Issues in Higher Ed: First Post!

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“You've got a Ph.D., and you're smart as hell!"

The topic of the first post in our series is jobs outside of higher ed. If you find that prospect more than a bit scary, you’re not alone. Though many of us have second jobs, it’s likely to support our eventual career goal to become a college teacher and scholar. I haven't opened an Excel spreadsheet in half a decade. Is it possible to do something else with our graduate degree?

In this short—totally readable on a your iPhone during a bus ride—article, Susan Basalla May interviews John Fox, who is putting his PhD in anthropology to use outside of higher ed. he encourages us to broaden the scope of the job search.

In my conversations with faculty and grad students, I’ve noticed that we tend to view the job search myopically, with a tenure track job being the only positive outcome. Our nightmare scenario is also pretty narrow: adjuncting 6 different sections at 4 different colleges just to make the rent. What if we do neither? In the interview, Fox views the job search as a much broader process, and encourages us to look beyond teaching jobs in higher ed.

The closer one gets to the end of the MA or PhD process, the more likely we are to reflect on the hard questions that the job search poses. How far away from my family and friends can I reasonably live? Do I want to have a family (and how soon)? How do my partner’s career goals square with mine? Etc. It comes as a relief, if not a radical transformation in our thinking, then, to view our career paths as wide ones. Fox is encouraging: “You've got a Ph.D., and you're smart as hell!”

You’ll also see links to other articles May has written dealing with this topic. She and Maggie Debelius wrote the book So What Are You Going to Do With That?: Finding Careers Outside Academia, from the U of Chicago Press. I’ve not read her book, so please comment if you can speak to its credentials.

What are your thoughts?

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