Last week, I told you that I’ve decided not to continue on in academia after I finish my PhD. The reasons for that are complex, some having to do with university politics, many having to do with the actual structure of a professor’s job (the more I learn about the profession, the more I realize it’s not in tune with my strengths or my interests). While I’m perfectly comfortable in front of a classroom and quite skilled at grading papers, these things actually take time and energy away from what I excel at: thinking holistically about course design, writing lesson plans for my online/blended courses, supporting other teachers administratively and by providing opportunities for professional development. In short, I’m best behind the scenes making sure programs/courses/events/people are effective.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to do with this realization. Become an academic professional? Return to corporate training and development (the field I was in before grad school)? Design online courses? Start my own business? I could do any of these things with a reasonable amount of satisfaction, but every time I started to take a step in these directions, something didn’t feel right. I think it comes down to this: over the last 8 years, I’ve become acutely and uncomfortably aware of the disparities in income and opportunities in Chicago (and elsewhere) and I don’t want to serve a population that already has more of both. That leads me to the non-profit sector. I’d like my skills to, in one way or another, contribute to an organization that’s making a positive change in the world.
I’m casting a wide net as I begin my job search. My interests are varied, as are my skills, and I can see myself being happy and — more importantly — making an impact in a few different roles. I’m applying for two types of jobs:
- Marketing and Events: Positions that require a combination of word smithery and detail orientation, that feed my fascination with social media, and that make use of the skills I’ve developed interning at Changing Worlds and (previously) on the board of directors/as the head of marketing for Chicago Outfit Roller Derby.
- Job skills, Training, and Education: I’d love to support people who are looking to re-enter the workforce or go back to school, design curriculum and programming for job skills and literacy, mentor teens and young adults as they move from high school and college into the working world. This kind of job follows naturally from my work experience and my interest in writing and the arts.
So many PhDs and PhD candidates struggle to figure out what to do with their skills as a scholar and academic outside of the university. I feel lucky that my interests and skills are easily translated. Still, making the right connections and landing interviews isn’t going to be easy. I’ve already sent out enough resumes and cover letters to know that my profile isn’t instantly recognizable to hiring managers, and that diligently monitoring job boards like the one at npo.net isn’t going to be enough. I’ll share with you the resources that I use, the tips I find helpful, and I’ll tell you what I learn about networking (which is, in my mind, the scariest thing about job hunting. I like meeting new people and talking about their work, but I hate asking for favors and haven’t quite figured out how it’s all supposed to work).
Now, in the spirit of the title of this post, I’m putting it out there: I’m looking for work. If you’re a hiring manager or a recruiter or you hear of an open position I might be good for, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at strace2 at gmail dot com. This may be like shouting in an empty room, but I figure it can’t hurt to say it clearly.