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Start Career Advising for Ph.D. Students in Year 1

A simple fact drives the movement to prepare doctoral students for diverse careers: Most of them won’t become professors. Given that reality, when should departments and professors start offering graduate students practical advice on their career options?

The answer is: very early.

Despite more than a decade of news coverage and social-media warnings about too few tenure-track positions and too many job candidates, most people who apply to graduate school still do so because they hope to teach at the college level. They usually have some idea that the academic job market is forbidding — but they don’t necessarily appreciate what that means, or what they should do about it. And many simply believe they will beat the odds.

Most graduate advisers know, in theory, that doctoral students need advice on nonfaculty career paths. But in practice, professors often aren’t very confident in their ability to provide that sort of guidance. I speak regularly to audiences of faculty members, administrators, and students around the country, and the professors often ask, "How can I help students get jobs outside of academe when I’ve never done that myself?"

That’s a sensible question, and it points to another fact: It takes a village to advise a graduate student in the arts and sciences. In a way, that has long been true, but it’s unavoidably true today.

In an extension of a tradition borrowed from European research universities, we socialize graduate students to think of their dissertation adviser as the exclusive fount of all wisdom. If we don’t provide honest and thoughtful advice on career diversity, our graduate students simply default into that damaging way of thinking. Yet they need professional-development advice that we aren’t necessarily equipped to give — and they need it sooner in their doctoral training, rather than later.

Read More: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Start-Career-Advising-for/248083


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