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Last week, I did a talk with @WSU_COM PhD students about applying for #nonacademicjobs or what's often called #postac or #altac careers. My goal was to encourage students to explore their options, but also inject some reality in their sometimes starry-eyed discussions. 1/start
2/ Right off the bat, I wanted to dispel the notion that PhD jobs are a great fit for nonacademic jobs in industry, nonprofit or govt. sectors. There are a number of reasons for this: Nonacademic recruiters think you are too expensive or esoteric for their jobs...
3/ Continuing reasons why PhD doesn't easily translate to #AltAc: Faculty lack expertise or knowledge about nonacademic jobs (even if they want to support you), and graduate programs encourage deep scholarly knowledge and publication rather than broader public engagement.
4/ There are some CAVEATS to my grumpy answer: If you're looking for research jobs in govt, consultancies or industry, or your existing personal and professional networks or stellar, or your discipline is strongly associated with industry (e.g., Engineering).
5/ Or, you already have a great job in a great organization, and you believe that gaining a PhD will get you a foot up in your own organization, or help you do your PhD better. In such cases, a part-time PhD option would be optimal to allow you to continue working your job.
6/ So, despite my gloomy warnings, you still want to try #PostAc. Or, more likely, you've realized that you don't identify with academic culture, or (more depressingly) the academic job market in your field is brutal, and you need to get out of academia. When do you prep?
7/ The answer is: RIGHT AWAY! In this case, the early bird really does get the worm! For a PhD program, you spend at least 4 years gaining professional development for an academic job; so why would #AltAc jobs be any different? Start scanning for resources at the earliest!
8/ So, HOW do you prep? @LinkedIn is an easy bet: develop your profile, scan jobs, and see what PhD skills #AltAc careers require. Take courses and training modules at your university or elsewhere to learn the skills "hot" right now. Revise your CV for nonacademic recruiters.
9/ For instance, skills really valued in the #AltAc market right now are coding (learn PYTHON), geographic information systems (GIS), and project management (learn AGILE), in addition to conventional data analysis methods and tools!
10/ Also, revise your CV to highlight skills and experiences (e.g., grant-writing, project management, SPSS, Atlas.ti) rather than research publications. Don't lead with your PhD; the PhD is just *ONE* part of the consummate highly skilled job applicant that you are.
11/ What are some RESOURCES that can help you learn all this, if faculty (myself included) are not the best options as with academic jobs, where we know the tricks and tips of the market (generally)? You should tap BOTH online and offline resources for the #altac careers.
12/ Your university's grad school and career services center are obvious offline resources! @WayneGradSchool and @wsucareersvcs host various professional development sessions for nonacademic jobs. Check course calendars for those "hot" skills I mentioned.
13/ PhD and postdoc students at @waynestate should check out @optimizewayne @IW_WSU @WSUHumClinic and @techtowndetroit that hosts various local groups offering such training and skills development.
14/ Networking is also key! Reach out to interdisciplinary programs and conferences in your university that focus on broader topics (like @T_RUST_WSU and @WayneStateISE #BigData), and local organizations to help build your connections for possible job (and research) options.
15/ How about some ONLINE resources? @Twitter is obviously big for the #PostAc #AltAc community and you should follow @BeyondProf @FreethePhD @jobsontoast and @ProfessorIsIn. The great part is that all of these folks run websites you can reach, are not JUST on Twitter!
16/ For example, just last week, @FromPhDtoLife and @drmarenw of @BeyondProf wrote this very cool piece i @insidehighered on how you can #rebrand yourself for a nonacademic career. insidehighered.com/advice/2019/03…
17/ Also, last year around this time, thanks to funding from @WayneGradSchool and @NIHBEST, I organized a panel of awesome folks, who talked about the process of applying for #PostAc jobs as a PhD or postdoc. Part 1 is here for viewing:
18/ In the panel (which was followed by a workshop on CV writing), we discussed perceptions and myths about both #altac and academic careers, and tried to #BeReal in our advice. See part 2 of 3 here:
19/ Our camera handiwork wasn't the best (we were well-meaning amateurs!), but the points discussed in this panel are still incredibly relevant, and anyone considering #AltAc careers should check out these YouTube videos. Here's the last one:
20/ I got some great questions after this talk with the @WSU_COM grad students, about skills, marketing tactics, engaging local organizations, obtaining consultancy work, and enhancing visibility!
21/End. Bottom-line: The #AltAc path might be great for you, but it's not easy for PhD students to make the switch. You need to invest time and effort. Most importantly, you should not feel guilty or wrong for wanting to move, if academia isn't your thing.
@WSU_COM @threadreaderapp unroll please!
22/ReallyTheEnd. Here's a @threadreaderapp spool of my twitter thread on how PhD students can navigate the nonacademic job market. Disclaimer: This is primarily meant for Communication students in the US. @NatComm @CSCA_COM @ECACOMM #AltAc #PostAc threadreaderapp.com/thread/1112465…
Oops, sorry for the #twittertypo. I meant: "or help you do your JOB better."
23/NoReallyImStoppingNow Thank you for all the likes and insightful comments from everyone reading this thread! I'd also love to learn from you how you have (or are) navigated the #AltAc scene, strategies on the job search. and additional resources I can share with our students!
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