EVENT Mar 07
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Navigating Alt-Ac: Beyond Higher Education (NeMLA's 55th Annual Convention)

Boston, MA
Organization: NeMLA
Event: NeMLA's 55th Annual Convention
Categories: Pedagogy
Event Date: 2024-03-07 to 2024-03-10 Abstract Due: 2023-09-30
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A professional career in the academy is perceived as a desirable, if not the only, outcome of doctoral study. Many students in the humanities are, however, keen to leverage the skills they acquire during graduate study to identify and apply to jobs in the creative and cultural industries. Lately, even students who are determined to become academics have been forced to reevaluate their plans owing to lack of adequate faculty positions for recent PhDs in academia and systematic attacks on pay as well as working conditions. Falling enrollment in the humanities has exacerbated precarity in the form of a below-inflation pay rise and increased casualization.

Lack of structured departmental and/or institutional guidance on professions outside academia makes it necessary to initiate a serious discussion on various aspects of pushing towards alternative academic careers, or, in other words, “alt-ac.” Hundreds of graduate students in the humanities have already established successful careers as journalists, content creators, data activists, consultants, editors, education managers, etc. Many have leveraged their experience in academic research to contribute to research in think tanks and non-profit organisations. This GSC-sponsored panel will address the absence of a sustained dialogue on alt-ac by providing a constructive platform designed to help graduate students acquire knowledge and receive support to expand their professional circle. In creating a space for discussing alternate career opportunities, the panel will help them identify and market transferable skills valued in industry.

Tentative topics of interest include:

- Guidance on identifying and navigating resources for finding appropriate career options (e.g. search engines, employee bulletins, newsletters, employer websites, etc)

- Tips for demonstrating transferable skills (e.g. using teaching experience for informative content creation for platforms such as YouTube and Spotify)

- Harnessing social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to build a holistic online presence

- Building a profile that caters to academic and non-academic requirements (e.g. producing and contributing articles to academic as well as public-facing journals)

- Identifying networking strategies to establish connections across various industries (e.g. participating in job fairs or following up with speakers or panellists in professional conferences)

Presentations may, alternatively, use case studies informed by research and/or experience to emphasise the availability, or the lack thereof, of networks of support offered by institutions, particular departments of study, and/or associations.

We encourage PhDs who have transitioned into careers outside of academia to submit abstracts. We are also keen to receive abstracts from administrators and staff members who have championed the cause of alt-ac in their departments and/or institutions by contributing to resource creation (e.g. skill assessment worksheets or handbooks for various occupation groups).

Please submit abstracts of up to 250 words and a short biography of at most 100 words.

Also, please send any questions or thoughts to gsc@nemla.org



Mridula Sharma