Monday, December 31, 2012

Applying for Unemployment After Academia: How You Can Do It and How It Might Feel

Depending on the circumstances under which you are leaving academia, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Maybe tenure wasn't renewed; maybe you were on a contract that is ending; whatever your circumstances, it's probably worth looking into whether or not you qualify for unemployment in your state. A mantra you'll hear again and again on these pages is ask for help, and accept help when offered. If you qualify for unemployment and it would help you during this transition, you should take advantage of it.

Each state has its own rules and procedures. The link above takes you to a clickable map that will help you find the right department to contact in your state.

And take a deep breath. If you think you're the first, or last, post-academic to seek government assistance, you're wrong. There's absolutely no shame in putting food on your table. There's absolutely no shame in admitting you need help. But it can feel humiliating to consider the disparity between the fantasies that drove us to pursue academia and the reality of our post-academic existence. I certainly didn't dream of living in a small apartment with a filthy carpet filling out paperwork for dependent care assistance when I sipped wine and talked theory in the wood-paneled dining room of a professor's bungalow at the first departmental party I attended as a graduate student.

Death means paperwork.Creative Commons License John Patrick Robichaud via Compfight

The new reality can suck, but don't let that deter you from seeking help.

Post-academic in NYC writes about this in "The Crushing Shame of Applying for Unemployment:"
When you call the number, a person who oozes resignation and cold efficiency asks, “you had a teaching job last year, so why did you quit?” You are expected to have a really good reason for why you quit your adjunct gig that didn’t pay well to take a part-time gig that paid a little more (which has since kind of dried up). It is hard to explain this because you are talking to a person who probably thinks “college teaching” sounds like the best thing ever. You can tell the person on the other end of the phone is judging you. She thinks you are an idiot for giving up a perfectly good “college teacher” job, even if it was part-time for not a lot of money. She thinks you’d rather suck on the public teat than work for a living. You really want to launch into a speech explaining about how the neoliberal economic forces destroying the economy also ensure that most college teachers are low-paid adjuncts who live in caves and suck just enough water to survive off of damp surfaces. You also want to explain that surviving grad school and writing a dissertation means you are many things, but lazy isn't one of them.

Jessica Burke, an adjunct, also writes about her experience with an unemployment hearing here. Burke writes about a fairly intimidating and humiliating bureaucratic experience trying to get unemployment, but New Faculty Majority offered her a lot of support. New Faculty Majority has a lot of fantastic information for adjuncts applying for unemployment that you should definitely check out, including a PDF guide for contingent faculty who are seeking benefits. They are fierce advocates for the labor rights of adjunct and contingent faculty, and unemployment benefits are a big part of that. Be sure to let them know if and when you file for unemployment.

The bottom line is: you deserve support.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Recommendations for Career Change

These books come up again and again among post-academics seeking a career change.


So What Are You Going to Do with That?: A Guide for MA's and PhD's Seeking Careers Outside the Academy Basalla & Debelius 2001

It's over a decade old and still the go-to guide for post-academics trying to figure out what else to do and how to sell themselves to new employers. The authors are post-academics and drew on hundreds of interviews for their advice. A must have.


What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual For Job-Hunters and Career-Changers Bolles 2013 (updated annually, which is awesome.)

Yes, you're going to feel like a total tool when you buy this, but trust us, this is the best career change manual you can get. Get the most recent version or last year's at discount (this is nice because it actually includes websites, social media stuff, etc, versus a 5 or 10 year old manual that's like "electronic mail, or 'e-mail,' is a new tool for jobseekers..."). If you're floundering in uncertainty about what to do next, this book is full of exercises that can help you learn about yourself, think of possible careers that will be fulfilling, and articulate your transferable skills. This will help you figure out what you might actually like and be good at, versus what sounds cool or neat or you think would be easy to tell people when you quit. Read about Lauren's experience with What Color? here (scroll about halfway down, past the crafty stuff, to get to the review). I decided to move away from freelancing as a post-ac career based on this book, which was wise. Jen, another post-acer who blogs with Lauren @ Mama Nervosa, also found What Color? valuable after she left a PhD program in Women's Studies. This  book will probably also confirm your decision to move away from work in academia. So we think it's completely necessary.

More books tba!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Link Roundup: Adjuncting Issues

Here's a roundup of links to consider if you're an adjunct who's considering leaving, or if you're thinking about adjuncting as part of your post-academic plan. Adjuncting is easy to fall into, especially for those of us who find teaching an immensely rewarding life and would like it to be our career (after all, that's why a lot of us went to grad school). But it has obvious pitfalls and perils that can make it unsustainable or unappealing as a post-ac career. Here's some wisdom from around the web.School Room

Rob Shenk via Compfight

Amanda Krauss @ WorstProfessorEver deconstructs some myths about teaching as a vocational calling, part 1 and part 2. Krauss writes:
I don’t believe teaching is a vocation. I believe it’s vocational, as in something you can train people to do. As in something you could treat as a means to make money, and actively sell as a lucrative career to talented individuals. And something that you’d damn well better train people to do well, because if you count only on people being born to do it and wiling to accept lousy pay for it, you’re going to get what you pay for.

Krauss continues by  bluntly questioning the notion that an individual teacher can truly make a difference in the current system of higher education in this post. She writes:

This is why I left. I decided that there was no way in hell that any individual teacher could make a whit of difference within this behemoth and nonfunctional system. I also deduced that teaching — real teaching — was a product no one wanted in this consumer-driven culture. No “customer” ever wants to be told they’re average or their project sucks and needs to be started all over again, especially by a real person instead of a computer. Making those computers do stuff, on the other hand…well, that looked like something that would continue to be in demand.

In "Down With the Academic Martyr," Caroline Roberts urges us to be more selfish, arguing " it is time for teachers to set boundaries and expect them to be followed. It’s one thing to do your best, but it’s quite another to let people take advantage of you."

Karen Kelsky @ TheProfessorIsIn compares adjuncting to Stockholm Syndrome:
Stop with the “alas”! You don’t need to tell me this is an ends justify the means argument. But seriously, throwing yourself personally on the sacrificial altar of student care does not change a fundamentally exploitative system. Your job is to protect yourself.


Be sure to check out the adjunct-focused sites on our "Resources" sidebar to the left. What we discuss here is just the tip of the iceberg.

Links: Careers for Post-Academics (including publishing, teaching, film and more)

Here's a smattering of resources out there in the internet that focus on career options for post-academics. This is probably the aspect of post-ac life that has the most resources available; thus, we aren't aiming to be exhaustive here, but highlight some common themes that come up and maybe direct you to some of the better resources.

As always, we can't recommend Versatile PhD highly enough. #Alt-Academy can also be valuable if you're thinking about working in academia in a non-faculty capacity (e.g. administration, librarianship, etc).


Quizzes, Assessments, and Career Courses

If you're still exploring lots of options, taking career assessments and courses can be useful. Myers-Briggs is a standard and you can take it here. Also check out our book recommendations for excellent manuals full of quizzes, surveys, and exercises.

Jo Van Every and Julie Clarenbach, post-academic career coaches, offer two career courses. One, called Myths & Mismatches, will help you suss out the misconceptions you may be carrying around about academic work versus "real world" work, and it's free! (See a review here.) They also offer a 6-week Conscious Career Choice course for a fee of $179 (US) that aims to help you figure out what you want to do before you start obsessing over resumes and cover letters.  Christine Hassler, a life coach, offers a more general career change course for $97 (US) called Navigating Your Career Path.



Blog Posts About Different Career Options

This is by no means exhaustive, but these are helpful commentaries on different career options for post-academics.

WoPro encourages you to ask yourself how far you want to go when looking for a new career:
When I decided I wanted out, I meant OUT. I meant that I no longer wanted anything to do with the nefarious schemes of institutionalized education. So I thought I’d talk here about the less obvious places to get away to. Of course, a leap further afield is scarier than a well-worn path. But we all know what that one poem said — you know, two roads something something traveled path something something. (Lesson one: if you want to “cross over” it’s important to understand the difference between normal-person conversation and snooty intellectual conversation. Unless you’re in an approved snooty environment, casually verbatim poetry  just makes you look like a jackass. Ditto for spouting equations.)

WoPro has a lot of great links for career-seekers on this post.

(Post)Gradland did a series of recaps from a conference at her graduate institution that focused on alternative academic careers. Here's one on publishing. This speaker had a lot of practical suggestions for skills you could work on developing while you wind down a semester in grad school (graphic design, institutes). This speaker focused on careers in the film industry, which is probably something that feels as pie-in-the-sky as tenure to most of us, but this speaker has great tips! Another speaker at this panel discussed teaching in private schools, which may be an attractive option if you love the classroom (we'll try to cover teaching at the high school level in more depth later).

Finally, here's an article from Library Journal that discusses academic and public librarianship. Although be advised that librarianship is an industry that also struggles with a flooded labor market. In The Library With a Lead Pipe is a great blog that focuses on many aspects of librarianship that might be a good resource if you're considering this career.


Should Your Child Become a Librarian? jessamyn west via Compfight

Stay tuned for more links and resources. In the meantime, check out other articles in this section!

Link Roundup: The Job Hunt

These links are helpful for find out information about jobs out there in non-academic realms (which is like 90% of the world). This can seem completely overwhelming when your only source for advice is a clueless advisor. Check out these links for some grounding information, and don't forget the many sites that focus on career issues in our Resources list on the left.

coinsCreative Commons License Kevin Collins via Compfight

Amanda Krauss @WoPro (which you might as well go read the entire archive of!) has this amusing story as she searches for job advice and starts putting out her first non-academic job applications. Writes Amanda:
Real-world job hunting is something new. There are online applications and phone interviews and hiring managers and people using phrases like “corporate culture” un-ironically. What I’m looking up is usually basic stuff: how long do I wait to send an followup email? Should I call? How am I supposed to phrase this thing, anyway?! This last one isn’t too bad, at least. Years of writing thank-you notes (thanks Mom) have given me a lot of experience in putting  a personal spin on a generic form.

And, a question that has plagued job-hunters since primitive times: What should I do if I don’t hear back?

Lauren @ Mama Nervosa talks about how confusing and conflicted you can feel when pursuing multiple possible careers at the same time. On a particularly bad day during her waning days of grad school, she writes:
One of the things that frustrates me about post-academic advice in terms of career searches is that often, they act as if you will immediately shift out of “tenure track or die” mode into a solid idea of what your next move should be. There’s advice for going into freelancing, or administration, or management, or whatever, and it seems like there’s a straight line from point A(cademia) to point B. Obviously, all those Point B, post-academic people had a chaotic transition from A to B, but you don’t hear those stories. You hear, “Now I have a full-time gig as an academic publisher! Now I make money and lose weight in my incredible outdoor education business!” All that advice is written from this point of stability that’s absolutely foreign to me as I muddle through the messy middle.


Curious About Salary?

If you're as clueless as we were about what pay you can get for different jobs, check out Glass Door. It aggregates salary info from job ads, so it can give you a ballpark sense of salary range for different companies or positions. You can also often find salary information for state/public sector jobs at major newspapers (e.g. The Des Moines Register has state salaries for Iowa), and most universities/schools will have salary "families" buried in their Human Resources info if you search ( try "job families" or "compensation table" or "job classification").

Be sure to check out our other articles about careers after academia!


Link Roundup: Job Materials for Non-Academic Jobs

One of the most confusing parts of the transition out of academia is figuring out how to transform our academic CVs and letters -- and our academic work -- into marketable materials for "real world" jobs. Taking a 10 page CV and making it into a 2 page resume when most of your experience centers around writing center tutoring or lab work can be disheartening and confusing. These links help you make sense of what "real world" employers are looking for, and how to transfer your academic life into terms that make sense to those outside the ivory tower.


Khalil Shah via Compfight

FWIW, a career coach or service can be very helpful if you're really struggling. Julie Clarenbach and Jo Van Every are post-academics who work as career coaches for post-academics! They have a couple e-courses as well.

Versatile PhD is our #1 favorite go-to catch-all source for career issues after academia. There is far more knowledge and support there than we can offer here.

(Post)Gradland is an ex-academic who ended up on a job search committee for her web content company that hired a PhD for a non-academic position and had this to say about the materials they received:
Academics, especially those of us in the humanities, have a tendency to ramble. This does not go over well in the private sector. It’s likely that the person reviewing your resume is someone like me, who is not a professional resume-reviewer and has maybe 15-20 minutes a day to devote to reading resumes and cover letters. I received one application from someone who had excellent qualifications but had written a five-page cover letter, much of it containing irrelevant information. This immediately gave me a bad impression of the person–simply put, I don’t want to be working long hours with someone who takes forever to get to the point. Your cover letter shouldn’t be longer than a page.


This excellent post from Leaving Academia summarizes the many fears we face when we start to consider a non-academic job search, and offers a lot of practical wisdom as you make this transition. Here's a taste:
You also developed other practical and marketable skills in your academic life. For example, you didn’t only write a Master’s thesis, course papers, or a doctoral dissertation. You also managed large volumes of information, established a data-storage system (both electronic and hard copy), and edited manuscript copy. You were a creative thinker, you adapted and navigated your way around unanticipated barriers (of the intellectual variety), and saw projects through to completion. You worked independently but consulted others for their expertise. And don’t forget all those “soft skills” that a PhD helps you cultivate:

  • you are a master/mistress of time management and meeting deadlines

  • you have superior organizational skills

  • you learn things quickly and grasp complex ideas easily

  • you are disciplined, motivated, and a self-starter

  • you enjoy a challenge

Once you learn how to articulate your transferable skills, you will be able to explain in a job interview how well your background – graduate school and all – prepared you for the line of work described in the job ad.

The long and short of all of these sites is that yes, you do have skills that are valuable. The trick will be articulating how your background in academia prepared you for the specific tasks and duties of the specific job you're looking at. Good luck! And check out our other articles about the career transition after academia.


Transferable Skills: What Did You Really Get Out of Grad School?

First, start with what you've got. You do indeed have skills that workplaces value.

Maiers Literacy Institute Reflections (Day 1)

Creative Commons License Mike Sansone via Compfight

I've written on this at my own post-ac blog, focusing on reading and writing in this post, and time and self-management. These are skills that I honed in grad school and now use in my post-ac job at an academic publisher. Here's an example:
I go through a similar process of research and thought as I would when writing a seminar paper. I spend time on the professor and school's web sites--gathering information about his/her research agenda, the school's student body, the kinds of works the professor has assigned in the past. Then, much as I looked for patterns of women painters in 19th c novels, I look for patterns that match our products to the professor's needs. Does this professor work in Gothic literature? Our new anthology has a cluster on "monsters." Working with the research I've done on a professor/insitution, and fitting the information to my "reading" of our sales call, I try to create an argument explaining why this professor must use this book.

Stay tuned for more  on this important topic!

Link Roundup: Real World vs. Ivory Tower

Day out in Oxford 5 April 2009Stuart Bryant via Compfight

These links from around the web compare and contrast work life in the "real world" versus preferences and practices in academic life. For a lot of post-acs, the "real world" seems confusing and strange and very different from what we've become accustomed to in academia.

Unemployed PhD for Hire writes about the differences in work life after one year in a regular office gig. S/he writes:
That's probably the second take home message this past year has taught me - it's ok being outside the ivory tower. Sure, my job is a little boring and the general office vibe could be better, but that's particular to the role and the company. There are also lots of positives, but I can't go into that without spilling too many beans about what I do. Anyway, I can always change jobs if it gets to be too much.

Katie DePalma, a former Classicist turned book editor, offers a list of "how tos" for post-ac jobseekers in this guest post @WoPro. Part of starting a job hunt (and figuring out your life) after leaving academia is letting go of misguided notions and narrow-minded conceptions of careers and priorities. DePalma writes:
Your education and teaching experience will take up about half a page of your résumé. What are you going to say about yourself to fill up the other half?... What can you actually do? Your years in the academy have prepped you for an Other job in a million different ways. You can read anything, write anything, teach anything, and research anything. You’re familiar with a wide variety of languages and computer programs and style manuals. You can coordinate and organize a project as massive as a thesis/dissertation. You can deal with the full spectrum of dysfunctional personalities. This stuff is part of the job of being an academic. But don’t assume that the person reading your résumé knows any of this if you don’t tell them explicitly. Tell them everything you can do and tell them exactly how awesome you are at it.

Amanda @WoPro offers her own compare-contrast after a year of post-ac life. She as a series of real world versus academia posts, but this offers a sample (hint: the real world usually wins). She says
I won’t lie to you, transitions are hard. There have been many points in the last year when I’ve been freaking out about money, which sucked - after grad school, I swore I’d never do that again, but it’s really just unavoidable when you simultaneously change locations and careers. On the flip side, I’m choosing the place I live, the people I work with, etc. I don’t regret it for a moment, and I’m definitely, qualitatively happier than I ever was in academia. Which is all that matters, really.

Here's a taste of small talk in the real world, versus the kinds of conversations we usually have as academics (you know, brandy snifters and Derrida). Caroline @Postacademic writes:
So all-in-all, I’m not sure where that one-upping trash-talking wannabe Marxist academic I was in grad school went, but it sure isn’t to a kid’s Halloween party or the neighborhood playground.

And (Post)GradLand muses about "The Suit Life" in this post after she finishes her PhD and goes to work for a content writing company in Tokyo:
There’s also, I realize, a grieving period in a situation like this. I grieve the classes I may never design and teach, the seminar discussions I won’t have, the groups of like-minded people that I won’t interact with as much, the book I won’t publish, the great epiphanies I won’t have. In short, I grieve the death of my own personal “life of the mind” dream. But as I pointed out before, I just don’t think that dream was a viable one to begin with. And many of the things I miss I can and will still get, in different ways.

Be sure to check our other articles about careers!

Career Advice Introduction

Once you’ve made the decision to leave academia, you will need to consider your financial livelihood. Some of you may have the time and monetary resources to allow you to focus on finding your new “dream” career right away. If so, this is a wonderful time to explore talking to a career counselor, taking a career aptitude test, going back to school, building on existing skills and learning new ones, pursuing additional training or certification, or volunteering.  Many others, however, will need a “for now” job that allows you to pay your bills. In our, and others’ experiences, leaving academia can be difficult enough, so we advocate not putting too much pressure to have all your career answers right away. As JC often says, a “for now” job is the perfect way to give yourself the time and financial freedom to consider all your options fully. Plus, you’ll be building new skills, networking, and establishing yourself  in a different industry. I know many academics feel like we’re “floundering” when we start searching for new careers, but after devoting so much time and energy to one career path it’s only natural to feel a little “lost” professionally.

359/365 Which way to go?Creative Commons License stuartpilbrow via Compfight

Too often former academics are made to feel as though being a scholar or professor is all we can do.  We don’t feel ready for the “real world.” We don’t feel as though our past work is relevant to jobs outside the academy. Yet this is blatantly untrue. The skills we developed in our graduate program—writing/editing, research, time management, project management, public speaking, content development— are directly applicable to jobs in the “real world.”

mechanical-people Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig via Compfight

As you begin your career search, there are many tools for identifying different career paths and marketing your transferable skills. And remember, if you are having some difficulty finding a job after graduate school—don’t give up! Although right now it’s difficult to earn a job in many sectors, the odds are in your favor. Simply, there are so many more non-academic jobs than academic ones. Persistence will pay off.  Please see the links in this section for additional advice and support as you look for work outside of the academy.

The Emotional Transition: An Introduction

Hello, fellow quitter! If you’re here, it means you’re leaving grad school, or quitting the adjunct circuit, or bailing on the job market, or considering in some way getting out of academia. You've decided to pretty much change everything about your life as it is now, and everything about your hopes and dreams for the future. We've been there. We've done that. It's hard, but it is doable. 

ColoursCreative Commons License Camdiluv ♥ via Compfight

So, yeah: expect to feel a lot of intense emotions around the decision to quit. Expect to feel them for quite awhile after you’ve left, too. Even for folks who leave academia on good terms, who simply want a different direction and have no regrets, feelings of confusion, uncertainty, and turmoil can crop up. In a month or a year you might glimpse a CFP your diss would have been perfect for, or see a job ad that you would have loved to apply for if only... We all hit those rough patches. It’s part of the territory. Because academia is more than just a job, right? It’s our life. It’s our passion, it’s our hobby, it’s our bread and butter, it’s our social circle, our hopes and dreams, our health insurance, our visa, our sense of self. Leaving academia is more than just changing vocational goals, it’s leaving a whole world behind. I’ve heard it compared to leaving a church, or the military. It’s understandably difficult to disentangle that web when you decide to leave. Heck, a lot of people stay in academia just to avoid that messy process.

So the first thing we want to say is: your feelings make sense. Quitting is freeing and can be extremely rewarding, but I think we’ve all found it difficult at times. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling overwhelmed, confused, sad, or angry.

The second thing we want to say is: you are not alone. It’s easy to feel isolated when you don’t have connections to people who’ve left academia, especially if you feel like you can’t talk openly about it with your advisor/partner/friends who are still in that world. But you are not alone. For all of us, finding a community of supportive post-academics has been really valuable, and we welcome you to join our conversation! Fire up a blog and join our blogroll, or just drop us an email. In regular life, think about people you know who’ve left and dropped off the map. They’re still out there. Look up that guy who was a fifth year when you started and quit to become a teacher: find him on facebook and ask questions. Ask around. Talk to people. It really helps.

But for some of us, friends and journaling aren’t enough and the support of a therapist, sometimes even a psychiatrist, is essential. I know it was crucial for me. Anxiety and depression can be excruciating and debilitating. You do not need to suffer through this process. Find help. Ask for help. Accept help.  More on this TBA.

Where Angels CryCreative Commons License D. Sharon Pruitt via Compfight

When we started this project, we all agreed that the dearth of info and support for the emotional transition you undergo when you leave academia had to be remedied. We hope the resources in this section offer some of the solace, perspective, and advice you need to navigate these rough waters.

How To Quit Introduction

So, you’re thinking about leaving academia? Join the club. Perhaps you have decided to leave because your mental and physical well-being are suffering. Maybe you can’t make headway on your final project, or want to focus more time on your family. It could be that you’ve realized the isolation, constant pressure to succeed, and poor work-life balance of academia are making you stressed out and miserable. Your funding has been cut, or you can’t find a job. The research that once got you excited about academe is now leaving you cold, or you’ve been offered an opportunity that has taken your life in a different direction.

Whatever prompted your decision to consider leaving—Congratulations! Despite what academics are commonly told, a career in academia is not the only choice for intelligent, ambitious, introspective people who enjoy teaching, writing, doing research, and thinking! You should be proud of yourself for exploring other personal and professional goals outside “the ivory tower.” Whether or not you do end up leaving, these resources can help you explore your feelings and learn about life outside the academy.

shouldiquitMaking the decision to leave academia is the first step in what will most likely be a complicated process of extricating yourself from the academic community, as many of us have to re-evaluate  career options, personal relationships, financial livelihood, and sense of identity. However, many, many people before you have successfully made this transition. You can, too.

This section of the site is designed to help you decide whether or not leaving is right for you. As academics, we are trained to make decisions through careful research and analysis. The same applies to your making an informed choice to leave academia. Here you can find resources to help you make your decision, including: personal stories of quitting, statistics on the job market in various disciplines, advice on how to set a timeline for leaving, suggestions on how to notify your department, tips to explain your decision to people outside of academia, and information on how to deal with quitting backlash.

We hope you will find useful the information in this section, as you decide to make your transition out of academia.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Seeking Contributors to Post-Ac E-book and Website

If you've always wanted to share your story of academia; written a post-academic/alt-blog; or benefited from the blog posts you've found here, mama nervosa, From Grad School to Happiness, Project Reinvention, or Ruminations: Life After Academia (and countless other post-ac sites), we want you to join the conversation! 

We plan for this website to be a "one stop shop" for people in the process of leaving academia. We're interested in short, friendly, advice articles on different aspects of leaving. If you have something in mind, please contact us at the emails below. We are also seeking contributions for our e-book on leaving academia. See CFP (har har!) below.

Moving On: Personal Stories of Leaving Academia (tentatively titled)

Have you left academia? Or are you currently in the process of leaving? Share your story!

As post-academic bloggers, we know firsthand that there is a desire for stories that explore more than just the career aspects of leaving the ivory tower. People want to know how, when, and why you quit; emotional issues related to quitting; and examples of post-academic success. We envision this book as a source of advice and support for readers who have quit graduate school before getting their Ph.D., people leaving academia even after they have finished their degrees, and people who are adjuncting or working in academia who are looking to leave. Many stories of the post-academic transition have been told on personal blogs and websites, including our blogs and web site (forthcoming), but this is the first collection has been organized to speak directly to people’s experiences leaving academia.

We’re looking for thoughtful, personal pieces (non-fiction or creative non-fiction) that tell a story or develop a theme related to the process of quitting academia. Like any good paper, the essay should have a core thesis or concept that you’re exploring through your writing. We prefer submissions that are relatively jargon-free and more casual in writing style. Your essay can be any length, with a general goal of 5-10 pages double spaced (but we’ll consider shorter or longer!).

If you have poetry, art, or other (digitized) creative work that explores these themes, we’d be interested in that, too.

This collection will focus primarily on what happened after you quit;
thus, we are not interested in treatises about the failures of grad school or the problems in higher education. You’re welcome to explore the reasons and circumstances under which you left, but please continue the narrative forward from there. You can be as anonymous as you like, although please include enough detail that the reader can be drawn into your story. We invite you to explore the messiness, difficulty, and contradictions in the quitting process. Not every story has a happy ending, and that’s OK. We encourage submissions on any of these topics, as well as proposals for essays that explore any gaps between them:

  • How, when, and why you left academia: hopes/expectations versus realities in grad school, specific incidents/anecdotes, the job market, what you wish you’d known.

  • Emotional dimensions of leaving -- loss or changes of identity, “deprogramming” from academic thought, relationship difficulties and transformations, isolation, mental/physical health issues, joys and new discoveries, family issues, etc.

  • Career Transitions: Teaching stories, writing stories, stories of how you discovered a new vocation/path.

  • Alt-Ac Careers, Adjuncting -- Life on campus when you’re not a prof or student, changes in relationships with “the academy.”

  • Success Stories: how quitting changed your life for the better, how happy you are, how glad you are to be gone.

  • Failure stories: screwing up, falling down, awful jobs, bad experiences, floundering, despair.

If you want to share a simpler or more straightforward story of your post-academic journey, please consider submitting to the website (email Lauren or Currer at the addresses below and specify that your submission is for the website).

250 word abstracts due: Feb 1st
Goal of getting back to accepted folks mid-February
Final essays due: April 1st
Goal of publication by graduation in May 2013! :)

Email submissions with “E-Book Submission” in the subject line to Lauren at or Currer at  by Feb 1 2013.