Having a professional blog – or portfolio of some sort – is a MUST for alt-acs. It not only serves as a lifeline back to your original academic training, but it also helps you share your expertise, demonstrate your transferable communications skills, and connect with even broader communities and impact audiences you wouldn’t reach from the ivory tower.
Nature got a lot of backlash yesterday on Twitter about an article they shared. What Nature tweeted wasn’t the article’s premise. The article’s thrust is that there is a real need to provide more instructions about and require those considering graduate work to research career outcomes, challenges, and strongly consider whether a PhD really is right for them.
I agree. Every student – in every undergraduate major and grad program – needs more support and training in career options, how to research careers, and how to build a thriving career. No arguments there. But I do have things to say about the rest of the article’s points…
How a Project Manager job description would read if it were written honestly.
When it comes to job searches, a lot of alt-ac clients want to find a job that allows them to at least in part work remotely. I know how important this is for academics in particular.
So today I’m tackling one of the most common questions in my inbox: “Where do I find remote jobs?”
Why Academics Want Remote Jobs
Academics WANT control over their work. Autonomy and independence are some of the biggest reasons for pursuing academia and grad/professional degrees in the first place! We wanted to become experts so that we could exercise greater control over the kinds of work we do. The ability to make choices about what kinds of tasks we take on. The ability to schedule our own workday as we please. That is part of the expected deal. That what comes with deep expertise and authority over one’s subject matter is a more professional level of job.
And these days, most of us are smart enough to realize that there’s often no compelling NEED for us to physically be in the office 5 days a week. (Or at all?!) Between Zoom, Skype, Slack, and I don’t even know what else, can’t we be connected no matter where we are? If dumb #influencers (yeah, I said it!) can work from anywhere, why can’t those of us with highly specialized knowledge and skills be afforded the same courtesy?
Why Academics Need Remote Jobs
And then there’s also very real needs. Many of us alt-acs NEED remote work – for all kinds of reasons. Many academics are members of dual-career households. Many are partners with someone who is faculty and/or otherwise geographically bound. My alt-ac PhD spouse, for instance, specializes in the archaeology of the Colorado Plateau. Even if I find a great job in Minneapolis, that’s not going to work for his career. So should my career suffer when I’ve maxed out my opportunities locally?
Of course I’m all for finding the style and type of work that you need AND want, but I’m afraid I’m here to warn you that there is no great answer to this question.