What humanities students don't want to hear..


Does any one else in the Humanitites have a supervisor who INSISTS on reminding them 2-3 times a week about how utterly bleak their job prospects are? I know they are only being honest but for God's sake I'm here now, do I really need to be reminded of this? Today my supervisor made a joke about how I ought to brush up on my secretarial skills. I nearly put my middle finger up at him.


I'm the opposite...have a very detached Supervisor who, bless them, is not not I think entirely in tune with reality at the best of times....

But I would have stuck my finger up at them Maria, and they should have felt lucky if you did that and didn't launch into a verbal tirade.... :)


Yes, not very supportive at all. It is good to be in touch with reality, but 2-3 times a week is excessive. May I suggest that this supervisor is just expressing his/her own fears about his/her own job situation? My advice would be to grow a thick skin to that kind of talk (and show the middle finger to him/her in your mind)...

Avatar for Eska

Hmmm sounds awful. I'd be tempted to ask him if he is trying to put me off carrying on the next time he does it - something like 'oh, in that case, do you think it's a good idea to continue with the PhD? I want to finish this so badly, it would be such a shame for me if you weren't keen for me to continue'. Also, I'd be tempted to ask what alternatives to academia he thinks there are for you. These are just my thoughts though, and I am a very direct person! A quality which des me good, but which also brings challenges, such as pissng my last, rubbish, supervisor right off - I did then get a supa dupa one tho.

I agree, I opperate in a state of denial and blind optimism most of the time; I think, unless you prepared to give the PhD up, this is the best policy. Good luck.


This was the first thing the director of grad research told me when I started at my current institution, but it hasn't been repeatedly drummed into me since which is a good thing. It must make you very angry but can you respond by saying that you would actually rather be working on improving your chances of getting an academic job rather than your secretarial skills, and can he help you think of ways of bettering your CV and networking? Then he might realize that he needs to start taking this seriously.


Is it possible that he/she thinks you've not really understood what he/she is trying to get across to you? E.g. not attending some careers events, sounding as if you think an academic job is a given in meetings? Maybe he/she has just had a bad experience with a recent PhD who holds them, rather than the realities of the job market, entirely responsible for their failure to get an academic job and is trying to overcompensate with you? I know it's irritating but I've heard several academics talking about the morality of taking on new PhD students at all with the bleak funding otulook.