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Beyond the Professoriate

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 […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | June 04 2014

Patrick Vitalone earned his MA in modern European history from the University of York. He is a start-up technology professional from Boston currently living in San Francisco. Patrick focuses on company growth on the U.S. East Coast, and in Europe and the Middle East. He mainly writes on nationalism, business and economics, and his research […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | May 21 2014

It’s election season here in Ontario. Where I live, the lawn signs went up a few days ago, and the campaign offices are up and running, their outsides and insides plastered with oange (NDP) and red (Liberal). On my walk home from the library just now, I noticed one home sporting two election signs, one […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | May 07 2014

Daniel Mullin earned his PhD in philosophy from the Free University in Amsterdam. He’s now a salesperson and consultant. Find him online at The Unemployed Philosopher’s Blog and follow him @dmullin81. What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD? As I was working on my PhD, I still had […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | April 28 2014

I was recently chatting with a friend here in Toronto who’s ABD and looking for full-time employment. He told me that when he “buried his degree” on his resume — placed education last instead of closer to the top — that he’d received much better responses from potential employers. Previously, his applications hadn’t resulted in […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | April 17 2014

Emily Simmons earned her PhD in English from the University of Toronto in 2011. She’s currently an education specialist at the Australian Film, Television & Radio School. What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD? A few days after my defence I started to search for communications and writing […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | April 10 2014

Daniel Munro earned his PhD in political science from MIT He is currently a principal research associate at the Conference Board of Canada, working in the Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education. Find him online and follow him @dk_munro. What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD? I wanted […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | April 04 2014

The virtual conference I’m co-hosting in May is coming together wonderfully. Maren and I are thrilled with the line-up of panellists and presenters. We’ve got 23 PhDs lined up to speak about their career journeys and provide helpful advice. Although I share transition stories on this blog in the special Q & A posts, the […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | March 31 2014

A couple days ago I picked up a “Business Self-Help” book (so says the back cover) that my dad recommended to me. He suggested (Forget a Mentor) Find a Sponsor because it explains why women and people of colour should seek out sponsors in addition to mentors. Doing so, research shows, will significantly increase their […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | March 21 2014

At last night’s Versatile PhD meetup in Toronto, a fellow PhD told me about her experiences talking to professors about her current (non-academic) work. In some cases, they were positive, encouraging, and interested; in others, they were confused and dismissive. I share this anecdote because it reminds me of my own attitude during my doctorate: […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | March 14 2014

Being part of a supportive community of people is extremely important to my wellbeing. Not having that during the latter years of my PhD is one reason it proved nearly impossible for me to imagine myself as a professor. And although I’m now in business for myself, I feel connected to a larger group of […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | March 06 2014

On Monday I finish a coaching class. This will be the second professional development course I’ve done since getting my PhD in 2012. Back then, I’d never thought I’d see another classroom ever again! And, it’s true, I haven’t: My coaching courses are all over the phone! But still; you understand. I enrolled in the […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | February 25 2014

Maureen McCarthy earned her PhD in English in 2013 from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. She is now the assistant director of advancement and best practices at the Council of Graduate Schools. Find her on Twitter @maureentmcc. What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD? I was looking for […]

BY JENNIFER POLK | February 13 2014

Earlier this week I spoke on the phone with Ysette Guevara, a fellow PhD and post-academic who runs her own business helping young people transition to adulthood. Our business values line up well, and so do our stories of career transition after our doctorates. You know how much I love meeting new people (aka networking), […]