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LIFE BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: NON-FACULTY CAREER OPTIONS Catherine Carrigan, MA JD Sponsored by Career Development Center and The Graduate School 1.

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Presentation on theme: "LIFE BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: NON-FACULTY CAREER OPTIONS Catherine Carrigan, MA JD Sponsored by Career Development Center and The Graduate School 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 LIFE BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: NON-FACULTY CAREER OPTIONS Catherine Carrigan, MA JD Sponsored by Career Development Center and The Graduate School 1

2 Second thoughts about a faculty career? 2  Tenure-track jobs remain hard to come by.  Pressure from outside sources (advisors, family, friends).  Concerns about “fit” with the academic environment.  Some vague sense that the Ph.D. can lead to many other places besides tenure track faculty jobs.

3 Soul searching before job searching. 3  Don’t expect grades alone will get you by. Employers won’t be impressed by your degree if you cannot explain HOW having the degree makes you a strong candidate.  Begin by honestly assessing your skills, interests, values:  What fields naturally interest you? Have these changed?  What do you want to be doing in a job? Examples: strategic planning, data analysis, project coordination  What about a job will give you satisfaction? Examples: salary, benefits, hours, impact on society

4 Soul searching before job searching. 4  Assess your transferable skills:  Examples: writing & presentation skills, ability to translate complex concepts to new learners, long- term planning and project management  Get your classmates/advisers/loved ones to help you identify what you’ve been doing all this time  Attend next month’s workshop on Marketing Yourself Outside the Academy (November 4 th ) for more assistance

5 Looking outside academia: where to begin. 5  Research the skill set needed in areas you enjoy. Keep in mind some of the concerns an employer might have:  Some graduate programs offer limited opportunities for teamwork/collaboration.  Can you transition to writing for non-academic audiences?  Do you have experience working at a faster pace than academia may normally require?  To fill in gaps, endeavor to gain skills in a professional area: an internship, volunteer work, assistantship, committee or professional association involvement, part-time job, etc.

6 Looking outside academia: where to begin. 6  Conduct informational interviews:  Seek interviewees by speaking with your network - faculty and administrators, people you have met at conferences, friends, friends of friends, contacts from the Alumni Association/ASK, etc.  Your goal is not a job, but knowledge about a field.  Go into these conversations prepared – know about the work they do and HAVE QUESTIONS.  Always, always keep in touch—you never know when these meetings will pay off.  Networking events:  Student-Alumni Mentoring/Networking Night – Nov 2 nd, 6 pm (Regents Hall, Lewis Towers)

7 Non-faculty academic positions. 7  Consider careers at universities where your experience within academia could be an asset.  Examples include student services, administrative roles (ex. centers for teaching and learning), advising positions.  Know that these positions will not always be widely advertised—networking proves vital yet again!  Educate yourself about the field of higher education administration and seek experience while you are still a student.  Also check out university HR websites,, Chronicle of Higher Education

8 Government positions. 8  Many government agencies hire in various capacities:  Researchers– Technical experts  Analysts– Linguists  Diplomats– etc.  is THE online application portal for federal jobs, but also consider city, state and county opportunities.

9 Non-profit & for profit options. 9  Non-profit: administrative and leadership roles in cultural institutions, community organizations, professional associations, think tanks, healthcare.  For profit: roles as technical advisors, consultants, administrators, managers.  Be aware that if your work history is limited, you may have to start a level or two below your ultimate goal in order to prove yourself.

10 Turning your CV into a resume. 10  Resumes are shorter: be concise (1-2 pages at most).  Focus on skills developed that transfer to jobs outside the academy.  Consider various ways to organize a resume. The less traditional functional skills resume may be appropriate if you are switching fields or have limited work history.  Review the CDC’s resume guide & the Chronicle’s “CV Doctor” column for examples of a graduate student’s career-focused resume.

11 Improving your interviewing skills. 11  Know yourself as much as possible (strengths, areas to improve, why you are a good fit).  Research the organization and posting.  Practice responses to common interview questions (see examples in CDC’s interviewing guide). Never, ever let these trip you up:  Tell me about yourself.  What are your strengths and weaknesses?  Why are you not going the academic route?  Behavioral interviewing – have some examples in mind relating to your past experiences.

12 Identifying job opportunities. 12  Don’t merely rely on online job boards, but do use your faculty/co-workers to identify the most relevant targeted job sites and networking opportunities.  Create a professional online identity (, personal website, ePortfolio, etc.).  Be prepared that, given the current economy, you may need to allow more time for your search and be more flexible in what you are willing to take. This is a first step, not a life-long commitment.

13 Additional Resources 13  Chronicle of Higher Education: “Having a Plan B”    So What Are You Going to Do with That? A Guide for MAs and Ph.D.s Seeking Careers Outside of the Academy by Susan Basalla & Maggie Debelius  Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning a Master’s or Ph.D. by Robert L. Peters

14 Questions? 14 Feel free to schedule an appointment with me or anyone in our office by calling 773.508.7716 or e- mailing

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