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From PhD to Life

Get help with your non-academic job search


I’ve now been self-employed and working as an academic, career, and life coach for more than three years. I love that I get to work independently, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I can and do work collaboratively.

When I started coaching, I worried about competitors. Over time, I saw more people beginning similar businesses and I was concerned. Now, I see us as colleagues, and I’m delighted to have more of us! The more aware academics and PhDs are of our services, the better it is — for all of us. We can grow our businesses together, informally and formally.

And of course we aren’t really competitors. We each offer different services and have unique emphases. We are all different people, and attract different kinds of clients. I regularly recommend potential clients check out Maren Wood’s Bootcamp for Post-Academic Job Seekers or Heidi Scott Giusto’s job search consulting services. Their offerings complement my own work, and I’m thrilled to be able to recommend them as appropriate. Or, for faculty members, Jo Van Every’s Academic Writing Studio might be just what they need to make good on their publishing goals. Fatimah Williams Castro is a big proponent of professors developing a side-hustle, and she’s helped clients do just that. I could go on.

Given that I already suggest the services of my colleagues to potential clients, it makes sense to formalize some of these relationships.

To that end, Maren, Heidi and I are launching the PhD Career Exploration and Job Search Course. It starts in early September, and enrollment is now open, and limited to 10 in each section. This online course is aimed at PhDs and graduate students who are preparing or actively searching for new careers beyond the professoriate. Participants will receive expert instruction and coaching, and hold each other accountable, all with the aim of enhancing career exploration and job searching. It’s put together by the team behind your favourite online conference for PhDs — myself and Maren — and Heidi, a three-time presenter at Beyond the Professoriate.

Our course will give participants the skills they need to feel confident conducting a non-academic job search. We’re running only two classes, with enrollment capped at 10 people each. Each class will meet for 10 hours of instruction and coaching, beginning the first week of September. Course sessions will be live, online, and will be recorded for future reference. Join Tuesdays 12 – 1 p.m. EST or Thursdays 8 – 9 p.m. EST.

Hope you’ll join us!



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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  1. Candidate_2022 / February 17, 2022 at 04:17

    With an MA degree, you can follow an academic or a non-academic career path. The same is true with the PhD degree. Please check our Alumni page for information about what previous graduates are up to. Also check McGill’s MyPath program An academic career path after the MA often means applying to PhD programs to continue your research. After the PhD, this oftentimes begins with postdoctoral study, and also job searches. Non-academic paths after earning an MA or a PhD are numerous. For more information, start by scheduling a meeting with  McGill’s Career Planning Service (CaPS) .