Beyond the Professoriate

May 7, 2016 is the three-year anniversary of my dissertation defense.

Three. Years.

Three years ago, my little daughter was 2, my oldest was 5. We were seriously muddling through day-to-day. Graduation day looked like this:


Hood askew, girls refusing to smile for just one photo. (May 2013)

I’d like to think that I had a very concrete plan for next steps after graduate school but the truth is that I was not entirely sure what would happen once I finished. I had a short term job lined up, I knew I would have to look for other opportunities, and it was time to start hustling.

And hustle I did. I said yes to everything that crossed my desk: committees at the college where I taught short-term, connections offered by my chair to local organizations looking for a researcher, professional development opportunities in the community. I just said yes.

I kept a list of people I met, organizations I admired, and skills I needed to cultivate. I paid incredible attention to everything. I sowed seeds without knowing when or how or what they would yield. But eventually, little opportunities began to grow. I still reap benefits to this day even though I am settled into a new and different role as a policy analyst and advocate.

So, it is fitting that three years after finishing my doctoral work, having left higher education for the time being, that I will be participating in an online conference for current graduate students and professionals who are considering leaving higher education to pursue other opportunities: Beyond the Professoriate.

Three years ago, I would have clung to the stories and advice that other panelists will share over the next two Saturdays. I am particularly proud of the writing and speaking I have done on this topic and can’t wait to connect with participants tomorrow as part of the Government and Non-Profit panel.

I started Rogue Cheerios four years ago this year as I was finishing up graduate school in part to document what was happening as I finished up one chapter and started another. In that time, I have made a transition out of the academy and into a career that I really love. Instead of reflecting on that journey now, I thought I’d compile the lessons learned posts I wrote along the way:

For now, I am pleased to have a stable job. And though I am squarely settled into my current position, I am always thinking about what I might want to do in the future. I am not one to rest on my laurels–every day there are new things to learn, apps to master, connections to make. In a precarious job market, stability is about all you can hope for.

It is crucial to remember that nothing is guaranteed in life–not even tenure.


About rglw

Sociologist mom writes for work and for pleasure.
This entry was posted in academia, advice, blogging, dissertation, ed policy, grad school, higher education, lessons learned, personal, social capital, work. Bookmark the permalink.

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