As I blogged last fall, the HASTAC community is an amazing one to participate in, for all of the reasons discussed in this past post. As I return as a third-time HASTAC Scholar, I continue to hold this belief. The longer I remain a part of the HASTAC community, the more apparent its network of resources becomes. With every passing year as a HASTAC scholar, I find myself knowing more and more people outside of my institution and discipline. In addition to fruitful Twitter conversations, I run into HASTAC-ers at conferences and talks, inside and outside of my current state of residence. I had one such run-in this past week when my department hosted the brilliant Katina Rogers, whom I had previously met at the HASTAC conference in Lansing this past May. Rogers, the second presenter in year-long line-up of colloquium talks on the future of the Humanities, provided the graduate students with a valuable perspective that we had not previously heard discussed so explicitly at a department-sponsored event.
Rogers, affiliated with The Graduate Center at CUNY and the Futures Initiative, gave a talk entitled “Putting your PhD to Work: Careers and Scholarship beyond Tenure Track.” She purposefully avoided the term “alt-ac” in her title, as it, according to Rogers provides a “false impression of homogeneity” and implies that alternate career options are alternative or marginal. Within the talk, she discussed her goals of demystifying the process of pursuing other employment opportunities. She offered up data about the types of jobs PhD students tend to get, what skills employers often appreciate, and how to learn to make your skills legible to the job market. Further, she gestured towards the importance of the departments preparing students to think about these questions as early as possible so that students can find ways to build relevant experience along the way.
Most useful, she provided the following list of advice for those interested in pursuing work outside of academia:
- Get outside help.
- Talk to people.
- Craft your online presence.
- Learn new skills.
- Build experience.
- Write a CV—and a resume.
- Articulate your skills for different audiences.
Her talk proved incredibly valuable, as she offered up concrete advice and ways forward as opposed to just pontificating on the nebulous benefits of “alt-ac.” A small group of graduate students were lucky enough have lunch with her in which she spoke frankly and honestly about the market and the avenues we might consider for employment beyond the Tenure Track.
I share this brief description of the day’s events for many reasons. One, in order to share some of Katina’s amazing advice with this community. Two, in order to open up further conversations about “alt-ac” employment. But, finally, in order to underscore the networking benefits of the HASTAC community. Rogers recognized me as a HASTAC scholar and, as such, the program served as a nice conversational jumping off point, one that allowed us to more quickly identify possible overlaps in intellectual interests. I share this to encourage you to take advantage of the unique networking opportunities available through HASTAC. In a job market where we might feel isolated, obsolete, or redundant, the power of networks cannot be understated, whether one might desire to pursue “alt-ac” or just “ac.”
For more from Katina, follow her at @katinalynn
To keep up with the Ray Smith Symposium on The Future of the Humanities, follow @futhumanitiessu