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By JENNIFER POLK | January 14 2015

“When did you decide to leave academia?” This question, or some version of it — “How did you know that you didn’t want to be a professor?” for example — is one I’m regularly asked. It comes up in conversation, on Twitter, or when I’m on a careers panel. It’s a fair inquiry, and the […]

By JENNIFER POLK | December 19 2014

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, Jennifer Polk reflects back on what she did and didn’t do this past year.

By JENNIFER POLK | December 10 2014

Jennifer Polk looks at how Nadia Jaber took her disdain for the academic lifestyle and turned it into a solution for other PhDs.

By JENNIFER POLK | November 25 2014

The other day I read a story of waiting and hoping. It was the story of a woman, a PhD and an adjunct professor, who works at an institution she hopes would one day grant her a permanent professorship. I found myself getting mad. But mad at whom, mad at what? At her, the institution, […]

By JENNIFER POLK | November 11 2014

Melissa Dalgleish is the research officer in the faculty of graduate studies and a PhD candidate in English at York University. She researches Canadian literature and graduate education, professionalization, and reform. When she’s not working on her dissertation, you can find her writing for Hook & Eye and #Alt-Academy, where she’s the co-editor of Graduate […]

By JENNIFER POLK | November 06 2014

Last week a Twitter contact asked me, “Would you ever go back to academia if your dream job opened up?” We both knew he meant a university faculty position, tenure-track. We knew this because talk of a “dream job” is common among graduate students and PhDs on the academic job market. For me, now, the […]

By JENNIFER POLK | October 30 2014

Ten years ago, when I started my PhD at the University of Toronto, I began tracking every penny (R.I.P.) I spent. I can’t remember what motivated me to do this, other than the knowledge that I’d now have to pay rent and buy my own groceries out of my fellowship and teaching assistant income; previously, […]

By JENNIFER POLK | October 21 2014

“How’s business?” I was asked this by a fellow panelist at an event I recently participated in. “Good!” I responded, and then added my usual caveat: “I’m not yet covering my expenses but I’m getting there.” Reflecting on this now, I want to go back in time and change my answer. Why? TBU. This acronym […]

By JENNIFER POLK | October 06 2014

Jennifer Polk chats with Kelly J. Baker about juggling her writing career with family life.

By JENNIFER POLK | September 29 2014

Earlier this month I completed the coaching supervision course. It started in the spring, and consisted of biweekly 90-minute classes and six 1-on-1 sessions with the supervising coach. The individual sessions involved listening to one of my own coaching calls, followed by me receiving feedback on my coaching, with an eye toward passing the Professional […]

By JENNIFER POLK | September 12 2014

When it comes to making changes in your life, start small. It’s all well and good to decide to exercise regularly, take up a vegan diet, or write for two hours every day. But if doing so means a significant departure from your current routine, you’re unlikely to succeed unless you take things one step […]

By JENNIFER POLK | September 05 2014

Noticing and coming up with a strategy to deal with inner critics is an important part of coaching. We all have these “gremlins” messing with our lives. They are there to protect us, but we rarely need this protection. We are all much stronger than our inner critics think we are. Here’s how inner critic […]

By JENNIFER POLK | August 28 2014

Many academics, broadly defined, claim to dislike networking, think it is insincere, that it’s not something they’re good at anyway. Now, I have many thoughts about all this, but let me offer just one in this post. I make a distinction between networking proper and informational interviews. The latter involves making contact with a person […]

By JENNIFER POLK | August 21 2014

Andrew Miller earned a PhD in history from Johns Hopkins University in 2005. He currently manages a transit policy office for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.  What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD? Unsurprisingly, I hoped for a tenure-track job, although I must admit those hopes weren’t fervent. […]

By JENNIFER POLK | August 06 2014

Bruce Harpham earned his MA in history from Western University, as well as a master’s of information studies from the University of Toronto. He’s currently a senior financial analyst at the Bank of Montreal. Find him online at Project Management Hacks and follow him on Twitter @PMPhacks. When you finished your MA, what did you […]

By JENNIFER POLK | July 28 2014

On my new LinkedIn group (called From PhD to Life, natch), Laura Graham asked me what I thought were “the greatest areas of need” when it came to working with graduate students. At first, I responded briefly: I am a coach, not an editor or mentor-for-hire, which means I take a non-directive approach, and that […]

By JENNIFER POLK | July 16 2014

​Christine Slocum earned her MA in sociology at the University at Buffalo in 2010. She spent two years pursuing a doctorate in sociology at the University of Washington before leaving that to begin a career working to alleviate homelessness. She is employed as one of the data nerds at the Homeless Alliance of Western New […]

By JENNIFER POLK | June 25 2014

I’m in the midst of packing up my apartment in anticipation of a move on Monday. “In the midst” is how I often feel these days in terms of my business building. I’m learning and gathering and thinking. It feels like I’m preparing for something, but I haven’t quite figured out what it is. Much […]

By JENNIFER POLK | June 18 2014

Every couple of weeks I host a Twitter chat using the hashtag #withaPhD. I pick a topic in advance (or have a guest co-host choose one) and come the appointed hour we see who’s online and take it from there. These Twitter chats are fun, engaging, and meaningful for me. I connect with graduate students, […]

By JENNIFER POLK | June 11 2014

Carolyn Harris earned her PhD in history from Queen’s University in 2012. She is now an instructor in history at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies, a freelance history writer, and royal commentator. Read her writing and interviews online at and follow her @royalhistorian. What did you hope for in terms of […]