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Anon Postdoc

The Australasian Association of Philosophy has a number of profiles of those holding philosophy degrees (some PhD, some BA, some MA) that have gone on to work outside academia successfully: https://aap.org.au/IOP-Career-Profiles

first step

I haven't landed an industry job yet and just started to take relevant steps to do so.

I graduated early last year from not a Leiterific school. So, I haven't been on the market long enough compared to other candidates. But I've decided to get an industry job and working on it now. I used to think that I could live anywhere (as long as I could do philosophy) and that money is not that important. I still love philosophy and have a passion for teaching. But many issues (e.g., immigration hurdles and raising a child) gradually changed my perspectives. I don't want to live anywhere. I don't want to move constantly. I don't want to extend my poverty anymore. To be honest, the pay for junior profs (in some HCL cities) was shockingly meager, and it's even shocking that I wouldn't know the pay until I have a contract in hand.
Since my profile is not spectacular, I probably have little or no chance of choosing a good school in a good region. I talked with a few philosophers for the past few months who transitioned into non-academic jobs. they were very happy in terms of income and work-life balance. They have more freedom in choosing a place to live, a work schedule, etc.

If you're interested in navigating alternatives, I recommend browsing "Philosophers in Industry Directory" in this blog and contacting some of them. Or you can follow some of the channels on Twitter (e.g., "Alt-Ac Chats," "Alt-ac Advisor")


June 2019 was my last month as a tenure-track assistant professor, so it’s been 3.5 years since I pivoted from academia. In 2018-2019, I earned project management certificates and networked – see an earlier blog post https://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2020/04/my-path-into-project-management-guest-post-by-katharine-schweitzer.html and started my first industry job in July 2019. My project management credentials and first job in the field helped me to get hired in a project management role in the analytics department of a local healthcare network of hospitals and primary and specialty care clinics. The analytics experience I gained in that role helped me to get hired as my organization’s business manager of surgical services. My current salary is almost double my salary during my fifth year as an assistant professor.

My feelings about my pivot from academia are overwhelmingly positive. I am glad that I earned a Ph.D. in philosophy and that I had the opportunity to live my first dream of being a philosophy professor. I care enough about the state of the profession to continue reading blogs like this. Yet there has not been a moment in the last 3.5 years where I wished I was still a philosophy professor. In my current role in healthcare administration, I get to work with colleagues who genuinely care about the well-being of our patients and community. I enjoy the focused work of data analysis. I get to teach the senior leaders in my department and hospitals when I share data and tell a story about the insights in the analysis. Writing original research for a community of experts and creating effective classes for undergraduate non-majors helps me to tailor how I share data insights with different audiences. My current work is interesting, challenging, and gives me the satisfaction of making a positive difference.

Listen to podcasts, watch YouTube tutorials on technical skills such as data analysis, and ask your non-ac friends and family about their jobs and organizations. Make a list of 10 companies in your local area or in industries of interest to you and search their careers pages for open jobs. I am excited for everyone who is envisioning how they might contribute value outside of academia, and I am cheering you on.

Fresh Hire

I recently landed a job at a government consulting firm and here are a few anecdotal observations from my route.

1) If you want to get a job in or adjacent to the government, an internship is very helpful. I did an internship this summer in the Department of Commerce and I have been told that the experience there is one thing that set me apart. Another option is the Presidential Postdoc Fellowship. That will lead to a job in government.

2) The department you are in doesn't have the expertise to help you very much. My department had some Alt-AC seminars, but they were fairly uninformative. However, my university has a robust Alt-AC office in the career center, which helped me refine my resume and cover letter over multiple iterations. Career centers are the best place to go on campus.

3) There are a lot of jobs out there that you probably don't know are jobs that someone gets paid to do, so take the time to peruse Linkedin and Indeed to see what is out there. The job I received I didn't know existed until it just popped up in an advertisement. In general, the term "analyst" is meaningless, but it is a helpful term to use to find out what kinds of jobs are out there.

4) Connections are really helpful, as much as I didn't want to admit that. Utilize the alumni connections from your university on Linkedin. One reason I got an initial interview, is that the hiring manager did their Ph.D. at my university. But even if that isn't the case, many alumni are willing to connect you if you just ask. It is uncomfortable connecting out of the blue, but people generally don't mind.

5) Initially I had planned to go into a more technical field like data science/software engineering. If you plan to do that, merely having the skills and getting a degree/certification isn't enough. You need to have a decent portfolio on Github or you likely won't get an interview or job offer. You are competing with computer scientists who have been developing projects their whole undergrad/grad career. I was told by a hiring manager that they don't care at all about degrees or certs, they just care what projects you've completed.

6) In interviews, hiring managers are going to be more interested in your admin service and teaching than your research. Most of my interviews focused on my conference planning experience, my work on university committees, and general service in the department. They were also interested in my ability to communicate technical topics to non-experts, like students, so I emphasized that a lot on my resume and in interviews.

7) Finally, if you are interested in going into strategy consulting (e.g. firms like McKinsey, Bain, etc.) then be sure to practice case studies a lot. The method is very algorithmic, but if you don't know it and practice it multiple times you will be in trouble.

It took me about 3 months to land a job offer so you can do it! It can be very discouraging at times, but just keep on applying and you'll land something. Good luck, we are all routing for you!

Jacob J Andrews

I'm kind of on the border. I teach, but in K-12, about 1/3 philosophy and 2/3 a non-phil field directly related to my AOS. I continue to research and publish over breaks, watch job boards, read blogs like the Coccoon, etc. So I wouldn't say I've completely left academia, and could easily see myself "going back." But for the present, I love my current position.

What worked for me is that, years before I was seriously considering alt-ac, researching/journaling about potential alt-ac jobs and checking alt-ac job boards was just one of the things I did when I was too tired or distracted for philosophy. I had a habit of constantly micro-learning about the alt-ac terrain, and eventually that exact habit got me the job. I found the opening because I was bored and procrastinating on my dissertation one afternoon. I put in a resume, the head of the school gave me a call, we hit it off, and the rest is history.

I also have a PT position at a transitional housing program. That was more traditional networking. My in-laws were moving to my town and looking for a job; I found her a job through someone at my church; a year later, she told me about the opening before it was posted and put in a good word for me.

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