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« Reader query on academic job-market competitiveness after an alt-ac job | Main | Reader query on publishing outside of philosophy »

07/03/2017

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Trevor Hedberg

I looked into some general "Plan B" options the year before I made my first job market push. Here are a few things that might be worth doing if you're serious about setting up a non-academic Plan B:

1. Try to take a course or two outside your department that are relevant to a non-academic career you wouldn't mind or that teach marketable skills (e.g., statistics). It may be preferable to do this in the summer, since doing it then will not interfere with the normal duties of the semester.
2. Make a LinkedIn profile and update it periodically.
3. Work with folks at your institution's career development center to convert your academic CV to a viable resume.
4. Investigate online resources aimed at helping you find a career, such as beyondacademia.org or goodbyeacademia.com. Sites like these are more numerous than you might expect.

Hopefully, that's enough to get you started.

Derek Shiller

I can speak to programming. I recently left academia after finishing my Ph.D. and now am working a very comfortable job doing web development at a tech start up. My transition was painless. I did nothing to prepare to find another job during graduate school, and I didn't have much of a background in programming. I took last summer to attend a programming bootcamp, and it fully prepared me to find a job. There are some bootcamps out there that are very shady, but there are some do exactly what they advertise. (It would probably be possible to follow the course of instruction for free with online tutorials, but probably not on the same time frame.)

Philosophers make natural programmers, and there is enough demand in tech centers (San Francisco, New York, Austin, Seattle) to make it easy to find a job even without experience.

One thing to bear in mind when choosing a grad program: the reputation of the school in general won't have a big impact on your philosophical career -- you'd be foolish to choose Upenn over Rutgers on the strength of the former's public reputation if your goal is getting a job in academia, but that reputation can make a big difference outside of academia.

Recent Grad

I'm a recent PhD from a mid-Leiter ranked Phil Department, one of a few women in the department, grad student through faculty. In looking back at my time in grad school (I had a pretty good private business career in my 20s, left to join academia at 28) I can say that there was a lot of pressure on me, and I think others, to appear fully committed to philosophy. I say that having some evidence, like, we were very strongly instructed not to teach at the local CC, and prepping for Alt-Ac with our campus Career Center or Library assistance was met with...I'll say, "disdain." I reflect now on whether that pressure was the last gasps of a dying department-we made news with our harassment scandals my final year there-or whether that's really the best aim for grad students: to focus focus focus on publishing, conferences, finishing, etc. I do imagine that had any of us veered from "rigor" and appeared less serious than we were, there would have been passive losses, like, less active mentoring. Less successful appeal for funding for a conference. I am only reflecting on the path not taken--all of us were singularly focused on the Phil PhD, none of us actively prepped for Plan B--but we definitely discussed it, and instead determined that we could predict a kind of shaming, or frowning, by faculty, with real consequences. My two cents are, not sure that in an aggressive department you a) could find real time for a Plan B and b) if you do, keep it under wraps. I'll also note that in the last 10 years of graduates from my department, none have an R1 research tt job. A couple have State school teaching jobs, a couple more have Community College teaching, tenured, jobs. Most left academia. I'm still on the fence,VAPing.

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