Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Nonacademic Job Search

If you're like me, you want to get as far away from academia as possible after finishing Hell. If so, you might find this an entertaining read.

(From The Chronicle for Higher Education, 11/1/05)

The Truth About the Nonacademic Job Search
by Elle Madison

After an unsuccessful year on the academic job market, I decided to test the proverbial nonacademic waters for a year. I have watched colleagues struggle through years of uncertainty, low self-esteem, and pennilessness while adjuncting, and I imagined (rightly or not) that the nonacademic world had to be much better.
Upon receiving my Ph.D. in comparative literature last June, I spent the summer applying for writing and editing jobs, consulting career counselors and job-search books, and generally trying to determine which path to take. The nonacademic job, however, has not been as easy to obtain as I had fantasized in my post-dissertation stupor.
Furthermore, I found that the transition into the real world bears little resemblance to the success stories and promises of those job-search books. So I decided it was time for someone to tell the truth about the nonacademic path.
Truth No. 1: You will lose your friends. That unfortunate process may have started much earlier, of course, once you began to express doubts about the academic job market. I can assure you from experience that there's nothing that will scare off your fellow graduate students more than talk of leaving academe.
The idea that a different career, a different life, is possible in the nonacademic world seems to threaten those delicately balanced ivory towers. If you begin to test the strength of the towers, you will alienate others inside the university. In short, you lose your friends because you are daring to imagine life on the outside.
The irony of losing your friends is that the very means of finding a job outside of academe is by networking. Books on the nonacademic job search insist that the only way to find a job is by networking: while pursuing your favorite hobbies!; by meeting people at cocktail parties!; while doing volunteer work! You may have heard that advice before, back when it was in a guidebook to dating.
In neither case is it helpful, since you long ago had to give up your hobbies when you started graduate school, you've become increasingly anti-social while writing your dissertation and, as I already mentioned, you've lost all of your friends. Networking may be the best way to find a job, but you will have to be realistic about the success of that method as a recent Ph.D.
Truth No. 2: You will lose your mentors. My committee members, who read patiently through the drafts of my dissertation, have certainly been exceptionally helpful in the academic job search. I have been greatly indebted to them for their letters of support and words of encouragement throughout the process.
In the nonacademic job search, however, you're out at sea on your own, since the crew members you've come to need and trust can't venture that far from shore. That is perhaps the most startling part of the transition, especially after spending several years relying on a circle of trusted advisers and mentors. As you explore uncharted waters, you will have to learn how to navigate on your own.
Truth No. 3: You will be told you know nothing about "writing." In an informational interview with a technical writer, I was told that I knew nothing about real writing because I had never published an article in a magazine or newspaper. In that case, I'm not sure why I was unleashed on hundreds of undergraduates as a teaching assistant in essay-writing classes.
The writer I was interviewing had worked her way up as a journalist over many years and suggested that I build my portfolio of "clips" (published articles) by writing about something I know. For example, she thought I could write an article on my two fighting cats for a cat magazine. After spending years researching and writing a 300-page dissertation, I can't believe that an uninformed commentary on domestic cats would actually be more impressive.
I've concluded that jobs in "writing" in the nonacademic world must simply encompass different kinds of writing, from news reporting to technical writing. Academic writing, it seems, is not understood in the outside world. You will have to reinvent yourself as a writer, but not, I hope, by writing on topics like feline foibles.
Truth No. 4: Your Ph.D., awards, and accolades mean nothing. One of the curious elements of books on the Ph.D.'s nonacademic job search is that the authors, who have made the transition into the "real world," always begin their discussions by presenting their academic qualifications. Interestingly, they all published extensively, received glowing reviews from students, and piled up awards and fellowships. Their reasons for leaving academe vary, but they all insist they were extremely successful as graduate students and professors.
Similarly, I have tried to squeeze in "Dr." in front of my name at every opportunity, and my Ph.D. is proudly perched atop my résumé. A career counselor, however, advised me against that. The Ph.D., apparently, should be buried on the ésumé underneath lists of skills and abilities, for fear of frightening off potential employers.
The problem with that strategy, of course, is that you wouldn't want an employer who is afraid of a Ph.D., anyway. For now, I'm boldly displaying my academic credentials on my ésumé, with the hope that I will find a job that actually makes use of my qualifications.
Truth No. 5: You will have to throw things away. By that, I mean your papers, your jargon, and your definition of self-worth. A good house-cleaning after graduate school never hurt anyone, but your definition of yourself is perhaps the hardest part of your past to discard. New assistant professors, I've heard, suffer from a similar difficulty, since they have to negotiate the shift from graduate student to "professor."
I had built my sense of self-worth in graduate school on the number of pages of my dissertation that I had written in a week, or the research I had finished, or the papers I had graded. My academic work came to define who I was.
Without the security blanket that was your dissertation, you will have to allow your self-definition to shift. On the nonacademic job market, that means an indefinite period of time not knowing who or what you will become.
Truth No. 6: Rejection letters from last year's academic search will seem hilarious. Let's not forget the upside of taking a break from the academic world. In late July, I received a letter of rejection for a teaching position advertised last fall. I had applied and never heard back from the university, but in the letter the department announced it had received my application materials and, "after much consideration," had decided to offer the position to another candidate. It had, according to the letter, been deliberating for an entire year. The stressful, painstaking process of the academic job machine can, for a moment, look ridiculous. But that leads us to the final and unfortunate truth:
Truth No. 7: Finding a job outside academe is just as difficult. You may believe, as I once did, that the nonacademic job search is much less painful. The process of networking can be liberating, since friends and contacts can actually have a positive influence on prospective employers. The ability to choose to live in metropolitan areas rather than small towns can save your social life. And the fact that you are not constrained by the yearly academic job market and limited job openings means that you can, at the very least, apply for jobs year-round.
However, the real world functions in a manner as mysterious as the academic market. Most employers, I have found, specify "no telephone calls," which means you are left helpless and uninformed. I have, in some cases, eventually received automated rejections by e-mail, but I seem to be waiting by the phone just as dolefully as in December of last year.
Perhaps some will read this as a cautionary tale, but that is certainly not how I have meant it. The opportunity to redefine yourself and explore other, perhaps more rewarding career paths should not be undervalued.
In order to do that, however, you will have to venture out on your own, without the support of your colleagues, your dissertation, or your portfolio of awards. You will lose the security of the ivory towers, but also the fears instilled within. And you will learn not to be afraid.

63 Comments:

Blogger Unsane said...

Sounds just "marvy". Especially as a prospective PhD student for next year. Though, I don't think you wrote anything I didn't already implicitly KNOW.(Well written by the way -- why not submit it to a jobsearch magazine?)

9:38 PM  
Blogger Porkorama said...

I wish I could claim authorship, but it's an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education! My version (when I get around to looking for a job) will be more like: "@&%$*!...ugh."

4:41 AM  
Blogger Unsane said...

I know that feeling. So, just don't look for a job -- the forces are against you!

4:50 PM  
Blogger metromon said...

Dog Food
Job
Building Materials
Car Audio
Real Estate

5:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

find job search

Here's some useful info on find job search
which you might be looking for. The url is: http://www.jaldisearch.com/

12:57 AM  
Blogger http://www.study-aids.co.uk said...

I really recommend the following site for dissertation help and guidance:

http://www.study-aids.co.uk

Marketing dissertations
Economics dissertations
Law dissertations
IT dissertations
Enterprise dissertations
Business Management dissertations
MBA dissertations
MSC dissertations

I purchased a full dissertation and used the structure, some of the literature and I have used other content of the dissertation for other assignments. Hope this helps.

Branding Dissertation
Consumer Behaviour Dissertation
Advertising Dissertation
Shock Dissertation
PESTEL Dissertation
SWOT Dissertation

http://www.study-aids.co.uk

http://www.study-aids.co.uk

http://www.study-aids.co.uk

ESSAY SECTION NOW AVAILABLE !!!
www.study-aids.co.uk

MBA Marketing Dissertations

8:44 AM  
Blogger marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
_____________________________

Buy Dissertation

12:10 AM  
Anonymous write term paper said...

In this era of web 2.0, we easily get nice & updated information for research purposes... I'd definitely appreciate the work of the said blog owner... Thanks!
................................

write term papers-Term Paper Samples

2:21 AM  
Anonymous Dissertation Help said...

Nice, accurate and to the point. Not everyone can provide information with proper flow. Good post. I am going to save the URL and will definitely visit again. Keep it up.

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Term Papers said...

I have been visiting various blogs for my Term Papers research. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with valuable information... Regards

1:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good work! Your post/article is an excellent example,I keep on reading this attractive blog.
thesis writing services

1:42 AM  
Blogger Janely said...

I enjoyed your blog. It’s easy to read, the content is good, and you’re an educated writer unlike most of the blogs I come across when searching on this topic. I will check back in the future and see if you have more articles. Thanks for posting this, I appreciate the information and the effort you put into your site.Houston Home Security

10:45 PM  
Anonymous MIG Welding Inverters said...

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.

5:37 AM  
Anonymous Literature Review said...

Your blog is really helps for my search and i really like it.. Thanks a lot..:)

2:26 AM  
Anonymous Dissertation proposal said...

I am very thankful to you for posting such stuff.This really help me lot.
MBA dissertation

1:39 PM  
Blogger Carol A Brown said...

My hope is that by sharing my story with you, you will have an easier dissertation process.right here If more people discover the ridiculousness that seems endemic to this PhD system, the process itself has a chance to improve.

1:19 AM  
Blogger alice florence said...

the feelings are mutual my friend. i would recommend you to please share more your experiences with us thanks. the following might become useful for you as well :)

Affordable dissertation // custom assignment writing

2:38 AM  
Blogger jenna sommers said...

nice, i appreciate the efforts you made and i really enjoyed reading your story.

buy book reports // research proposal help // assignment writing service

4:51 AM  
Blogger allison angel said...

The great thing that you imported that sort of informative content that might let individuals to recognize what is the best thing to do so as to make an exceptionally grand item.

proofreading services // writing a research proposal //custom essay writing

1:32 AM  
Blogger Abigail Alex said...

This is a great writing service provides a connection between a customer and a business. Taking the customer's needs into consideration, a service writer facilitates the transaction between the customer and the company.

Custom Writing // Best Essays // Write my Essay

3:15 AM  
Anonymous Cherte said...

To keep the information relevant to the point and given theme of reflection secondary students may either go in for studying harder or hire our service that sells written essays to university and college students. it depends on the complexity of all free term papers and essays here as well as on its form and structure. In most cases studying at united states universities requires serious scientific researches being made from time to time.

6:26 AM  
Blogger victrio said...

This is really informative post and I personally would like to appreciate the efforts. We are also dealing in same industry hence found this informative to add in our process also. Once again thanks for your post.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Hudson said...

Your point is valueble for me. online-essay-writer.org Thanks!

4:34 PM  
Blogger lelle sandy said...

cheap essays
Very impressive and informative thanks for the great post.

1:47 AM  
Blogger zachray taylor said...

custom essays
I loved the way you discuss the topic great work thanks for the share.

2:15 AM  
Blogger jacqueline fernandez said...


Google Adwords
I Really like this post very informative and knowledgeable thanks for the great post.

2:47 AM  
Blogger sophia martin said...

Cheap Essays
Wow Amazing post really informative thanks for the great post.

3:30 AM  
Blogger sophia martin said...


Cheap Essays
Wow Amazing post really informative thanks for the great stuff keep posting.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Selina Diana said...

To start with the foremost necessary line of my detail – I do would like to furnish laurels marvellous as a results of the periodical scrounging car title loans for you norman oklahoma. very its aide degree mammoth work by him that i detected out a awfully wise facilitate by his/her Brobdingnagian in degree.

9:01 AM  
Blogger dawnc said...

YOU day cash enhancements at intervals Il provides a variety of home mortgage alternatives for being good in nstallment loan addition to, day cash enhancements, Salaryday and in addition Size Personal loans, in conjunction with Automobile Strategy Personal loans. many of us goal aiding you to hunt out the proper home mortgage product and in addition solutions to help you to satisfy your current economical wants.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Peter said...

For best UK dissertation writing service visit Dissertation Planet

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Ganesan said...

I like your way of sharing the information to people keep posting more blog thank you.
Manuscript writing

12:18 AM  
Blogger Sofia Joseph said...

Sound great to hear about your views that how well you organize yourself to write dissertation for us, even thankful to our support.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Dissertation Writing Services said...

Hi, you have posted such precious and informative article which gave me lot of information. I hope that you will keep it up and we will have more informative and helping news from you. Thanks | Dissertation Writing Services

12:32 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Meraz said...

Thank the author for this marvelous efforts. I appreciate your efforts in preparing this post.Thesis writing Help uae

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Workers Compensation said...

Great information, you have a wonderful blog and an excellent article.
Pain Treatments
Botox Injections
Discography
Epidural Injections
Epidural Lysis Procedure
Facet Blocks
Intercostal Nerve Blocks
Intrathecal Pump Therapy
Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy
Intercostal Nerve Blocks
Joint Injections
Platelet Rich Plasma
Percutaneous Discectomy
P-STIM
Racz Epidural Neurolysis
Radiofrequency Lesioning
Selective Nerve Root Blocks
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Sympathetic Nerve Blocks

1:55 AM  
Anonymous term paper writing services said...

I have read your article, its good and fine but it might be more good. I was very happy when i read your whole article excellent writing work.

1:54 AM  
Blogger Emilia Charles said...

It is important for the students to get to know other people’s research and understand how they are working to make sure they focus on their own thesis and research. Knowing what others are doing gives students some helpful hints on how they should work on their own paper. essay writing services

8:03 AM  
Blogger Martin Clarke said...

A real informative blog like this is an exceptionally cool helping resource for a needy information seeker like me! Thanks a lot
accounting dissertations

2:27 AM  
Anonymous dissertation writing service UK said...

Great post. Thanks for the share. Keep showing your potential.

6:01 AM  
Anonymous Ameliaji said...

It is really a very nice posting. I am greatly impressed after reading it. ThanksUK Assignment Writers

4:30 AM  
Anonymous pretty amelia said...

It is up to the students to find the one that meets their requirements and problems and solve them.Online Dissertation Writing Service

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Amelia pretty said...

Dissertation writing service is the best solutions of all the problems of the students.UK Dissertation Writing Services

4:34 AM  
Blogger Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

need help with your dissertation, we have a team here ready to help you, email getatyourgeeks@yahoo.com

9:47 AM  
Anonymous sarabrown said...

This the best blog that I have seen online and will keep checking how you can maintain the same quality of work. Also I would like if you can write something about UK Dissertation Writers
http://ukdissertationwriters.co.uk

5:59 AM  
Blogger Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

12:01 AM  
Blogger Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Ameliaji said...

This is really very useful information that I have come across through searching the keyword Dissertation Services UK

5:58 AM  
Blogger Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

2:26 AM  
Anonymous custom essay writing service said...

I truly appreciate reading this article. Thank you for sharing this.

4:06 AM  
Blogger Roger Bannister said...

Very nice article, exactly what I needed. Very useful post i really appreciate thanks for sharing such a nice post.
Cheap Dissertation Writing Services

1:05 PM  
Blogger Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

2:54 AM  
Blogger Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

7:06 AM  
Blogger Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

6:59 AM  
Blogger Joe Jimenez said...

This blog offers an invaluable insight which is just worth sharing and I would like to share it with my friendsDissertation Writing Services in UK

2:46 AM  
Blogger Joe Jimenez said...

This is incredibly spellbinding idea that you have share on the internet. Just keep posting your glorious thoughts so may enjoy your reading.
Buy Cheap Dissertation Online

2:48 AM  
Anonymous Dissertation writing uk said...

This is really a very nice blog written by the writer. I really like it very much.
Dissertation Writing UK

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Dissertation writing uk said...

This is really a very nice blog written by the writer. I really like it very much.
Dissertation Writing UK

1:57 AM  
Blogger MAH RAAT said...

Thanks so much. I also love reading case studies and success.I'm just starting to consider sponsored blog posts and the possibility of freelancing as a career. Very helpful!
jobs in egypt

3:17 PM  
Blogger Neil Jakson said...

Really unbelievable, is not as easy as you can see, the posts difficulty and challenge waiting for you and that's the main difficulties that make us interesting.
Coursework writing services

12:17 AM  
Blogger Paulina Cameron said...

Thanks for a great article and for the chance to comment on the issue. The info on the job search was very valuable for me and I would like to contribute. I think that the top resume services USA will also make a great factor on the job search and will benefit you well.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Words Doctorate said...

Thank you for sharing such a informative information with us. Keep on sharing the blog like this.

PhD Thesis Writing Services, Dissertation Writing Services & Research Paper Writing Services

7:18 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home