PhD Unlimited: Expanding the Horizon of Non-Academic Careers

PhD Unlimited Panel

Contrary to what many believe, a PhD in the humanities doesn’t limit one to a position in academia. The skills polished as a graduate student are valuable assets in a variety of organizations and industries, a fact that broadens the horizon of post-doctorate career options. For soon-to-be PhDs, however, information on those careers may seem elusive.

To address this, the UC Davis Humanities Institute, in partnership with the Internship and Career Center and the Office of Graduate Studies, has put together a workshop and forum designed to help explore opportunities for non-academic careers for PhDs in the Humanities and Social Sciences. On Monday, April 28, at the Student Community Center’s Multi-Purpose Room, several experts will lead a conversation on ways to “reboot” the market by thinking about a new humanities workforce and career possibilities open to PhDs.

According to David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Distinguished Professor of Jewish History and the Humanities Institute Director, “it promises to be a major event.” Over 90 UCD graduate students have registered. Registrants who took the Myers-Briggs Personality Type assessment will have an opportunity to analyze their results before attending the afternoon workshops.

Associate Professor John Marx of the UC Davis English department hopes the event will provide graduate students with new ways to think about their PhDs and tools to help them take control of their careers. Rather than thinking of non-tenure track employment as a “second option,” Marx wants UC Davis to “do more in deliberately preparing graduate students to enter a humanities workforce active in a host of economic sectors, from the academy to government to various sorts of industry.”

Valerie Billing, a graduate student in early modern English literature, has her own reasons for attending the event. “I’ve been on the job market for two years and haven’t been able to get a position; I’m a bit lost. I’m hoping this event will give me some new ideas.”

Whether or not one has taken the Myers-Briggs assessment, the PhD Unlimited workshop seeks to deepen the conversation on alternative careers to academia, and do so in a way that makes them seem less “alternative” and more an extension of the opportunities for those who hold advanced degrees.

To continue the conversation beyond the event, the organizers have created a website where doctoral candidates can share resources and access professional development tools: