So about these “non-academic jobs” I’ve been hearing about…How do I get me one of those? Where is the philjobs/apsa ejobs/ aer jobs website so I can submit my applications? Instead of a teaching philosophy or research statement, should I just write up a post academic manifesto to submit along with my resume? I uploaded a couple of dissertation chapters to my personal website and uncluttered my resume. It is now only 2.5 pages long. Anyone who has tried to be supportive in the past few months has told me I’ll get a job in no time, “what with your TNRU diploma, and a PhD at such a young age…”
The paragraph above is written with humor, but it’s not far away from my initial gut about job searching. I’m completely clueless. Even though I did not want an academic job, I knew just how to get one. Every year during grad school the job market season would happen, and so stressed out ABDs roamed the halls, we heard their practice job talks, we speculated, analyzed, gossiped… we witnessed this process knowing it would one day be our turn. Finally, my own “job market season” began, long before applications were due. All the information was laid out for me about what schools I had a good chance of getting a job in, what to say during the interviews, how to pitch my dissertation in 5 minutes, 2 minutes, and 1 minute… Good advisers, like mine, blaze the trail for you: they introduce you to people, get you into conferences, coauthor with you, talk about you.
As it turns out, there is no such adviser in the non-academic world. Nobody is out there mentioning my name, there are no small-circle conferences to attend and make myself known. Plus… THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT JOBS! In academe, there are more or less 3 jobs: assistant professor, adjunct/visiting professor/lecturer, researcher. Here, there are managers, analysts, research scientists (as opposed to research humanists, maybe?), directors, consultants, associates. Which one am I? Writing it out like that, I sound really stupid. But the point is important: I want a job and I want a career, and I want my career to be meaningful and involve lots of blatdingocks and chipadoo analyses (words invented by me for generality), but how does that translate into a successful job application process?
Old habits die hard, and my scholarly instinct took charge. I decided to do a little research on how to get a job. I went to the Career place at TNRU. The two pieces of advice were: network and restructure your resume (2.5 pages is too long. I should aim for 1). These are actually two suggestions in “So What are you Going to Do with That?”. I really like that book and highly recommend it. It’s a short read. My shrink suggested reading “What Color is your Parachute?”. That’s not such a short read.
Ultimately, all my research raised a really important question that I hadn’t asked myself in a long time: what do I want to be when I grow up? For the past five years, I just answered “a Doctor of Philosophy”. For at least a year, I’ve known I don’t want to be an academic. Academia is a set of jobs with 3 elements in it. Non-academia would be the set “infinity – academia” of jobs. I’ve been so focused on finishing and leaving that I haven’t come up with a plan of what to do with the rest of my life. Dear reader: what’s your plan? Do you have one to spare for this unemployed scholar?