An update

To follow up on my previous post, I started a new Twitter account under my own name. Of course, I only have about one follower and two tweets, so this isn’t exactly helping me seem web-savvy yet. But, baby steps. I started a new blog, but I keep changing the URL from my full name to something that only refers to my real name. I can’t decide if the URL must be serious and matter-of-fact, or if I don’t want it to be that easy to track down. Right now, I’m going with the latter. I still don’t know what to write on this blog, of course. This situation reminds me of being a child, surrounded by all the very nice art supplies given to me by my artist aunt, wanting to draw something but having no idea what to make. I do remember once copying the San Francisco 49ers logo with some of those very nice watercolors. Usually, though, I just drew anthropomorphic animal figures, and I recall my mother looking at them and wondering aloud why the lady rabbits had such big bosoms.

ANYWAY.

What I meant to write about here is that I met with someone from my university’s career counseling center today. The meeting turned out better than I expected, although I’m not sure I found out anything absolutely brand-new. I was offered a lot of information about career exploration groups. I also found out that I should be using more of the online resources that are available to me; I wasn’t sure if LinkedIn was really a thing I had to use, but apparently it is “Facebook for grown-ups.” So, I feel better about wasting time this week fiddling with my profile there. I was also assured that some of the professional connections I have aren’t too tenuous to ask them for informational interviews. I had a hunch that I could or should get in touch with these people, so it was nice to know that doing so wouldn’t be too weird or inappropriate. (As someone who drew pictures of buxom rabbit-women as a child, I often worry about being weird.) Actually taking this step still feels daunting, even though (or maybe because) it sounds like it’s pretty crucial for getting a job.

Maybe I need too much validation, but the most valuable part of the interview came when I asked the counselor what she thought about Finishing vs Not Finishing. Her response was that whether I finish my dissertation is less important than whether I decide to finish, because she’s seen too many unfortunate situations where people leave there degree programs without being able to admit that that’s what they’re doing. Myself, when I think about leaving, when I think about how much my heart isn’t in this, I feel so light! Like a weight has lifted off my shoulders. And then I remember all the ‘professionalization’ I’m in the midst of doing right now—how much I don’t want to do it, how much I don’t care, and how much work it is that I don’t want to do and don’t care about, ugh.

But toward the end of the meeting, the counselor said she wasn’t very worried about me, and that I was making healthy choices. I am still kind of worried about me, and maybe she was just trying to be encouraging, but this was definitely good to hear.

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4 responses

  1. JC

    I think that just making the decision to leave academia is an important move! I know so many people from my old grad program who talk about how they “might” want to leave, and how “maybe” they’ll look for nonacademic jobs as well as academic ones when they graduate, because they hate academia and really can’t imagine living in Podunk, ND for the rest of their lives.

    But when I offer to give them some advice about making connections outside of academia or suggest that they try to find some nonacademic work to do to test the waters, they can’t find the time because they’re too busy writing the latest paper or whatever. I think that the simple fact that you’ve decided to leave at some point and are taking concrete steps in that direction is a good sign.

    As to finishing or not? You’ll figure that out. I’m not going to finish unless I need to for a job. Internally, I know this is the case … although to most people I know in real life (especially academics), I still say that I’m “planning to finish up next year.” But that’s only because telling them that I’m not going to finish starts up a round of “but you HAVE to finish!” second-guessing that really drives me up a wall. I’m just deliberately vague, and let them infer whatever they will from that.

    As to the actual decision about whether to finish … just do what you feel compelled to do. If you don’t feel like you want to finish, stop working and tell yourself that you’re done. If that’s the right decision, you’ll feel it. You can always hang onto your data, and then you’ll be able to finish up if you feel compelled to in the future. But if you *know* you’re leaving and will be looking for jobs where you won’t need the Ph.D? There’s no reason you should hang on for a few more years just to finish a degree you won’t be using and don’t really want.

    February 19, 2012 at 8:53 am

  2. Currer Bell

    Welcome to the postacademic blog world! I just saw your blog, thanks to JC’s recommendation. I’ve been enjoying what you have to say. I had been curious if it was worth it to go the campus career counseling services or not. Your assessment has helped me clarify a few things about the process.

    I look forward to reading more!

    ~Currer Bell,
    http://projectreinvention2012.blogspot.com

    February 19, 2012 at 10:33 am

  3. Hey there! Likewise welcome. Your site turned up in my traffic source stats a week or tow ago, I stopped by briefly, though “Woohoo yay! Another one joins the party!!” and then couldn’t remember the site name to find it again and it was gone from stats 😦 So, likewise thanks to JC for the link. It’s good to hear some career centers are doing what they’re supposed to!

    February 20, 2012 at 8:13 am

  4. Hi and welcome to the blogosphere! Happy to have another voice added to the conversation.

    I think that lightness feeling is so key. For me, that is when I definitely know I’m on the right track. But it is a hard hard decision and all the work that one has to do to leave academia is even harder so I understand what comes after that. It’s awesome, though, that you’re taking advantage of campus resources. I wish I had done more of that. I did get some help on my resume from folks on campus. Having some prep work done when I did finish made it feel less like I was stepping into the abyss and also broke the work done into more manageable steps so I didn’t feel so overwhelmed. I think JC has a good idea of also using some time during grad school to explore community resources or even part time jobs. And in the end if you decide to stay, you’ll know that you made an informed decision.

    February 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

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