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Post the PhD

On Track workshop series: a presentation for those nearing completion

Inger Mewburn

on 8 March 2011

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Transcript of Post the PhD

There are lots of stories about the post PhD job market.
Most seem to be variations on this theme: Post the PhD: finding your feet after you finish This presentation was composed by Dr Inger Mewburn
Research Fellow at the School of Graduate Research,
RMIT University. Contact:
Twitter: @thesiswhisperer But is this all you can expect after the PhD? The stats might surprise you This chart is from 2004 (the last year we have a breakdown of the PhD cohort specifically)
It seems that many graduates prefer non academic positions for the money, status and perks that are available
You are much more likely to end up working in academia if you are in the sciences
Government tends to employ the humanities grads
This chart might get you thinking about the other options available to you http://www.beyondthephd.co.uk/videos/details.php?id=382
http://www.beyondthephd.co.uk/videos/details.php?id=378 Watch some videos: Non academic options How can the value of the PhD be translated for non-academic employers? How feasible is it to freelance? Feelings of 'loss' at the idea of leaving academia ‘Planned happenstance’
Planned: having arranged the parts
Happen: to occur by chance
Stance: a view or attitude research masters/PhD graduates were the group most likely to be employed overseas 6 months after graduation:
60% of PhD grads were employed either fulltime or part time
23% were seeking work.
8% were not seeking work (they might have been having babies etc.) We have no stats on art and design grads, but we suspect they largely teach and/or are self employed Government expect you to demonstrate all the 'extras' (OH&S knowledge, communication and people skills, etc.) You can demonstrate 'extra' capacity by talking about your experiences and how they demonstrate the skills which the employer is asking for.

Evidence that you have completed short courses / teaching qualifications in addition to the PhD can also help. Who influences PhD grads on career choices? How can you leverage your PhD? Here's a list of possibilities:
Publish a series of journal articles
Publish an academic book
Publish a non academic, non fiction book inspired by your topic
Make a film of your PhD topic
Write a series of newspaper articles about your topic
Curate a museum exhibition on your topic
Start a blog to write about your topic for the general public or your peers In this presentation we will:
Find out where all the PhD graduates
Think about the academic career path
Explore ways repackage and reuse the skills honed in during your research degree
Find out who help you make the next step
leave with an open mind, some new ideas and resources And explore some non academic options But First.... In small groups (up to 4) talk about what you think of the future of the academic career market. Is it an option you wish to pursue? Why / why not?

Try to come up with 3 reasons for and 3 reasons against staying in academia when you finish. ? If you ask, most people will tell you they didn't 'plan' their career - it just happened. This is why 'informational interviewing' can be helpful Career counsellors call this 'planned happenstance' Or, as John Lennon put it: "Life happens while you are making other plans A career interview is where you: Talk to people who are working in a job you wish to have to find out how they did it
Try asking:
What qualifications they have
What they did before they started the job
Why they think they got the job over other applicants
What they would look for if they had to hire someone to do their job This advice is from the seminal book "What colour is your parachute" which advises you not to ask for a job during the interview Simon Crewe, director of the Graduate Centre for writers and Scholars and the University of Melbourne, suggests you think about your knowledge like a pie.... This is the Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D. http://matt.might.net/articles/phd-school-in-pictures/ by Matt Might: http://matt.might.net/

Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge: By the time you finish primary school you know about this much: When you finish high school you know a bit more: A bachelor's degree adds a specialty: A master's degree deepens that specialty: Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge: At the boundary you focus: You push at the boundary for a few years: Until one day, the boundary gives way: And, that dent you've made is called a Ph.D. Of course, the world looks different to you now: If you want to do this, it pays to remember this: So, don't forget the bigger picture: When you 'serve it up' you should think about how the topic relates to surrounding areas of knowledge A PhD encourages us to concentrate on tiny slices of the pie of knowledge. Part of the reason a PhD can be boring for non experts is that there isn't enough 'other stuff' to make it interesting You've spent all this time on it. Do you really want to abandon it all together? How can you use what you have to generate interest and profile for yourself as an expert Your interests, skills, abilities have been developed through action in the midst of uncertainty driven by curiosity: is it so different now?
What about academia? Employers cite interpersonal and communication skills as the most valued skills, followed by your employment history

There’s been some study of the hiring practices of academia, older studies showed:
evidence of gender and race bias
a ‘down stream’ effect
Widespread use of ‘informal recruitment methods’

These tendencies might still exist...
Nowadays 70 people with a PhD can be applying for a single academic position ... What can you do to increase your chances? “Report of the Committee on Hiring Practices: The Labor Market for Economists” Vol. 64, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Eighty-sixth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May, 1974), pp. 488-511 states
if you are a male in the 1970s you’d have around a 22% advantage over other applicants. This has improved over time, but there are still problems, subsequent research shows that:
Schools are reluctant to hire their own graduates immediately on completion (but more likely to hire PhD than other grads)
Most hiring is at level A and B or research assistant
Informal methods (ie: by recommendation through friends or colleagues) are commonly used.
Uni employers are more willing to compromise on skills than salary
Little career mobility in academia What have you learned while doing your PhD? Maybe more than you think.... Exercise: http://thethesiswhisperer.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/what-are-you-learning-while-you-do-your-phd-maybe-not-what-you-expected/ On The Thesis Whisperer Mary Helen notes one key learning moment:
"I’ve learnt that when I do presentations, sometimes people respond critically. I listen and respond, but they might still not be satisfied. Sometimes this has to remain unresolved - and I can’t fix that."

Mary Helen learned that part of being an academic is learning when you can change someone's mind and when you can't. This is a skill which can be used well in the workplace. Can you think of a key 'learning moment' which has happened to you? A moment when you realised that you had insight into yourself? Write it down. More at: http://www.quintcareers.com How do you feel about 'leaving the ivory tower'? In groups of less than 4 discuss the things you enjoy about academia. What would you have a hard time giving up? make a list of 3 things to share with the group. Exercise: Yoda: "Always with you what cannot be done. Do you nothing that I say?"
Luke Skywalker: "Master, moving stones around is one thing. This is totally different."
Yoda: "NO! No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned." Some learning requires 'unlearning' do you need to question what you have answered here? In “How professors think: inside the curious world of academic judgement” by Michele Lamont studied the process of academic decision making
Along the way she found out how academics judged each other.

Some of the most highly valued traits were:

preparedness; expertise; succinctness; intellectual depth; multidisciplinary breath; sensitivity to others

What is missing from this list? Topic knowledge People who are able to make thoughtful comments and argument on the fly – were seen as most credible. Another desirable characteristic was the demonstration of intellectual breath and expertise, which stemmed from the command of large literatures in their field and some adjacent ones. Along with this command of intellectual territory was the ability to be succinct and to respect other people’s expertise and sentiments. I suspect carefully cultivating these qualities and learning how to display them through appropriate expressive behaviour is the work of a lifetime, which is probably why many of the best of us are also the oldest.
"Can work well under pressure to multiple, competing deadlines and lines of report. Must be flexible in approach to work, but can cope well with rules and constraints where necessary. Has good negotiating skills and the ability to deal with difficult people. Proficient technical abilities, but willing to do manual labour where required" What is this job? What sort of words would be used to describe abilities which you have honed and developed throughout your PhD? In groups of 4 or less come up with at least 5 key words or phrases which show these skills off without referencing research or study.
Exercise: Answer: parent Your primary commodity is YOU. How do you sell yourself? You have a set of tools to build your reputation around your academic expertise:

Your publications list
You resume
Your contacts
The internet I decided to build my scholarly reputation using a blog. Along with wife and mother I took on the identity of 'thesis whisperer'. My blog is a demonstration of my teaching and research expertise. This is Inger
& this is my scholarly avatar' - the 'Thesis Whisperer' 'Selling yourself' doesn't have to be like this: Australian universities report to the government on the number of papers written and grants received. There have been attempts to measure quality, ie: the Excellence in research Australia (ERA) exercise.

Both quantity and quality are performance measures to judge academic productivity

What does this mean for you?
You should have a publication strategy in place during your PhD
You need to know the audience(s) for your research
You should try to publish for impact (citations)
Then for best fit with ERA journal rankings
Or try to collaborate on a grant application Click on objects to get closer - or use the autoplay function to see the path I have made for you Building relationships is important because the more people:

a) feel well disposed to you and
b) know what you can do,

The more likely it will be that they alert you to opportunities. Networking is relationship building based on engagement, not just transactions. Each type of social media can do different things for you:

Facebook gets your content in an audience’s ‘attention stream’ and can generate conversation
Linked in helps you to organise and mobilise your professional contacts
Twitter can be used to build audience and develop a ‘private learning network’
You can share your expertise via blogging
Exercise: Are there some adjacent areas of expertise and knowledge which you can expand into? Are there themes running through your work which might be of broader interest, outside your academic community? What might these be?
Resources and references RMIT Career Development and Employment do career counselling Ph: 9925 2078 (city) or Email careers@rmit.edu.au

Statistics jobs meta filter http://www.statsci.org/joblists.html
http://www.indeed.com.au (finds all jobs advertised using keywords)

Report of the Committee on Hiring Practices: The Labor Market for Economists Vol. 64, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Eighty-sixth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May, 1974), pp. 488-511 cites D.G Brown (1965) The Market for college teachers, Chapel Hill
Husu. L (2004) Gate-keeping, gender equality and scientific excellence, European Commission for research
PhDs don't want career plans, but sometimes 'fate needs a bit of a nudge‘ http://www.beyondthephd.co.uk/articles/details.php?id=6
Mitchell,K. E. , Levin, A. S. & Krumboltz , J. (1999). Planned happenstance: constructing unexpected career opportunities. Journal of Counselling and Development, 77, 115-124. This is written for the counsellor perspective but contains some interesting insights about the theory.
Have you joined the right professional associations? Thanks for listening http://designresumes.com/ post from 2/03/2011 encourages you to think about how you stand out from the crowd....

What value could you bring the organization? What unique knowledge base do you have that would make you valuable to them? What tools, equipment, or software do you use and HOW do you use it?
What have you succeeded at that makes you different?
When did you last create a new procedure, filing system or time-saving process?
Did you intervene and save another student from leaving the university?
How did you build relationships with other units/academics etc? Ask Yourself:
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