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From PhD to Life

From PhD to Life: Coming to an event near you!


Earlier this month I attended the American Historical Association conference in Atlanta. Although I earned my PhD in history, this was my first time at the annual event. I didn’t go to present a paper or otherwise talk about my research, and I didn’t go to interview for an academic job. I went to co-host the Career Fair. If you’d have told me back when I was finishing my doctorate that I’d be doing this less than four years later, I would never have believed you!

Going to Atlanta was a good experience for me, and I enjoyed speaking with graduate students and recent graduates. I met some Internet friends in person for the first time, and saw a few of my old colleagues from the University of Toronto. I had a couple stacks of custom postcards printed ahead of time, to hand out to people while I was there. It was fun to do this! Note: Self-promotion is fine if what you’re promoting is something you really believe in. The only bad part was the horrendous exchange rate. (Related: Read Melonie Fullick’s latest blog post about the costs of conferences for graduate students and early career researchers.)


Custom postcard advertising my services, front and back.

My Atlanta trip kicked off what will be a busy term for me. This winter and spring I’m travelling more than I ever had before, giving talks, facilitating discussions and workshops and, of course, networking.

Here’s where you’ll find me over the coming months. I’d love to meet a few blog readers on my travels!

I’m giving two talks at Simon Fraser University this week:

  • Talk and Q&A, IRMACS Theatre, SFU Burnaby, Thursday, 21 January, 1-3pm
  • Talk and Q&A, Harbour Centre, SFU Vancouver, Thursday, 21 January, 7-9pm

And then I’ll be at the University of British Columbia on Friday to speak with graduate students and postdocs in the Faculty of Medicine:

  • Talk and Q&A, Cullen Family Theatre, 1st Floor Providence Building, St. Paul’s Hospital, Friday, 22 January, 11:30am-1pm

For more information, see my Events page.

And here’s what coming up, February-May:

I’m looking forward to these trips! It’ll be my first time in Vancouver, New Jersey, Hartford and Tampa. Returning to Carleton University as a consultant will be neat: I was last there as a master’s student. (I did my BA at Carleton, too.)

If past experience is a guide, my travels will be rewarding and fun as well as full of learning. My intellectual mind knows this, but my emotional mind is battling impostor syndrome. Still: I can do this. I’ve been building up to this and it’s enormously rewarding to have so many people take a risk on bringing me to their campuses and events. Shucks.

Here’s sending good wishes to everyone out there doing new things this year.

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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