Jessica recently wrote to me and shared her story of quitting her PhD and finding career happiness outside of academia. This is a guest post by her. I found her story very interesting and realized that I need to allow myself her 4th permission at least a few times per week.
It’s hard to say exactly when I stopped wanting the PhD. I’d been ambivalent about grad school throughout my master’s program, feeling depleted by academia’s insistence on fueling its members by a relentless sense of inadequacy. I thought that might go away in a PhD program. It didn’t.
By the end of 2012, I was on-track to becoming a scholar of Russian History. I passed my Qualifying Exam last fall and defended my dissertation proposal to my committee shortly after. I had a fellowship lined up for next fall, which would allow me to spend the next year in Russia completing archival research.
And I didn’t want any of it.
Still, I waited for someone to tell me it was ok that I didn’t want to become a professor anymore. My advisor was incredibly supportive, selflessly encouraging me to leave if I wanted. But it was harder than I expected to just walk away from the career I had already invested five years in.
It took me far too long to understand that ultimately I was the only person who could give myself the following four permissions I needed to change my life:
Over the last few months, I’ve been unhappy with my skill development. I have lots of interests and passions. And while I work around 50 hours a week and have a satisfying career, I always have that nagging feeling of things I’m not accomplishing.
For example, there is a course I really want to take. This course is advanced and I know will help my career. But it requires me to invest a few nights per week, so I put it off. Yet, every month I delay I still think about that course, wonder what I would have learned, and feel like I need to sign-up.
Here is what I believe essential to happiness at work and the things I think I can do to feel more satisfied and fulfilled. (more…)
These are the emails that keep me writing this blog. Here’s another academic researcher showing the world that we can adapt and thrive in the private world. Good work Matt making it through my 18-week challenge and getting out the other side.
I write to thank and congratulate you for writing a book which has helped me to secure full time employment in a job I think I’m really going to enjoy.
The story you tell on selloutyoursoul.com sounds very familiar to me – having stayed in grad school for around six years (one year to do a Masters, and then almost five for a PhD in the Social Sciences). Although I graduated my PhD last December, I was really struggling to find any meaningful work, and it was looking more and more like I was going to have to take yet another menial job just to make ends meet (except this time with a fancy new title in front of my name)!
Last week I received the news that I have been offered a position as a full-time online copywriter at a successful local company. I never even realised that you could get paid to write that kind of stuff before I read your book How to Find a Career With Your Humanities Degree in 126 Days! As you suggest, the interview panel really weren’t all that interested in my PhD – but they were very interested in the skills that I developed whilst I wrote it.
I just wanted to say thanks – I might never have managed this if I hadn’t read your book. Finding your site was like a revelation to me, and I’ll certainly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to the one I was in.
All the best
It was May. University was out forever and I was looking for an apartment. A mole-like woman in her fifties showed me the room. “And what was your major,” she asked. “I have an English degree,” I said.
“Oh!, so I guess that means you will HAVE to teach!” She said.
She was so happy when she said it. She was so happy to determine my fate. You studied English. Now, you HAVE to teach at high school.
Wizard school is over. Time to find a job in the real world, Harry.
As she told me later, she also took an English degree and taught at high school. Teaching at high school is an honourable profession. But just because you take an English degree doesn’t mean your only option is teaching.
I managed to escape that woman’s narrow thinking. You can too.
Here are 5 lucrative and growing jobs for people with English degrees that you probably haven’t heard of before.
This year, I leave my twenties behind. Looking back, here are some things I did wrong, some things I learned, and some things I wish I discovered sooner.
Most of the ideas you have now will embarrass you later.
Take out student loans. Buy a car. Get married. You are about to enter a decade of debt. Borrow as little as possible. The poorer you are in your twenties, the richer you’ll be for the rest of your life. The world feeds on the young.
Get out of university by age 22. Don’t be the person who refuses to graduate.
University is wonderful, but you have to decide what you want. Think carefully about your assumption that more education equals a higher paying career. For most careers, four years is enough.
This article offers seven rock-solid ways to help you get out of your dead-end job. It is based on personal experience and contains advice I’ve learned from successful people who worked their way up into careers from dead-end jobs.
Not an easy question to answer. Looking back, I’m not sure I would take this path again. At the same time, though, there is something to be said about the soft skills taught in the humanities. Below, I’ve reproduced a comment I found online. It is from an English major that found value in his degree.
The comment reinforces my personal belief that English majors can definitely find work in the real world. But it requires adapting and evolving your skill-set into the world of business and profit. While the context is different (the English major below started his career many years ago in a different economy), I think that most of what he says is true today.
Here is a story about a successful English major with some really excellent and timeless career advice . . .
Some sobering and frightening statistics below. I haven’t checked out the sources. But if you are struggling to make the transition from grad to career, you probably aren’t alone (see the infographic).
In slightly brighter news, Forbes recently reported that the economy is looking better for new graduates.
It’s important to note that, while the overall increase is small, all broad categories of majors have seen an increase,” said Marilyn Mackes, NACE’s executive director, in a statement.
The biggest uptick came for business and communications majors, whose salaries climbed 2.2%. Business majors from the Class of 2012 earn an average of $51,541 while communications majors earn $42,286.
Engineering majors posted the highest salaries of any discipline, $60,639, up 1.9% from 2011.
Of course, though, the lowest salaries in the survey are for humanities and social sciences majors, at $36,824, up 1.4% from the previous year.
The inforgraphic is done by CollegeAtHome.com. I know nothing about them nor is this an endorsement. They do, however, present some interesting stats below.