Post Academic


Unsuck That!

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on September 1, 2010
Tags: , , , , ,

As education becomes more business-ified, the chances that you will encounter business-speak have increased. You may even receive unwelcome Hamster Advice in the workplace. Luckily, the Internets make it easy to translate Hamster-Speak.

The website Unsuck It helps you translate exactly what a top-level Hamster is saying to you. (The low-level Hamsters are usually out back either a) working or b) taking a baseball bat to the printer or c) stealing beer and taking a ride down the emergency chute, and yes there is truth in “Office Space” and the adventures of Steven Slater.)

For example, type in the phrase “monetize,” which is a biz biggie, and you’ll get “Turn into money or make profitable.” (As in: “How can we ‘monetize’ the humanities?”) Go for “deliverable,” and you’ll get “Piece of a project.” As a Hamster Bonus Translation, I find a “deliverable” to be the part of a project for which you or your team are directly responsible.

But the best feature of Unsuck It, by far, is the “I’m Feeling Douchey” button, which will reveal other pearls of wisdom from the Hamster World. My personal favorite is the term “content creation,” which really means “writing.”

Hat Tip: Lifehacker

Lawyers Gone Wild … Or At Least Post Academic

Posted in Law School Versus Grad School,Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on July 28, 2010
Tags: , , ,

PhotobucketAnother burst of “Advanced Degrees Are for Suckers” articles has hit the Internet. The Wall Street Journal profiled various law school grads who are un- or underemployed, and Gawker rebroadcast the story with a beyond-depressing image of a guy hanging himself.

Suicide snark and scary job shrinkage aside, the WSJ article had some optimism. The lawyers are starting to go Post Academic:

Bar associations say more lawyers are asking for tips on ways to apply their skills in other fields.

When the New York State Bar Association originally created the Committee on Lawyers in Transition, it was meant to help attorneys re-join the profession after an absence. But when the economy declined in 2008, the committee changed its focus to help attorneys who were laid off and exploring other industries.

A law degree is well known for being flexible, and is it really a sign of failure that lawyers are taking their skills elsewhere? Even the guy in the WSJ article who is a comedian is using his legal abilities. After all, a keen understanding of slander must help anyone in charge of writing punchlines.

More after the jump! Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Skills

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWelcome to the Post Academic Resume Series. We’ve covered the Resume Objective, Work Experience, and Education. We’re winding down with the Skills section, which is like a basket for everything else that didn’t fit on your resume.

The Skills section of the resume almost seems like a throwaway. You might be tempted to skip it if it your resume is looking a little long. Don’t count it out, though. I’ve said before that you can ignore the one-page resume rule. The skills section is a golden opportunity to surprise and delight a hiring manager if you follow these tips:

Share your editorial knowledge. Experience editing with the Chicago Manual of Style, MLA style, or AP style can go a long way.

Be sure to list computer skills. Yes, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel count. Anyone who wants a job now needs basic computer literacy. You will be even more impressive if you study extra programs or languages, including HTML and CSS.

More after the jump! Typewriter repair falls under the category of interesting skills. Image from the German Federal Archive on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Education

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWelcome to the Post Academic Resume Series. We’ve covered the Resume Objective and your Work Experience. Now we’re at the easy part–Education!

If you’re reading this blog, you’re going to have plenty of information for the Education section of your resume.

And that’s the problem. When filling out the Education section of your resume, you don’t want to overdo it. I am in no way suggesting that you should dumb yourself down. Far from it. You’ve gone to a good program, you’ve busted your butt for a graduate degree, and the whole world should know.

Keep your Work Experience section should be at the top. It should also be longer than the Education section. Period. Here are some tips to keep your considerable education from overwhelming the rest of your resume:

Do not list every paper your wrote or every class you took. Keep it at “PhD, English” or “PhD, Philosophy.”

More after the jump! Image of a Swedish typist, public domain on Wikimedia Commons.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Work Experience, Part 2

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWelcome to the Post Academic Resume Series. We’ve covered the Resume Objective and how to describe your Work Experience. Now we’ll work on how to shape your Work Experience so it gets a hiring manager’s attention.

Now that you have created a list of jobs complete with bullet points describing what you accomplished on the job, you need to consider how to order your list of jobs.

This is trickier than it sounds, especially for career changers. Most people list their work experience in reverse chronological order. Anyone making the leap from academia to the hamster world might not want their last teaching job to be at the top of their resume, though.

For example, if you were a copy editor before you went to grad school, and now you want to go back to copy editing, that information needs to be at the top of your resume. People who work in HR departments are in a hurry, and chances are good that they’ll just scan your resume, so you need to make the most of the upper third of the page.

To pull this off, ditch the chronological order and divide your work experience into two categories:
Editorial Work Experience (or work experience related to whatever field you’re trying to break into)
Other Work Experience

More after the jump! Image of the Civilian Conservation Corps, public domain on Wikimedia Commons.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Work Experience, Part 1

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension

Welcome to the Post Academic Resume Series. We’ve covered the Resume Objective, and over the next two posts, we’ll help you with your Work Experience.

If you thought dealing with your resume objective was tough, wait until you start your work experience. This will be painful, as Arnold and I have mentioned, because you can’t talk about your publishing in depth. Here’s how to capture your teaching skills in a way that hiring managers will understand:

Get inside the head of the hiring manager. Your publications are great, but hiring managers don’t care about you. They care only about what you can do for them, so you must prove that you have skills they need.

Boil your work history into bullet points that start with action verbs. For example, here’s a glimpse of what a copywriter might say about her current job:
Copywriter/Senior Copywriter, Cookie of the Month Club, 2008-present
–Write marketing material for brochures and mailings to clients
–Write Web site content that has been optimized for search engines
–Increased response to direct mail by 5 percent
–Promoted to Senior Copywriter in 2009

More after the jump! Image from the United States Navy Department, public domain on Wikimedia Commons.
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The Post Academic Resume Series: Do You Need a Resume Objective?

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThis post is the first in a series on putting your resume together. If you have had a CV, you might not remember the resume format and you might have trouble boiling your academic work into bullet points. We can help. Let’s start with the tricky Resume Objective.

The “resume objective” is a brief statement at the top of your resume in which you declare your intentions to a prospective employer. They usually read like this: “To work as an Algebra teacher at a public high school,” “To apply my skills as a Webmaster to a small nonprofit agency,” and “To convince people with low incomes to buy homes they can’t afford using adjustable-rate mortgages.” You get my drift.

But are resume objectives really necessary? They take up space, and they often sound like hot air because the real objective of most people is “To get a job. Any job.”

A resume objective is useful for only two types of people: those just out of college and those who are changing careers. Otherwise, your work experience will make clear why you are applying for a certain job.

More after the jump! Amelita Galli-Curci seated at desk using typewritter, dressed in fur coat and hat. From Wikimedia Commons with the following statement: “This is a press photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948. According to the library, there are no known restrictions on the use of these photos.” (more…)

Why You Should Invest in Computer Books

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWe’ve already warned you against hoarding books, but you need some computer books for your academic career. Chances are good that you’re here because you have either started grad school or you are concerned about the state of grad school in the Humanities. So why do you need a book on HTML, CSS, or Windows 7?

A little computer knowledge can increase your value in the workplace, whether you wind up in academia or not. Learning HTML in particular expanded my job opportunities after I left graduate school. You don’t need to turn into a mega-hacker, but being able to hop on a computer or build a Web site or a Wiki will save you time and will make you much happier. Why is that, especially when you focus on books and reading?

Your students expect you to be wired. More and more students want PDFs, or they want to visit a Wiki to get course materials. You don’t have to start speaking to them in 140-character Twitter lingo, but you will need to make your coursework accessible in more ways.

Fewer IT resources will be available. As universities cut budgets, the hard truth is that departments will have to share the IT guys. That is not an ideal situation, but the delays you are experiencing now to fix your computer will only increase. It’s best to take charge of the situation and start thinking of the computer tasks you perform most often (Printing? Word processing? Spreadsheets for your grades?) and buy a book or two that can help you deal with these tasks.

Other faculty members will love you. You don’t want to get stuck showing people how to print specific sections of Excel spreadsheets, but being known as your department’s computer whiz gives you an edge.

But how do you get started? Schedule a few hours a weekend to sit down with your computer and learn some new skills. Set a goal first, such as creating a custom grading spreadsheet or building a wiki, get a book on the subject, and get started. If you want any specific book recommendations or have anything you want to suggest, either e-mail us or leave a note in the comments.

Image of a PDP-12 from Uppsala University from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Establishing an Emergency Fund for Grad School or Changing Careers

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on May 10, 2010
Tags: , , , , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionDeveloping a back-up plan has been a recurring theme on Post Academic. Thanks to the shrinking job market, both grad students and even full-fledged professors must continue to build new skills over time. That way, “post academics” can make a graceful transition into a new profession.

Part of making that graceful transition, however, is having enough money during that scary “in-between jobs” phase. An emergency savings fund can help you breathe easy and make the right job decisions. A career change is scary enough without worrying about how you’re going to put food on the table. But how do you build an emergency fund when you are an underfunded academic?

Figure out how long your emergency fund should cover. Financial experts can’t seem to agree on how many months of unemployment you should cover. Some say three, some say six. In this economy, set a base goal of three, especially if you are on grad student wages, but try to aim for six before you either graduate or leave your program.

Determine how much you spend a month. Tracking spending and budgeting can be overwhelming, especially if you read the tips on decluttering and unhoarding. Yet knowing your monthly needs is also empowering because, if you don’t get that postdoc, you can look at your bank account and know exactly how long your money is going to last. Then multiply how much you spend a month by the number of months your emergency fund should cover, and you have your target amount.

More after the jump! Image by ADwarf, public domain, Wikimedia Commons.

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