Job security outside of academia?

2018-10-02T02:29:29+00:00December 30th, 2013|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

As I present to PhDs on college campuses and conferences, graduate students express their concern about the lack of job security in nonacademic careers.  The academic career path comes with a sense of job security because job options are clearly set. You either get a postdoc fellowship, visiting professorship, lecturer position, research position, tenure track job, or the dreaded adjunct or contingent position (but that's another topic for another day). Take note of the ratio of temporary to long-term positions among these options.  Perhaps what PhDs are really saying is that academic careers come with a high level of job predictability, rather than job security. Nonacademic careers are the vast unknown for many graduate students who may not have spent much time in career planning, career exploration or out-of-classroom/department/university experiences.  When beginning to look at careers outside the academy, PhD career changers tend [...]

Take Advantage

2018-10-02T02:29:29+00:00December 19th, 2013|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Some of the most common concerns I hear from PhDs considering a career outside of academia go something like this: How do I know what kind of job I would be good at? What company will want to hire someone my age with little “real world” experience? Who will serve as references for me when all my references are from my lab or dissertation committee? These concerns are valid for any graduate student who wants to be a viable candidate for industry careers. However, the divide between the academic and the workplace can be bridged with one or two well-placed volunteer, intern or part-time work experiences.  A little experience goes a long way to helping you get your foot in the door in a new field. You’ve heard this advice before but you aren’t sure where to find such opportunities and the [...]

How to present yourself to employers

2018-10-02T02:29:29+00:00December 5th, 2013|Tags: , , , , , |

Yesterday, I participated in a cool Twitter chat led by Jennifer Polk - @phdtolife - on the subject how academics talk about themselves to employers and nonacademic audiences.  Academics from ABDs to postdocs to tenure track professor weighed in with questions and comments on positioning and branding.  You can check out the Storify compilation here or you can follow the entire Twitter chat by searching for hashtag trend #withaPhD. Some of my tips from our chat: Don't lead with "I have a PhD in..."  - This type of introduction quickly derails any introduction or interview.  Your listener begins to focus on your degree rather than the skills, interests and values you bring to the position.  The conversation can go down a deep rabbit hole really quickly, especially if you have not learned to quickly describe your research in terms that nonspecialists find [...]

Post/ Alt/ Non Academic Careers– More than Semantics

2018-10-02T02:29:29+00:00October 5th, 2013|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Sometimes I stumble on my words when I speak to audiences about why graduate students should prepare for multiple career paths, not limited to the tenure track.  It’s not that public speaking makes me tongue-tied, but that I have not settled on a simple term for non-tenure track careers that satisfies.  After reading several articles about alternative academic (or, alt-ac), nonacademic, postacademic, non-tenure track, applied, and professional careers for PhDs, I have not settled on language that best suits the complexities of this seeming dichotomous relationship of being employed by a university to teach and research, or not.  Perhaps, the “right” terminology eludes me because as one who has shifted from pursuing an academic career to working outside the academy, I know that the challenge is larger than semantics and terminology. A determined set of careers, usually those involving teaching and publishing [...]

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