Job market advice for PhD students

John Hawks recommends this essay of Karen Kelsky; I found it to be a very angry piece:

Your responsibility to your advisees extends to telling the whole truth about the academic enterprise at this time. Tenure-track lines have been evaporating for years. Aiming for a tenure-track job is, for most students, unrealistic. For those students who wish to try, the effort requires years of methodical training and calculation of career chances, from the point of arrival in the graduate program through the dissertation defense and beyond. Your job is to look up from your students’ dissertations, and assist them in mastering those skills and calculations.How? By teaching your Ph.D.’s how to write a CV; to cultivate prominent scholarly supporters; to pursue grant money with a single-minded purpose; to apply for national awards; to publish, publish more, publish higher, write a stellar application letter, and do the elevator talk.

And when, even after doing all of the above, the tenure-track job doesn’t materialize, as it often will not, instead of averting your eyes in shame from their so-called “failures,” you step up, professors, and work with your Ph.D.’s to transfer their skills into some sector of the economy that is not contracting as badly as your own.

Your job is to tell them the truth. And to extend an ethos of care beyond your advisees’ writing and research to encompass their material existence. Because your students need work, even when it’s not the coveted tenure-track job. Work is good. You work. So should your Ph.D.’s.

Take a look; if you remove the anger part and look at the actual advice, it is good.



2 Responses to “Job market advice for PhD students”

  1. Karthik Sivaramakrishnan Says:

    The tone might be a failed attempt to mimick this guy:

  2. Guru Says:

    Dear Karthik:

    I see the similarities; however, the shadow guy, at least, is not blaming the professors for wantonly not teaching the students; however, the author of this piece does blame professors of wantonly not telling students about job markets and refusing to help them when they need it.

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