Alt-Ac Careers and Closing the Door

I found an interesting read this week on alternative careers for doctoral students. The topic was “career-diversity” in higher education, a process to teach PhD students about alternative career tracks. As we know, there are not enough tenure-track positions for today’s doctoral students. I’ve written several blogs on the topic of alternative careers for non-academic creatives.

With 67,449 PhD graduates (2014 figures), it’s unrealistic to think that higher education will provide tenured jobs for all these people. Tenure-track jobs have no mandatory retirement age – the situation has not changed since the 1980s. Why is this suddenly a problem? What are the career choices for graduates outside of academia?

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Alt-Ac Toolkit: Freelancing at Academic Conferences

Academic conferences can seem like a strange place for those of us in the alt-ac world. Conferences may not feel like a good fit for freelance academics – as freelancers, we’re not affiliated with mainstream higher education. But academic conferences offer a place to meet and pitch your book to editors, offer a workshop, and present a research paper. Even as a freelance academic, you have a voice as a scholar and expert.

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Unknown Places: Three Years Later

It is funny how quickly your journey can change. When started thinking about earning a doctorate I had envisioned myself teaching. Three years later, I am still not teaching. Higher education was entering a bubble-era before I graduated. Colleges begin to restructure to meet the changing demands of funding and budget cuts in Washington. Full time teaching positions faded fast. So, what now?

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Practice Your Craft Creatively

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?

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Toolkit for Alt-Ac Survival

If you’ve earned a doctoral degree, you know how to survive. You learned how to live with uncertainty and overcome your fears. What’s next?  What’s your next career move? Work in academia? Be an independent researcher? Start a business? Explore a series of new directions? Or maybe you’re thinking about life as an alt-ac.

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Academic Reality Is A Four-Letter Word

Last week, I read a blog about loss and the end of a dream. It was written by an academic who was struggling to re-invent himself. He was a talented physicist who described his 14-year journey from undergraduate to PhD to postdoc research. But suddenly the journey ended. He would not reach his dream of becoming a tenured physics professor. He was a failure.

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Smart Moves and Career Choices

May and June is the graduation season for many colleges and universities. It’s a time for new graduates to look ahead to career options, time off, or preparation for graduate school. How you apply your education is up to you.

Dr. Patti Mason and I believe in getting the maximum value for the time, money, and energy we spent in school. But we realize that education is not for everyone. If you’re  in career transition mode, here’s a look at some smart moves and career choices for graduate students in any discipline.

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