Many people who visit the jobs.ac.uk website are doing so because they want to look for an academic job. However, there are a number of postgraduate students who come to realise that they don’t want to work as a university lecturer or researcher. Where does that leave them?
The debate over what a postgraduate degree (especially one in the Humanities) is for is a very important one. Many people assume that if you embark on a masters or PhD then you must automatically want an academic career. This might be the case at the start of the degree but many people change their minds, because of personal circumstances or fear of a dwindling job market.
An article in Chronicle this week points out that there is very poor provision for PhD students who decide that they wish to seek jobs elsewhere. They are offered little guidance or advice on how to maximise their skills base. I happen to think that there is often very little help offered to those postgrads who DO want to pursue an academic career, so it must be even worse for those who have chosen to move away from university life.
Why is this happening? Partly because academic staff are not trained to offer careers advice, which is a specific knowledge set that they may not have. Also they often had no personal experience of the job market outside academia and so cannot even offer stories of their own time on the nonacademic job market.
In order to correct this problem universities need to strengthen their postgraduate alumni relations and ask former students what would have helped them, and also invite outside speakers from different industries to offer guidance to those making their career decisions. This is very important in an era where entering the academic job market is such a struggle. Postgrads needs to be aware of everything on offer for them.