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« Time and desk-rejections | Main | Two questions on pursuing, and using, philosophy outside of the academy »

01/05/2018

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Amanda

Like Marcus I love philosophy but am not sure if I would do it again. The main reason why not, is that if I was starting over I would choose an academic field that has solid career options both inside AND outside of academia.(Which, among other things, would give me more location freedom.) Doing things over, I would likely either go get a Phd in psychology, a medical degree, or a law degree. As for what I would recommend: I would only go into philosophy grad school if (1) You have a solid plan b, not just a few ideas floating in your head like most grad students. (2) you would be okay with a job that is primarily teaching and not much research time. (As I suspect more and more philosophy full-time jobs will be non-tt teaching jobs). (3) you don't care much about money: seriously the time you spend in grad school on a student salary is many years most young adults are putting money into retirement and purchasing cars and houses. I have never minded this and am okay with renting and having a 3k car, but not everyone is like this. I also am not bothered (perhaps foolishly so) that I have no retirement money. If you are a person who is bothered by this do not go into philosophy. And lastly, you must be the type of person who is okay with, or better yet excited by, the possibility of not choosing where to live and living anywhere in the country or the world. Think of your family (including siblings, parents) when you think about this one. If you are close to siblings or parents, you take a very different course of life and your relationship to them if you are living across the country. As much as one tries to visit and stay in touch, it is very hard to do so when working full-time and living far away.

Marcus Arvan

Hey Amanda: thanks for weighing in. I want to follow up briefly on your points about money. When I was younger (undergrad and grad school), I didn’t care much about money either. However, now that I’m married and especially now that my spouse and I are considering having children, money (including retirement savings) matter a lot more to me - more than my earlier self ever would have expected. By a similar token, a faculty member at my university presented a survey of alumni at this winter’s commencement asking them what they would tell their college selves if they could go back in time, and #2 was “take financial concerns, including investing for retirement, much more seriously - your future self will thank you.” This coheres again surprisingly well with my own experience. So, I’m not sure how much one cares about money should play much of a role in deciding whether to go to grad school in philosophy. Preferences like these can (and evidently often do) change significantly as one ages.

Number Three

tldr for Jonathan: Don't go to graduate school in philosophy.

I felt similar to you when I was applying for graduate schools. I now have my Ph.D., and I am on my third (and last) try at the job market. My advice is to not go to graduate school. In my current position, I enjoy the actual act of being in a classroom teaching, and that's about it--I don't enjoy my research any longer, I don't enjoy thinking philosophically, and I don't value the profession. These feelings are likely caused by my inability to find permanent employment over the past three years. I have seen little reason to think that the job market will markedly improve by the time that you enter the job market. So I think it is more likely than not that you will join the ranks of the unhappily underemployed. While I quite enjoyed my first four years of graduate school, it will probably not be worth it in the long run when I (likely) do not find a tenure track position this job market cycle. [I will also point out that I have a strong CV, have had many, many interviews, and *still* will likely not get a tenure track position. Banish any idea that hard work will make the difference for you.]

Justin

I am not sure how helpful my post is since I am only an undergraduate philosophy major who is currently applying to grad. programs. But if I could go back and change majors, I would not be a philosophy major. Do not get me wrong, I love studying philosophy. (If being a student was a career, that's what I would do.) However, I recognize that there is a lot of risk involved in pursuing an academic career in philosophy.

One of the reasons why, upon redo, I would not be a philosophy major is that I honestly do not know how good I am in comparison to others. I do not know how I stack up against my peers in producing novel and creative philosophical work. There is so much competition and so few tenured-track positions that there is a very high chance that I will not be able to secure a tt position. It is because of this risk that even if I do get accepted into a grad program, upon completion of either my first two years or a masters terminal, I will apply to law schools to test my options.

The second reason why I would not be a philosophy major is that I realized that teaching philosophy is not the only meaningful career for me. This is a rather contentious opinion as there was a heated discussion about this topic a month or a few months ago. (I did not participate in that discussion.) However, it was only until this last year of college that I realized I could pursue another career and that my life would still be meaningful for me. If I do not get accepted into a grad. program, I will either postpone my graduation and pursue a double major in computer science or I will graduate and pursue a masters in english to become a high school teacher. As you can see, I still do not have my future clearly laid out, but I think what is important is that I can hold my philosophy goals with an open hand. I think there is more to life than attaining a particular career, such as family and relationships. Would it be more preferable that I am able to continue to pursue philosophy and land in a tt position, sure no question, but I am not going to be devastated if I do not get into a grad. program or if I realize that I am not good enough to compete for a tt position.

Lastly, I would not pursue a philosophy major because, as noted in earlier posts, financial reasons. To clarify, I used to repeatedly tell my parents, much to their frustration, that I did not care what my salary would be just as long as I could teach philosophy. However, I have realized that finances will matter to me in the future. So I have to seriously consider finances as a reason for not pursuing philosophy.

Upon conclusion, I acknowledge that my advice is based on experience that is much more minute compared to those who have posted before and probably after me. And it is clear that I am unsure about my future as I am juggling with about three different career paths if I do not continue in philosophy. However, if I could redo my four years of college, I would probably not be a philosophy major. I hope this helps.

Amanda

Fair enough Marcus but I would say this: if as a young person you are ALREADY the type to care about money, then philosophy is not a good career for you. Now it doesn't follow that if you don't care you never will, but just that if you are already that type at a young age philosophy would be a career choice likely to bring a lot of frustration and anxiety.

Marcus Arvan

Amanda: Fair enough - that's probably true, though fwiw I expect people already into money probably wouldn't be likely to seriously consider going to grad school in philosophy for that very reason! It's pretty obviously not a likely path to economic riches. ;)

Amanda

Well there are two "into money" types, in my own made-up scheme, lol. There is the "want to be rich" types. Those would likely not be considering a career in philosophy. Then there are the "very responsible" types. These are those who are very careful about not wasting $5 at a convenience store, started saving for a house and retirement at 21, and have always had perfect credit. While they might not want to be rich, they HATE financial insecurity. It is these types that I thought might consider philosophy, and if they are I would recommend against. The last 7 years of my life have been one big financially insecure mess!

Pendaran Roberts

I strongly encourage you not to go to graduate school in philosophy. I worked my butt off for years to no avail. I have managed to build a strong CV including almost a dozen publications, most in top 20, and I am unemployed. I’m leaving the profession after three years on the market. I am now looking into alternative careers like technical writing. Transitioning out of philosophy is not easy. It would be much better for you to learn a more practical subject for our capitalist world.

Look into the case of Jared Warren. He went to NYU for his PhD. He has over a dozen publications, many top 10 and top 5 even. He’s been trying to find work for a while.

It’s very tough out there for all but the best connected. Don’t go!

___

It must also be said that those in a certain demographic group are at an extreme disadvantage in the current job market, no matter how strong the c.v. and how connected one happens to be. Some people in our profession do not like to hear this fact, yet it is true nonetheless. If you fall into this group, I would strongly discourage you from entering graduate school unless you have a concrete, feasible backup plan and are psychologically prepared for when you will very likely be forced to pursue it.

Kantian

As "____" suggests, if you are a white man it will be almost impossible to get a job, no matter how good your research and teaching. Also, if you're a woman, but not well-connected, it's still a challenge (but much easier). Of course, the situation might be very different in 6 years.

In general, I would recommend against going to graduate school in philosophy. The only exception would be if you are independently wealthy. In my case, I have been very successful, I think it is fair to say, in terms of jobs and research, and I regard my decision to enter the profession as a mistake.

Postdoc

I largely agree with the comments in this thread, especially the one immediately above by '____.' There is a push to hire women in philosophy at the moment, and whether moral or not (I'll leave this question aside for this post), the fact is that this makes it even harder if you're a (white?) male to find employment. Entering a dire job market when the preference is for the opposite sex is something you DO NOT want to do. If you're a male, I strongly discourage going into philosophy right now. Maybe things will change in the future. I don't know. But it's not likely to be soon!

Something else to consider that many don't explicitly note is that yes you need to be well connected to find a job, but being well connected means being the kind of person who can succeed at doing this in an academic environment. It takes a certain personality type. Are you cool? Are you affable? Are you extroverted or can fake it? Do you come across as smart and witty? Do people think you're smart when they talk to you? Do you just instill awe in people about how awesome you are?

There is a huge problem in philosophy (I think it's nothing knew) where 'genius' is valued over merit. A hiring committee may well favor the cool, witty, affable 'boy genius' who has published basically nothing over the reserved, shy guy who has published up a storm in top journals. This is about connections. The 'boy genius' has gone to all the conferences, everyone knows him, and people say things like 'he's so smart.' Can you come across as this kind of person?

See when I was younger I associated philosophy with people like Kant and Wittgenstein. I thought getting a job was about publishing, writing, and well, doing good work. Okay, it is kind of about that. But it's about so much more too. So, being good at writing philosophy, having a philosopher's mind, isn't enough. You need to be a pop star. You need to be able to sell yourself in ways that really have nothing to do with philosophical ability. You need the right personality.

Or assuming it's even possible to change your personality, you need to be willing to do it. And if you find the game disgusting, don't try to play it.

I wish someone had told me this stuff years ago. So I am telling you now.

Amanda

I'm not going to rehash my old conversation, but I do agree that networking is important. And the people who get hired (especially at top places) are not those with the best publications plus prestige. It are those who have prestige (nearly necessary for research jobs) have an interesting, accessible, and unique research plan, have good connections, and are easy to get along with. Some of these things I think are very bad, others I can relate to more. I like to think philosophy is a community endeavor, and hence to be a good philosopher you need to be good at talking to others about philosophy, and do work others find interesting. What I think really hurts philosophy as a discipline is the vision of Spinoza locked up in his room writing a paper and interacting with no one. Philosophy can afford a few of those types, but if we want to grow as a discipline and remain at universities, communal work should be a growing part of things. Besides, many of the greats were actually quite affable. In my spare time I like to listen to philosopher biographies, and while some were the ideal imagine of awkward and anti-social, many others were not. Anyway Jonathan, if you are considering grad school, I encourage you to take a look at who got hired on the phil jobs website and see what it seems to take to land a job. Also look at who didn't get hired.

grad student

Here's a slightly different answer: only pursue your PhD if you have a clear road to success outside of academia.

I'm a current graduate student at a non-PGR school. I have two publications, including one in a top-10 journal. This is my first year on the academic job market, and so far, so bad. Fortunately, my mentor warned me of the perils of the job market years ago, but even with his warnings, I wasn't fully prepared for the psychological toll it would take. That's not to say I'm a irredeemable mess, or that all is doom and gloom. It is to say that the job market is pretty sucky and that other young professionals seem to have less sucky roads to employment.

That being said, I don't regret my time in graduate school. In fact, the past five years have been the best of my relatively young life. (N.B. Not everyone can say the same.) Moreover, I have another year of funding remaining, and I have just enough spare time to undergo training in data science and prepare for non-academic employment. The path for me is a bit less clear than for someone with a computer science degree, but once I get my foot in the door, I'm confident that I'll have a steady career. (Read others' alt-ac stories on this blog, on Free Range Philosophers, etc. Not all philosophy PhDs suffer destitution.)

So here's my advice to you, Jonathan: IF you go to grad school, make sure you have (or are in a position to develop) specific skills that you can leverage to enter another field. By "specific skills," I don't mean "critical thinking." I mean: can you code in R and Python? Have you undergone significant study in an empirical discipline? If I have any regret about my time in grad school, it's that I didn't prepare for non-academic employment early enough. Develop your non-academic portfolio. Pursue side projects. Take jobs over the summer. You can be a dedicated student of philosophy and, at the same time, have a professional life outside of academia.

The so-called "life of the mind" is truly worthwhile. But it's not the only life worth having. Moreover, you can read and write philosophy while doing non-academic work (whether inside or outside grad school). There is more to life than is dreamt in philosophy departments.

Lauren

I'm in my second year on the job market, and I currently have a full-time but non-tenure-track position that I enjoy but doesn't have any long-term financial security. The biggest difficulty (and the reason why this may be my last year on the market) is coordinating with my spouse and his own goals and priorities. So far, my spouse been willing to move to accommodate my career goals, but it's hard to justify putting my career first and holding off on making big life choices until we know if/where I'll get a tenure-track position (and it's hard to imagine being successful on the academic job market without putting my job first). As hard as it to really know what your own priorities are now, it's even harder to say what your partner's will be 10 years down the road (as well as it being harder to maintain/find a partner when the expectation is that you'll be willing to move wherever to find an academic job). So, do I regret it? Not yet, but if I am unsuccessful again this year at finding a tenure-track job or I can only find one in some place where my spouse's options would be limited, I may come to.

Postdoc

Conan O'Brian asked Bo Burnham, new success in stand up/music comedy, what his advice was for young people trying to get into the profession. He replied, 'Give up.'

He went on to say how the system is stacked against talented people. It's a lottery, he said, and most will not make it. He continued by explaining that asking him what to do is like asking someone who won the lottery for advice on whether to play the lottery.

I think this last point is especially salient. When you talk with a professor, someone with a TT job, about whether to do philosophy, to go to grad school, keep in mind that you're asking the lottery winner what his opinion of the lottery is.

The reality is that the market is so bad today that you can be a very talented philosopher, produce all sorts of top quality work, but never find a decent job, or best case, spend years and years and years moving around the country hoping against hope that you'll find something before you drink yourself to death.

There are too many examples now of people with amazing CVs, CVs that would be enough for tenure 10 or 20 years ago, who can't find more than 1 year jobs, if that.


Amanda

Since there are clearly a lot of smart and talented people who are sadly not going to make a long-term career in philosophy, it would be nice if there was some organized effort to help a philosophers out who are transitioning out of academia. Ideally of course this would be done by graduate institutions, but that doesn't seem to be happening. Perhaps philosophers who have a good career might want to start something. I know other discipline who have such private organizations, where the organization helps members of their group get interviews etc. All it takes is four or five people with good careers to start building a network of connections. And companies like going to these groups once they build a reputation, for it is an easy way to get a trustworthy hire. Consider for instance, veterans groups. Usually the veterans have no single unified skill but the very general quality of having served in the military, and these groups are still every helpful in getting vets jobs. I could imagine something like that for philosophy.

Anon

In my opinion, only those who (a) will value the experience of graduate school in philosophy for its own sake and (b) have enough money to live comfortably and not go into debt should go to graduate school. And, for those who fall into that category, they should be building both an academic CV and non-academic resume while in graduate school to maximize job prospects.

In my case, I went to graduate school in philosophy because I didn't know what else to do with my life and I enjoyed philosophy. I stayed in graduate school because I still didn't know what else to do with my life, continued to enjoy philosophy, and made more money as a graduate student than I made working in policy analysis (on a 6-month leave of absence I took to get a sense of life outside of the academy). Also, side note, I recommend looking into these sorts of options for those of you in a Ph.D. program.

Part of my decision to stay in Canada for a Ph.D. rather than aim at a prestigious, Leiter-ranked department was because I was awarded multiple scholarships from government and industry that gave me a very good standard of living (also Canadian healthcare is super nice to have). This made me feel more valued, and less stressed out about finances, than many other grad students - even though I graduated with a less prestigious Ph.D.

I started and finished graduate school with the strong conviction that I would not get a tenure-track job in philosophy, and I think this is a wise attitude to cultivate. I ended up landing a tenure-track job ABD, as it turned out. But my case is not at all the norm.

SD

Most of what I want to say has already been said better by Marcus and Amanda. I've a job I love that pays well, but I know I got lucky and it's all too easy to imagine scenarios where things didn't work out.
I'll add one thing that I think Jonathan or any other undergraduate considering grad school should think about, which the other posters haven't really noted except in passing: Academic philosophy is deeply hierarchical, and it has all the pathologies that characterize any system where some people have a lot of unchecked power. If you enter academic philosophy you are going to find that a lot of people have arbitrary power over you and some of them will abuse it. You will almost certainly be bullied and you will likely be exploited. This starts in graduate school. I managed to avoid the the profs who really exploit or bully their students, but I certainly knew about them. Some of my friends had their own ideas and insights taken without any credit by tenured profs and others were bullied into doing various sorts of work for them for free. Now if you're halfway observant and not overly enchanted by the lure of a big name you can likely avoid such people (and I'll add that in my experience most academics surprisingly don't misuse their power). But even if you do there's just a pervasive fear in the profession that you will cross the wrong person. Most people I know looking for a tenure track job are absolutely terrified that they will irritate some big shot in the profession and end destroy their already meager chances of success. I certainly had that fear until I got a stable full time job. If you go to graduate school in philosophy you are likely setting yourself to live in fear and be dominated by others, though the extent of that and how long it will last will of course vary.

Marcus Arvan

I want to follow up on something Amanda mentioned earlier: willingness to move to different places. I developed many of the best friendships in my life while in grad school, especially with some musician friends I played music with for a number of years. An academic career not only required me to move far away from the best friends I ever had, but also to sacrifice a really big part of myself and my identity (playing and composing music) in order to concentrate basically 100% of my non-family life to professional philosophy, so that i could get and keep a job. Like I said, I love philosophy and am very thankful for the permanent job I was lucky to get. My point is, although I know some professional philosophers who are capable of balancing many things (including hobbies)—and I tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to balance many different interests and parts of my life in grad school—my own experience post-PhD is that I’ve had to sacrifice a whole lot for an academic career: friends, music, etc. I’ve forged some great new friendships where i live now and hope that i can achieve better balance in the future, but it’s worth bearing in mind that an academic career can require many different kinds of sacrifices.

Amanda

One thing that has frustrated me is that professors at research institutions (where you will get your PhD) often do not appreciate the sacrifices. When I and others I know have considered not doing a full-market search for location reasons, it is looked at like we lack dedication to philosophy. But people should remember life can be very different depending on personal circumstances. For instance, how easily you can make friends, and whether you have a spouse or a spouse with income. On the one hand, moving with a spouse is harder because you have to worry about their job. But on the other hand it is easier because you are not going to a new place completely alone. You also might have two incomes which could be a huge help. Sometimes I feel frustrated that my professors who have always had their wives move with them, have no idea what it is like to move around the country with absolutely no one. Just simple things like being a single woman trying to move an apartment creates problems that most people have never thought about. It especially hard considering when I have only lived in a place a year I haven't really developed friends who can help to help like I had in graduate school. Depending on your circumstances, being an academic can be a VERY lonely and isolating experience.

Potential PhD

I've been following this thread with interest because I've just applied for a PhD, after wrestling for a couple of years with whether to do it or not. My situation is a little different than Jonathan's, as I'm in the UK and already have a Master's, so doing a PhD over here would differ in several ways from going to an American graduate school, though I'm sure there are many commonalities also. But I'm not here to ask for specific help with my situation. Instead, I want to raise a couple of more general points/questions.

Firstly, a big part of the appeal of doing a philosophy PhD for me, and I suspect for many others too, is that I think we need philosophy. I don't know if we need more journal articles (I'd say probably not, though I don't think I'm in a good position to assess that) but we do need people who can teach and encourage the public to reflect philosophically on religion, politics, and everything else. In addition, interesting philosophical writing and other media that's available and accessible to the public is very much worthwhile and adds to our culture, just as, say, literature does. I want to do philosophy, for those kinds of reasons, even if I don't become an academic. So are there ways of making a serious contribution to philosophy without becoming an academic? Can any of them make money? How helpful/necessary is a PhD in becoming a better non-academic philosopher and being taken seriously in that field, whether for money (if that's possible) or on the side while earning a living through a different career? My sense is that many academics are disdainful of non-academics commenting on their specialist area, saying, for instance, that the non-academic hasn't engaged with relevant literature. But it's virtually impossible to become acquainted with the literature without being part of a university and having access to journal subscriptions, so if keeping up with journals is necessary to doing good philosophy, then it seems it's not really possible to be a non-academic philosopher in the current climate.

Secondly, while I don't doubt that it's a good idea to develop technical skills outside of philosophy, as many on this thread have recommended, aren't there transferable skills from doing a philosophy PhD? Analysis/problem solving skills, writing skills, oral communication and presentation (from teaching and giving papers), communicating with different audiences (conveying complex ideas to both students and fellow academics), and the ability to independently complete a large project come to mind. If transferable skills aren't enough, is that because they aren't really valuable? Are there too many people with the same skills? Does a PhD in philosophy not really develop those abilities? Are philosophers not selling themselves well enough to non-academic employers? Could the content of philosophy be practically helpful in some careers? For instance, would knowledge of political philosophy be useful in a policy career?

So, to sum up this long comment, my questions are:
1. How could someone become a non-academic philosopher and make a serious contribution to the field, is it possible to make money doing it and how helpful/necessary is a PhD for that?
2. What knowledge and skills do philosophers have that are useful in other careers, how can we sell those skills to non-academic employers and is a PhD a good way of developing such skills?

Marcus Arvan

Potential PhD: good questions! Because they shift the discussion to some new topics, I’d like to devote a new post/thread for discussing them in the next day or two. So, stay tuned, and thanks for your comment!

Pendaran Roberts

"What knowledge and skills do philosophers have that are useful in other careers, how can we sell those skills to non-academic employers and is a PhD a good way of developing such skills?"

I'll save my longer response for the new thread. But something to keep in mind is that employers are increasingly unwilling to take on the expense and risk of training employees. The reality is that well paying, full-time jobs are in short supply in our modern part-time, service economy. The competition for good jobs means that employers don't need to take on risks and expenses.

A PhD in philosophy provides one with a strong set of basic skills like critical reasoning, writing, editing, attention to detail, etc. that are obviously relevant to many jobs. But, it does not provide one with the specific skills needed to do any job in particular. Your competition will have degrees in relevant subjects, with relevant experience, and you'll have a PhD in not obviously relevant subject.


Marcus Arvan

Pendaran: I’ll save my longer response for the new thread as well, but the reality is that 70-85% of industry jobs are found through networking. https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2017/04/many-jobs-found-networking

For whatever reason, whenever I come across discussions like these among philosophers it seems to be tacitly assumed that skills and qualifications are the most important thing for success on job markets. I suspect this is because they think job-markets are or should be largely a matter of merit. However, this belies my own experience and the experience of people I know. I know a number of people who got good, well-paying jobs they were not very well qualified for. Why? Because they *know* people...and human beings have this strange tendency of preferring people they know and like over people they don’t know. This is why, to echo something Amanda said, philosophers need to focus a lot more on developing networks outside of academia. We need to remember that the world of human beings is not a meritocracy. It’s, often enough, a world where people help their friends.

Marcus Arvan

Amanda: excellent points. An organization is one possibility. An app to connect philosophers in industry—a LinkedIn specifically for philosophy MA’s and PhD’s—would be another. Someone should invent one.

Amanda

Marcus you are absolutely right that most jobs are won through connections. It is something all philosophers moving out of academia should know, and it is all the more reason to create some type of organization to help philosophy PhD's network.

Pendaran Roberts

I'm not disputing that cronyism is a significant factor in many hiring decisions. From my experience this is true in philosophy too, and academia more generally. I've personally witnessed it many times and so have people close to me. My comment doesn't apply to those with connections, or doesn't apply as much.

If your dad is Bill Gates, or your wife is famous, or your best friend works at Apple corporate, you're probably going to be able to transition out of philosophy easily. In fact, if your family or you have very good connections that you can maintain and nurture, people who you are sure will be there for you, don't worry about doing a PhD in philosophy.

The reality is that many PhDs aren't going to know many people who can help them out, if anyone, outside of academia, and to whatever extent they did know people like this, 6-10 years of academic study far away from home is going to weaken those connections. My comment is most relevant for these people.

Not all hires are cronyism based. I know people who got jobs in industry mainly, if not entirely, based on merit. When it comes to merit based hires in industry, employers are much less willing to provide training today compared to the yesterday. So, the strong set of basic skills you get in philosophy are not going to be sufficient, probably. You'll need to develop a specific set of skills relevant to the job you want.

Derek Bowman

There is a group on LinkedIn of Professional Philosophers In Industry here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5132314/profile

I think Amanda's idea is a good one, but we should also remember that philosophy PhDs make up a much smaller group than those we're taking as a point of reference. Each year there are somewhere from 400-500 new philosophy PhDs, while there are more than 1000 new history PhDs. And in the U.S. it looks like somewhere over 200,000 veterans leave the armed forces per year (though I couldn't find the official statistics).
https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2018/nsf18304/data/tab13.pdf

Marcus Arvan

Derek: cool - thanks for the link!

Hi Pendaran: fair enough. But this is precisely the problem. You write, "The reality is that many PhDs aren't going to know many people who can help them out, if anyone, outside of academia, and to whatever extent they did know people like this, 6-10 years of academic study far away from home is going to weaken those connections. My comment is most relevant for these people." Here's the thing: I know people in PhD programs in other fields whose programs encourage them to develop connections while they are in the program--such as through summer internships or part-time work during the semester (including research work at a distance). Due to developing and maintaining networks with people outside of academia while in grad school, these people tend to have opportunities waiting for them if academia doesn't work out.

One problem, as I see it, is the single-minded focus in philosophy MA and PhD programs--both among faculty and students--with preparing students only for academic jobs. Grad students in philosophy are not only not encouraged to do these things, but in fact (as far as I can tell) actively discouraged from it. I think the culture needs to change, and that programs and students need to think creatively about how build and maintain non-academic networks while students are in grad school.

Anon Grad Student

A quick follow-up question for Marcus: might it be easier for phd programs in other fields to do that because there's more obvious applications of their work or skills to industry?

And, on a separate note, this is entirely compatible with your point, but: I think it's probably more practical for *students* (or maybe the APA / some APA-sponsored committee) to be trying to effect these connections rather than faculty -- I don't see faculty at grad schools having the time, energy, or inclination to do very much of this.

(I don't mean to derail the thread, so feel free to respond to this only in the new thread.)

Bess

Even though I have a TT job, I still wouldn't recommend going to grad school. (It's a great undergrad major though; I'm not sure why anyone questioned that.)

Partly, yes, the job market is such a crapshoot. But also being an academic just isn't what it used to be--or, at least, not what I imagined it would be, when I was an undergraduate. You like reading and writing and talking about ideas and thinking about our place in the world? You can do all that.... without being a professor. In fact, I have much less time to read broadly, to write whatever I want to write, and to join book groups, attend whatever lectures strike my fancy, etc., than do most of my non-academic friends. (Several philosophers have told me that they stopped reading for pleasure when they became academics; too much work-related stuff to read.) Instead, as an academic, I spend a good deal of my time doing service and administrative work, obviously a ton of time on teaching (and yet I never seem to have enough time to spend on it to feel truly satisfied by the results)--and then when I finally sit down to do some research, I have to constantly be thinking about the pay-off in terms of number of publications in journals with such-and-such rankings.... Instead of feeling free to just explore or to pursue questions and ideas for their own sake. And again, I'm one of the truly lucky ones.

I'm sorry to be another pessimistic voice when it sounds like you're looking for encouragement. But are you doing so simply because what you want is the life of the mind? Because if that's what you're looking for... you can get that. Ways that are meanwhile better in many or most respects. Again, you don't need to be an academic to be an intellectual.

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