Rogue Scholar Salon: Introducing Jennifer Polk and From PhD to Life

Rogue Scholar Salon:Wax_finaledge_rogueS

For those of you new to the Dose and Reboot, I would like to welcome you to our third subsection, the Rogue Scholar Salon. Here, we explore the alternative academics and other “rogue scholars” who are pursuing new careers or interests outside traditional academia.

Today, I would like to introduce you to Jennifer Polk, the  author of —From PhD to Life. Jennifer’s blog explores not only what it means to be an alternative academic, but also the process of becoming one. In recent posts, she interviewed Jessica Langer, an altac working in digital media, and Alexandra Guerson, a part-time faculty member at New College, University of Toronto. She has kindly allowed me to reprint brief excerpts here–but I encourage you to read the entire QA sessions on the blog itself!

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Transition Q & A: Jessica Langer

Jessica Langer earned her PhD in English from Royal Holloway, University of London. She runs ideas in flight, a social media and digital marketing consultancy, and teaches at York University’s Schulich School of Business. Find her online and follow her @DrJessicaLanger.

A tenure-track job at a research institution is often seen as the supposed goal of a post-PhD job search. What was your experience? What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD?

While I was doing my PhD, I really wanted to be a professor at a research institution. I had a lot of encouragement from my mentors and was very lucky to have the best PhD supervisor on the planet :the inimitable Adam Roberts, who is one of the smartest and nicest human beings I know. I networked like crazy, got a part-time teaching position in the second semester of my PhD at Richmond American International University in London (which I loved!) in which I developed and taught my own courses , and published a ton. I was getting flyout interviews at very good institutions by the time I was in my third year, though I came in second in each of those competitions. […read more…]

Transition Q & A: Alexandra Guerson

Alexandra Guerson earned her PhD in history from the University of Toronto. She’s currently a part-time faculty member at New College, University of Toronto, and occasionally takes up sessional work at U of T’s history department and at York University. Find her online and follow her @aeguerson.

A tenure-track job at a research institution is often seen as the supposed goal of a post-PhD job search. What was your experience? What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD?

I won’t lie. Teaching history at the university level was the reason I decided to do a PhD. I knew there was no guarantee of a job at the end, particularly if I wanted to stay in Canada. My undergraduate supervisor had told me she applied for more than forty jobs after finishing her PhD, only two of which were in Canada. I had also been involved in a couple hiring committees as an undergraduate student, which really opened my eyes in many ways. I was prepared psychologically to switch careers if I had to.

What was your first post-PhD job?

Before I finished my PhD, I got a contract to teach at the University of Toronto’s new International Foundation Program (IFP) as a sessional instructor. A month before I was supposed to start teaching, I won a two-year postdoc in France. It was right in my field of research and I would be part of an international team of researchers working on a EU-funded project that was quite high profile. Unfortunately, despite saying in their ad that the start date was negotiable, the institute that hosted the postdoc was unwilling to let me start after I finished the year with the IFP. It was important for me to find a positive work environment, and I did not like the way the institute changed what they had advertised and were inflexible. It gave me a bad vibe: there was no attempt to try to give me a reason why they wanted me there earlier than advertised. […read more…]

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