A parachute for jumping off the Ivory Tower
March 17, 2014 10:20 AM Subscribe
Another humanities-grad-student-meets-real-life question. Finishing a linguistics Ph.D., have a classics M.A.; my academic job search is drawing a blank, so I'm looking further afield. What are some specific skills I could acquire that would make me more employable, and how do I go about acquiring them? Complications: I'll need visa sponsorship for any kind of employment, and time is a factor.
posted by zeri to Work & Money (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm an international student from Israel in my seventh year of a linguistics Ph.D. program. I'm in the US on an F-1 visa, which expires in mid-December, so I'll be filing my dissertation by then. I want to either stay in the US afterwards or else move to Europe; I'll need employment-based visa sponsorship for either option. The academic job market is not being kind to me (twenty-odd applications so far this year, zero interviews). What can I do to make myself more employable outside academia, specifically to the kind of employer that might be willing to sponsor me for a visa?
Time frame: I can apply for OPT, which would give me another year to stay in the US after I file, if I can find employment related to my degree. So best case scenario (file in December, get a continuous OPT job for a year), I have until December 2015 to find long-term visa-sponsored employment; worst case scenario (can't get an OPT job), I have until this December.
I'm in northern California, and ideally would like to stay here, but would consider moving to another part of the US, another English-speaking country, or most anywhere in western Europe.
As a potential employee my strengths are mostly in the language field. I'm bilingual in English and Hebrew, speak fairly passable Spanish and French (not quite fluent in either), and know Latin and Greek. I write well and I have some academic copyediting experience. I've worked as a Hebrew to English translator before.
My main weak point is probably that I've never had a real job. I'm in my mid 30s and have basically been in school all my life, apart from a short stint pre-grad school as a translator working from home. Also, I don't have any computer skills beyond the basics (Word etc.).
Temperamentally I'm an introvert, and am not great at teamwork, nor at dealing with open-ended or ill-defined tasks. (Don't worry, I wouldn't say this at a job interview.) I work best when I'm given a clearly defined task that's within or at the edge of my skill set and the freedom to complete it in my own way.
Some options/fields I've been thinking about:
- Teaching high school: I could teach Latin or Hebrew at the high school level. I don't really know that I want to deal with obnoxious teenagers on a daily basis, but I'm at the point where I'll take what I can get. However, I doubt most high schools would consider doing visa sponsorship (nor do community colleges, which rules out that option); also, I don't have a teaching certification, so would be limited to private schools.
- Publishing: I don't really know what kinds of careers there are in this field or how easy or hard it would be to find sponsorship, but it seems like it might be a good fit. Any inside knowledge would be much appreciated.
- Digital humanities: I have the humanities part, but not the digital part. What are some specific IT skills I could acquire in a reasonably short time if I wanted to look for work in this field, and where/how would I get them?
- Computational linguistics: same question.
Other ideas welcomed, including farfetched ones. (I don't necessarily have to work in a language-related field; hell, if it turns out there's a massive shortage of plumbers in California such that they're first in line for greencards, I'll go to night school for plumbing.) The more specific the better: I'd ideally like answers of the type "Here is a particular certification you could get that would make you attractive to employers in field X".