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

How to Make the Most of Working Part-Time in Grad School

Image SourceIf you’re planning on going to grad school, unless you’ve been blessed with some incredible funding, you should plan on taking a part-time job. In most cases, having a part-time job is pure goodness: You avoid going into debt, and you’re building up extra skills in case you have trouble getting an academic job. We gave you some tips on good part-time job options, but what happens once you get the job? As long as you follow these three tips, you can get the most out of your side gig:

Ask people in your program what they’re doing first. You’ll save time and get a crash course in networking if you use your fellow grad students as a resource. They’ll know who is hiring and might be able to refer you.

Choose a job that complements your grad school work, if possible. It all depends on what you’re studying, but the ideal job suits your current skills while letting you build new ones. For example, teaching an SAT course can help new teachers polish their classroom skills. Or, building Web sites on the side can help you prepare interactive classroom materials.

Avoid taking on too many hours. If your boss likes you so much that she offers you more hours, you are already doing something right. But don’t immediately say yes. Check your budget first because you want to avoid debt, but you also don’t want to cut into the time you need to finish your graduate degree on time. Your degree should always come first.

Image from the German Federal Archive under a Creative Commons License, Wikimedia Commons.

On Making Humanities Like the Sciences: Start Using Numbers

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionArnold addressed the considerable issues involving the attempt of the “UC Commission on the Future” to align Humanities achievements with those in the sciences. That’s a tall order, especially when academics are already reluctant to give hard numbers related to who is getting jobs. Frank Donoghue, director of English grad admissions at Ohio State, isn’t fond of the question, “What’s your department’s placement rate?”

Here’s what Donoghue has to say about a “typical year”:

In that recent year, we graduated 11 Ph.D.’s; four did nationwide job searches, and two of them got tenure-track jobs. The third of those four Ph.D.’s got a two-year appointment as a visiting assistant professor that may possibly be converted to a tenure-track job, and the fourth got a one-year postdoctoral fellowship. Of the seven other Ph.D.’s, five did limited searches for personal reasons, and none got job offers. They will try again next year and in the meantime will work as adjuncts. One received a tenure-track offer but turned it down so that he could accompany his partner, who has a tenure-track job at a better institution. The one remaining Ph.D. did not go on the job market at all, but instead accepted a position as an English teacher at a private high school, which from early on in his graduate career had been his professional ambition. Now, what was our placement rate? Any answer to that question can’t be quantified.

Sure it can be quantified. Here’s Post Academic’s attempt to suss out Donoghue’s meaning:

Out of 11 PhDs:
2 tenure track jobs
1 visiting prof job
1 post-doc
5 adjuncts
1 faculty spouse
1 English teacher at a private high school

More after the jump! Image of numbers in action from public domain, Wikimedia Commons.

Transfer Your Skills: Steer Clear of Unpaid Internships

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on April 4, 2010
Tags: , , , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWhen you’re making a career change, an internship accelerates your transformation. Not only will you build new skills, but you’ll also build your network. Accepting an internship at a dot-com helped me get my first real job after grad school, and I’ve been working for dot-coms ever since.

But here’s the deal—I was paid for my internship. I wasn’t paid much, but the people who hired me knew that a person can’t eat and make rent on experience and contacts alone. The hourly pay was low, but it still beat minimum wage, and it led to something better.

Unfortunately, more companies are calling for interns, and based on what I’ve seen on Craigslist, many of the new internships are unpaid. According to the New York Times, the Department of Labor is on to this scam:

“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division.

An unpaid internship might be all right if you are in college and getting credit, but remember that a legitimate company should pay for your time. Internships typically involve making photocopies and brewing coffee, but that is still work, and you should still get money. If the company refuses to pay you, don’t take the internship, no matter how prestigious the company is. You can’t eat prestige.

Growth of Unpaid Internships May Be Illegal, Officials Say [NYT]

What Not to Wear: Grad School Edition

Posted in Surviving Grad School by Caroline Roberts on March 19, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionSomeone over at the “So You Want to Go to Grad School?” forum asked what you wear to grad school classes. This is a fascinating question, as many people wind up in grad school because they really, really do not want the trappings of a hamster world job, especially the uniform.

So, what do you wear?
A suit is not necessary, although there will always be one person in your cohort who opts to dress like a cast member on Trump’s “The Apprentice.” Nothing wrong with that, but don’t let him make you feel like you forgot to read a dress-code memo.

Then I can wear a T-shirt, flannel, and jeans? That’s the real dress code, right?
No. Grunge is dead. You need to be presentable, especially if you are teaching. The goal is to look more together than the people you are teaching. In some cases, you need to look older than the people you are teaching so you can project authority. Even on days when you aren’t teaching, you still need to polish up slightly because you might run into students on campus. Save T-shirts for Fridays, and wear new jeans, not old ones that are riddled with holes.

What about tattoos or nose rings?
The good news is that grad school allows for some personal expression, so you can show a little tattoo or facial hardware, as long as you look organized otherwise. If you look like you might ditch your class for a biker gang mid-semester, your class won’t respect you. (Then again, they might respect you, but for reasons totally unrelated to your teaching.)

Anything else I need to know?
Your smell matters, big time, possibly more than your look. Eau de Grad Student can get a little funky, like a combo of ramen and unwashed socks. You’re busy, and you may have a stack of papers to grade, but always take a shower before you mingle with the public. Otherwise, Rate My Professors might need to add a “stinky” face.

Maybe a Silly Question … [So You Want to Go to Grad School?]

This is one way to earn the respect of your students. Image of Republic of Texas Biker Rally by Dustin Ground of Austin, TX, from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

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.