Permanently ABD

It is no secret that I ❤️ The Professor Is In. She is the Bee’s Knees. (See what I did there? Because I also heart puns? And Bees? Okay, I’ll show myself out now…) I read just about everything she puts out there.

Her most recent column: “A Few Good Reasons to Switch Graduate Programs” in The Chronicle of Higher Education only touched upon the question of “should I quit my PhD program?” but having been there – and done it – that one little aside gave me a lot to think about.

I quit for a whole host of reasons, none of which are uncommon.

First, I went into my PhD program largely because I didn’t know what else to do. I had a Master’s, and I loved higher ed, I loved learning, so why not? And my thinking was that a Master’s was better than a Bachelors when it came to competing for jobs, so obviously having a terminal degree would help me edge out even more competitors. So in large part, I exited my program with just as much “meh” as I had started with.

Except I had more cynicism.

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Are We In For a Recession? What does that Mean for your Job Search?

I am not an economist. And my crystal ball is permanently broken. But judging by an uptick in anxiety, stress, and a heightened sense of “oh, crap! I NEED to land a new job before a recession” in my inbox, it seems like all the news that a recession may be coming are taking their toll.

Again – I’ll repeat – I know NOTHING and am in no way qualified to talk about whether a recession is coming. I strongly urge you to defer to real experts in the economy. Who can tell you far better than I can whether we’re headed for a recession. Who know what on earth a yield curve is or why it’s inversion matters.

But I do have

  • emails from 2 folks saying their team is getting the axe (Layoffs)
  • loads of requests from folks looking for a new job – for all kinds of reasons. But a big theme seems to be “my workload is overwhelming me. My employer isn’t doing ANYTHING to reduce it!” which sounds to me like their employers are scaling back on hiring.
  • email from people who have been looking for a while (3+ months) and are getting more worried & discouraged (sigh! I feel ya! )

So what’s my inbox like? Should I job hunt before a recession hits? Do I just take the first offer that comes along, presuming it’s going to get rougher? Is there any point keeping up a job hunt during a recession?

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Bite-Sized Career Development

In my day job, I manage professional development programs. And in that field the trend has moved to offering bite-sized training. Appetizers, if you will. Rather than committing someone to a full three-course meal (or more!) of training, we know adults learn best when single-tasked and focused, and in smaller chunks, particularly as we get bombarded with more and more information.

This applies really well to graduate school training too.

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Campus Jobs as Graduate Assistantships Lead to Better Outcomes

One of the foremost thinkers in how we can overhaul the graduate school experience to address career planning is Leonard Cassuto. In addition to his excellent book The Graduate School Mess (which should be required reading for anyone interested in the topic), he also writes a series for the Chronicle of Higher Education called the Graduate Adviser. His latest post, “Outcomes-based Graduate School: The Humanities Edition” illustrates how one university – Lehigh – tackled overhauling its graduate curriculum in English.

There’s several things to note in how they went about this.

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Office Optics: Make a Great First Impression at a New Job

A theme of my week seems to be office optics. You know, how things look, how you are perceived by others.

Has anyone ever stopped by your desk to say: “Where is [your neighbor]?” and you don’t know, haven’t seen them in an hour or so, and there’s nothing on their calendar? Bad optics. What about the working parent who CC’s the whole team – and not just the boss – to say “My daycare just called, baby has a fever, I have to go get them. I’ll be taking the rest of the day off”? Good optics! Be transparent. It goes a long way.

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