Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Post-Ac Careers: Pinball, Not Path

This recent post here at HTLA has me thinking about the way we conceive of our post-ac careers. We hear lots about the career “path” - heck, I’ve used this language myself - but a path implies a linear progression, something mapped out, progressive, and even logical. But I think pinball might be a better metaphor, at least for some of us. We may bounce from job to job for sometime. We may shoot across the board to a totally different work or field than we’d originally intended, for a variety of reasons, some purposeful (“I want a different job”) and some incidental (“I’m moving, we’re downsizing, I need benefits, I’m having kids” - whatever).

I thought it might be illuminating to talk about the different career trajectories of people who have worked in my office in academic advising (anonymously and without identifying details). Many of the people hired here have backgrounds and advanced degrees in humanities, social sciences, etc, so I think their career trajectories will illustrate how much things can change -- may change -- for post-acs. I also want to normalize this fact of life: everything doesn’t proceed in a straight, beautiful line. I think this is much more common than we may realize, especially as we start out in the “real world.”

This is just a sampling of people I know about, not necessarily know personally. Again, identifying details removed, and this is purely anecdotal. We have a big office with somewhat high turnover, so I have a lot of examples here.


Advisor Amy

Field: anthropology

Advisor: 3 years

What came next? Went back to school to become a nurse.


Advisor Betty

Field: women’s studies

Advisor: 4 years

What came next? Full-time English position at a Community College.


Advisor Craig

Field: unknown

Advisor: 7 years

What came next? Moved to be closer to home, admin position at small liberal arts school.


Advisor Dan

Field: English

Advisor: 8 years and counting

What came next? Nothing, likes the job and moving up the ladder.


Advisor Eleanor

Field: Architecture

Advisor: 9 months

What came next? Moved due to partner relocation, now advising at another major University.


Advisor Fritz

Field: unknown

Advisor: many years

What came next? Went back to school for Counseling Psychology degree.


Advisor Gru

Field: Education

Advisor: 2 years

What came next? Did side work for a testing org that turned into a FT job.


Advisor Harrison

Field: English

Advisor: 20+ years

What came next? Still in advising working primarily with pre-med students.


Advisor Ingrid

Field: Theater

Advisor: 2 years

What came next? Adjuncted for awhile, then FT lectureship in Theater department.


Advisor Jan

Field: Communication

Advisor: 3 years

What came next? Left to be a full time mother.


Advisor Kevin

Field: American Studies

Advisor: 3 years

What came next? Moved because partner went to grad school in different state, became full-time father for awhile.


Advisor Letitia

Field: Psychology

Advisor: 5 years

What came next? Moved into a senior advising position in an academic department unrelated to field of study.


Advisor Magnus

Field: Engineering

Advisor: 7 years

What came next? Took a position at a rural CC to create a new pre-Engineering program.


Advisor Nina

Field: unknown

Advisor: 1 year

What came next? Took a position at a small lib arts school where had been adjuncting during grad school, works with first year orientation.


You can see here that for some, advising becomes the new career path, and for some it's a "just for now" job. Some job opportunities came along, some made choices based on life circumstance, some progressed into new positions along the same lines as advising. Some end up in positions closely tied to their field of study, some work in something unrelated. Some stay! And so it goes.

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