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Curious if anyone here has some plans for a non-academia job post PhD or MA?  Personally I'd like to be isolated in a library doing research until the end of time, but that's just me.  Obviously we all know the job market is tough so...anyone worst-case-scenario planning ahead?  Or have a passion outside of the academy well served by a graduate degree?

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I've been working with a few people looking at starting a little homestead where people can live sustainably/visit and use their skills by teaching lessons or just having creative space. Shockingly this feels less idealistic than a PhD, but academia is still, I think, where I want to be. 

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Teaching at the high school level. I am in my 5th year teaching now.  I knew I wanted an advanced degree when I started getting my teaching certificate, but my spouse beat me to the punch and went and got himself accepted at a 4 year pharmacy program. In the meantime I have taught all levels - remediation, "regular," and pre-AP/AP/honors. If I can't land a TT job in my home state I would honestly be happy teaching HS until I retire. I would still pursue research projects and/or attend conferences, and you can still publish as an independent scholar.

 

Edited by spatial_person

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6 minutes ago, spatial_person said:

Teaching at the high school level. I am in my 5th year teaching now.  I knew I wanted an advanced degree when I started getting my teaching certificate, but my spouse beat me to the punch and went and got himself accepted at a 4 year pharmacy program. In the meantime I have taught all levels - remediation, "regular," and pre-AP/AP/honors. If I can't land a TT job in my home state I would honestly be happy teaching HS until I retire. I would still pursue research projects and/or attend conferences, and you can still publish as an independent scholar.

 

That’s really cool. I was homeschooled from third grade on so even being in a HS environment seems totally foreign to me, but I know a ton of people who love it. I think there’s something especially lovely about people with real passion for lit sharing it with young folks who don’t necessarily know where their interests are at yet. You probably have a lot more potential to impact lives in a big way. And like you said you can still present and publish!

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11 minutes ago, CaffeineCardigan said:

I've been working with a few people looking at starting a little homestead where people can live sustainably/visit and use their skills by teaching lessons or just having creative space. Shockingly this feels less idealistic than a PhD, but academia is still, I think, where I want to be. 

That is just a dope idea 🤩

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Have been lowkey thinking about this since applications tbh. A lot of my out of academia work has primarily been in high school teaching (my experience so far is teaching summer camps, haven't gotten my feet wet in an in-school year HS classroom just yet) so if academia doesn't work out for me during and after the PhD (like... let's say I can't do PhD work at all and fail at the MA exam or fail my PhD quals), I'll move back home and hustle for sub work here and there to balance out my savings. I'm taken and passed the CBEST, just need to do the paperwork to sub and read up more on it, as well as contact a few people I know who have subbed and see how I can feasibly catch up. I don't mind doing HS teaching for the long term as a stable career, but I'm not quite as good on the crowd control front... Short stature and weak voice have been weak points, but I've been working on smoothening those out and using what I have in my toolbox to improve my teaching (also contemplating this for the eventual TAship as well).

I haven't really thought up of anything beyond of that though. I have like default statements, 'maybe paralegal, maybe interning somewhere, hopefully AmeriCorps if I'm still eligible' but no play-by-play plans yet. I'm still trying to keep my options open as admissions rolls on.

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6 minutes ago, Ranmaag said:

Have been lowkey thinking about this since applications tbh. A lot of my out of academia work has primarily been in high school teaching (my experience so far is teaching summer camps, haven't gotten my feet wet in an in-school year HS classroom just yet) so if academia doesn't work out for me during and after the PhD (like... let's say I can't do PhD work at all and fail at the MA exam or fail my PhD quals), I'll move back home and hustle for sub work here and there to balance out my savings. I'm taken and passed the CBEST, just need to do the paperwork to sub and read up more on it, as well as contact a few people I know who have subbed and see how I can feasibly catch up. I don't mind doing HS teaching for the long term as a stable career, but I'm not quite as good on the crowd control front... Short stature and weak voice have been weak points, but I've been working on smoothening those out and using what I have in my toolbox to improve my teaching (also contemplating this for the eventual TAship as well).

I haven't really thought up of anything beyond of that though. I have like default statements, 'maybe paralegal, maybe interning somewhere, hopefully AmeriCorps if I'm still eligible' but no play-by-play plans yet. I'm still trying to keep my options open as admissions rolls on.

Absolutely a wise perspective. Just saying though from your input in this forum it seems like you’re probably a very insightful and supportive teacher/professor. 

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7 minutes ago, kendalldinniene said:

Absolutely a wise perspective. Just saying though from your input in this forum it seems like you’re probably a very insightful and supportive teacher/professor. 

Thank you :) And that is insanely flattering haha. I'm just trying to do the best I can tbh. There's a lot of uncertainty in this process, so I've basically been doing as much legwork to plan to busy myself and also to make sure that things don't go astray for the upcoming fall. (even now I'm just like... things are going so fast, in two months it's gonna be April 15 and whatever plans we create now are gonna start crystallizing or at least be put into motion soon even if time feels insanely slow atm. I can barely believe it's mid-February.)

Ahhh I hope I become that kind of professor in the future (oh job market, bless us all with that magic full-time TT position). I've had a very, very strong support system amongst my professors in undergrad and my letter writers are basically my role models in both teaching and research. Even with busy schedules, they always made the time to support undergrads and they were basically one of the foundations as to why I became excited about continuing onto PhD work. I hope to do right by any student in the future, whether that be undergrad or high school.

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5 minutes ago, Ranmaag said:

 I'm just trying to do the best I can tbh. There's a lot of uncertainty in this process, so I've basically been doing as much legwork to plan to busy myself and also to make sure that things don't go astray for the upcoming fall. (even now I'm just like... things are going so fast, in two months it's gonna be April 15 and whatever plans we create now are gonna start crystallizing or at least be put into motion soon even if time feels insanely slow atm. I can barely believe it's mid-February.)

Ahhh I hope I become that kind of professor in the future (oh job market, bless us all with that magic full-time TT position). I've had a very, very strong support system amongst my professors in undergrad and my letter writers are basically my role models in both teaching and research. Even with busy schedules, they always made the time to support undergrads and they were basically one of the foundations as to why I became excited about continuing onto PhD work. I hope to do right by any student in the future, whether that be undergrad or high school.

Omg this just reaffirms how incredible you are. 

I was also super duper lucky with my undergrad professors. They all feel like my aunts and uncles and their support empowered me to go through this process twice (and maybe a third time).

I’m so grateful to know/know of these amazing good souls supporting us in our goals and I, like you, hope I get to do the same for future students.

Sigh...Lit/rhet comp folks are the best folks ❤️

Edited by kendalldinniene

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Not too sure! Ideally, I'd be in a position to get an academic job in the States or back home when I graduate, but if worse comes to worst, I can resume work as a translator again. 

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13 hours ago, CaffeineCardigan said:

I've been working with a few people looking at starting a little homestead where people can live sustainably/visit and use their skills by teaching lessons or just having creative space. Shockingly this feels less idealistic than a PhD, but academia is still, I think, where I want to be. 

This is what my partner wants to do ultimately, too. My idealistic goal is to start a homeschool/group home situation for displaced LGBTQ+ youth.

13 hours ago, spatial_person said:

Teaching at the high school level. I am in my 5th year teaching now.  I knew I wanted an advanced degree when I started getting my teaching certificate, but my spouse beat me to the punch and went and got himself accepted at a 4 year pharmacy program. In the meantime I have taught all levels - remediation, "regular," and pre-AP/AP/honors. If I can't land a TT job in my home state I would honestly be happy teaching HS until I retire. I would still pursue research projects and/or attend conferences, and you can still publish as an independent scholar.

 

HS is my backup, but I'm actually already getting the ball rolling on applications just in case. My mentors all want me to keep going at it, but if I don't get in with funding, it's absolutely impossible for me to attend right now. HS just isn't ready for a woman who has as many tattoos and piercings and curses as much as I do 😂😂😂

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23 hours ago, CaffeineCardigan said:

I've been working with a few people looking at starting a little homestead where people can live sustainably/visit and use their skills by teaching lessons or just having creative space. Shockingly this feels less idealistic than a PhD, but academia is still, I think, where I want to be. 

I loved this when I read it! May I ask if you have more info on this? How are you developing a plan for it? 

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35 minutes ago, LurkersGonnaLurk said:

I loved this when I read it! May I ask if you have more info on this? How are you developing a plan for it? 

Yeah! We're looking at land for sale and thinking about what is needed in terms of space and zoning for both agriculture and residence. For the initial business, there's also looking at keeping livestock and opening costs vs. profit (lots of farmer's markets etc. to sell eggs/wool). Eventually as we can build/bring in more living space we plan to Air BnB for additional income. Then comes studio space that can be rented and used for homesteading classes. It's a long long plan, but I think if we did it right it could work! 

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6 minutes ago, CaffeineCardigan said:

Yeah! We're looking at land for sale and thinking about what is needed in terms of space and zoning for both agriculture and residence. For the initial business, there's also looking at keeping livestock and opening costs vs. profit (lots of farmer's markets etc. to sell eggs/wool). Eventually as we can build/bring in more living space we plan to Air BnB for additional income. Then comes studio space that can be rented and used for homesteading classes. It's a long long plan, but I think if we did it right it could work! 

We did something very similar to this. You can see our company on the FB page "Dancing Dog Dairy." 

We sold livestock, wool, yarn, goat milk soap and other products both in online and at festivals and comic cons and farmers markets. 

After a awhile, my older kids wanted to go off to college, and I didn't want to continue that kind of work load without their help. 

When you get ready, I can put you in touch with people who are really doing well with this model. They were a great help to us with info like the most profitable size of herds for example and also pitfall to be sure to avoid. 

It is a very rewarding way to live. 

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Just now, Mumasatus said:

We did something very similar to this. You can see our company on the FB page "Dancing Dog Dairy." 

We sold livestock, wool, yarn, goat milk soap and other products both in online and at festivals and comic cons and farmers markets. 

After a awhile, my older kids wanted to go off to college, and I didn't want to continue that kind of work load without their help. 

When you get ready, I can put you in touch with people who are really doing well with this model. They were a great help to us with info like the most profitable size of herds for example and also pitfall to be sure to avoid. 

It is a very rewarding way to live. 

Thank you! That's awesome! I love hearing from people who made it work. 

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Take it from someone nearing the end of the PhD: if you haven't considered alt-ac, you should start immediately. I hate to rain on everyone's parade, but the vast majority of those posting here will not get a tenure-track position, even if you finish your respective program (and, statistically, half of you won't). Period.  Those of you in that position will invariably be smart and have worked on super cool, worthwhile projects. But the reality is pretty simple: there are far too many qualified candidates for too few jobs. As a result, hiring departments can be super choosy, demanding a top-ten-program graduate when their own department is nowhere near that prestigious. A handful of people from, say, Illinois or Ohio State or fill-in-the-blank-middling-school, might end up accepting crummy 4/4 positions that pay 45K/year. The rest of us will confront the prospect of adjuncting until the end of time or, if we're lucky, working as the nominally better lecturer, a position won't clear more than $35K/year.

I know that, from y'all's position, labor and pay conditions feel cheap, dirty, or irrelevant. Believe me, I get it -- at twenty-three, fresh out of undergrad, I said exactly the same thing. But when you're pushing thirty and you have little savings, no chance of buying a house, and no money to start the family you discovered you'd like to have—then, these things start seeming important.

I raise all this hullabaloo as preface to this: you don't have to accept shit pay, shit working conditions, and no job security. Hell, if you've committed ten years to higher ed, you'd be crazy to think those things are fine. Instead, you can—and will, if you try—find valuable work outside of higher education. I can confirm this from experience. While ABD, I've completed graduate internships with the Government Accountability Office and a nationally-recognized education nonprofit. Both gigs made me realize a few things that I wouldn't have known otherwise: first, that there are smart people outside academia working on really important, consequential issues; two, that those same people recognize the value of having someone with our critical thinking and communications skills; and three, they're actually willing to pay what we're worth. I'm very happy to report the last. Both of my internships led to substantial job offers that I'll be weighing when I graduate in a year. It would be virtually impossible for an academic job, were I offered one, to compete with the other two offers I have in my back pocket. 

I'm telling you all this not to poo poo grad school or make you feel bad. There's plenty of reading out there on the job market that'll do that just fine. Rather, I'm telling you this so that you might see alt-ac as an opportunity that needn't be relegated to the "I'll do it if I don't get that job at Yale, or Emory, or Southwestern Oklahoma Baptist..." In fact, it might be the only option you have that will properly reward you for your intelligence, hard work, and writing skills. So, please, please, please, keep it in mind as you start your work in graduate school. Don't wait until you've graduated and been spit out of higher ed before you position yourself for success beyond the campus grounds. Avoid the grad school mindset that you're an amateur that doesn't know much and can't do much, either. Recognize your worth and refuse to accept a miserable working life. 

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Thank you @Ramus. As someone preparing to decide between programs, ability to provide job placement support for non-academic tracks is something I plan to ask about and put a lot of thought into. When I first told my mentor I wanted to apply to PhD programs, she gave me a long, grim, blunt, and borderline hurtful talk that I ultimately needed to hear. She told me she could not in good faith support me through this application process until she knew that she had made the realities of the job market clear to me. In fact, she said: "The job market was bad before I went into a program, it was worse when I graduated, and now it is essentially non-existent."

Luckily, I don't have my heart set on being a professor, and I am open and quite honestly excited by the public humanities. I have work and research I feel is important and I am eager to do, so that's why I'm pursuing this degree, but I don't expect to stay in academia given the working conditions.

Edited by trytostay

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Just now, trytostay said:

Thank you @Ramus. As someone preparing to decide between programs, ability to provide job placement support for non-academic tracks is something I plan to ask about and put a lot of thought into. When I first told my mentor I wanted to apply to PhD programs, she gave me a long, grim, blunt, and borderline hurtful talk that I ultimately needed to hear. Luckily, I don't have my heart set on being a professor, and I am open and quite honestly excited by the public humanities. 

Glad to hear it! A word of caution, though -- you probably will get more than one blank stare in response to your inquiries, especially at the two programs you've been accepted to. NYU and UVA are among the top programs, and they consider themselves as trainers of the professoriate exclusively. Things may be changing now, but I wouldn't be surprised if places like them still treat alt-ac as what the "failures" end up doing.

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Just now, Ramus said:

Glad to hear it! A word of caution, though -- you probably will get more than one blank stare in response to your inquiries, especially at the two programs you've been accepted to. NYU and UVA are among the top programs, and they consider themselves as trainers of the professoriate exclusively. Things may be changing now, but I wouldn't be surprised if places like them still treat alt-ac as what the "failures" end up doing.

I had a feeling that was the case. I'll try to navigate these discussions gracefully, then. I come from an undergrad department that didn't take themselves too seriously, so I'm still trying to figure out the academic world on a larger scale. Thanks for the heads up!

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While writing my dissertation I got a job offer to work at an edtech startup. I defended a week after starting and have been there almost a year now. The amount of control I have over my own work, the advancement opportunities, and value and trust that others put in me has been extremely refreshing coming from academia. Not to mention it pays at least 2x better than I could hope to make in the nonprofit sector or adjuncting, and I get unlimited vacation and can work remotely. It’s cool to see non-academic organizations and companies valuing the skills we have (most of which the world considers “soft”), which is something I despaired of in the months leading to my job offer. 

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59 minutes ago, alexanderhamilton said:

While writing my dissertation I got a job offer to work at an edtech startup. I defended a week after starting and have been there almost a year now. The amount of control I have over my own work, the advancement opportunities, and value and trust that others put in me has been extremely refreshing coming from academia. Not to mention it pays at least 2x better than I could hope to make in the nonprofit sector or adjuncting, and I get unlimited vacation and can work remotely. It’s cool to see non-academic organizations and companies valuing the skills we have (most of which the world considers “soft”), which is something I despaired of in the months leading to my job offer. 

Thank you, honestly, this is inspiring and reassuring.

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20 hours ago, kendalldinniene said:

Thank you, honestly, this is inspiring and reassuring.

If you ever want to know more about breaking into the startup world, send me a message! Same for anyone else. 

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Thank you so much @alexanderhamilton and @Ramus. I’ve been thinking about job placement opportunities (both in academia and “out” of it) a lot now that it’s time to make a decision about a school. I’ve been told fit is the most important thing, but wouldn’t I be more marketable as a job applicant if I were from a more recognized school vs. a school that has an excellent department that not a lot of people outside of academia know about? 

Thanks again for the advice!

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On 2/16/2019 at 2:56 PM, Ramus said:

Take it from someone nearing the end of the PhD: if you haven't considered alt-ac, you should start immediately. I hate to rain on everyone's parade, but the vast majority of those posting here will not get a tenure-track position, even if you finish your respective program (and, statistically, half of you won't). Period.  Those of you in that position will invariably be smart and have worked on super cool, worthwhile projects. But the reality is pretty simple: there are far too many qualified candidates for too few jobs.

I was lucky enough to have undergrad professors who warned me about this from the get-go, while being cautiously encouraging, and have always had this mindset. So many people from my master's degree are convinced they're going to stroll into tenure and make 6 figures. (Yeah, it was a top 5, but they all seem convinced that if you just work really hard it won't be you who's affected by the job market. Even within that one program there will be too many graduates to be hired in one year's tenure-track openings!) 

I don't know if this counts as "out" of academia per se, but I have my eyes on community college. (Probably unlikely to get tenure even there, realistically, and I'm planning for that. I think tenure will be eliminated even more by the time we're done with our PhDs.) I've taken gap years between undergrad and master's and then master's and PhD to try to stack teaching experience on my resume and I'm also hoping to build coding skills more through DigHum work. I'm hoping to leverage the PhD as a way to get in touch with education issues more and do advocacy that could potentially lead to education sector work. I'm also a substitute teacher right now and I know I can go back to that or teaching high school (which I currently sub for) happily as well.

Also, edit to add @victoriansimpkins comment re: "HS just isn't ready for a woman who has as many tattoos and piercings and curses as much as I do 😂😂😂" is basically why I'm shooting for college instead of high school. I think I'd be non-re-elected often in K-12, frankly. Kids love me but parents and admin do noooot. I cannot bring myself to do things like enforce petty sexist dress codes (have actually been coaching the kids on how to protest them effectively 💁‍♀️). But it is joyful and fulfilling minus parents/admin, so it would be a mostly happy backup.

My back-up-back-up plan is adjuncting + subbing + other gig economy work and I think frankly as millennials that's the realistic backup plan that we need to have.*

*I say this as someone who is already 100k in debt for a v. specialized master's degree who might as well finish out school and get the "Dr.", especially since PhD will be funded and I'll be the first ever "Dr." in my family. Now, I would tell post-undergrad me to run like hell before getting an extra $60k in the hole. I know the scenario is different for a lot of applicants, because so many people who do post-grad come from wealthy families. That's the problem with my master's cohort, I think. I would be excited to make $40k a year. They fully assume that hard work will get you triple figures and I am bracing myself to see their meltdowns when they realize that isn't coming. 

Also, let's admit it, we all have a secret novel-writing dream in our pocket 😉

Edited by jillcicle
added more info instead of spamming thread

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