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"So What Are You Going to Do with That?": Finding Careers Outside Academia 2nd Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226038827
ISBN-10: 0226038823
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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. She is a principal with Storbeck / Pimentel & Associates, LP, an executive search firm specializing in higher education.

Maggie Debelius received her PhD from Princeton University and is director of faculty development and an associate teaching professor in the English Department at Georgetown University.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 2 edition (March 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226038823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226038827
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Lord on May 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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