In my last post, I was mulling over what to call a career path for grad students that doesn’t involve teaching in a university. So far, “non-academic career” seems to be winning out. Perhaps that’s because it’s unambiguous. Perhaps the “non-academic” part isn’t really perceived as a negative when you rejected that direction. Or maybe it’s just because we need to hear from more of you. So if you haven’t yet, place your vote (the poll is also at the bottom of this post). And if you have already voted - use our new “E-mail post” or “Share” functions below to get your friends to vote too.
Some of you may have seen the article: “Black days for those dreaming of the ivory tower” in today’s Globe and Mail. Are some universities really not hiring any faculty as the article suggests? You can get a faculty recruitment officers’ take on that question, and what the recession means for those of you looking for an academic career in the University Affairs article “Faculty recruitment: A-to-Z“, also posted today.
Since “alternative’” careers, or whatever you want to call them, are definitely on people minds today, it’s probably a good time to share a few resources that will help you move towards a job outside academe, if that’s a direction you’re considering, or if you just want to keep all you options open in this economic climate.
First of all there’s is the Canada’s Top 100 Employers website. Every year, the annual winners are announced amongst much hoopla and handshaking. Interestingly, this year’s winners include only 3 universities: Simon Fraser University, University of Alberta and University of McGill, and one college, George Brown in Toronto. You can click on each name on the list to get the report on why they were selected. Incidentally, Monsanto also made the list, so clearly PR plays a big part of the process. Nonetheless it’s worth a look to get a sense of what makes a “good employer’” in non-academic sectors.
UBC’s Professional Development Program for Graduate Students has posted a lot of resources for graduate students looking for both academic and non-academic careers. The career research site provides a nice introduction with references, links and resources to get you started.
Finally, Career Corner at Congress 2008 also featured a panel on non “non-academic” careers for postgraduates that was recorded and posted on the University Affairs site, conveniently segmented into easily digestible chunks. I particularly like Denise Baker’s description of Careers in Business:
Around the 3:30 minute mark of this segment she describes being hired by a company when she had little related experience, knowledge or even understanding of what they did. The whole panel is worth watching, but this piece in particular really addresses what for many grad students is the stumbling block – the belief that if you aren’t an “expert” you won’t get hired anywhere. Not true insists Denise, and echoed by the other panelists. To enter just about any field, you need an understanding of your skills, how they relate to contexts other than the ones in which you learned them, and the ability to explain this relationship to someone from a different field. Once an employer understands what you are capable of, they will make room for you, if not right away, then as soon as there is an opening. None of the panelists ended up in careers they had known about or planned on beforehand.
Postgraduate, non-academic or alternative – whatever you choose to call it, there are many career directions at least as interesting as academe, and for many, much more satisfying. Le t me know where these resources take you, maybe I can help pointout a resource or idea that could help you get there.