A short follow-up to the Career Day panel at Beyond the Professoriate
Since I know we all could have spent another hour talking about our post-academic journeys, I wanted to share some of the insights I’ve gained thus far¹:
1) Follow your instincts. I said it during the panel and I’ll say it again. Follow. Your. Instincts. If they are telling you that academia is not for you, then listen. Evolution has kept our instincts around for a reason. If you let them be your guide, then everything will work out. I promise.
2) Network, network, network. People keep saying it because it’s true. As an introvert, I hate networking. But I suck it up and do it anyway, because it is so necessary to building your post- or alt-academic career. (Especially if you follow your instincts about who to connect with. 😉 ) Case in point: I landed my current, fabulous job because a year-and-a-half ago, I approached someone at a work event – even though I was terrified – and gave them my card.²
3) Do good work, because it speaks for you in ways well beyond the final product, whatever that may be. As grad students and PhDs, we’re very good at doing good work. So, wherever you end up, do the best work you possibly can, even if the job is not the right fit for you (as was the case for me in government). You have no idea on whose desk it will land, and what opportunities might come your way because of that.
4) Contribute to your field(s) on your own terms. As I wrote in my final “Teaching While Me” post, I’m currently working on my last scholarly article. I made every decision about this article on my own terms (which is probably why it has taken me so to get it published!). But there’s a real freedom in that, because my goal as a researcher and scholar has always been to contribute, not to get tenure. As PhDs, we are trained to engage with ideas, full stop. So, it doesn’t matter how many articles you write, or how long it takes, or where they get published. Just find the way – or ways – in which you want to contribute (e.g. blog, social media, print media, podcasts, etc.), then do it.
And that’s all (for now). Looking forward to #beyondprof Day 2!
¹ I say “thus far” because we are all constantly learning in our careers and in our lives.
² The actual story of how I got my current job is so much more convuluted – and mindblowing – that it’s hard to put down in words. If you’re really interested, though, feel free to email me or DM me on Twitter.