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"So What Are You Going to Do with That?": Finding Careers Outside Academia [Paperback]

Susan Basalla , Maggie Debelius
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 15, 2007 0226038823 978-0226038827 Second Edition
Graduate schools churn out tens of thousands of Ph.D.’s and M.A.’s every year. Half of all college courses are taught by adjunct faculty. The chances of an academic landing a tenure-track job seem only to shrink as student loan and credit card debts grow. What’s a frustrated would-be scholar to do? Can he really leave academia? Can a non-academic job really be rewarding—and will anyone want to hire a grad-school refugee?

With “So What Are You Going to Do with That?” Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius—Ph.D.’s themselves—answer all those questions with a resounding “Yes!” A witty, accessible guide full of concrete advice for anyone contemplating the jump from scholarship to the outside world, “So What Are You Going to Do with That?” covers topics ranging from career counseling to interview etiquette to translating skills learned in the academy into terms an employer can understand and appreciate. Packed with examples and stories from real people who have successfully made this daunting—but potentially rewarding— transition, and written with a deep understanding of both the joys and difficulties of the academic life, this fully revised and up-to-date edition will be indispensable for any graduate student or professor who has ever glanced at her CV, flipped through the want ads, and wondered, “What if?”
“I will absolutely be recommending this book to our graduate students exploring their career options—I’d love to see it on the coffee tables in department lounges!”—Robin B. Wagner, former associate director for graduate career services, University of Chicago

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"So What Are You Going to Do with That?": Finding Careers Outside Academia + What Color Is Your Parachute? 2014: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers
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Editorial Reviews


"What if, while one is ensconced in a six-year art history doctoral program, the idea of a career in academia loses its luster? Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius have been there.... In "So What Are You Going to Do with That?" they use wit, directness, and great anecdotal evidence to guide readers through the soul-searching decision to leave academia." - Publishers Weekly "I will absolutely be recommending this book to our graduate students exploring their career options - I'd love to see it on the coffee tables in department lounges!" - Robin B. Wagner, former associate director for graduate services, University of Chicago"

About the Author

Susan Basalla received her PhD from Princeton University and has worked for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, America Online, and the Art & Science Group, LLC. Currently she is a principal at Storbeck / Pimentel & Associates, LP.

Maggie Debelius, who received her PhD from Princeton University, directs the Writing Center at Georgetown University, where she also teaches in the English Department.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Second Edition edition (March 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226038823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226038827
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for graduate students May 30, 2007
By A. Lord
This book should be required reading for all graduate students, even those who are planning on remaining in academia.

At heart, the book is a primer on how to leave academia and the opportunities which exist for people with PhDs and MAs in seemingly esoteric fields. Since the overwhelming majority of graduate schools provide no real career advice for their students, this book provides a much needed service.

If you are planning on leaving academia, this book is essential. But even if you intend to remain in academia, you should read this book---if for no other reason then because it will help you to understand all of your career options...and, yes, you do have options! No one is stuck in academia and, as this book demonstrates, a graduate education does provide you with very real concrete skills.

When I decided to leave academia, I read this book in conjunction with other career books (such as What Color is Your Parachute?). While I recommend that those seeking to leave academia read a wide range of career books, this book was unique. It was the only book which addressed the many strange and worrying concerns that I had as a PhD seeking to leave academia.

My favorite part? The stories of the many, many people who left academia and found great careers. There is a huge reluctance to discuss these people within academia itself (great irony as the last fifteen years have seen the majority of PhDs in the humanities leave academia so we are talking about a reluctance on the part of graduate schools to discuss what the majority of their graduate students are doing). Putting a face on the people who left academia allowed me to look behind the academic stereotypes and to discover a broad and different world along with a range of exciting careers.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lifeline for Anxious Grad Students April 13, 2007
This book is written for a very specific audience: grad students (and even established academics) who realize that academia may no longer be the right fit--or is just too crowded to afford any significant job opportunities--but who worry their esoteric studies (medieval Chaucer, the geopolitics of wheat production) may not have prepared them for other careers.

If you fall into this category, then the book is wonderful. If not, move on. While there are better general career guides available, if the hallowed halls of the academy no longer seem so hallowed, `So What are you Going to do with That?' is a breath of fresh air. For starters it is full of anecdotes from many academics who found successful and enjoyable careers beyond the ivory tower, applying their skills and interests in satisfying ways they never thought possible. This may be the most valuable aspect of the book for the anxious and concerned grad student: realizing that future ex-academics have options. Lots of options.

The book breaks down as follows:
Chapter 1: Will I Have to Wear a Suit? Rethinking Life After Graduate School.
Chapter 2: How Do I Figure Out What Else to Do? Soul-Searching Before Job Searching.
Chapter 3: Testing the Waters: Networking and the Transitional Experience.
Chapter 4: This Might Hurt a Bit: Turning the CV into a Resume.
Chapter 5: Sweaty Palms, Warm Heart: How to Turn an Interview into a Job.

And while much of this information may seem like old-hat to your friends who got MBAs, it's a revelation to those who are more familiar with the `Journal of Nietzsche Studies' than the `Wall Street Journal.' The section on `Information Interviews' in chapter three alone is worth the price of the book. (Information interviews worked for me. Twice.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To the authors of this book: Thank You. November 19, 2007
If you are sick of hearing that question and tired of wondering if you've wasted your entire life on a meaningless education: there is hope and the answer is (happily) no. There is life outside of academia and this book will help you get there.

The current state of academia is a devastating wake-up call for those of us who worshipped our college professors (and wanted to become one)-- but this book reminds us what we actually knew all along: there is (rewarding, meaningful) non-academic life out there!

This book is an excellent guide for those of us who have made it through grad school and find that academia is not the land of dreams we once thought. This book will take the pressure off your dissertation to make it "relevant" enough to be compelling to universities and yet, specific enough to fulfill their hiring requirements. This is a reassuring book, full of guidance and support- you are not the only one with doubts about academia and following your hunch out of the university can be the best decision of your life.

Further, it asserts that we are not "giving up" but finding a place for ourselves that is more sane, stable and often, uses our skills much more, putting what you know into practice. It is not a "find what you are best at" type of book but rather, helps you focus on how to translate your academic work into real-world skillbuilding for non-academic employers. You must think of your education as having "worked in academia" so that you can make a "career change" to another field. Changing this viewpoint (from "being a student" to having valuable skills/experiences) seems simple, but it is actually rather profound.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful
Great book about how to face the transition from academia to the private sector. This book really opens your mind about alternative careers.
Published 1 month ago by Patricia
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful
I recommend this book to anyone in academia who is disillusioned and considering a career elsewhere. Read more
Published 5 months ago by JP
5.0 out of 5 stars A reassuring guide
I've read this book twice now (in two different years) and I've found it very reassuring. The authors break down the post-academic job search into manageable steps. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dan C
3.0 out of 5 stars Just okay
Nothing ground-breaking here, but an encouraging read nonetheless. I read this after a friend recommended it... I have nothing more to say.
Published 8 months ago by Jaclyn
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the few "Get out of academia" books.
Leaving the academe is one of the hardest things for a professor to do. I resigned from my posting as an assistant professor for personal reasons and started the job search for... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Travis
2.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but only theoretically helpful
This book provides some thoughtful pointers and examples, is written in a very clear style, and is generally applicable to any field. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Suzanne
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have
This book is a must-read for anyone with an advanced degree who is considering a non-academic career path. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jeeves
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful read for any PhD
Great read with very useful, specific advice. A must for PhDs in any field thinking of leaving the Ivory Tower.
Published 13 months ago by Etre Etant
1.0 out of 5 stars Deceiving
The book is deceiving because the title suggests the authors are going to tell me what other jobs I can find outside academia but they don't. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Azul
3.0 out of 5 stars Slanted towards English and master's students
This had some good insights and tips, but the main answer seems to be "consulting." Because it seems to be targeted more towards English students, it didn't have a section... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Lindsay M Keiter
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