Alt-Acs Must Get On LinkedIn

It used to be commonly accepted knowledge that academia and LinkedIn do not play nicely together. But those days are gone. While even academics need to get with LinkedIn, it is a MUST for all alt-acs to be on LinkedIn. Here's the top 3 reasons why, and some resources to get you started.

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A Critique of the Nature article that says a PhD isn’t for Everyone

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...

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Avoid Remote Only Job Sites

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.

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For Alt-Acs: Lose the Dissertation Requirement, PhD programs

What might a PhD program designed specifically for alternative-academic careers look like” asks Joshua Kim in the Inside HigherEd article “Collaborative Work, Academic Training, and Alt-Ac Careers.” It’s a good question. Kim’s article points out how much PhD work – the prospectus, the lit reviews, the research, analysis, and the dissertation, are all done as solo efforts. But alt-acs “do almost all of their work in collaboration.”

True.

Nearly all of my work is as part of a team. Yes, there is a rhythm between doing individual tasks independently (writing curriculum, writing training workshops, etc.) but that is balanced in at least equal amounts of time by coming back together to work with a team (instructional designers, web developers) on how the curriculum I’ve written will be developed and delivered as eLearning.

The other alt-acs I work with – their work is largely structured the same.

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Why Higher Ed Needs to Invest More in Staff Professional Development

One of the prevailing paradigms in higher ed these days is student success. Cynics decry it as a framework devoid of meaning. After all, haven’t all of us in higher ed existed to ensure student success at all times? As in: how is this “new” or advancing the field? But more narrowly constructed, many universities, colleges, and community colleges frame their missions and strategic plans around it.

Student success can mean many things. It can entail access – ensuring that education remains available to all to the degree possible. It can include breaking down scheduling and financial barriers so students are able to complete their programs and graduate to a rewarding career. And it can mean that institutions provide services for its increasingly diverse students, such as food insecure students, first generation students, etc.

But what does your higher ed institution do for career success for its staff? Anything?

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