In winter quarter of 2018, PATHS hosted a series of workshops covering different aspects of career exploration for humanities graduate students. This article is the second in a three-part series summarizing the advice and discussion from those workshops. PATHS would like to thank our panelists Monica Felix, Natasha Ayers, Mollie McFee, Donald Chae, and Novia Pagone for sharing their experience and expertise.
What can students do to explore these options during their graduate studies?
Students should regularly reflect on the skills they are developing and on the skills they want to develop. Opportunities like grant writing, project managing, and public speaking can lead to interesting career options.
When looking for ways to branch out in your career, getting some experience in a field adjacent or related to academia or your subject can feel like a natural evolution. A professional network built through side projects, conferences, or other related work can also help facilitate a long-term career move. Be flexible and creative about looking for jobs broadly related to something you’re interested in or good at. Joining other professional organizations–at a student rate–can be a way to explore related fields and meet active professionals without committing to a job.
Trying new experiences outside of graduate work, even if it doesn’t lead to a career, can also be valuable more generally. Having experience that non-academic employers understand can help communicate that you have the skills they want, even if it’s volunteer or part-time work. These skills and experience are useful even for people who are doing the academic job market; being a professor is not necessarily a ‘more natural’ evolution from being a grad student than other jobs! Cultivating new skills and experiences helps any career transition, even when they don’t immediately seem directly relevant.
Consider what time-management approach works for you. Some people find that doing career and scholarly exploration together during coursework is helpful while reserving time to work full-time on a dissertation in later years. Other people find that the structure of having a part-time job while ABD helps them manage their dissertation project more efficiently. Don’t feel bad if something that works for a colleague doesn’t work for you! Everyone manages time differently. UChicagoGRAD advisors can help you think through this question if you’re not sure what would fit best with your working style.