Posts Tagged career

Keep Calm and Carry On: Finding and Building PhD Career Paths

This title slide is a copy of the famous 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster, with a CC-BY license and my name.

At the end of March this year, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Purdue University and talk about alternate careers for people pursuing the PhD. Throughout the day I enjoyed a number of interesting discussions with graduate students and faculty. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in the last 5 or 6 years in being willing to talk about what faces PhD students upon graduation.

In addition to these less formal discussions, I gave a talk and led a workshop focusing on the nuts and bolts of looking for and applying for different positions. If you’re interested in getting the full “Brian experience,” you can watch videos of the talk and the workshop on YouTube. But since I get fidgety watching a five-minute video let alone an hour talk, I wanted to share the text of the talk here. A portion of the talk drew on the short comments I gave in September 2014 at Penn State’s Symposium on #Alt-Ac. I was glad to get a chance to expand on that line of thinking here. My comments also drew on thoughts that I had had as I worked on a forthcoming article about alt-ac issues and the CLIR postdoctoral fellowship with Meredith Beck Sayre, Marta Brunner, and Emily McGinn. For the title, I of course have to thank the Internet without which none of this would be possible.

And of course, I need to thank my hosts at Purdue: the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of English, and the School of Languages and Cultures, and in particular Nancy Peterson, Madeleine Henry, and Hyunyi Cho, head of English, head of Languages and Cultures, and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, respectively.

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We Need More Signposts!, A Call for Abstracts and Papers on Alt-Ac Careers

I love my job. I build amazing projects with a great team. I teach courses about all things digital. I collaborate extensively with friends on a wide range of projects. And along the way, I get to rethink what it means to work in and around the academy. My role is part of what has been increasingly called an alternative academic—or alt-ac—career.

Last year, the #alt-academy collection highlighted the wide range of jobs that fall under the umbrella of alt-ac. I contributed an essay on how to go about finding and applying for such positions as well as reflecting on the feelings and appearance of failure that one may (inevitably?) feel on transitioning from traditional academic careers and into a new position. My paper was part of a cluster in #alt-academy dedicated to providing “signposts” for people who were trying to figure out new trajectories, actively working on getting there.

In May of this year, a second Getting There cluster was announced. Like the first, this collection will provide a venue for discussing the pathways one may take to an alt-ac track and provide these signposts for those who are curious about alt-ac. My exciting job has slowed me down in organizing this cluster as I would have liked to. But today, I am formally inviting abstracts for essays and other media that explore “getting there.”

Contributions to the cluster may include any of the following:

  • reflections on the decisions and circumstances that lead or led to alternative academic work
  • the education and training of graduate students
  • consideration of the practices that prepare one to be successful on the alt-ac track
  • suggestions for overcoming barriers to effective preparation for alt-ac work
  • critical essays, personal narratives, or general “alt-ac advice”

While I expect most submissions for this CFP will take the form of original essays, the #alt-academy project welcomes other forms of participation and media: YouTube videos, diaries, materials from panels or workshops, tweets tagged with #altacadvice, previously published blog posts, and more.

Given the participants in the first iteration of #alt-academy, many of the contributions are slanted towards those working within the digital humanities. While welcoming further contributions from those within that community of practice, I am particular eager to see abstracts from those working elsewhere in the academy.

#alt-academy accepts new contributions at any time. However, I know deadlines make it easier for all of us to get things done. As such, please send abstracts by 17 November 2012. Drafts of essays will be expected by early winter 2013 but will certainly be welcome before that point. Individual pieces for the “Getting There 2” cluster will probably be published as they are completed.

Contributing to #alt-academy is a bit unusual. But so is the nature of our work.

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