Research and Read
What color was Sophie Blanchard's parachute?!
Even if you are not the kind of person who reads self-help books, you will want to invest in one or more career advice books. These books provide the best advice both for finding a job which you will enjoy as well as for discovering outstanding tips for writing a resume.
Career books should not be read in one sitting nor should they be read cover to cover. Carefully skim the book for advice and do as many of the exercises as you can.
Richard Nelson Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute? (Tenspeed Press, 2009). There's a reason why this book is a classic: it offers great advice! Check out the sections on doing informational interviews as well as the word list for resumes.
Maggie Debelius and Susan Elizabeth Basalla, So What Are You Going to Do With That?: A Guide for M.A.'s and Ph.D's Seeking Careers Outside the Academy (University of Chicago Press, 2007). This book is tailor-made for academics; it has already entered its second edition which speaks volumes about the demand for a book of this type. The book's greatest strength lies in the fact that it reassures academics that it's okay to leave academia by providing anecdotes of successful former academics. These stories should motivate you to look in many places.
Nicholas Lore, The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success (Fireside, 1998). Lore uses techniques created at the Rockport Institute to help you determine the kinds of jobs you should pursue and the ways in which you can obtain these jobs. The book provides a step by step process by which you can find the job of your dreams while creating a fulfilling personal life.
Great Web Reading
Courtesy of the Computer Museum
Sellout: Mark Johnson is an English PhD who left academe and works at Intuit. His ironically titled website provides job information as well as encouragement to PhDs considering a career outside of the academy.
Relevant History: Alex Pang, a historian of science, left academe in 1996. His blog can give insight into life outside of the academy. Check out his fantastic essay about leaving academe.
Re-envisioning the PhD: This website grew out of a $515,000 project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts which posed the challenging question: "How can we re-envision the Ph.D. to meet the needs of the society of the 21st Century?"
Out of Academia: Annalee Newitz's thought-provoking article on leaving the academy. This article originally appeared in Salon.
Doctor Outsider: Michelle Tepper's wonderful essay about leaving the academy. This article originally appeared in The Minnesota Review.
Stuffitude: An interview with Richard Rabinowitz, a Harvard PhD, whose career has included stints as a costumed interpreter at Old Sturbridge Village and who has worked as a historical consultant on major projects including ones at the Tenement Museum.
Phd in English? What the F%$?: Some good tips on how to think about your experiences in grad school and how they qualify you for a non-academic job.
The View from Outside the Ivory Tower: A piece on reassessing the historical profession and, more importantly, graduate education. See also History Matters.
Historian for Hire: An interview with Phil Cantelon, the founder of the historical consulting firm, History Associates.
The Disposable Academic: A sobering look at the issues facing academia today.
The Management Myth: A philosophy PhD discusses how his background helped him succeed in business.
And finally, the site we love: The Versatile PhD: this is an ongoing closed free forum in which PhDs who have left the academy, are in the process of leaving the academy, and/or thinking about leaving the academy gather to ask questions about leaving academia and about different professions. This is a fabulous site to learn about a range of careers and to speak directly to people who have left academia and the tone of the commentators is always thoughtful and supportive. Some of the people profiled here on Beyond Academe can be found as mentors (their official title) on The Versatile PhD!
So, see you there!