Blog Post

Alt-Ac Workshop at the HASTAC 2011 conference

Alt-Ac Workshop at the HASTAC 2011 conference

We are counting down the days until the upcoming HASTAC 2011 conference! I am thrilled to welcome all of you to the Alt-Ac Workshop that Korey Jackson and I have designed specifically for grad students, recent grads, and postdocs. [Of course, anyone is welcome to attend.]

It will be on Thursday, December 1, 7-9pm at the University of Michigan. Dinner will be provided but you must register for the workshop so we can ensure enough food!

We've designed this workshop to be a conversation between people currently working in Alt-Ac positions and those of us on the other side of the fence -- wondering how to get there from here, or why we might want to, and how not to get (so) discouraged or lost in the process.

This workshop is intended to be an interactive and 'practical' forum where we discuss functional questions such as: how do I change my academic cover letter to one that is more suited for an Alt-Ac type of job? How do I translate my own work and research experience into a c.v. and application that is appropriate for this field?

Have you noticed that conferences are always better when you know other people there?

In my experience, they become more interactive and less passive, they inspire interesting and fun conversations, they let you connect with people instead of papers, and they literally provide a common ground for scholars working in rather disparate fields. So we've intentionally scheduled this workshop as the first event of the conference weekend - we hope it will spark an ongoing conversation amongst like-minded scholars who can learn and support each other along the way, both at this specific conference and beyond. 

And finally, the workshop will be a great ice breaker for those of us meeting in person for the first time: many of us know each other through email, Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and we might have met a few others at various conferences, but now we can meet in person! It can be nerve-wracking, yes, and sometimes a bit awkward, but it always deepens the conversation and solidifies the connection.

Building Group Resources

During the conference, we'll be building a live Google Doc that captures the various resources, tips and suggestions. After the conference is over, we will be migrating all of this information to a new Alt-Ac Group here on HASTAC. It'll provide a forum to post job announcements, conference CFPs, forums for conversation and Q&A, and of course blogs. 


I am also considering starting an Alt-Ac listserv through this website; even though there is a huge variety of types of positions, within various kinds of organizations and institutions, there is also some commonality -- if there wasn't, this whole term 'Alt-Ac' wouldn't have taken hold as much as it has. Please leave a comment here, or drop me an email, if you have thoughts on an Alt-Ac listserv. 

Workshop Presenters

We are very excited to have some amazing folks join us as presenters and facilitators: Brian Croxall, Shana Kimball, Ethan Watrall and more to come. If you are coming to the conference and can help with this workshop, please drop me a note!

You can find the specifics of this workshop below. When you register for the conference,  please make sure you check off the box to indicate your attendance at this workshop. We need numbers to ensure enough food and handouts!

We welcome your general workshop suggestions as well as your questions specifically about Alt-Ac!

Workshop Plan

Alt-Ac (shorthand for “Alternative Academic”) has been gaining traction as a useful way to describe a variety of academic jobs that are not part of the tenure-track market. While these positions have always existed to some degree within the academy, they are increasing in both number and prominence. In particular, the growth sector of Alt-Ac seems to be at the intersection of digital technology and more traditional institutional work.

The Alt-Ac job market is incredibly interdisciplinary and encompasses a wide variety of positions within a diverse set of institutions and organizations. These include: libraries, museums, research institutes, academic presses, media/technology labs, and other humanities organizations.

All of this growth has led to increasing interest in understanding how Alt-Ac positions connect to more traditional academic jobs (professors, adjuncts, postdocs, librarians, deans and administrators, etc.) and how to navigate the career track that this new hybrid community opens up.

While many of us working at the intersection of technology and culture will be considering this career path after grad school, most of our departments aren’t prepared to help us navigate this market, nor are they equipped to help us understand the variety of jobs under the Alt-Ac umbrella.

This HASTAC workshop will provide a general introduction to the Alt-Ac concept and offer some more practical advice as you consider applying for these jobs. We will focus especially on how to translate your academic experience and craft an effective application.

  • The first part of the session will offer a chance to listen to the experiences and wisdom of people already in or connected to the Alt-Ac sector.
  • As a group, we’ll go through a case study of a sample job announcement, C.V. and cover letter. 
  • Finally, we’d like to break out into smaller groups to briefly discuss our own application materials as well as any additional questions about the process.

Given the limited time frame, we won’t be able to offer personalized career development advice, but we hope that participants can continue to meet over the course of the conference weekend, and that this event will establish a point of connection for junior scholars to move the Alt-Ac conversation forward. And this conversation can continue on the HASTAC group, and assuming there is interest, the Alt-Ac listserv.

Please read the following articles from the recent MediaCommons #Alt-Ac publication (edited by Bethany Nowviskie):


Bring multiple copies of your CV and cover letter!

Again, here is the Workshop Schedule, and post here with your questions and suggestions (or comment below!)

REGISTRATION INFO: There have been some questions about how to register.

  • If you have not yet registered for the conference, there will be a box to check - it is called the Pre-Conference Workshop. REGISTER ASAP!
  • If you have already registered for the conference, but did *not* check off that box, you can email Korey Jackson -  kbjack AT

Image Credits:

Packed in Like Sardines by Solo

Code Washing by Ezu


1 comment

I am very disappointed that the only reasonably priced flight I could get from California to Detroit lands on Thursday at 8 PM. I will probably be pulling into Ann Arbor right around the time the Alt-Ac Workshop wraps up.

I am sorry to miss the workshop (which looks great!), but I'm still excited to meet fellow HASTAC Scholars and our fearless leader, Fiona, at the main conference on Friday and Saturday. Who else is planning to be at the conference? I am really looking forward to finally meeting some of you in person. Maybe we can start a thread for HASTAC Scholars who will be at the conference? You can also e-mail me off-list at

Hope to see you soon!