What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD?
A tenure-track position.
What was your first post-PhD job?
A visiting lecturer position that turned into a tenure-track one (I was lucky!)
What do you do now?
I am a freelance writer and book author. I also direct Belt Publishing and teach courses for academics looking to write for the public. All of these jobs I created myself.
What kind of tasks do you do on a daily and weekly basis?
I edit other people’s writing; I respond to drafts; I write; I manage the business of a small press, I sign up books to publish, and a manage a small staff. Also: I email! I do lots of emailing!
What most surprises you about your job?
That I was able to create a life writing, editing, and teaching outside of academe, and that I was fine giving up the security of tenure or any salaried position.
What are your favourite parts of your job?
I have control over my time and what I decide to do for money – or not. My job is creative – my writing is creative, but so is editing and starting a business.
What would you change about it if you could?
A bit more money would be nice, but it is not essential.
What’s next for you, career-wise?
I would like to work with academics who would like to write for the public more. So I started The Thinking Writer, where I teach affordable, short online courses to help academics and others learn the freelancing ropes. We also offer individual editing services, campus workshops, and other courses.
What advice or thoughts do you have for post-PhDs in transition now?
There is a sort of cultish aspect to academia – or maybe it could best be described as a subculture. It’s so incredibly insular. Graduate school socializes you to believe that the only measure of success is an academic position. Often it is only when you leave it that you realize how very powerful the socialization is – and how false it is to measure success by category of teaching position. When I resigned my tenured position, I interviewed dozens of others who had quit academia after being tenured. Not one had any regrets.
This Transition Q & A was originally posted on University Affairs.
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