Minimum Wage After English PhD

15-Oct-19, 23:09
Avatar for geribetty
posted about 8 months ago
Hi all.

Essentially I'm wondering what kind of job-hunting experience other humanities PhDs have had? I finished an AHRC PhD in London last year, and since then I've been applying for any writing positions that I can find (which isn't that many back home in the north of England). I always saw myself becoming a lecturer, but with the postdoc market being so small (I've applied and been refused), sessional teaching being scarce at every university I've enquired at (6) and no savings to support myself on to move cities, I'm feeling very low.

The only position I've managed to get is a copywriting job for a clothing department in a supermarket, paying me minimum wage (£13.7k after tax), working in a windowless studio for five days a week and unable to afford anything that isn't my rent. I've sent multiple emails to HR asking about a salary negotiation, but I'm being flat out ignored, despite exceeding my targets consistently. There's barely any copywriting jobs coming up although I check the jobsites daily, everything seeming to be marketing work that not only wants you to be able to write sales copy, but edit graphics, market research and data anaylsis, run PR events- all of which I feel like I could do easily with a little training, but without a minimum of two years experience, nobody wants to know. I'd say 90% of the applications I've fired off haven't even received a response. I've never not had a part time job since I was fourteen- I've been a barista, worked in sales, office admin, freelance editor, note-taker- so my CV is far from empty, but apparently none of that counts for anything.

Basically I feel like none of this has been worth it. My PhD took a lot out of me, leaving me with chronic IBS, an eating disorder and a lot of debt, and I'd love to know if anyone has any message of hope out there.
18-Oct-19, 15:54
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 8 months ago
Hi. I am very sorry to hear this. Life is not fair. I do not have a magic solution but I feel your pain and encourage you to apply more and try to take courses of the required skills and document them in your CV. Look for online courses and write them in the CV and apply with confidence with your heads high. I am sure your day will come. I wish it comes sooner than expected.
22-Oct-19, 11:59
Avatar for Dr_Crabby
posted about 8 months ago
I have no message of hope really but just wanted to say you are certainly not alone.

I don't feel like my PhD has been worth it AT ALL!! All it has managed to do for me is give me chronic stress, chronic migraines, anxiety and relationship issues. I gave up a well paid management job (30k a year) to get my PhD finished because I was finding it impossible to work 70 hrs a week, plus management courses they were making me do and get anything done on my PhD so I'm now working as a receptionist for a boss that I can't stand, I'm skint and all the jobs I apply for I hear nothing from or I hear the "you're overqualified" or "not enough on the job experience in this field" etc. It really is soul-destroying but don't quit!!

It is hard and depressing but we will get there eventually, I'm sure of it!!
24-Oct-19, 17:06
Avatar for geribetty
posted about 8 months ago
Thanks guys! It's good to know that I'm not alone even if the situation is rubbish :')

@eng77 I've been looking into courses and things I can supplement my CV with, but most of them are designed from a CPD perspective and require quite a lot of funding- I think the assumption is that your employer funds you through a lot of them.

I know in a lot of ways I should be grateful. My other half keeps reminding me that out of the English cohort we graduated from I'm the only PhD who's ended up with a remotely creative, writing based job (we've got a prison librarian, a girl on a police graduate scheme, an insurance claims line call handler and a couple of baristas) - but it's difficult to feel any sense of attainment when some weeks I struggle to buy fruit and veg.

I know the answer is go into teaching for a guaranteed extra 8k a year, but I'm not sure I could cope with the stress!


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