Do the Next Right Thing: Career Development Resources for Humanities Grads

Glass of lemonade with a laptop in the background
Image by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

If we ever thought stay-at-home orders presented an opportunity to be “productive,” most of us likely dispensed with that notion when we began to see how the pandemic is actually impacting our lives and work. Graduate students in particular, who were already living under precarious conditions that disproportionately affect working class students, students of color, and student caregivers, have been hit hard by the stress of this moment. Perhaps this summer we would be wise to finally let go of the persistent idea that we will tackle all the things we couldn’t finish during the academic year, while also somehow supporting ourselves and our dependents and attending socially-distant backyard barbeques.

And yet: this summer will necessarily involve adjusting to changes in how we imagined not only the coming academic year but our careers as academics. For humanities grads who want and/or need to secure a stable income and a satisfying career after the degree, it is past time to think beyond the tenure track. Seeking professional development opportunities to prepare us for what used to be considered “alternative” careers is no longer optional. 

With this in mind, the DHI has put together a list of resources for humanities grads focused on career development, job market advice, and cultivating self-compassion. Think of it like fleeing your quarantine pod to take a loop around the block, or a Zoom pep talk from your mentor when you’re feeling stuck. It won’t fix the larger problem, but it might help give you what you need to take the next step.

To start, consider attending today’s PhD Unlimited event, Curating Your Digital Identity, with Cynthia Foster, Communications Manager at the Feminist Research Institute. DHI’s Maya Weeks interviewed Cynthia as a preview to the event.

MW: Can you say a little bit about the origins of the PhD Unlimited: Curating Your Digital Identity event? Was there a particular need you saw that needed to be met?

CF: This presentation grows out of my work helping professionals share their work and passions with a broader public. Communicating the value of research is essential to any researcher, and I’m happy to use my years of digital communications experience to help graduate students realize their ambitions.

MW: What can participants expect at the May 26 Curating Your Digital Identity event?

CF: On May 26, participants will learn about the basics of digital communication strategy, as well as practical ways to apply strategic communications concepts to their work. Some topics we’ll cover: finding your why, choosing a platform, developing audience and influence, and the difference between an expert, thought leader and influencer.

MW: Can you speak to Curating Your Digital Identity's timeliness (in the context of COVID-19 and/or a broader context)?

CF: Our digital identities become more important than ever in a moment when so much work has moved online. Now more than ever it’s important to make sure that you are the person, scholar, and leader online who you want to be. It won’t mean the same thing for everyone, particularly since the reality of Covid-19 hits us each in such complex ways.

MW: Do you have suggestions for further resources for participants to turn to on the topic of curating their digital identities, should they be interested?

CF: There are a couple of sites that do this well. Marketing Week and Content Marketing Institute both offer lots of free articles on digital marketing, and the latter focuses especially on content creation (a must for researchers hoping to turn their insights into something people might digest)

More upcoming virtual professional development events:

Job market information, advice, and support:

Online career development tools:

Support with self-compassion, resilience, and managing expectations: