Post Academic

Transfer Your Skills: A Must-Read Article on the Value of a “Crummy Job”

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on March 5, 2010
Tags: , , ,

Sick of the education industry, period? Inside Higher Ed (note the RSS feed we’ve added on the side!) has a spectacular article on how to bail academia the right way, and it offers a truth that might seem painful at first:

You might have to take a crap job when you’re changing careers.

Although you’ve built up a superb skill set as an academic, you will go through a transition period that isn’t all that fun. But the results might be better than if you stuck through grad school. Sabine Hikel writes,

It’s wise to bite the bullet with a job that’s below your skill set if it offers you a chance to deploy a grander career development strategy while you’re doing it. That would include jobs that are strictly time delineated (unlike adjuncting, which expands to fill the time you have), offering you a chance to network and build up contacts in your desired field.

After I left grad school, I had an MA, but I sure wasn’t earning the salaries I hear people with postgraduate degrees earn. I temped in an office, which gave me plenty of spare time to send out my resume when I wasn’t creating Excel documents and formulas. Then I moved from there to an internship. You might hear the words “MA” and “internship,” and you might be appalled, but the internship was paid, and after a few weeks a space opened up and I was a full-time Editorial Assistant at a comparison-shopping Web site, and I was making more than I would have made as an adjunct. (I got laid off in the dot-com bust, but that’s another story entirely.)

Thing is, Hikel is right. Moving from the grad school track to the hamster track involves uncertainty, or a leap of faith for those of you who are philosophically inclined. But that “crap job” you take can offer more opportunities than you expected.

That First, Crummy Job [Inside Higher Ed]

Image of barista counting tips from Wikimedia Commons/Tennekis.

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