Signup date: 05 Mar 2011 at 4:54am
Last login: 28 Jan 2013 at 9:31pm
Post count: 75
Thanks, Reader! For my own part, though, an administrative job in academia isn't for me. It's just not why I did the PhD. I guess the more that the academic dream drifts further away, the more I realise that it's not about working in *a university* so much as doing the interesting work. If it's going to be a question of just working for survival, I think I'd almost rather be doing that somewhere that I'm *not* surrounded by people who've made it in the profession I couldn't break into. I'm feeling quite embittered about the whole thing, but that will pass, I'm sure...
Hi everyone! So. I'm at kind of a loss and would appreciate any advice. Last March (wow, I can't believe it's been so long!) I signed an agreement with a well-known academic publisher to publish my thesis. I delivered on time (1st June) and have literally heard nothing since. I wasn't too worried about it, but then in November I had an academic interview and dropped the publisher a quick line to say did she have an update for me on where we were at, just in case the question came up at interview, and didn't get a reply. I left it until after Christmas, just in case it was crazy busy or something, and emailed again yesterday, pointing out that the terms of the contract said that they had 60 days after submission to decide to decline and I was worried that I'd heard nothing either way. I asked did that mean they intended to decline to publish (I was very polite). Still nothing. Not a word. I've checked, and, as far as I can tell, the woman I've been working with is still there (I'm certainly not getting any auto-replies) so I just don't know where this leaves me. Legally, I've signed a contract with them so I guess I can't start approaching other publishers, but they're just completely ignoring me now. If I'm reading the contract correctly, I think I have the option to give them a month's notice that I'm abandoning ship if they don't fulfill their obligations within the specified timeframe but I'm really reluctant to invoke it. Not just because I've signed a contract and I'd really rather not be setting myself up to go out and start publisher-hunting again, but also because I'm really sure that the publishing industry is small enough that I don't want to be THAT author... Help? All advice greatly appreciated!
That's fine if your PhD has a real-world application, though, wj_gibson. My Arts PhD does not - it's Film Studies and purely theoretical. The only possible way of applying this to a job is if the job is in academia.
"Five years "real world" experience pre-PhD isn't going to make any difference at all, it's simply going to look to an employer as though you're just trying to get back to something you left behind in favour of academia if you're just going back into the same thing." Exactly the problem. Only now we're trying to get back into the same thing, but we're manifestly over-qualified, and any employer with an ounce of common sense is going to know that we're not a good long-term prospect for the company. I don't have an "industry" as such for my PhD - God knows, the film industry isn't interested in academic qualifications (despite the well-meaning suggestions of many an advisor at the Jobs and Benefits Office). There is no "practitioner" option for me. My PhD is not relevant to anything outside of an academic career. I still don't regret doing the PhD - it was the most professionally satisfying period of my life, I loved it and felt privileged to have the opportunity to do it - but I would be in a much, much better position, economically and professionally, if I hadn't done it. I'm working now, but ONLY because I was able to make my pre-PhD experience work for me, and it is on a much lower professional scale and with much reduced responsibilities to what I had before. It's glorified data entry work, basically, but I'm lucky to have it - I spent a year on Jobseeker's Allowance and I have no intention of going back to that.
"What a diabolical state of affairs that people feel a need to hide or else apologize for their PhDs. You spend years of your life working under very stressful conditions for next to no money to gain a PhD in the first place. You should always feel proud of having it on a CV."
I agree wholeheartedly! I ended up fighting very hard for mine, and I deeply resent the idea that it's a liability on my CV. But unfortunately it IS a liability. I won't remove it, because I fought so damn hard for it, and I don't dispute for a moment that there's a need to help PhD students understand how to tackle an application for a non-academic post consonant with their level of education. But, truthfully, I don't see that it's going to make us any more employable. I'm lucky enough to have career experience pre-PhD, which includes working in HR, so I'm probably more experienced than many in understanding how to make a CV work hard for a particular position, and I can say categorically that, in my experience, employers simply don't care about transferable skills at the moment. In the current market, they can ask for whatever ridiculously specific previous experience they think will whittle down the number of applicants to a manageable size, and, for non-academic posts, that experience never, ever includes a PhD. As far as academic jobs go, I have as much experience as I could get of postgraduate teaching opportunities, and I'm widely published for someone at my career stage, with a number of (REF-able; I checked) publications due out this year, but academic employers just... don't care. I see post-docs advertised demanding two, three years post-doctoral experience for entry-level work. I just don't know what else a newly qualified PhD can do...
Hi everyone, and thanks so much for all your advice. Wow, it's a really, really depressing picture, isn't it? I'll continue to apply for jobs but I think the heart's gone out of my search now. Ian, that's been my big fear: that by the time there was any kind of positive movement on the jobs front, my qualification would be too old to be of any use to me.
Thanks again, everyone. It's refreshing to get good, honest opinions instead of the university-sponsored "Work really hard, get your PhD, and then come work with us in academia!!" nonsense.
Hi everyone, and thanks so much for your replies. I guess it's both a relief and just unspeakably depressing to hear that it's not just me. I mean, I'm not naive enough to think that it was going to be easy to get that first academic job, but I suppose it never crossed my mind that it would be *impossible*. I fought so damn hard to get this PhD, and the thought of never being able to use it just breaks my heart. But I haven't got a partner to support me while I keep scrabbling about for crumbs under the academic table and the thought of putting my life on hold, indefinitely, for a job that MIGHT come up some time in the future is just... not where I want to be. And it's really not like I can use this PhD to parlay my way into some tangentially-connected industry role: in my field, it's academia or nothing.
I've basically thrown away four years of my life. Wow.
Forgive my ignorance, but is there any chance that this might get better once the economy improves? Though, the longer it goes on, I suppose, the harder it gets to make my research remain relevant. I really thought I'd done all the right things: I'd built up my teaching experience, I'd published in journals, I'd got a publisher for my thesis... Well. The biggest irony of all, of course, is that I walked away from a permanent job with excellent prospects in order to study for this PhD, and it's now left me in a far worse position than I was in before. I don't think I'll be removing it from my CV, though. I don't think I can bring myself to do that!
Thanks again, everyone! All advice is very much appreciated.
No, thanks so much for your reply! I really appreciate it.
Ooooh I can really see the logic behind that, but ouch, though! Removing it altogether... Though it's beginning to feel like a millstone around my neck. And sorry if my ranting has given you the heebies in advance of job-hunting! How much longer do you have before you'll be looking?
Hi HazyJane, and thanks for your reply! I probably should have been clearer - I'm 34 with seven years' solid work experience on my CV before I went back to study for the PhD, and I'm working at the moment (on a short-term temporary contract as basically a glorified data entry technician). I used to work in HR so I have a good idea of how to make a CV work for me, in terms of which bits to sell and how to sell them. The problem is, the PhD is actually a liability when it comes to looking for non-academic work - employers just aren't looking for a generic set of transferable skills, and they don't want to or need to employ someone who's over-qualified and probably going to leave them for a job more relevant to their training at the first opportunity. I thought it might get slightly better when the PhD was awarded (I had a year of corrections after my viva, and I was applying for jobs for about six months prior to that, so I've literally been applying for academic jobs for two and a half years now) but if anything the Person Specs seem to be getting more and more draconian. I know we'll come out of this recession at some point and the job market will pick up; my fear is that I'll then be competing for entry-level positions against newly qualified PhDs, whose work is more current and who have more recent academic experience - and my PhD is going to just be four years of my life down the drain. I know this dark and pretty morose and I apologise for the tone! I'd love for someone to tell me I'm wrong...
(Also, I have already published several articles during the course of the research and have a contract in place to publish the thesis itself, though the publisher has started ignoring me lately, but that's another story...:-) )
I'm feeling very despondent about the jobs situation, and I hope someone can offer me some kind of light at the end of the tunnel? I was awarded my PhD in June of this year, and of course I wasn't expecting to just walk into a job straight away, but the jobs market seems to be IMPOSSIBLE! My PhD is in the Arts and not transferable in any way, shape or form to the business world, so I'm exclusively pursuing post-docs and lecturing positions, but I'm seeing post-docs advertised that want 2 or 3 years' post-doctoral experience and supposed entry-level lecturing positions (advertises as suitable for early career researchers) wanting experience of supervising research students. I got my first ever interview last month, and, of the five of us who were shortlisted, 3 had a minimum of 1 year's experience in a post-doctoral position. These are for the short-term contracts, the ones that still aren't sufficient to persuade the bank to give you a mortgage, and I'm just not sure how the likes of me even gets on the job ladder at all.
Sorry for the whiny, self-pitying tone! Hopefully someone can knock some sense into me. Maybe it's just a particularly bad patch? But I'm starting to wonder how long one's PhD remains relevant enough to even get the CV off the slush pile when one is obliged to take whatever (non-academic) work one can get in order to pay the bills.
Huhu - I had a similar problem at one stage. I ended up getting the Head of Faculty involved because I was just getting desperate. It's not a step I recommend taking lightly - there's always a fine line to tread between standing up for yourself and being "that troublemaker" who can't get anyone to write them a reference - but if you're really worried about your work then you do need to protect yourself, especially in the run-up to your viva. I tried to phrase my approach in fairly neutral terms so that it didn't look as though I was attacking my supervisor directly - "Prof X told me that it wasn't his responsibility to read my work, but the student charter seems to be telling me something different. Can you clarify for me? I'm a little concerned as I'm not sure who I should be sending my work to for feedback at present..." It worked (though, true to my initial concerns, I had to take them off my CV as a referee!) Good luck!
I also found this forum after getting an R&R verdict. I was utterly devastated and couldn't imagine getting up the will to tackle a project that I thought I'd given my very best efforts already - you think you've finished, you've mentally closed the door on it, and then suddenly someone says, "Whoops, no, another year. Oh - and no guarantees, either." I looked at their list of requirements and went through phases of thinking they were completely unreasonable, completely impossible, and completely irrelevant to the research exercise. It was just a horrible, horrible time, and I was convinced that I couldn't do what they needed me to do. But I decided that I hadn't come so far to leave without a PhD, and I was just going to have to put my head down and grit my teeth and get through it, one way or another. I won't lie - it was long and dispiriting and very painful, but I DID it - I resubmitted in March this year, and I was awarded my PhD in June. And, to be honest, the thesis was much better when I resubmitted than it was the first time around (although I don't like to admit this: I prefer to cast my examiners as evil pantomime villains. Hey, whatever gets you through the process, you know?)
You can do this. And it's totally, totally worth it in the end.
Thank you so much - that's incredibly helpful! Plenty of food for thought. It's not a permanent post (18 month fixed term contract to cover a secondment) but I could certainly see how much of that would come up, thinking about the spec and the interview format. They've asked me to give a 15 minute presentation on my current research and outline how I'd turn an aspect of it into a module, which I feel like I can do easily enough, but the other stuff? Yikes. Oh well, if nothing else it will give me experience of interviewing at this level, which can only come in useful in the future!
Hi everyone! I was really excited to be invited to interview for an academic job opening - I've been applying for 2 years and this is the first time I've been shortlisted! There's not a whole lot of time to prepare, though, and, though I've plenty of interviews under my belt, this is my first for an academic position. I was wondering if anyone could give me an idea of the types of questions I could prepare for? I know that could be a bit like asking "how long is a piece of string?", but even a very general idea would be useful. Do they focus generally on research interests? Teaching philosophy (whatever that might be! I've seen it requested in job applications in the past but I have no clue what it means...)? Experience? Why you want to work for them? I can't even remember my interview for the PhD so I can't extrapolate from that! Any information gratefully received!
(It's a lecturing role in Arts/Humanities in a UK institution if that helps?)
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