Profile: Laura Godsoe, Acquisitions Editor

Laura Godsoe, Acquisitions Editor

Laura Godsoe

Education
-BA (Honours), History, Mount Allison University
-MA, History, York University
-PhD, History, York University

Current Position
Acquisitions Editor, Canadian Scholars’ Press/Women’s Press

Laura on the Web
Twitter (@LGodsoe)
Academc CV
LinkedIn profile


Laura Godsoe holds a PhD in History from York University, with a specialization in modern France. After starting out in a promising academic career, Laura chose to transition into a new career path in the Canadian publishing industry. She is currently an Acquisitions Editor for Canadian Scholars’ Press/Women’s Press, and previously worked as a Content Editor for Lycaon Press, a publisher of fiction for young adults. In this interview, Laura shares how she chose a new postacademic career path, provides advice on job hunting for grad students, and offers encouragement to PhD students who are in the process of reinventing themselves as postacademics. Many thanks to Laura for her frank and helpful interview.

Could you tell us a bit about your graduate work? What was your area of research?

My field of study was modern France. My dissertation examined the portrayal of women’s colonial work in women’s magazines during the period between 1870 and 1914. I argued that French women were heavily involved in a variety of ways in the colonial project during this period and that this involvement—which was publicized and celebrated in dozens of women’s magazines—was seen as an important duty that women could perform to prove their loyalty to the Republican state (the idea being, for many, that this loyalty would then be rewarded with the vote). I was really interested in the ways that these women, and the producers of these women’s magazines, manipulated colonial propaganda to their own benefit. I was also interested in contributing to the scholarship connecting feminism and imperialism: there’s obviously something deeply troubling about women arguing for increased rights while, at the same time, contributing to the disenfranchisement of vast numbers of people in France’s overseas territories.

You’re now an Acquisitions Editor for Canadian Scholars’ Press/Women’s Press, and were previously a Content Editor for Lycaon Press. How did you transition from being an adjunct professor to working as an editor?

I knew that I wasn’t interested in pursuing an academic job fairly early, probably two full years before I defended. It was still really important to me to finish, and making the decision to leave academia was a great motivator—I was eager to “get on with my life” so to speak. I loved my research and I’m really proud of the dissertation that came out of it, but the idea of spending the rest of my working life on that kind of long-term project, and working in such a singular and solitary fashion, just didn’t appeal to me.

After I defended, I spent a few months working with two career counselling services—one was geared to professionals looking to transition to a new career, and the other specifically to those looking to become “post-academic.” I found this process really helpful. I picked up some useful tips around networking, writing good cover letters and CV’s, and interviewing effectively. While I was undergoing this process I was also applying for any job that seemed at all suited to my skill set. I probably applied for hundreds of jobs over the period of a few months, I measured a “good” day as having applied for at least two or three jobs. In retrospect this was probably not a valuable way to spend my time.

Part of the career counseling process involved doing personality and skills based tests (I did the “Career Leader”, “Work Personality Index,” and “Strong Interest Inventory” tests as well as the “Myers-Briggs” test). I started to really examine what I wanted to do with my life. It sounds cheesy, but some really helpful information came out of that process.

In the end, the best general advice I took from the career counselling was that you shouldn’t just apply for jobs across the board (it took me awhile to figure this out!): instead, you need to really figure out what you want to do and focus on that. People can sense that you’re unfocused when you simply apply for any and every job and it doesn’t make you an attractive candidate. It’s worth spending some time determining where you want to end up and focusing your job search accordingly. I know that’s hard when you’re feeling the pressure to get a job, but if you can work out a way to take that time, I think it pays off.

The job with Lycaon was a big learning experience for me. The press, which publishes YA fiction, was just launching and I was lucky that the publisher wanted to take a chance on me. I didn’t really have any formal editing experience, or any formal publishing experience at all. I did know how to spot a good story, and I was familiar with YA fiction (a big not-so-guilty pleasure!) so I knew what kind of tropes worked in that genre. Once I was hired I was sort of a jack of all trades—I did acquisitions, stylistic and structural editing, and a bit of copy editing. I also helped to manage timelines and kept the books on schedule. I worked there for just under a year and by the end had become the de facto “Managing Editor” which was exciting. The only problem was that it paid really, really badly. I took on a teaching job to help pay the bills. In order to keep my sanity, I had to think of it as an internship, which, in a sense, it was. I left Lycaon to have a baby and then, when my daughter was about 6 months old, I started to get back into the job hunt. I spotted the job at Canadian Scholars’ Press and, even though I wasn’t ready at that particular time to go back to work, I applied. It worked out really well in that they were willing to delay my start date for a few months.

Could you tell us a bit about what being an Acquisitions Editor entails? What drew you to this area of work?

Publishing as a general area seemed a natural fit once I started to seriously consider it. I know everyone says this, but I love books! I think all academics do, so that may be one reason why you see so many academics in publishing. Essentially, my job requires me to seek out and contract books for my company, but there are a lot of different components and responsibilities associated with that process. I do market research in order to determine areas where a new book is merited, and research authors to target to write books for us. We get lots of unsolicited manuscripts but we also solicit manuscripts directly from academics in areas that we feel are growing. Once I have a promising proposal in hand, I organize a peer review of the proposal and then draw up an editorial plan to reflect the feedback we received from the reviewers. At this point I will also do more detailed market research and put together a portfolio of sorts outlining the strategic plan for that title. So, it’s a lot of research, a lot of meeting with authors to discuss their visions and ideas, and a lot of creative thinking. I also have a marketing component to my job, which I have found more interesting than I expected.

Which job hunting methods did you find most useful as an early career post-academic? Did you have the most success replying to job ads, networking, or other techniques? Do you have any suggestions for readers about how to land that crucial first post-academic position after graduate school?

I hate to say it, but networking for sure. Networking is sort of excruciating. You feel terrible bugging people and a bit goofy doing “informational interviews” but it really is a valuable process. As I said above, the career counselling was also really helpful for me. I think some of the biggest challenges facing academics wanting to transition are that we have a hard time translating the skills we’ve acquired in graduate school, or teaching, into the kind of skill that people outside of academia value and understand. Another challenge is that many academics aren’t willing to start at the bottom and learn a new industry. I was lucky to be able to jump, after a year, to the rank of Acquisitions Editor, but I think that’s pretty unusual. Working at Lycaon was very humbling in some ways—as were all the rejections I amassed during my job search, but I think sometimes you need to be humbled to develop a realistic outlook on your job hunting strategy.

How did you explain your academic background to prospective employers? Did you find it a help or a hindrance?

A help! A lot of people told me to downplay my education during my job search, and really made me feel like I had wasted my time in grad school while “real adults” were gaining “real work experience” and I just don’t think that’s true. Grad school prepared me pretty well for my current job and I think it would have prepared me equally well for any job that involves critical thinking and effective communication skills. I know I said we need to be humble, but we also shouldn’t overdo it, we have a valuable skill set that a lot of employers recognize. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit (in terms of workplace culture and values) and communicating that effectively in an application.

I think something that helped me was that I was very careful to explain that my transition out of academia was not simply about the job market but that I genuinely wanted to be in a new industry. I told them point blank that I was not applying for academic jobs—and I wasn’t. I was seriously committed to working in publishing and I think they sensed that. I think a lot of people are leery of hiring an academic because they don’t want to be a place warmer while you wait for a tenure-track job to open up.

Many students might be loath to leave the academy because they enjoy certain aspects of the job. How have you managed to integrate your favourite parts of the academic experience into your current job?

Well, research is still a big part of my job. I do less writing now than I used to, and I miss that, but I still have opportunities to write when I put together reviewer synopses or proposals to publish a book. One thing I always enjoyed about the academic life was that you were constantly learning new things, whether because you were at a conference or teaching a course outside of your field (is there any other kind?). In my current job I still get to do that. I investigate new fields for us to publish in every day and I get to talk to really fascinating people. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with a man who founded a home that is used a safe, healing space for children who have been abused (The Gatehouse) and last week, I got to chat with the coordinator of the Brewmaster program at Niagara College (such a cool program!), so there’s a huge amount of diversity in my day.

What do you like best about your career path outside of academia? Is there anything you miss about the academy?

I miss the flexibility of an academic life. Having only two weeks of vacation a year is a big adjustment! To be honest, that’s about it. For me, one of the best things about being in a non-academic job is working in an office. I love collaborating with my colleagues, and having face time with people every day. I’m lucky that my colleagues are all really awesome! I also love the variety of tasks, if I’m stuck on something or not enjoying it, I move to another task for a few hours. I also like working 9-5: I leave my work at work and when I’m home I’m way more relaxed than I used to be. I hated the blurry distinction between work and home that I felt as an academic, it created a constant sense of guilt.

If you could go back in time and have a chat with yourself while you were in the midst of your PhD, what would you tell yourself? Is there something that you’d do differently if given the chance to do it over?

I wouldn’t really do anything different professionally (personally, maybe… but that’s another matter!). I loved grad school—I met amazing people, traveled, pushed myself intellectually—I did a lot of things I never would have thought I was capable of. I don’t regret the time I spent on my education. I think it served me well, as I use the skills I developed as an academic each and every day.

Do you have any final words of advice or encouragement for current graduate students who are considering making the transition into a non-academic job career path?

Get as many eyes on your CV and cover letters as possible and customize them for each and every job that you apply for. Be patient. Try to focus your job search. Talk to as many people as you can, and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. I asked for help pretty widely and aggressively when I was job hunting and since I’ve been employed I’ve had a lot of people ask me for help or advice, so it all balances out.

Profile: Caroline Cakebread, Financial Journalist and Principal, Cakebread Inc

Caroline Cakebread, Financial Journalist and Principal, Cakebread Inc

Caroline Cakebread

Education
-BA, English, University of Toronto – Victoria University
-MA, English, University of Birmingham
-PhD, English, University of Birmingham

Current Positions
Editor, Canadian Investment Review
Personal finance columnist, Chatelaine and other publications
Principal, Cakebread Inc.

Caroline on the Web
Twitter (@ccakebread)
LinkedIn profile


Caroline Cakebread is a Canadian freelance writer who specializes in the financial literacy sector. In addition to serving as editor and contributor at a number of financial publications, she also manages her own marketing firm for financial services clients. Yet Caroline’s graduate education isn’t in economics, math, or business– she holds a PhD in English, with a specialization in Shakespeare and contemporary women’s writing. Caroline was kind enough to share some insights about her journey from academe to her current positions, and to describe how she transitioned into the field of finance. Many thanks to Caroline for her practical advice and for sharing her postacademic experience.

Could you tell us a bit about your graduate work? What was your area of research?

I did a PhD in English — my thesis was on Shakespeare and contemporary women’s writing. I did my degree in England, so there was little course work. This afforded me the opportunity to spend three years writing and researching my thesis. Because there were no courses and no deadlines, the process took a huge amount of self-discipline. I only had three years of scholarship funding and since England is an expensive place to live and I don’t like debt, I knew I needed to finish within that time frame. It was no easy task — but I did it. To get there, I developed good habits around working independently, setting my own deadlines and booking regular meetings with my supervisor. I also actively sought ways to connect with other students for feedback and idea sharing.

You’re now Editor at Canadian Investment Review, a personal finance columnist for Chatelaine (among other publications) and the Principal at Cakebread Inc., a financial services marketing firm. How did you transition from working as a Shakespeare scholar to working in finance?

When I came back to Canada from the UK, I had a terrible time finding a job. Even though I ended up publishing a few chapters from my thesis, it wasn’t enough to get me in the door when it came to getting work. After months of rejections, I was pretty depressed and more than ready to take any kind of teaching job anywhere just to get some teaching experience. I felt like I had no control over my future — moreover, I had no job or money. My mother saw how hard that experience was on me and convinced me to try something else for a year — to take a break for awhile. Thankfully I listened to her (thanks Mom!). I ended up taking what was at the time, a low level contract job in the new investor education department at the Toronto Stock Exchange (I got it through a temp agency I worked with). I never looked back. After two weeks I was hooked on finance, working with great people and enjoying my life. I worked hard, moved up the ladder and ended up using my academic contacts to help set up the first ever teacher training program in financial literacy in Canada. At the end of my stint at the TSE I had made presentations to the executive team and even worked directly with the CEO on a couple of things. From there, I was offered the chance to be editor of Canadian Investment Review and get experience as an editor and journalist in the financial research field. After a couple of years I decided to go freelance so I could focus on writing, conduct my research in the financial literacy field and build a marketing firm for financial services clients.

How did you explain your academic background to prospective employers? Did you find it a help or a hindrance?

My PhD has always been a huge help. At first, I was reluctant to tell people about it — now, I put it on my cards and my LinkedIn page. People love the idea that I studied Shakespeare — having the Bard on my resume is a great conversation starter.

Some humanities students may feel insecure about applying to positions which are primarily qualitative, even if they do possess the capacity to work with numbers and hard data.

Humanities scholars make great analysts. When it comes to finance the real stars in the business don’t just crunch numbers — they understand the story behind the numbers. Where is the growth coming from? Why is a company losing money? What are the economic risks we really need to worry about? Numbers can tell you only so much. Being able to put the pieces together and tell a story is a huge part of making those numbers relevant to decision-makers. Add to that a PhD’s experience with teaching students and you have an excellent formula for success in analytical fields – especially finance.

Many students might be loath to leave the academy because they enjoy certain aspects of the job. How have you managed to integrate your favourite parts of the academic experience into your current job?

In a lot of ways I have managed to create a job that was very much like graduate school (although I still wish I had a common room in my life!). I am always working on something new — new projects, new clients, new research. And I get to do this from the comfort of my own home for the most part. I use everything I learned from doing my PhD — research, writing, teaching. All of it makes me better at what I do.

What do you like best about your career path outside of academia? Is there anything you miss about the academy?

I have friends who went on to become successful full-time academics. I do miss getting the chance to talk, think and write about Shakespeare all day — to explore that world. But I far prefer the life I have created outside — it’s more flexible and more creative. And I’m passionate about the field. I’ve worked in finance through 9/11, the Tech Wreck and the 2008 Financial Crisis so I’ve been witness to history in a lot of ways, especially as it relates to my readers and my clients.

Do you have any final words of advice or encouragement for current graduate students who are considering making the transition into a non-academic job career path?

Be open. Don’t let yourself get too boxed in when it comes to thinking about your career. Getting an academic job often involves huge sacrifices — when you have to pick up and move to where the jobs are, it’s hard to maintain a personal life or put down roots. At the end of the day, it might not be for you. Consider making contacts and getting experience outside of school so you can get some perspective on what’s out there and what kinds of jobs might be open to you — just in case your post-PhD life doesn’t turn out to be what you thought it would be.

How to Reframe Academic Skills for the Workplace

Danielle J. Deveau, Managing Director at Pop Culture Lab, has put together two excellent whitepapers which address the skills that postacademics bring to the workplace.

The first, aimed at hiring managers and others in the private sector, is entitled The Role of Post-Doctoral Scholars in Research and Development [PDF]. This document succinctly addresses the tangible skills and abilities that workers with PhDs bring to the table in a business setting.

The second, aimed at postacademics on the job market, offers some practical advice on how to market oneself when applying to jobs in the non-academic workplace. Reframing Doctoral Skills [PDF] is a brief but pithy (and encouraging) paper, and should be essential reading for any graduate student who is hoping to transition to a career beyond the ivory tower.

Many thanks to Danielle for creating these excellent resources.

Some useful links for non-academic job hunters

Some more interviews are in the works, but I wanted to share these great recent links for PhD and MA students thinking of making the switch into world of non-academic jobs:

  • New University Affairs podcast series by Julie Clarenbach of Escape the Ivory Tower. I loved the first episode with Stephanie Roy, a prof-turned-project officer at the University of Toronto.
  • “How to Quit Adjuncting” from After Academe – includes great advice on how to market yourself as a “career changer” on resumes and cover letters. There are a couple of great responses to this post from Another Academic Bites the Dust and From Grad School to Happiness.
  • A great ongoing career article series for Psychology Today by Katharine Brooks, Ed.D., Director of Liberal Arts Career Services for The University of Texas at Austin. A number of these articles are directly aimed at graduate students leaving academia, including:
  • -The Graduate Student Job Search: Welcome to the Chaos
    -Leaving Academia: The Transition Begins
    -Career Transitions for Graduate Students and Others
    -Writing Effective CVs and Resumes

    A couple of more general but still applicable links for career-changers and advice-seekers:

  • How to Build a Personal Career Plan and Plot a Course Out of Your Dead-End Job – a great Lifehacker roundup of helpful advice and practical steps for career transitions.
  • Where Does Your Brilliance Lie? – an inspiring post from lifestyle blogger and writer Sarah McColl about asking for advice and finding purpose.

  • Profile: Jessa Chupik, Executive Recruiter

    Jessa Chupik, Executive Recruiter

    Education
    -BA (Hons), Indigenous Studies, Trent University
    -MA, Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies, Trent University
    -PhD (ABD), Disability and Medical History, McMaster University

    Current Position
    Executive Recruiting Associate, Odgers Berndtson

    Jessa on the Web
    Twitter (@humanehr)
    LinkedIn profile
    Academia.edu profile
    About.me page


    I “met” Jessa via Twitter a few months ago, and was immediately intrigued to see that she had left her PhD in History (ABD) to pursue a rewarding career as an executive recruiter. I was curious to know more about her career path, and how she transitioned from her previous life as a historian to working in recruitment. Jessa was kind enough to agree to answer my questions, and I’m pleased to announce that she is our first profile at Life After the PhD.

    Could you tell us a bit about your graduate work? What was your area of research?

    I attended Trent University for my Master’s degree in Indigenous Studies and Canadian Studies. During that time, I was a researcher on John Milloy‘s book, A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System – 1879 to 1986. A National Crime is a national bestseller and was selected by the Literary Review of Canada as one of the 100 most important books in Canadian history. After my MA degree, I was the first researcher at the Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC) at Sheridan College.

    After a year of work with SERC, I decided to do a PhD in health and disability history at McMaster University. My dissertation explored the complex relationships between confined children and adults with intellectual disabilities, their families, and the Orillia Asylum from 1900-1935. It challenged the dominant historical interpretation of Canadian asylums for people with intellectual disabilities which was traditionally understood by historians (and thus society) as “dumping grounds” used by families, physicians and the state for unwanted and unproductive women, men and children. In contrast, closely examining a 20% sample of 2235 patient case files (n=450); I argued that families used the asylum strategically and reluctantly after numerous years of familial and community-based care.

    In order to prove this argument, I demonstrated that families accessed a variety of medical and alternative treatment prior to admission, they petitioned for asylum committal, influenced diagnosis, negotiated aspects of care, and made decisions about probation and discharge from the institution. Significantly, this research challenged the arguments by other historians about the ‘hegemonic’ control physicians had in the process of confinement and reveals a fascinating and much more ‘family-driven’ interpretation of the asylum.

    You worked as a research associate for Janet Wright & Associates while doing your PhD. How did you balance working and doing a PhD? Would you recommend it to another grad student thinking of transitioning away from an academic career?

    While I was in my third year of my PhD, I was lucky enough to be interviewed for a number of tenure-track positions at universities in Ontario. But I had a gut feeling that being an academic wasn’t the right fit for me. After careful reflection, I realized the part of academia that I excelled at and enjoyed the most was when I was at academic conferences and I was networking with other academics. I spent a lot of time connecting people to others working on similar grants and telling people about jobs that seemed to be a good fit for them. I discovered that Janet Wright & Associates, an executive search firm focusing exclusively on the public and not-for-profit sectors, was searching for a research associate. I met with Janet (editor’s note: another PhD who has pursued a career beyond the walls of the ivory tower) and others in the firm and I discovered that the work that they were doing was exactly what I wanted to do. I tried very hard to continue my PhD writing (I only had a chapter left to write for my dissertation – the rest had been published), but it was very challenging.

    I have no regrets that I left my PhD program, however, I would strongly recommend that if you are close to finishing, you should wait on pursuing an non-academic career.

    After leaving McMaster, you worked as a Corporate Recruiter for BC Public Service. How did you find that first job after your PhD? Do you have any suggestions for networking while still in grad school?

    I made the decision to leave Janet Wright & Associates and move to work for the BC Public Service to gain more senior level experience. My intention was always to return to executive recruitment in the public and not-for-profit sectors. However, the BC Public Service allowed me the opportunity to work for the same employer and hold progressively more senior roles focusing on talent management and building research partnerships between post-secondary institutions and government. I co-led a research team of twenty-five new graduates providing ministry clients with affordable and responsive internal research consulting services. I also developed partnerships with applied researchers (faculty and students) from British Columbia’s post secondary institutions to increase decision support capacity and enhance expertise and objectivity of research. I thought it was quite important if I was recruiting senior leaders that I should understand the reality of being a leader/manager.

    Networking while in graduate school is critical. I’d recommend that grad students access their career centre and counselling services. There are some excellent resources at University Affairs, Charity Village, and on Twitter. I’d try to meet with others who have left academia and find out about their career path. Listening is key. When I network, I spend less time talking about myself and listening to that person’s story.

    You are currently an Executive Recruiting Associate at Odgers Berndtson. Could you tell us a bit about this position? What drew you to this work?

    It is a pleasure to work as an Executive Recruiting Associate/Consultant at Odgers Berndtson. Odgers Berndtson is Canada’s premier international executive search firm, specializing in recruiting services for top-level executives. With offices coast to coast, our collective resources, vast experience and extensive industry knowledge enhance the ability to deliver outstanding leadership talent to our clients.

    During my career in executive recruitment, I have worked on searches for presidents, vice-presidents, deans, and other senior administrators at numerous post-secondary institutions. I also focus on recruiting senior leaders at hospitals and not-for-profit organizations.

    Essentially, I lead the delivery part of the search process. I spend time with clients and stakeholders getting to know their organization and the type of leader that they need. Then, I develop a strategy to find the right candidates. I interview candidates and help my partner present the best candidates to our client. It is a highly collobrative process and I am part of a larger team that works together on searches. We also develop strategies for business development and marketing.

    How did you explain your academic background to prospective employers? Did you find it a help or a hindrance?

    Basically, I tell the story from question 2. I think that executive recruitment is a lot like being a historian. I gather people’s stories, get to know them, gather evidence, and make recommendations.

    Even though I didn’t finish my PhD, it was never a hindrance because I had accomplished a lot during my academic training and published some well-received academic papers. Because I recruit for post-secondary institutions, my academic training is such a benefit to our clients and candidates.

    Many students might be loath to leave the academy because they enjoy certain aspects of the job. How have you managed to integrate your favourite parts of the academic experience into your current job?

    Gathering stories is what I loved about being a historian. Trying to piece together someone’s life from documents is what I did on a daily basis during my PhD. Now, I spend a lot of time doing the same thing, but I actually get to meet the individuals that I’m interacting with. I also get to do research and write a lot.

    You know that rush you get when you find a document or uncover a pattern when you are doing research? I get that rush/excitement every day as an executive recruiter in the public and not-for-profit sectors.

    What do you like best about your career path outside of academia? Is there anything you miss about the academy?

    On a daily basis, I get to help shape the most important institutions in Ontario. I also love being able to interact with fascinating leaders and help them as they explore a new career opportunity. In addition, I get to be a part of a team at Odgers that is highly intelligent, collaborative, and productive.

    I miss long days at the archives and using microfiche. A very odd thing to miss, but it is the part that I long for the most. I also miss meeting up with my history of medicine colleagues at conferences!

    If you could go back in time and have a chat with yourself while you were in the midst of your PhD, what would you tell yourself? Is there something that you’d do differently if given the chance to do it over?

    I would have told myself to take time off when I had my daughter during my second year. I kept teaching, doing research, and writing.

    Do you have any final words of advice or encouragement for current graduate students who are considering making the transition into a non-academic job career path?

    Listen more. Ask every person you meet about how their career path. People love to tell their stories. Ask to job shadow someone in a non-academic career. (Editor’s note: When asked how one should go about setting up a job shadow, Jessa replied that the best way is to “just send an email to someone they’d like to job shadow explaining why” you’re interested, and assured us that “usually people will be quite open to helping out”.)

    I absolutely love my work in executive recruitment. I recognize that my MA and PhD training helped get me this point and I’m grateful for the experiences that I had in academia.

    What is “Life After the PhD”?

    What’s this all about?

    Life After the PhD is a blog dedicated to providing career advice for graduate students who are considering leaving the academy. It features interviews with PhDs who have gone onto successful careers outside of academia, as well as other career resources.

    Why?

    Most graduate students enter PhD programs with idealistic stars in their eyes, believing in the promise of a meritocracy and the life of the mind. A fair number, sadly, only discover mid-program that those academic jobs they’re hoping for just aren’t there. While professors may be retiring (though not in droves, as promised), their tenure track positions are often filled by adjuncts, or, in some cases, simply left empty. This means that a lot of clever, motivated scholars aren’t able, or choose not, to follow in the career footsteps of their supervisors and other mentors. I wanted to find out what those talented PhD students in the humanities and social sciences went on to do after leaving the ivory tower.

    There are some wonderful columnists and bloggers giving advice on non-academic careers (see my list of “Suggested Reading” below). I wanted to give something back to the online community by profiling people with PhDs who have gone on to do interesting work beyond the walls of the academy. One sometimes is given well-intentioned encouragement that “the PhD opens so many doors! You can do so many things!” but I wanted to find out what doors and what sort of things, precisely.

    Who are you?

    I’m a PhD student in the humanities. I worked in career services before and during grad school, and it disappointed me to see how relatively little career information and direction is given to grad students by their own departments. I wanted to create a resource for MA and PhD students to find out what types of careers people go onto after finishing their graduate work. I tweet about higher ed career issues and about Canadian jobs in the cultural sector, including heritage, museums, communications, publishing, education, and the arts at @lifeafterthephd.

    Suggested Reading

    Columns
    -Beyond the Ivory Tower (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
    -Careers Cafe (University Affairs)
    -“Entrepreneurship and the Academic” by Jessica Quillin (Inside Higher Ed)
    -“Leaving Academia” by Sabine Hikel (Inside Higher Ed)
    -“On the Fence” by Eliza Woolf (Inside Higher Ed)

    Blogs
    -100 Reasons Not to Go to Graduate School
    -Career Planning Advice from Jo VanEvery
    -Escape the Ivory Tower
    -Leaving Academia
    -PhD On The Fence
    -Post Academic
    -Sell Out Your Soul
    -Worst Prof Ever