The fifth annual Beyond Academia career conference, held March 2-3, 2017 at UC Berkeley, offered a wealth of information, advice, and inspiration.
Hundreds of PhD students and postdocs gathered to explore a broad range of careers. The program included about 20 panels of PhDs working in non-faculty careers, a dozen workshops on career skills, and two keynote addresses.
Here are my five top take-aways from the conference.
How do you tell your advisor that you don’t want to pursue the faculty path? Or, at least, that you’re exploring other possibilities? Maybe you’ve decided you don’t like research. Maybe you don’t like teaching. Maybe you’ve realized that you need to be in a particular geographic area. Maybe you’ve calculated that your chances of obtaining a faculty position are uncomfortably low. For whatever reasons, you want to consider a wider array of options.
“The conversation” can be anxiety-provoking, even in fields with a well-defined “industry” option. The stakes feel very high. What if it goes badly?
Providing career counseling and career education for graduate students is an innovation of the last 20 years. Julie Vick Miller is one of the pioneers of the movement. After serving graduate students for three decades she has honed her advice.
Three things she advises graduate students, particularly those pursuing faculty careers:
- Develop your academic persona
- Take advantage of the resources at your university
- Learn how your university works
Should grad students compile their own CV of Failures and what should it include? That was my question when I read about Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer posting his CV of Failures (or Shadow CV).
YES! is my answer. Maybe I love this idea because my career has been littered with job loss, abandoned projects, disappointments, and tears. These days, I am helping teach workshops applying design thinking (“fail early and often”) to grad student’s lives and career planning.
Development as a teacher should be part of every doctoral student’s program and every graduate student should expect to become a proficient teacher. Doctoral students are usually obliged to focus on their research at the expense of broader career preparation. As a result, it is difficult for doctoral students to learn about the science of effective college teaching.
A newly released report, from a groundbreaking seven-year longitudinal research study, provides evidence of the value of teaching development (TD) for doctoral students. It provides ammunition for those (like me) who want to put teaching-preparation front and center in doctoral studies.
My three take-aways from the report are:
- Teaching Development (TD) is happening! It is widely used and widely available.
- It matters. TD has a positive impact on students’ teaching ability and confidence.
- It’s time to integrate TD into doctoral programs.
Graduate school is the stepping stone to your professional future. It provides the knowledge and skills that will launch your career. Where do you think you are going?
You may have a very clear idea of what you want to do and how to get there. Or you may be considering a number of options. Or you might not have given the matter much consideration.
Whatever the case, talking with a career counselor can help you turn your dreams into reality.