How to get a non-academic job whilst PhDing?
April 1, 2010 3:34 PM   Subscribe

How do I get a relevant, non-academic job while finishing my PhD?

i'm doing fine, and am on track, no debt, successful track record. however, while i do like my program (in the social sciences), i know for certain that i don't want to end up in academia. it's just not for me.

so, how do i go about getting a job? i *very* fortunately have a bit of work experience with non-profits, mostly feminist ones -- as a director, as an intern, etc. problem is, these jobs are super competitive and hard to come by.

i'd like to keep plugging away at my PhD and eventually finish, but in the meantime, i do not want to be TAing! i'd rather be accruing experience in a policy related field, especially health/women/lgbtq/human rights related type things.

i've been applying to everything i can think of, but wanted to post this in case there are things i'm not thinking of. govt jobs? check. charity village? check. volunteering? check. are there other things i should be thinking of and doing?

the real difficuly seems to lie here: in that i'm either overqualified for things, so i think they pass right over my resume, or underqualified in terms of work experience for the more senior positions, again passing me over.

other: i am situated in toronto, and am not available to move for work right now, nor in the forseeable future. so my search is limited to here.

have you ever been in this situation?
what finally enabled you to land rewarding work?
are there any job-search mechanisms that i'm missing?
posted by crawfo to Work & Money (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Can you work full-time? (I know some people can while they finish, and I'm super impressed with all those people!) I work part-time in my field - BUT I'm in a much more technical field.
posted by ansate at 3:52 PM on April 1, 2010

Response by poster: yes! would prefer to work fulltime, though am open to pretty much anything. i do a lot better when i'm most busy.

i.e. -- i have a day stretched out ahead of me to write? studies have shown that i will spend 80-98% of time on non-relevant internets and walking the dogs and making really elaborate snacks.

OR. i have 2 hours that i can fit some writing in = productivity like never before!!
posted by crawfo at 4:08 PM on April 1, 2010 has some job listings; looks like there's only one for Toronto right now as far as I can tell
posted by Think_Long at 4:18 PM on April 1, 2010

When applying for jobs you think you may be overqualified for, you don't need to list your PhD. Wait until the interview to mention it so that you can tell the whole story of why you want this job instead of a PhD-level academic job.
posted by decathecting at 4:39 PM on April 1, 2010

I was able to "inherit" two jobs held by other, more senior graduate students in my department when they left those jobs for bigger and better things. Do you know of other students or former students in your field who currently have jobs you would find desirable? Any chance you can talk to them about your interest in those jobs?
posted by dilettanti at 4:49 PM on April 1, 2010

I don't know EXACTLY what you're after, but many large corporations have diversity officers, ombudsmen, etc., who deal with LBGTQ issues and women's issues (among other things). Many public entities like colleges or school districts or city governments also have those types of positions. Even if they're not exactly on point, those types of jobs may give you valuable experience that would make you a more attractive candidate for your dream jobs.

Also, with the places that think you're overqualified, you may be able to volunteer with that organization or a closely related one ... once you know the people doing the hiring (because you've volunteered there, or you move in the same circles because you volunteer at a related organization), that overqualification is going to matter a lot less -- they'll know you're dedicated and not just looking for a quick stopover job.

Another way to get noticed, of course, is blogging really well about those particular issues.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:58 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Oh, and since you like policy work -- can you run for office yourself? Even a small local office. Then you can really directly do policy work! Although the pay is probably crap unless you go for bigger potatoes!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:59 PM on April 1, 2010

If you haven't joined it yet, the WRK4US listserv, run out of Duke University, is "the premier email discussion list on nonacademic careers for people with graduate degrees in Humanities, Education and Social science disciplines." It's an international list, and I've found it really interesting and helpful (and I say this as someone who's moving home to Toronto after my degree). Check it out; it's been running for about 11 years now.
posted by ilana at 10:57 PM on April 1, 2010

Trying to do this myself. It's tough! Employers seem to like PhDs but shy away from PhD students.
posted by miyabo at 5:09 AM on April 2, 2010

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