Did you see my article at the Chronicle Vitae this past week? Here’s a brief excerpt:

Question: On your website, Beyond the Tenure Track, there are stories of graduate students and other academics who have sought your support. Many of them write that they felt unprepared to pursue professional careers upon graduating from their programs. I want to ensure that our students have the capacity to pursue diverse career options. What can departments and graduate programs do to prepare graduate students for postacademic careers?

Truly, this is the holy grail of questions. It was posed to me recently by a faculty member when I gave an online workshop at a graduate department of psychology.

As a career coach, I work with graduate students and Ph.D.’s looking to leave academe. I help them create résumés, revise their LinkedIn profiles, prepare for interviews, and write cover letters in a way that unearths their skills, tells their professional story, and positions them for the postacademic job market.

If departments had it all figured out, I might be out of a job. Still, I am not nervous as there’s a lot of work to be done. And in fact, I would be thrilled to see innovation and experimentation in graduate education and postdoctoral training — especially reform that goes beyond what the individual job seeker should do and tackles the issue of Ph.D. career-paths with structural and programmatic change.

In recent years, universities, scholarly associations, and foundations have opened a national debate about preparing students and postdocs for diverse career paths. Yet I still hear administrators and faculty say things like, “Will programs about career options distract students from their dissertations and degree completion?” and “What will happen to the quality of the doctorate?”Such sentiments are complicating the pace of change and ultimately impeding the transition of many a graduate student and postdoc from the university to nonacademic work.

So to the question — What can departments and graduate programs do? — the short answer is: plenty.

Read the rest of the article at The Chronicle Vitae.

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