As you may know, Dr. Patti and I decided on an alt-ac (alternative academic career) life after earning our doctorates. These careers include jobs outside of academia (research or administrative positions in the public or private sectors). For example, academic affairs (advising, admissions, recruitment), student affairs (career services, international services), research and developments (grant writing, fund-raising) and business affairs (president’s office, community affairs) fall into this group. But what if you want something else? What if you want to find creative scholarly projects? How do you find that career path?
I was very happy to find an article on creative projects for scholars. This is right up my alley as an alt-ac professional. Sometimes I dabble in a search for administrative jobs in higher ed – jobs not related to teaching.
But when I look at the reality and the statistics, tenure-track jobs are not worth my time. I would not set my heart on a tenured job in academia.
Why? Here’s one reason: No advancements for adjuncts, visiting professors, full-time or part-time academics (PTAs). Most of the time, these people are not on the tenure track list.
Here’s another real life example of a person who wrote a farewell letter to colleagues when she made the hard decision to leave her job in academia. She loved her job teaching history, doing research, and publishing. But she would not get a tenure-track job this year.
After she posted the letter (The Sublimated Grief of the Left Behind), 80,000 hits showed up on her blog. Many other academics felt her pain.
The letter makes me think that the alt-ac world is becoming a first choice for many graduating PhDs.
Creative and Scholarly
As I said, there are alternatives. A high school teacher of some 20 years, described his journey to find and exploit his creativity. Many creative opportunities are hidden in grants, contests, institutional collaborations, and working with other scholars.
For example, it’s tough on independent scholars to find projects. You can increase your chances by working with others associated with an organization or institution. It gives you some leverage and access to resources: library databases, technologies, internal societies. TV stations, and other organizations.
Write and Publish
The article suggested writing and publishing far and wide. Write scholarly articles for peer-reviewed journals along with newsletters, books, blogs, magazines and newspapers.
In fact, I’m working on an op-ed piece – it’s a new form of writing for me and I’m excited to see how it turns out. I’d like to try magazines and more newsletters.
In the past, I was the editor-in-chief for an on-line newsletter for entrepreneurs. And I wrote a newsletter for a joint project for a medical school. I’ll also contact my alumni groups about contributing to the monthly newsletter.
Practice Your Craft
It is very possible to shape a creative life around your PhD. Better to work in a creative bubble than to be disappointed by the traditional path and expectations of your PhD.
My advisor always reminded me of one thing: Practice your craft.
She meant that it was my obligation to go out and share my research with the world. Talk about it. Massage it. Revise it. Take my passion and practice my craft.
I like the idea of using creativity for my scholarly projects!
Source: A Scholar, But Not A Professor
We are the yin and the yang of the creative process.