Professional Development Listserv Archives
Overview on Careers Outside Academia April 16, 2014
This website does a great job outlining things that are relevant to PhD's who would like to find positions outside academia. There is a chart demonstrating how to translate the activities you do during your graduate program into skills relevant in numerous employment sectors. They give examples of settings Ph.D.'s holders in different areas may work. They link to other resources. And last but not least, they discuss the importance of taking advantage of personal and professional development opportunities that appear during graduate school.
Seeking Employment Outside Academia: Advice for PhD's January 15, 2014
The majority of the doctoral students who I have spoken with in the last year have indicated that they are interested in a range of different career options. This pattern at NDSU mirrors national trends. Students also indicate that it can be difficult to find information about how to proceed with obtaining jobs in areas outside of academia. This Chronicle of Higher Education article does a nice job of summarizing key actions to take and points to consider. One central take away message from this article is that you should begin to explore your options as early as possible during your graduate career, and consider obtaining internship or volunteer experience.
Finding a Job: Careers with Social Impact
There are many job hunting search engines available. The search engine below focuses on opportunities that have a social impact. The opportunities that they list are all over the world . You can specify that you want to only see degrees that require a graduate degree. I ran a search for jobs that require a PhD and found a range in business, government, education, etc. that seemed to cut across a diverse array of fields.
There are also links to find volunteer activities and internships. Volunteering and internships can be a great way to build additional skills, make connections, and be able to show related experience on your resume.
Non-Faculty Careers in Higher Ed
This Chronicle article discusses efforts by individuals at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to create structure for employees who hold a PhD but are employed in non faculty roles—usually administrative roles. The article does a nice job highlighting some of the potential employment options, as well as pointing out the challenges that such employees might encounter. I thought it might be of interest to people who would be interested in working at a university in a non-faculty position.
Writing Cover Letters for Academic Jobs-November 14, 2013
This column has excellent advice on writing the cover letter for academic job applications. There are also useful tidbits in the comments. As the column author points out, it is also important to identify discipline-specific norms so talk to your advisor and other faculty members.
Minding Your Digital Footprint-Advice for Job Seekers-October 30, 2013
This Chronicle blog discusses the importance of being aware of what is on the internet about you. I have recently heard from several sources that prospective employers are doing Google searches on candidates, looking and Facebook and other social media, etc. You might want to google search yourself in a couple of different ways (e.g., with and without your middle initial or name; with and without "" around your name, etc), just to see what might come up.
Power Thoughts Prior to an Interview?-October 7, 2013
Many people find interviewing for jobs, fellowships, etc. to be a rather intimidating experience. We go into them hoping for a successful outcome, but are often unsure about whether that will be the case. Usually, other people will also be interviewed for the same thing we want to obtain, and we wonder how we can set ourselves apart. The article that I'm providing a link to discusses some interesting research that just might help you be more successful. Specifically, it appears that thinking of a time when you felt powerful might help you come across as more self-confident in your interactions. As you are journeying through graduate school, it might be useful to start a list of these "power times"--maybe when you were especially successful on an exam or assignment, or when you were discussing a thorny issue in your field in a particularly compelling way—or even when you submit your disquisition for the final time! Keeping a list like this will mean you have to rely less on memory when the time to interview arrives, and can give yourself a quick boost when you need it.
The Geography of Hiring in Alternate STEM Careers- September 10, 2013
The article below talks about the geographical considerations related to obtaining PhD level nonacademic jobs in STEM fields. There are several interesting charts that show the numbers of PhD's in different fields who are employed in each state. These may be useful as you consider the best odds for obtaining employment. However, as one commenter notes—the charts do not tell the whole story. Just because there are fewer PhDs in an area does not mean there aren't any. It might mean, however, that a person who wants to live in a particular part of the country may have to be more creative in tracking down job opportunities.
Links Between Classroom Teaching and Student Learning-November 25, 2013
This article discusses some interesting research on links between aspects of teaching and student learning outcomes. In particular, the instructor's clarity and organization matter. As the article notes, these are both elements of teaching that reflection and feedback from others can help a person improve.
Getting the Professional Socialization You Need-March 3, 2014
Graduate school IS a time for students to learn the standards of their field for a host of different issues. These issues can include how to dress, etiquette expectations, how to have a scholarly or professional discussion, etc. The statement that graduate students are often expected to learn these things through osmosis is consistent with my experience. That is often not easy, and can be frustrating for everyone involved. So what can students AND faculty members do to make this easier?
Students—follow the advice in the comments section and treat graduate school like you would a job. Hold yourself accountable for professional behavior while you are a student. Pay attention to other professionals you have contact with, both inside and outside of the university. Note behaviors that signal professional norms. Practice professional writing and speaking, as it will become second nature to present yourself in this manner. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the faculty in your program. People are likely to be willing to explain why they did something in a particular manner if your desire to learn is sincere. Ask for and be open to feedback on your professional conduct.
Faculty—talk about this topic with your students. Be explicit about the unwritten rules. Build opportunities for practice into the students' experiences. Give constructive feedback regarding how to improve. Find good examples of documents that adhere to professional standards. Model professional conduct.
PhD's and Entrepreneurship-Feb. 13, 2014
This author points out some of the characteristics of PhD's that lend themselves to being an entrepreneur. If this route is something that may be of interest to you, there are many resources available to people interested in starting small businesses, ranging from grant and loan programs to workshops/courses to mentorship programs. Spend some time investigating those opportunities in the community where you intend to live. The Chamber of Commerce may be one source of information, the local library may have resources, and even the county extension office may be able to point you toward information.
Elevator Speeches-January 31, 2014
This is a great article on what makes a good elevator speech. And like a good elevator speech, it has the virtue of being short and to the point. Anyone in any profession should be able to craft a good elevator speech about what they do.
Freelancing/Using Digital Media-December 16, 2013
This blog describes the author's decision to leave a tenure-track faculty position that was a poor fit, and to use the skills and expertise she gained through earning her PhD to use digital media as a work platform.
Translatable Skills Developed in Graduate School-December 2, 3013
Professionals with graduate degrees are increasingly choosing career paths beyond academics. Skills imparted during graduate study are transferrable to careers in corporate and industry settings. The article below offers tips for describing unique skills developed in graduate school when writing resumes or cover letters or preparing for interviews.
Determining Your Speaking Fee-October 22, 2013
This article and the comments that follow it have a lot of good advice about what to consider in setting your speaking fee. Although the article is geared toward academics, this is not just an issue that academics may face.
Communication: An Important Skill-September 5, 2013
The better we are at speaking to the general public, the more convincing we can be in helping people to understand why they should care about what we do. And it just might help future generations decide on a new career path. So, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about how you might explain your research to an 11-year-old!