[post-dissertation filter] Finding work while still tethered? Procedure?
January 28, 2015 6:53 PM   Subscribe

I just submitted my dissertation (yay...)! But during the struggle I've decided that academia is not my cup of tea--what next? Details after dropping out of warp.

Hello hivemind,

A couple of days ago, I submitted my disaster of a dissertation (political science) for which I completed in a foreign country. The research and writing process convinced me quite arduously but clearly that I would not like to stay in academia. I seriously contemplating folding many times and fought tooth and nail with my inner demons to at least eke out the fruits of my labor. While I enjoyed the teaching experience and expounding on theoretical analysis, ultimately I am not cut out to do research, nor am I particularly enamored with the unstructured swaths of time devoted to work that will somehow be confined to a very small community of intellectuals. Unfortunately, it took me six years to come to this conclusion and once again, I find myself looking my future in the eye with uncertainty for which I would like to compensate with better navigation of my options.

I will have at least three to four months of time before I am called back to defend the dissertation. I would like to take some time to retrain my thinking skills, explore the natural surroundings here (tons of wildlife in my area), delve in writing/reading Meetups in my area and getting back in touch with my friends and family. But ultimately, I want to be ready for employment and developing my writing interests on the side...all of this knowing that I'll need to take some time to make my defense (the travel time, actual defense and tying up loose ends in my former grad school town could take up at most four days). At the moment, I am looking at translation or copy editing positions at one of the two major papers in my city. The backup that I dread would be to apply to take a two year postdoc position: getting this position would not be difficult, but I dread the prospect and consider it a distant Plan B.

My main question (including sub-questions) is: what's the best strategy in terms of the job search/being in limbo regarding the logistics of the eventual defense date? Should I go ahead and look for work, send my resumes, and work out these logistics later? For those in journalism and/or copy editing, what is the best way I might hone my skills in preparation for being shortlisted for an open position?

I know that this is a particularly crucial juncture in life (I'm 33), and as much as I would like to contemplate the steps carefully, I am convinced that my current situation of living off family members is untenable. Any suggestions and insights about how I might proceed from post-academia would therefore be highly appreciated. Thanks!
posted by wallawallasweet to Work & Money (3 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You need to check out The Versatile PhD. Your institution may have a subscription to the sponsored content, but even if not, there's a lot of useful free information on there regarding nontraditional careers for doctorate-holders. There are also free forums where you might ask this question of other recent PhDs who've successfully left the academy.
posted by Bardolph at 7:05 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

copy editing positions....what is the best way I might hone my skills in preparation for being shortlisted for an open position?

I have worked at several companies that hire copy editors, and gave advice via memail to another person who was able to successfully get a job as a copy editor using some of this info, but I am going to share the path for how to prepare for copy editor positions at medical communication companies. I know this doesn't match "at a newspaper", so flag this if it is going in the wrong direction. This will also be limited as to where you live; there are numerous medical communication companies in some cities, not in others.

Anyway, I have limited time, so I am going to point to what info that I gave about this before, but here I described how to prepare for a job as a medical writer or copy editor at a medical communication company. At some medical communication companies, having a PhD would be a plus, although most people would have a PhD in a scientific field. My guess would be that you have had statistic courses? I would highlight that, too.

What's the best strategy in terms of the job search/being in limbo regarding the logistics of the eventual defense date? Should I go ahead and look for work, send my resumes, and work out these logistics later?

Answering if you decide to go for a job as a copy editor at a med com company. I would use the first few weeks to study to prepare for the editing test (see the linked answer), and then proactively send your CV to as many medical communication companies in your area as possible. Then they typically schedule interviews, which usually start with the tests. Even for companies that move fast, it takes ~ a month to get a job (ie, come in one time for a test, another time for an interview, then another interview).

I also knew a person who successfully landed job with a 6 month time line (she contacted companies 6 months before she defended). What she did was contact companies and expressed an interest in the type of work/industry, was invited to some companies to have a conversation - she recontacted them as soon as she was then ready for her job/post- defense, and she was quickly interviewed and hired.

Also, I do have a list of companies throughout the US. If you would like, memail me - I will share the list. You can search through the PDF by location.
posted by Wolfster at 8:55 PM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for both of your answers---I posted on Versatile PhD and the consensus was to start looking anyways, so I did that.
I sent a CV and I have a translation test for next week with one of the local papers. Wish me luck.
posted by wallawallasweet at 8:39 PM on February 4, 2015

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