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By JENNIFER POLK | March 31 2017

“I knew what the government needed — someone to help them better respond to the public through thoughtful research design.”

By JENNIFER POLK | March 21 2017

As a PhD, you can think of research as one of your many useful skills, but it is not necessarily your primary identity.

By JENNIFER POLK | March 02 2017

Dr. Lisa Bélanger is an award-winning researcher, innovator, and she is CEO of ConsciousWorks, a consulting firm that teaches people how insights from behavioural science can improve their personal and professional lives. Dr. Belanger holds a PhD in behavioural medicine from the University of Alberta, is a certified exercise physiologist, a published author of Inspire Me Well: […]

By JENNIFER POLK | February 23 2017

“As an anthropologist, I would never have access to the hospital in such ways.”

By JENNIFER POLK | February 14 2017

Hillary Hutchinson earned a MA in social anthropology and a MEd in higher education administration from the University of Texas at Austin. She’s now a career coach specializing in academic writing and the transition out of academia.

By JENNIFER POLK | February 01 2017

In early January I travelled to Denver to attend the American Historical Association meeting. I went to represent Beyond the Professoriate — the professional development business that I run with Maren Wood, a fellow history PhD turned entrepreneur. We spoke with graduate students, recent PhDs, and other historians who are interested in non-faculty careers. Many […]

By JENNIFER POLK | January 18 2017

Joseph Fruscione (PhD, English) contributed to the Transition Q & A series in December 2013 and August 2015. You can read his interviews here and here. After 15 years teaching literature and first-year writing in the Washington, DC, area, he left academia in 2014 for a career as a freelance editor and post-ac consultant. He […]

By JENNIFER POLK | January 05 2017

A client shared this bit of wisdom with me a while back: Instead of admonishing herself with “I should…” she replaced it with “What if I…?” Reframing the sentiment as an open question turns it into something positive and future-oriented. The answer focuses on the benefits of taking an action, rather than the guilt or […]

By JENNIFER POLK | December 12 2016

Lino Coria earned his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of British Columbia. He’s currently a computer vision engineer at Wiivv Wearables and partner at Scribble Consulting. Find him online here and follow him on Twitter @linocoria. What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD? I wanted to […]

By JENNIFER POLK | December 01 2016

Jennifer Askey earned her PhD in Germanic languages and literature from Washington University in St. Louis and then worked as an assistant, then associate professor of German at Kansas State University, followed by stints as a special project coordinator at Wilfrid Laurier University, and associate professor in Humanities at McMaster University. She’s currently working part-time […]

By JENNIFER POLK | November 24 2016

Maura Elizabeth Cunningham earned her PhD in modern Chinese history from the University of California, Irvine in 2014. She’s currently social media manager at the Association for Asian Studies in Ann Arbor, MI. Find her online at and follow her on Twitter @mauracunningham. What did you hope for in terms of employment as you […]

By JENNIFER POLK | November 18 2016

I work for and largely by myself, and I love it. My graduate school experience was similar in important ways: I worked at home without much externally-imposed structure. It was challenging, and remains so. Even so, this is how I work best. But I do have support. I do have community. These days I have […]

By JENNIFER POLK | October 19 2016

This may seem like a facile question. A PhD is a doctorate (thanks Google), the terminal degree in many fields. It’s what else it is that’s hard to pin down and get people to agree on. Earlier this month I posed a similar question on Twitter, in the form of a poll. “My PhD is […]

By JENNIFER POLK | October 12 2016

Anne Trubek earned her PhD in English from Temple University. She was formerly associate professor at Oberlin College and is now self-employed as a writer, author, and publisher. Find her online at and follow her on Twitter @atrubek. What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD? A tenure-track […]

By JENNIFER POLK | September 20 2016

How is it that I am more than three years into this job and I still feel like a n00b? Well, I know why – there are so many good, reasonable reasons. But one of the answers is that my role is adaptable, because I am self-employed and it is entirely up to me to […]

By JENNIFER POLK | September 13 2016

Katie Vahey-Gaebler earned her PhD in higher education & student affairs leadership from the University of Northern Colorado. She’s currently an academic adviser at the University of Colorado Boulder, and is an independent consultant. Find her online at and follow her on Twitter @drkatieGSA. What did you hope for in terms of employment as […]

By JENNIFER POLK | August 24 2016

I’ve now been self-employed and working as an academic, career, and life coach for more than three years. I love that I get to work independently, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I can and do work collaboratively. When I started coaching, I worried about competitors. Over time, I saw more people beginning […]

By JENNIFER POLK | August 11 2016

This summer I decided to take a month off. Other than a couple weeks off in December, I’d been working steadily from August into June, with January-May as especially busy. Busy is good – a sign of a growing business – but there’s not much point in a stressed-out life coach. So I booked off […]

By JENNIFER POLK | July 11 2016

Adam Sanford works as an academic coach, writer, and adjunct instructor. He earned his PhD in sociology from the University of California, Riverside in 2012. Follow him on Twitter @undergradeasier and find him on the web at What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD? I started my graduate program in […]

By JENNIFER POLK | June 21 2016

In the three years I’ve worked as a career and life coach, and through the years of my own transition, I’ve learned lots about the process of changing careers. What fascinates me most are the thoughts and feelings that accompany such a shift. When I talk about transition with my clients and others, I often […]