Saturday, May 31, 2014

PhDs That Don't Want to be Poor Forever, Listen Up

I'm going to give some advice.  Some free advice.  Some free advice that no one in academia either has, has any clue where to find it, or just doesn't give a shit.

This advice in particular is for those PhDs (especially those that have just started) in the Humanities and Social Sciences.  Those ones that finally woke up after comps and realized they won't become a tenured prof unless they plan on killing their supervisor and taking their job.

Here goes:

Wake up and get your head out of academia.

Plain and simple.  Straight to the point.  No need for formulas or seminars on how to convert your ass-kissing skills (ahem - writing, researching, and communication skills) to the "real world."

Shit.  You guys are more than qualified to do XYZ.  You just need to get your head out of academia (literally and figuratively) and see what the world has to offer. 

Forget your theories, or your history, or whatever that defined you as a grad student/academic.  Go pick up a newspaper, see what's going on in the world, something that interests you, and find an industry where you think you would like to work in.  That pays real money bi-weekly and where you don't need to apply for it every fall.

Once you've done that, go and do some information interviews.

What is an information interview? 

It is you picking up the phone (yes, speaking to a human being that doesn't have the "Dr." prefix), and saying "Hi, I'm a hungry PhD student, I like your business.  When can I come in to ask you some questions about what you do.  Meanwhile I'll be selling the shit out of myself so you (or someone you know) can offer me one of those 'hidden jobs' you only tell your nieces and nephews about."

No, you won't be able to wear socks and sandals to work.  Or drink beer on a Thursday at 1pm.  But, you will be able to eat.  And pay rent.  Maybe get yourself an RRSP and start saving for retirement.

Am I saying give up on academia?

Hell no. 

There's something funny about life.  You need to work hard to get what you want.  And you also need to eat.  And once you eat and your belly is full, your brain works better and you can work harder.  So once your 9-5 is paying the bills, from 5-11 get on that grind and publish publish publish.  Get your book out.  Go to conferences on the weekend.

There's no guarantee that you'll be a tenured prof, but if all else fails, you've built yourself a career outside of academia. 

It's called hedging your bets. 

The shit works, so get on it.

No comments:

Post a Comment