Anyway, check out their blogs and leave a comment!
On this lazy Sunday, I thought I'd follow up on recentPhD's recent post by copying the text of an ad for a nonacademic job that requires academic skills. As recentPhD wrote, perhaps this can help you think more positively about your job prospects outside of academia. Most of you probably aren't looking at nonacademic job ads right now ... so perhaps seeing that there are jobs out there for people with the kind of job skills that you gain from academia will help you feel more positive about the possibility of finding work outside of academia if you choose to or need to leave.
I'll do this every now and then on this blog, now that I'm reading job ads regularly again (although to some extent, I'm still not really sure what I'm looking for. Eeeeesh).
Anyway, I can't even tell you how easy it is to find job ads that are looking for people with academic skills. Teaching skills translate into jobs as training coordinators. Research skills translate into many jobs analyzing data or running focus groups or conducting surveys or interviews. Reading and writing skills translate into jobs in editing, technical writing, marketing, and a lot of other things. Trust me - regardless of what Professor McFancy in your department tells you, there ARE jobs outside of academia that will value your training and that you will find fulfilling.
So here you go. An ad for someone with research training. Does this sound like a job you could do?
[Organization] is an independent research organization in [Major City]. We collaborate with government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations and businesses to provide data analysis and compile reports that contribute to informed decisionmaking in health, education, economics, crime, justice, and the environment.
We are seeking a Senior Research Analyst who will:
- Take the lead on key tasks related to research design, data collection and analysis while assisting the project manager to keep projects on track
- Develop qualitative and quantitative data collection instruments
- Analyze quantitative and qualitative data
- Draft report and presentations
- Assist with management, coordination, and budgeting of projects
- Masters' degree plus a minimum of two years' social science research experience
- This includes experience playing a lead role in study design
- Experience using and designing qualitative data collection tools including surveys, interviews, site visits, and focus groups
- Strong analytic ability, writing, and organizational skills are required
- Quantitative research experience using statistical software packages such as Stata or SAS preferred
See that part about "two years' social science research experience including playing a lead role in study design?" If you're ABD, you've done this. You're probably two years past your masters', and you've taken a lead role in designing your dissertation. And also note that while both quantitative and qualitative skills are desired, the emphasis is on qualitative.
And also note that there is no emphasis in this ad on subject area expertise. That's because in the real world, you aren't "an expert on Basketweaving in Uzbekistan" like you are in academia. You're an experienced research professional with generalized skills (data analysis, survey design, etc) that translate well into a range of topics an subject areas.
So there ARE jobs out there that you can do. I mean, sheesh ... it took me longer to type up this post than it did to find this job ad! (It was, literally, the first ad that popped up when I typed "research analyst" into the search engine). What should that tell you? That there are employers out there who value the skills you've gained in grad school. Don't let academia push you down any further by causing you to view your skills only from within their narrow framework.
Also, check out the career advice section at "How to Leave Academia" - the new website set up by me and other postacademic bloggers that attempts to help people like you navigate the transition out of academia and into your new life. Or go purchase our e-book (Moving On: Essays on the Aftermath of Leaving Academia) to see examples of the types of jobs that other academic leavers have gotten.