TL;DR: We are resuming the #withAPhD chat on Feburary 6, 2017 at 12pm EST. Topic: money.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time (or even if you haven’t), you might have noticed a few posts about my post-PhD path. Most are navel-gazing meditations on who I am now as a person with a PhD outside of academia. For many reasons, I made the choice to go off the academic grid in pursuit of something else. What exactly that something else might be, I’m still figuring out. Leaving academia was the easy part (in reality one of the hardest moments of my professional and personal life); creating something new and meaningful has been harder still.
Searching for career options outside of academia has often felt profoundly lonely. I’ve had stabbing pangs of jealously when friends and colleagues receive funding, academic job offers, and return from their archival research trips with hundreds of documents they can’t wait to read. Talking to academic friends about struggling to find non-academic employment sometimes feels like shouting across the Grand Canyon. We can see each other, but our struggles are often profoundly different.
Career coach Jen Polk of From PhD to Life has been one of my greatest supporters during my search for something more. Though I never worked with her as a coach, she has been a consistent cheerleader for me in my quest to uncover my next steps. One of the things that has enabled me to stay focused and optimistic about the non-academic career search has been the amazing community of like-minded people that Jen has rallied under the hashtag #WithAPhD. I’ve had the great pleasure of participating in (and co-hosting) one of the best chats in the Twitterverse. The #withaphd community provides support, advice, and empathy for scholars across the humanities, social sciences, STEM, and other fields. Through the #withaphd chat, I’ve met people who have become staunch allies, friends, and colleagues. The community is as diverse and vibrant as the people who use the hashtag: academics, non-academics, students, coaches, editors, scientists, humanities people, scholars, and a whole slew of other people I’m failing to mention. What we all have in common is an interest in using our experiences and knowledge in new ways, both inside and outside of academia. Jen’s commitment to the #withaphd community brought us together and has helped people expand their visions of what people can do with a graduate degree. She has, in short, been a phenomenal advocate for all of us.
Recently, Jen informed the #withaphd community that she needed to retire from hosting the chat to focus on some other things. As she’s said, no one owns the #withaphd hashtag. It’s been great to see people using it to post all kinds of things related to new career paths and ideas. The #withaphd community doesn’t really need a leader, but Kristine Lodge and I both approached Jen and humbly suggested that maybe we’d start hosting the chat. Jen put us in touch, we talked, and decided that the #withaphd chat means a lot to both of us; we wanted to continue providing the community with an online space to connect.
We don’t own the chat, the idea, or the hashtag. Mostly, we envision doing the organizational stuff (sending out reminder emails, archiving chats, promoting it on Twitter, arranging co-hosts) and then standing back to let the community do what it does best: supporting each other, making connections, and generating ideas. The transition may be a little bumpy at first as we figure out some details (where, for example, to post stuff about the chat that isn't my blog) and get the ball rolling. I hope that you’ll hang in there with us as we learn how to host and do the housekeeping.
With this in mind, we’re preparing to launch version 2.0 of the #withaphd chat. To be honest, I’m a little intimidated; Jen has left us with big shoes to fill. We’ll be chatting at 12pm EST on February 6, with the customary hashtag. We’ll be talking about money. Finances, debt, and money have been taking up a lot of space in my head recently, though it makes me uncomfortable. (I suspect it makes a lot of people uncomfortable.) Talking about the uncomfortable is a lot of what people with PhDs do, so I thought it would be worthwhile to talk about student debt, the economics of going freelance, getting paid what you’re worth in the real world, when "full" graduate funding isn't really full funding, and disrupting the idea that doing what you love means that you do it for free.
Hope you’ll continue to join us!
In case you're wondering who we are, here's some basics:
I'm Kristi Lodge. I have a PhD in English literature from the University of Oregon. I trained as a medievalist, but since 2006, I've been working as an assistant director at the University of Oregon Career Center running two programs and providing career counseling to graduate and undergraduate students. Helping graduate students, especially PhDs, figure out their career directions, is one of my passions. I've bveen active with the #altac community in a variety of ways: I've been a member of the Graduate Career Consortium, a contributor to the Versatile PhD, and a panelist with the Beyond the Professoriate conference in addition to maintaining a Twitter feed @Kristi_Lodge.
When I'm not trying to help people figure out their next career steps, I'm chasing two small kids, getting outside on snowshoes, bike, SUPs, hiking boots, and just generally soaking up all that life in the Pacific Northwest has to offer. I'm beyond excited to be working with Lisa on continuing conversations at #withaphd.
I'm Lisa Munro. I have a PhD in history from the University of Arizona. I finished in 2015. My research, which I still love, focused on cultural relationships between Guatemala and the U.S. during the 1930s and included fashion shows, textiles, Tarzan movies, the history of archaeology, and world's fairs. I've managed to leave my heart somewhere between Yucatán and Guatemala and hope to return to Latin America sooner rather than later. Iṽe had a weird career path that has given me a lot of weird job skills: veterinary tech, Peace Corps volunteer, medical assistant, crisis line operator, PhD student, teacher, and most recently, crime victim advocate. My memoir will likely be titled Continuity Problems. I'm still figuring out where I'm going in the post-PhD world. I'm most easily reached (and will respond!) on Twitter: @llmunro.
In my spare time, I'm getting outside, taking pictures of Colorado skies, knitting, writing, and advocating for the rights of adopted people.