The MLA Career Exploration Activity Packet is designed to help you work through some of the more common blocks and obstacles to exploring a wide range of humanities careers. The three activities walk you through the process of learning what you have to offer, thinking about what types of work are out there, and creating a plan for your next steps. While these activities won’t give you all the answers, they’re designed to get you thinking.
“Oh, you have a PhD, so you must be a professor?” Emily McGinn, digital humanities coordinator at the University of Georgia, is not unfamiliar with the question. As she says, “The resulting blank stare is often followed by something like, “So … you scan stuff?” Such is the nature of the alt-ac existence, not quite legible, almost interpretable, nearly recognizable.”
“It was liberating to realize that through our doctoral studies we are gaining experiences and skills that will help us pursue exciting careers in the nonacademic world,” says proseminar fellow Malkah Bressler. “It felt even better to learn how to translate our experiences into terms that will make us competitive job applicants.”
Manoah Finston writes about what differentiates doctoral students from industry-aligned master’s students on the job market, and suggests some recommendations for how university career-counseling centers and home departments might better approach these students’ distinct needs.
“My fellow scholars in the MLA’s Connected Academics proseminar,” says Beth Seltzer, “tackle a mind-boggling range of responsibilities. They edit academic journals, serve as assistant deans and departmental administrators, lead graduate student associations, and volunteer with local youth-art programs. And they get all this done while they’re writing their dissertations and producing strong academic scholarship. I am sure that—through their work in various fields—they will make the world a better place.”
In this post, Connected Academics proseminar fellow Manoah Finston argues that we should avoid the binary norms suggested by the terms “alt-” and “post-” ac and opt for “big-ac”—which he describes as “using my academic training anywhere, and everywhere, I can”—instead.
“All professions have their own jargon,” says Christopher Martiniano. “Identifying and using their key words, phrases, and acronyms is also crucial to making your résumé “scannable” and relevant to a potential interviewer. Like using SEO in a Web site, “keywording” your résumé with phrases and important words to a profession will help you get past the machine-reading level of most human resources departments.”