I have to acknowledge that it was been a while since I have written an article for this blog. I am writing today to catch you up on what I’ve been up to and give you some advice about some of your options after you finish your degree.
I have had a number of PhD students who have completed their PhD and have yet to find a job. It happens. This is the advice that I shared with them that I am sharing with you today.
Before you finish your degree or afterwards you should be thinking about who you want to be and what you want to be known for. In other words, what is your brand? How do you want to define yourself. While an academic career is expected you must consider some other alternatives. Your academic field might not have any openings when you graduate. Nonetheless, in some academic disciplines the salary is very low. For example, back in 1997 when I received my PhD and started my job as an assistant professor in Phoenix Arizona, the bus drivers went on strike despite being paid more than an assistant professor at that time. Nonetheless, you might have to find creative ways to supplement your academic salary. If you earned a PhD you are an expert in something. Your dissertation or research establishes you as an expert on that topic.
Rather than being dismayed about not having an academic job or a job period think of what you can do to further establish yourself and brand as an expert. Sometimes I think we have been trained to work for someone else rather than for ourselves. Our PhD training provides very little training in entrepreneurship.
I believe in blogging. I think that you can and should share your expertise with people beyond the academic community. For example, one of my students just finished her dissertation on how elementary school children understand their experience in a English as a Second Language (ESL) program and how they are able to transition out of the program. While looking for a job, I suggested that she share her expertise or understanding of ESL, or bilingual education on a blog to help parents and others struggling with understanding their role, responsibilities and more importantly their available options. Because this student is able to write in both Spanish and English I felt that she had something unique to offer.
According to Rosetta Thurman your personal brand is ” essentially your reputation. It’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” After leaving my job as an assistant professor at Arizona State University-West, I needed to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and what would make me happy. As a person with a PhD I worked on building a reputation on helping students successfully navigate graduate school and eventual PhD completion. I focused on the PhD process because I thought it was too mysterious and a bit daunting. I think that the challenge of PhD completion should be associated with conducting and analyzing the research not graduate school itself.
Below are links to what others have to say about Dr. Wendy Carter and the PhD completion process I have developed and have been involved with. I hope this article inspires you to do more with your PhD.
The Consortium of Race,Gender & Ethnicity: Intersections and Inequality
One of the many PhD students who worked me and blogged though to a PhD