Who decides what success looks like? If you branch out and go down a path you didn’t plan for, are you still working towards success? While it is wise to plan ahead, you can’t plan for everything and sometimes the unexpected opportunities are exactly what you need.

Today’s guest on the Gradschooled Podcast is Katina Rogers, an administrator, researcher, and faculty member at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her scholarly work focuses on higher education reform, including scholarly communication practices, professionalization and career development, public scholarship, and advocacy for fair labor policies. These topics are the focus of her book, Putting the Humanities PhD to Work: Thriving in and Beyond the Classroom. Her career pathway has taken her in and out of universities and by following her curiosity and interests she has found fulfilling opportunities that are now allowing her to focus on joy.

Show Notes:[1:46] – Katina has been in her current position at CUNY for 6 years and actually had heard Fatimah speak there when she started.[2:33] – At the time Katina had heard Fatimah speak, she hadn’t begun writing her book. The process of writing her book has given her an opportunity to think one level up about her own journey from graduate school to career.[3:53] – In the beginning, it was hard to see her own trajectory and as she moved forward, some things didn’t make sense to her. That sense of uncertainty is common.[4:29] – Geography and other people impact our decisions. Katina gave herself permission to move to be with her partner who had a job opportunity out of state. She didn’t just consider her work.[6:26] – Katina started working with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation which gave her the opportunity to learn the other side of the process of proposal evaluation and grant writing.[7:24] – This experience gave Katina a broader view of what scholarly work looks like to other fields.[8:39] – During her time in her next career move, she learned how to put people first and to let questions and inquiry drive the way things are structured.[9:37] – She began researching career preparation which eventually led to writing her book.[10:10] – The strongest disconnect Katina and Fatimah found between career preparation and their work is researching skills.[12:01] – What Katina found was that former graduate students felt that they were not using their developed research skills but employers thought one of the most important skills they brought to the job were their research skills. Katina describes the distinction.[14:15] – Sometimes, former graduate students who are accustomed to doing deep research that takes a lot of work and time find themselves working for an employer who needs more shallow research with a quick turn around. This can lead to that feeling of disconnect, too.[16:32] – Fatimah presents the issue of transferable skills and the language used that develops friction.[17:55] – Katina shares that she uses the term “skills translation” rather than “transferable skills.”[18:37] – Look at a job ad as a text and think about what is being said and what isn’t being said. If you can understand what they are looking for, you can then look at your skills to see if you can fit their needs.[20:53] – Katina describes skills translation as a bridge.[22:46] – Fatimah and Katina discuss personal branding and social networking. Katina began on Twitter and with blogging, but points out that the internet is much different than it was in 2009.[24:34] – As an introvert, the internet was a great way for her to listen in to professional conversations. It took a while for Katina to jump into these conversations but having already observed and listened gave her the confidence to join.[25:48] – Katina also used Twitter to set up meetings with people. At the time, this wasn’t as risky as it could be now. The risk factor is not evenly distributed across platforms and caution is warranted.[31:21] – Fatimah noticed through Katina’s story, that her trajectory was a slow process. There wasn’t a big “ah-ha” moment and it is important to remember that you don’t know what opportunities will unfold.[33:10] – Katina describes her start at CUNY which wasn’t at all in her plans, especially since she had an infant at home and was returning to work after parental leave. But she was curious and by following her curiosity and interests, she found this opportunity.[34:27] – We often just follow through to the next step in our plan instead of listening to ourselves and what we need. Katina’s story illustrates how fulfilling opportunities open up when you check in with yourself.[35:38] – We can choose to thrive even if we don’t know what the next step is.[36:34] – Sometimes the conversation around career preparation doesn’t always engage deeply with the structural issues within labor structures, adjunct labor, and the ongoing issues around bias and representation.[37:29] – Katina and Fatimah discuss diversity issues within institutions of higher learning. Katina recommends a book called On Being Included by Sara Ahmed.[39:40] – If your vision of success is the same across the board, you will always find the same kind of people. Success if broad.[40:20] – What Katina has found at CUNY are students who have the most incredible and deep commitments to various communities.[43:46] – How is Covid-19 impacting the future of higher education? Covid has started the conversation on what can change.[45:12] – Katina describes her observations of living in New York during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and uses a science and social science lens to look at why certain things happened.[47:07] – Katina shares her consistent writing practice and how she was able to write her book while also working and being a parent. She also recommends a book called Air & Light & Time & Space by Helen Sword.[48:29] – By working a little bit at a time and creating a routine that worked for her, she was able to write her book, even if she felt that it was taking a long time.[50:08] – Fatimah describes the Genius Retreat and how this was an expected turn in her trajectory because of Covid-19.

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Links and Resources from this Episode
Putting the Humanities PhD to Work: Thriving in and Beyond the Classroom by Katina L. Rogers
On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life by Sara Ahmed
Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write by Helen Sword



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