Resources for Non-Academic Careers and Humanities PhDs

Note: Contact me if you have additions or even ideas for additions.

THE SKY IS FALLING (if you’re a PhD)
Relax, Friend: There Are Non-Academic Opportunities
We Need to Fix the Academy
Cool Programs Aimed at Taking that Initial Step
It’s OKAY to Leave

(if you’re a PhD)

“Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go”
by Thomas H. Benton in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 30 Jan. 2009. Note that Thomas H. Benton is the pseudonym of William Pannapacker.

“The Humanities, Unraveled”
by Michael Bérubé in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 18 Feb 2013. From the president of MLA! Argues that humanities education “is a seamless garment of crisis: If you pull on any one thread, the entire thing unravels.”

“Forward: The Institution as False Horizon”
by Mark Bousquet in Workplace 1 (1998). The link is to a PDF. Degree holders as institutional “waste.”

“PhD Numbers Have Doubled But Few Graduates Will Find Teaching Jobs, Ontario Study Finds”
by Simona Chiose in The Globe and Mail. 30 April 2013.

“Academia’s Indentured Servants”
by Sarah Kendzior in Aljazeera. 11 April 2013.

“Professors Making $10,000 a Year? Academia Becoming a Profession Only the Elite Can Afford”
by Sarah Kendzior in Alternet. 22 August 2012.

“The Disposable Academic: Why Doing a PhD is Often a Waste of Time”
in The Economist. 13 Dec 2010.

“From Graduate School to Welfare”
by Stacy Patton in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 6 May 2012. Adjuncts on food stamps. Fun times.

Ph.D. Poverty Guest Post I
at The Professor Is In. 17 May 2012. These three guest posts were posted as a kind of “follow up” to the “From Graduate School to Welfare” article by Patton above.

Ph.D. Poverty Guest Post II
at The Professor Is In. 24 May 2012.

Ph.D. Poverty Guest Post III
at The Professor Is In. 31 May 2012.

“So You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities?”
viral YouTube video

“Should You Go to Grad School?”
by Ron Rosenbaum in Slate. 27 Dec 2012.

100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School
A blog that is slowly going through 100 reasons, giving each one an in-depth discussion. It’s almost done.

The Adjunct Project
Crowdsourced project to gather “pay and working conditions data about the nation’s adjuncts.” Mostly US-based.

Relax, Friend:
There Are Non-Academic Opportunities

“So What are You Going To Do With That?”: Finding Careers Outside Academia
by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius. 2001. This could easily be filed under the “It’s OKAY to quit” section, as there’s a lot of good advice about whether or not, or how, to leave, either before or after earning finishing the dissertation.

“Few Academic Jobs, But Canada’s Need for PhDs Grows”
by Brent Herbert-Copley in The Globe and Mail. 29 May 2013.

“Crossing the Chasm From Academia to Business”
talk by Geoffrey Moore at Stanford’s Bibliotech Conference. 10 May 2012. Go watch this right now. It’s really good. Moore is an English PhD-turned-venture capitalist.

“Another Career Choice for Ph.D.’s: Management Consulting”
by Gabriela Montell in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 12 Nov 1999.

The Versatile PhD
Resource for those targeting or at least considering non-academic careers. Great discussions on the forums, from those in the midst of crossing the chasm, those still considering it, and those that have already done so. Some subscribing institutions get extra perks.

What Are All the PhDs?
“What Are All The PhDs? provides an outlet for sharing the various career paths of PhDs.”

#Alt-Academy: A Media Commons Project
A study of PhDs with non-academic careers. The full study isn’t completed/released as of writing. You probably want to read the Rebecca Rogers below, for now.

“Why Marketing Could Use Humanities PhDs – And Vice Versa”
by Dr. Jessica Langer, at her blog.

We Need to Fix the Academy

“No More Plan B: A Very Modest Proposal for Graduate Programs in History”
by Anthony T. Grafton and Jim Grossman in Perspectives in History. 2001. Argues that students internalize negative professorial attitudes towards alt-ac careers. Suggests systemic changes to make such careers a viable, primary goal for a larger portion PhD degree seekers.

“Stanford Moves Ahead With Plans to Radically Change Humanities Doctoral Education
by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. Stanford is moving ahead with an attempt to make it feasible to get a PhD in five years, “down from the current average of seven at the university and much longer elsewhere.”

“Overeducated, Underemployed: How to Fix Humanities Grad School”
by William Pannapacker in Slate. 27 July 2011.

“Rebooting Graduate Education in the Humanities”
by William Pannapacker in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 7 Jan. 2013. NOTE: William Pannapacker also writes as Thomas H. Benton.

Cool Programs Aimed at Taking that Initial Step

Stanford’s Bibliotech Conference
Mentioned above. A cool conference aimed at Connecting Liberal Arts PhDs with Forward-Thinking Companies.” The videos are great. The “Designships” sound like they might be similar to what MITACS does (below).

New Route PhD
A new UK program for PhDs, which “retain[s] the core elements of the traditional UK PhD but are augmented by additional formal training to support the academic and individual development of the student.”

The Praxis Network
A Canadian/American network of universities aimed at “rethinking pedagogy and campus partnerships in relation to the digital,” and which is also focused on alternative academic careers. Each university in the network has a slightly different mission, just because each university exists in its own particular ecosystem.

Illuminate: UBC’s Coop Program Conference Site
UBC is actually creating a co-op program for its PhDs. (Very cool, because our generation’s increasing reliance on unpaid training or internships is rather uncool.)

University of Victoria’s Coop Program
Similarly, the University of Victoria is one of three Canadian universities currently offering co-op placements for PhD students.

University of Toronto’s Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) Program
“GPS focuses on skills beyond those conventionally learned within a disciplinary program, skills that may be critical to success in the wide range of careers that graduates enter, both within and outside academe.”

MITACS provides paid research collaborations with industrial partners as well as career training. There’s a place on the website where you can browse past collaborations by discipline. Based on my discussions with MITACS representatives at various campuses, a nice selling point is that *most* of the projects become something that looks good on an academic CV and a non-academic resume.

It’s OKAY to Leave

at The Professor Is In. The Professor in this case is an alt-ac who specializes in helping academics with the academic job hunt, but also helps people cross the chasm over to the non-academic track, should they so wish.

“Thesis Hatement”
by Rebecca Schuman in Slate. 5 April 2013. Outlines the rather more unpleasant aspects of the PhD process.

  • And… Schuman again! “My Academic Metamorphosis”
    by Rebecca Schuman in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 17 May 2013. Compares academia to a cult, after Thomas H. Benton (see below).

“Is Graduate School a Cult?”
by Thomas H. Benton (aka William Pannapacker) in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 28 June 2004.

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Article on George Eliot’s Sympathy, Ethics, and Atheism in LA Review of Books

Look No More Backward: George Eliot and Atheism by Rohan Maitzen. She’s an English associate professor who teaches at Dalhousie and blogs at Novel Readings.

Good stuff. Gooood stuff. The article includes my favourite quote from “The Natural History of German Life” about sympathy. I keep coming back to sympathy again and again in thinking about aesthetics and ethics. E.g., me reading Derek Attridge, The Singularity of Literature: “So… art is… this… Event, and both the creation and reading of a literary work is this encounter with alterity… with an other and so that means… Oh! He’s talking about sympathy. Yeah, okay.”

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Your first conference presentation

It's sort of like when you go up to the big kids' diving board for the first time because, hey, every kid has to do it eventually, and you know it's not really that bad, but then you look down at the water way, way down below and oh! this was a terrible idea, the worst idea you've ever had. When you asked permission to do it, you didn't think there was any chance they'd actually say yes. Why would they say yes?

Also, there are a bunch of strangers looking at you. What could they be thinking? They're wondering what's up with the weird kid on the diving board. Why's he shuffling his feet like that? God, just look at this kid's bathing suit. What a twerp. Did he really think that was an appropriate bathing suit for the big kids' diving board?

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Is the subject I blog of when I blog the same as the subject who blogs?


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Traffic Sources

I just looked at my analytics and it looks like about 60% of people who come to this blog do so after searching for things like “blondie recipe” or “Reese’s cheesecake recipe.”

For all those people, I hope you like the recipes, and I apologize for all the weird other stuff (jokes, boring academic stuff, whatever), which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t usually accompany a bunch of blog posts with baking recipes.

I haven’t posted a recipe in like a year and a half or something (I’m lazy and never try baking anything new anymore. This is also because I just like tonnes of sugar and have completely unrefined taste buds), but look at the tag cloud:

For those of you reading from the future, if my actual tag cloud looks much different–and I actually hope that it will–the above screenshot is from today, 2 April 2012.

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Fake Movie Posters

A lot of fake movie posters are really lame. These ones are not. I like the time gap theme that’s going on.


…from Peter Stults at Behance Network.


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Don’t change your printer’s toner when it tells you to

Two months ago my printer (an HP-2170W Laser Printer) told me it refused to print anymore pages. It told me I was out of toner and I had to replace the cartridge. But it was lying to me – there was plenty of toner left.

In fact, since that time, I have printed hundreds and hundreds more pages. All I had to do was trick my printer into believing that it had more toner than it thought. A bit of Googling told me about this trick, which works on a bunch of printers, not just the 2170W.

First, I opened up the printer to take out the toner and its cartridge.


I pressed down the little green thing to release the toner (left) from its cartridge (right). I found the little window that the printer “looks” into to check the toner levels:


I put a piece of duct tape over the window and used a sharpie to darken it.

Duct Tape Over Window

I put the toner back in its cartridge:

Putting the toner back in its cartridge

After putting the toner and its cartridge back in the printer, I was done.

I print out a lot of paper (sorry, Earth) because I find reading academic articles on my computer screen to be extremely painful. I practically doubled the amount of printed pages I was able to get out of this one toner cartridge, and only just recently had to shell out the $50 for more toner.

Even after my printed pages started getting visibly grayer, I got an extra hundred and fifty or so pages by shaking up the toner and its cartridge before I printed things.

There is something very satisfying about tricking technology and saving money at the same time.

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