No matter if you are storming the beaches of France, planning a corporate takeover, trying to rob three Las Vegas casinos on fight night, defecting to the United States with a stolen Soviet submarine, or getting a job after you graduate, everybody needs a plan.
It is never too early to start the process for how you will hit the job market running. Part of that comes in the form of scholarly communication work (AKA publishing and presenting), which helps build up items on your Curriculum Vitae (CV), and the other part is the job search itself and knowing what to expect and how to prepare. On this page, we talk a little about this process and how to prepare and plan for After Graduation.
Scholarly Communications is just a fancy way of saying "publishing your research," but we use the term because it encompasses all forms of publication and communication of your work. This could be in traditional formats such as journal articles and monographs, but it could also be essays in popular media venues (such as The Atlantic or The New York Times), video essays on YouTube or Vimeo, podcasts, and so much more. Any form through which you communicate your scholarly work is a valuable contribution to the wide discourse of our society. Indeed, these non-academic venues are becoming increasingly critical as the gap between the public and the academic has widened, leading to a broad misunderstanding of many of the topics we research, be they historic, artistic, or scientific.
In the video below, DWR member, Dr. Michael W. Harris of McWherter Library, discusses many of these ideas and the publication process writ large.
Finally, this guide by the University of Arizona discuss thinking about your "Scholarly Identity and Impact" and is an additional valuable resource.
The actual job hunt is probably one of the hardest things to consider, but just as with publishing, it is something you will need to consider even before you finish. There are so many types of jobs to look at: adjunct, visiting instructor, post-doc, tenure track, and more. To say nothing of the materials you may need: cover letters, CVs, teaching statements, diversity statements, research interests, etc., and every job asks for different materials.
It is daunting to say the least. The two videos below can help you get started with what services are available to you on campus and what you should be thinking of now.
As you start your job hunt, it is a good idea to stay organized. Many people have spreadsheets that list the jobs, deadlines, materials required, links to the job posting, and how to submit--a spreadsheet sometimes dubbed the "Spreadsheet of Destiny."
As before, just as with the dissertation itself, being organized, methodical, and breaking down large tasks to smaller, more quickly achievable tasks, is the key to surviving with your mental health mostly intact.
There has been much talk about the academic job market lately, and how while most STEM PhDs have easy-to-see and easy-to-navigate career paths outside of the academy, the arts and humanities do not. However, there has also been talk over the past 10-20 years about "going alt-ac" or alternative to academia. It is true, there are many careers in which your research, writing, and teaching skills are highly desirable, and applicable...but how?
Some people are lucky in that they sort of fall into them (like with Dr. Harris and librarianship), for others, it is a bit more work. As this blog post from 2020 points out, most degree programs and mentors do not discuss this openly, and even those who do, do not often offer additional training, workshops, or even advice on how to make the leap. This may be changing, however, and the organizers of the DWR hope to build out some more resources on this in the future. For now, though, these posts from Inside Higher-Ed provide a beginning of sorts.
As mentioned on the mental health page, you HAVE to take breaks in order to maintain your energy and ability to remain productive, so possibly the most important thing you can do after you graduate is: TAKE A BREAK!!!! You have just spent anywhere from 3-6 (if not more) years of your life in solo pursuit of your doctorate so you should take a break. Go on vacation with friends and family, those who have supported you during this time.
And as with everything, make a plan before! Have a goal, something to look forward to as you struggle through the last few months and weeks ahead of finishing. It is the dessert after the meal that is your doctorate degree!