers and exams, meeting with students, and teaching students how to write an essay. You will end up with quite an extensive list of skills that are in high demand on today’s job market.

You also developed other practical and marketable skills in your academic life. For example, you didn’t only write a Master’s thesis, course papers, or a doctoral dissertation. You also managed large volumes of information, established a data-storage system (both electronic and hard copy), and edited manuscript copy. You were a creative thinker, you adapted and navigated your way around unanticipated barriers (of the intellectual variety), and saw projects through to completion. You worked independently but consulted others for their expertise. And don’t forget all those “soft skills” that a PhD helps you cultivate:

  • you are a master/mistress of time management and meeting deadlines
  • you have superior organizational skills
  • you learn things quickly and grasp complex ideas easily
  • you are disciplined, motivated, and a self-starter
  • you enjoy a challenge

Once you learn how to articulate your transferable skills, you will be able to explain in a job interview how well your background – graduate school and all – prepared you for the line of work described in the job ad. Thus, you might not have specific experience working in the notfor-profit sector, but your teaching skills demonstrate the creativity you used to communicate complex ideas, something that not-for-profit organizations need when consulting stakeholders
and the media. You might not have the background called for when applying for a job with that multi-national software producer, but your experience shows you’re a quick learner.

Fear #4: “But how can I turn my ten-page cv into a one-page resume?”

It can be an emotional, even demoralizing, process to “gut” one’s scholarly cv and convert it into a resume. But writing a skills-based resume (rather than a chronological one) that highlights those transferable skills you’ve worked hard to identify will demonstrate just how “hirable” you really are in a range of employment sectors. To find out more about crafting a solid, up-to-date resume, consult one of the many job resume books, websites, or writing services available.

Thorny issues will come up, so best to be prepared. For example, some ABDs wonder if they should mention the years spent in graduate school, or explain why they left without earning the PhD. If you’ve converted the time spent in graduate school into transferable skills, then by all means mention it. But you do not owe a potential employer an explanation for why you left without a doctorate.

The matter of references can be difficult, even for the most successful graduate student. Nonacademic employers will typically ask for names of people to whom you directly reported, which may – or may not – make your doctoral supervisor the best person to provide a reference. If you left academia largely or partly because of a difficult or destructive relationship with your supervisor, you will not want this reference. But do not despair; there are others you can ask.
Remember, you need referees who will speak to your ability to show up on time, grasp concepts quickly, stay focused on tasks and meet deadlines, rather than to the strength of your scholarship. If you don’t have recent non-academic experience, you can use faculty for whom you conducted research and with whom you established a good rapport. You can ask a course director for whom you TA’ed. You could even go back to professors from your BA days if you’re still in touch with them.

However, you should inform your references in advance that the job for which you are applying is not an academic one so that they can shift the standards of praise and evaluation – for example, from “she was in the top 10 percent of my class,” to “she always came to meetings on time and spoke in an informed and intelligent manner.” As with academic letters, it is always a good idea to ask potential referees if they will be able to provide a strong reference for you. If
you sense any hesitation, move on to someone else. If necessary, you might call upon a colleague with whom you edited a collection or worked on a journal. This is not a senior person to whom you reported but he or she can testify to your work ethic and organizational skills.

Here are some additional tips:


  • Whether you are consulting someone in an information interview or being interviewed yourself for a position, be gracious and say thank you. It will help get you remembered.
  • Be bold. You’ll distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack, prove how courageous you really are (especially to yourself) and affirm that you can take charge.
  • Be persistent. When you’ve applied for a job you’re really interested in and you don’t hear back right away, don’t be afraid to call. If you get turned down for your dream job, reject rejection; with persistence, you will land in the sector you want.
  • Consider self-employment. If you have a flair for writing, why not try freelancing? If your line of study is marketable, consider consulting.
  • While you might not need it, consider training in a totally different field. You might decide history is not for you and that your true passion is to become a social worker or an actor or a chef. Consider taking the plunge.

Making the transition from an academic to a post-academic career can be frightening. The process of transferring to a new and satisfying career can take one or two or even several years. You need to deal with the emotional and psychological issues as well as focus on the concrete work of re-tooling your career. The good news is that very few former academics regret leaving academia after re-establishing themselves in a line of work that rewards them for doing what they enjoy or love. Post-academics in new careers relish the guilt-free leisure time and the freedom from having to constantly turn to funding agencies and apply for research grants. Others earn salaries that are higher than that of an assistant professor. Still others cherish the opportunity to pursue a life-long passion. If you decide that you want or need to pursue a career outside that of university professor, a certain amount of planning, networking, self-reflection, and, yes, luck,
will help you to establish a new and rewarding career.

Sabine Hikel (Inside Higher Ed)


How to leave academia: Call a cab

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Reflection

I’m not gonna lie–it’s been an exceptionally busy week here at the Leaving Academia HQ. I’ve been doing a lot of work with some really lovely clients this week, and that’s meant I haven’t had any time for blogging. The upshot, though, is that by working with such interesting people, I’m getting all kinds of ideas for blog posts (I’m formulating a Glamour magazine-like “do” and “don’t” list for non-academic job applications.

In Kaylen Tucker’s first Leaving Academia post, an ultra-awkward exchange with a well-meaning but clueless professor becomes fodder for post-academic career planning:

When I was applying for dissertation fellowships, I asked a friendly and accomplished professor in my department to help me write a winning statement of purpose. She patiently helped me to fine tune my application and when our session was complete, I felt that I had a real chance at being selected. She reminded me, however, about how very competitive these kinds of things were, and cautioned me not to get my hopes up and to come up with another plan should I not land a post. As a seasoned graduate student, I of course, had a lot of pots simmering. I wasn’t offended, thinking it good, sound advice. But the advice that she gave me next has kept me up at night and has influenced the way I think about the value of a humanities Ph.D.

She asked me if I was looking for a job. I wasn’t, but as one who was accustomed to hustling, always looking for the next thing, I wanted to hear what she had to offer. “Have you heard of Trendy and Terribly Overpriced New Shoe Store?” I told her that I’d been in that store many times. I was confused  … but  curious. “Well, I know the owner,” she continued, “and they’re looking for help. If you’re interested, I could put in a good word for you.”

I should have told her that I didn’t need her help greasing the wheels to gain a retail job. Though I’m bad at math and standing for long periods of time, I think I could have handled that on my own.

I’ve replayed that moment in my head many times, trying to work through the lingering bad taste in my mouth. I finally realized that my irritation wasn’t solely based on her offer to help me get a job that I felt was beneath me instead of helping me figure out a more academic/professional Plan B. No, my exasperation stemmed from the fact that her advice, which I admit was offered innocently enough and in the kindest of spirits, reflected the overall attitude of the department: Academia in narrowly defined terms is everything, and if it doesn’t work out for you—which it probably won’t—there is nothing. If you don’t receive an appointment at University X, you should take your Ph.D. and wait tables or sell shoes until the stars align correctly for you. Nothing against shoes, or those who sell them, but it’s not that black and white, or yellow and blue, or whatever converse combination you fancy. Education is supposed to broaden horizons, not narrow them. So I politely declined the opportunity and resolved to carve my own path.

Well, I didn’t get the fellowship. But I’m not selling shoes either. By the time I finished my Ph.D. in English literature, and after two years of no bites on the academic market, I had decided to pursue another course. I couldn’t commit to another round of the overwhelming job-market process; I was no longer willing to follow the market to whatever city it led me; and I couldn’t stomach the requisite string of adjunct and visiting positions to hold me over until I could land the perfect tenure-track position. What I needed was stability—financial and emotional. I also wanted to feel like I was contributing knowledge to the world, which is why I started the Ph.D. process in the first place. So doing communications for a national education non-profit was a logical next step. My position required me to research, analyze, write, and edit—tasks I had been well trained for.

However, preparing myself for a non-academic job didn’t happen overnight, and I’m still working on fine tuning my mission and figuring out a way to bridge my research interests with my actual job. It’s an ongoing process. But I hope to offer Leaving Academia readers what I have learned about how smart people can figure out a way to harness their power and tackle the world outside of academia.


That First, Crummy Job

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Reflection

One fear that many academics have as they near the end of their academic stint is that they will end up in jobs for which only a B.A. is required. Even worse, they imagine, is ending up back in the same job you had when you were doing your B.A.

And yet, most people who leave academia take very circuitous routes to the work they ultimately end up doing five years after leaving. Almost all of the former academics I’ve ever met, interviewed, or heard about had some type of “corkscrew” pattern to their post-academic careers, rather than a steep upward or downward trajectory.

A really fabulous example of this is a woman named Helen Toland, who you can learn all about on an incredible British career resource called iCould. (I highly recommend this Web site to any career changer; as the site’s tagline states, “It just shows what you can do.” Specifically, there are hundreds of interviews with people doing a huge variety of jobs, including people with what the Brits call postgraduate degrees).

As Helen explains, she got her Ph.D. in biomechanical engineering, in part because she just happened to be good at school, because she thought that was what her parents would want, and because she lacked the confidence to admit to herself what she really wanted to do. Any of that sound familiar? Once she finished her degree, though, she decided to pursue her dream of working in the media, and is now a producer at BBC Radio Ulster working on an entertainment program. How did she get there? Hard work and perseverance, it sounds like — but also a willingness to do the grunt work needed to get the job of her dreams.

From her brief description, it sounds like Helen was both “on the dole” and working in a coffee shop for a couple of years once she’d finished her Ph.D. before she finally got on board as a full-time staff producer. It’s quite easy to imagine that being a Ph.D. working as a barista would involve struggling with some pretty intense feelings of shame and regret. And yet, doing that first, low-skill, non-academic job was well worth it to Helen because it gave her the time to build up contacts and do enough freelance contracts to build up the experience she needed to be offered a staff position.

But all too often, the idea of taking a crummy job strikes so much fear in the hearts of academics that they would rather stick with the devil they know — even if the money is just as bad (if not worse) and the career trajectory leads to an equally dead end.

Yet it is typically that first post-academic job that gives one an opportunity to detox from the traumas of academia (you know, like feeling dumb much of the time), which itself helps create the conditions for movement into a better, more professional-level job. It also offers a chance to get some experience in a different sector. This looks good on a résumé, of course, but it’s more important than that. That first job outside of academia — no matter how crummy — is a new kind of training ground, one where you un-learn so many of the conventions that you never even realized you were absorbing along the way.

That’s where you find out that people speak differently, think differently, and move at a different pace than inside academia (typically much more quickly, depending on the sector). It’s where you learn how to really leverage and transfer some of your skills (for example, your ability to absorb new information quickly really does come in handy when you’re a barista learning the names of 30 different specialty drinks). And it gives your brain the chance to adapt to the demands of a new environment.

What this adds up to, then, is a priming of the pump. When you are ready to move on to your dream non-academic job — the one in which you are able to be more fully yourself — you’ll have more skills, more confidence and more preparedness than you would otherwise have applying for that job straight out of graduate school.

Some of the transition jobs that former academics I know have taken include note-taking in college classrooms for students with disabilities, transcribing, working retail, office work, dog-walking, house-cleaning, researching for television channels, and other research contracts. One person I interviewed worked for an arts nonprofit in which he had to fundraise his own salary. In my own case, I worked as a closed captioning editor while making cash and contacts on the side doing freelance writing, podcasting, and radio producing.

It’s wise to bite the bullet with a job that’s below your skill set if it offers you a chance to deploy a grander career development strategy while you’re doing it. That would include jobs that are strictly time delineated (unlike adjuncting, which expands to fill the time you have), offering you a chance to network and build up contacts in your desired field. It leaves you with enough energy to do information interviewing, freelancing, job shadowing or interning (whichever suits the target field best). And it offers just enough money to pay the bills, but not so much that you’re tempted to stick with it over the long haul. Finally, it gives you enough mental resting space to detox from your academic experience, which in turn provides you with an opportunity to research and daydream your next career move.


Career Change – Your Next Project

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Reflection

Does the phrase “career change” terrify you? Do you think “former academic” is a special kind of slur? Does the idea of the non-academic job search make you want to hide under your bed?

If you’re at the point where you want to make a non-academic contingency plan, or you think you’re ready to admit that academia isn’t the life for you, you don’t need to plunge in to the depths of managing your career change all at once. You just need to understand the nature of what you’re taking on. As it turns out, academics are actually uniquely well-positioned to embark on the process of a career change because so much of what’s involved is about creating and executing a research plan. That’s right, smartypants career changer — you’ve just stumbled upon your next research project.

Like any other project, it’s good to get a sense of what needs to be done before you dive in. So here is a list of 10 components to check off on your project plan as you go about doing your research.

  1. Begin with basic research. The first thing to do is a preliminary assessment of the existing material in the field of non-academic career change. Lucky for you, the small amount of info that’s out there is slowly growing. There are the books you can buy (starting with Basalla and Debelius’ So What Are You Going to Do With That?). But the bulk of the advice and insight can be found online: Alexandra Lord’s Beyond Academe, Paula Chambers’ WRK4US listserv, Julie Clarenbach’s Escape the Ivory Tower are three great places to start. And of course, there’s the Leaving Academia column I write here, plus my blog (where you’ll find links to a social networking site).
  2. Expand your research to human subjects. In other words, sniff out former academics for advice, encouragement and potential contacts. You can use alumni databases to find out where graduates of your university have gone, and of course, you should be using the requisite social media platforms. But the best way of finding academic expats is word of mouth. As I’ve said many times, once you start looking for former academics, you can’t go to a single social gathering without finding five of them. Ask them about their experiences. Find out how they made their way into their next career. Ask them if they know anyone you can talk to.
  3. Start thinking about what you can offer the world beyond your disciplinary boundaries. This, to me, is a critical, critical step. Many academics I’ve talked to get hung up on the question, “But what kind of job can a Ph.D. in [insert your discipline here] get?” Don’t limit your imagination to jobs that seem to spring directly from your disciplinary background (oh, you’re a poli sci Ph.D.? Get a government job! You’ve got an English degree? Go into book publishing!). God forbid Rachel Maddow would have chained herself to a desk job inside the State Department, or that David Duchovny would have restricted himself to being an adjunct English lit professor for the rest of his life. Instead, do what they did: get clear on what your skills are (then see #4 on following your passion). Your path into the non-academic world will likely not be through what you know but what you can do: planning, organizing, writing, research, presenting, liaising, chairing a meeting/committee, translating complex ideas into simple ones, organizing a presentation or conference, etc. Spend lots of time — like, lots of time — figuring out what your skills are. Don’t know how to do that? Start with Google and go from there.
  4. Reflect on what your beliefs and interests are and what you’re really passionate about, then focus on your key research problem. Focus in on the area where you want to conduct your career search the way you set out the parameters of your research. One way of doing this is to zoom in on what you care about most. The former academics I’ve talked to who are happiest are the ones who found work that aligned most with their values, even if it had little to do (on the surface) with their area of research.
  5. Identify the obstacles the way you identify gaps in the literature, and then develop strategies to deal. OK, so you’ve figured out that you really want to, for example, turn your gardening hobby into your main gig. Let’s say you want to open a flower shop. You’ve got the planning skills, the knowledge about plants and you worked at Wal-Mart for a few years during your B.A. But are you lacking basic bookkeeping skills? Take a night course. Volunteer for an organization that needs office help. Ask a local florist if you can job shadow him or her for a day.
  6. Plunge in. After that period of reflection and rumination, the point comes when the fingers hit the keyboard and the feet hit the pavement. Attack the execution of your research with the zeal you attack your scholarly hypotheses. The tricks you used to get your dissertation written can be the same you use here — time management, balance, knowing when you feel most capable to tackle a big problem, etc.
  7. Crank up your networking machine. This aspect of your career research never, ever stops. Find out ways you can help others. Talk to anyone and everyone you know who has an interesting job and find out how they got into that line of work. Get a volunteer job for an organization or cause you really believe in and make yourself useful. Make a spreadsheet of your contacts and incorporate this into your research. Keep being open to meeting new people and developing new relationships.
  8. Know that there is going to be a lot of healing and grieving to be done. There is a lot about career change that is fun and exciting, but making the decision to leave academia is not just about switching jobs. It’s about shedding an entire identity that you built up over years or decades. You can’t move out of that situation without feeling some amount of loss. It’s like a breakup: you know that you don’t want to stay in a relationship with that person, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to go through a period of mourning.
  9. Consider enlisting the help of some professionals — a life coach, career coach, psychotherapist or counselor. I’m going to plug my friend and colleague Jamie Ridler because she is amazing at helping people from all over the world open their eyes to new paths their lives can take (plus she’s a former academic, to boot, so she’s a coach who knows where you’re coming from). You could also hire a résumé coach or other professionals who can help you with identifying your skills and crafting your résumé.
  10. Rinse and repeat. And, like with your research, celebrate a job well done.