By Anonymous, December 6, 2010 in Uncategorized
While working to improve your chances of landing an academic position this year or next, you may want to start considering alternate career paths. There are a number of possibilities (in no particular order):
1. Teach high school. This might be the most logical choice if you still want to teach, and, if you get a job at a top private school, you might actually end up teaching better students than you would at a small college. If you have extracurricular interests in music or sports, you could be a good candidate, since schools often want faculty who can contribute in these areas.
2. Join a management consulting firm. Use your expertise, or at least your training and your intelligence, to make more money than you ever would as a college professor. You gave up wealth, fame and power long ago, but it’s not too late to change your mind.
3. Find a job in government or in the non-profit sector. This is also a logical choice. There are organizations out there that could use your expertise and training. Even if you’re an expert in 13th century Aristotelian manuscripts, your research and writing skills make you a candidate for jobs in these fields, and, if you know a foreign language (probably something more contemporary than Latin or ancient Greek, but you never know—maybe you could become the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican), then that could open doors as well.
4. Go to law school. You can never have too much education, right? Lawyers aren’t doing so well right now either, but maybe they will be in three years.
5. Start a career in academic publishing. This might be one way to stay close to the academic world even if you can’t get a job teaching. It’s not easy to get a job at a university (or even a trade) press, but there is a lot of turnover, and, if you get some experience as a freelance editor, you might convince them that you’re the right person for the job.
6. Write a best-selling book for popular consumption. Easier said than done, but many a starving intellectual has done it in the past. You always wanted to sit in a coffee shop all day and put brilliant thoughts to paper; now’s your chance.
7. Start a business. In most fields, if you have a Ph.D., it’s a sign that you’re at least reasonably intelligent and creative. Use those abilities to start that business you’ve always dreamt about.
8. Do something completely different. Be a mechanic, fix computers, go into the insurance industry. You can always fish by day and philosophize by night.
These are just a few possibilities, some more plausible than others. The main point is that you can investigate other fields of employment. There are a lot of options out there, and there are resources that can help too. Search for “non-academic careers” on the internet. Look for books that can help you think about new possibilities. Talk to professors about what previous students have done other than going into academia. It may not be easy to envision yourself doing something else, but it’s worth thinking about—and probably sooner rather than later.