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From PhD to Life

Beyond the Professoriate conference


The virtual conference I’m co-hosting in May is coming together wonderfully. Maren and I are thrilled with the line-up of panellists and presenters. We’ve got 23 PhDs lined up to speak about their career journeys and provide helpful advice. Although I share transition stories on this blog in the special Q & A posts, the conference is an opportunity for attendees to ask doctorates in non-faculty jobs questions about their journeys. We hope Beyond the Professoriate fills a need: connecting current students and PhDs curious about their employment options to people they tend not to come across in graduate school.

I reflected on this in a recent post — this one. In that post I told you about how, during the years I worked on my PhD, I forgot about my former undergraduate instructor, an adjunct professor who worked full-time for the government, and seemed to genuinely enjoy it. By the time I graduated, I had a difficult time imagining a meaningful life for myself that didn’t involve academia. In my experience working with clients and interacting with many others who spent years in graduate school, this is a common challenge. And it can lead to significant difficulties when it comes time to consider one’s options and identify one’s own place in the wider world.

Much of the work I had to do to overcome my limited career imagination involved personal reflection. But knowing where other people who shared my educational experiences found fulfillment was incredibly important. Knowing that they had struggled with what I was struggling with, and emerged happy, engaged, and fulfilled gave me hope and energy to take with me on my own journey.

So: the conference! Maren and I want to help those curious or committed to non-academic employment interact with people who know from whence they’ve come. That’s the focus of the first day of Beyond the Professoriate, Career Day on May 3. There will be four panel discussions, each lasting 80 minutes to make sure there’s plenty of time for questions. On Professional Development Day the next Saturday, May 10, we’ve got six special presentations that will give you practical advice, tools, and inspiration for non-academic job searching or career exploration. Anyone who’s awake and online is welcome to join us.

For all the details, to register, and to download the conference flyer (ready soon!), head over to my website. We’ve got a mailing list, too, so if you’re not sure you can make it but want to stay informed, add yourself to the list. And please spread the word: we’re extremely excited and think it will be a wonderful experience for all!

Jennifer Polk
Jennifer Polk is a career coach and entrepreneur. She earned her PhD in history from the University of Toronto in 2012. For more information and resources, check out her website:
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