September 19, 2003


That's Rana's new term for the sanitized make-believe realism of the Chronicle of Higher Ed's "first person" columns.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at September 19, 2003 08:15 PM

In the Chronicle's house there are many mansions . . .

I have to write a new column this week, and I don't think it will be anything upbeat. I was thinking about something dark on alternative careers, but I could really use suggestions.

Since many of you don't like the usual fare, what do you want to read about? What issues need to be addressed?

Posted by: Thomas Hart Benton at September 20, 2003 05:38 PM

A perennial question on the WRK4US listserv: Should I hide my PhD? People then weigh in with the pros and cons of including the PhD on a resume for a nonacademic job search. Some maintain that the PhD can be an asset if you give it the right spin. Others dispute this claim, and insist the PhD is not worth the paper it's printed on. Still others take the middle road, conceding that it might be prudent to admit to a PhD in some circumstances while urging caution in the disclosure of one's academic credentials.

The very fact that the question has to be asked speaks volumes about the value of the PhD.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at September 20, 2003 11:03 PM

As for telling people about the Ph.D., I think it depends on the job. One of my friends used to do office temp work in grad school, since he could type 100 words a minute and thus could make nice money in any spare chunk of time he might have. When he told the temp agency he had an M.A. and knew 6 languages he got very few gigs. With a B.A. and Spanish he got work every time. He thought this was because as an office temp he was supposed to be inferior.
On the other hand, for a permanent job you would have to tell them. It would come out at the interview (What did you do for those 10 years after your B.A.?) and even if it did not it would mean sort of lying to your co-workers, which would suck.

Posted by: Ssuma at September 21, 2003 09:48 AM

Ideas for a THB column:

(1) Continuing the theme of applying and getting into graduate school, I've always been interested in how people change, and how their values change while in graduate school. For instance, some people go to graduate school aspiring to be college professors, only to find research lonely and students whiney. Others find a calling to teaching that surprises them.

(2) The lifestyle of the graduate student. I think many people idealize graduate school as a bread-and-water existance while leading a glorious inner life wrestling with new frontiers in your discipline. The reality is often a surprise for them.

(3) Financing graduate school. When I was applying to graduate school, I found so little information on how the heck you were supposed to pay for everything. Particularly after the first or second year, when department funding becomes more variable, the issue becomes a quagmire.

Good luck with the column. I always enjoy reading them!

Posted by: Matilde at September 21, 2003 01:12 PM


I enjoy reading your work. Your best -- in my humble opinion -- was the psychological thriller, "A Superhero’s Perspective on the MLA Convention".

In this vein, I suggest comparing the change in dark fears held by academics throughout their careers: grad student; adjunct; assistant professor; newly tenured; quite aged. Use your superpowers.

While this would be entertaining, I suppose a practical column on how to get on the tenure-track from an adjunct position would be more helpful to me now: do I use the letterhead of fabulous but temporary affiliation?; list scholarly societies on the CV [this a topic here a few month ago] or not?; who to use a referees; and so on.

Posted by: Sam at September 21, 2003 01:56 PM

Re: the suggestion that people hide their PhDs.

While there are a lot of employers out there who don't like or want to hire PhDs, pretending that you don't have the degree is not a great idea.

First, if you do attempt to hide your PhD, how do you explain what you were doing all of those years when you were pursuing the PhD?

Second, as an employer in the world outside of academia, I want to point out that one of the many things which employers want in a job applicant is the ability to finish tasks. If you have a PhD, you demonstrate the ability to initiate and
complete major projects---always a valued skill in the job market.

Re: suggestions for future columns. May I suggest that you write a column discussing current budget cuts, the general economy and the fact that people need to look widely for jobs? There is a general relcuctance
on the part of most young PhDs to look for jobs outside of academia. As a former academic who was herself crippled by the academic culture (which says that leaving academia means you are a failure), I think more people need
to hear a general critique of this belief. I have watched colleagues sacrifice marriages, financial stability etc. all so that they can
continue to be called "professor." This is seriously troubling.

Posted by: Hana at September 23, 2003 03:07 PM

Re: including your PhD on your resume.

I am reminded of some advice I received from an engineer who was involved in screening aplicants at a General Motors facility. He claimed that including your degree no matter what level it is and what the discipline is will help. Use the following logic, if your have a degree this shows your perspective employer that you are willing to take alot of crap. The closer your disciplne the better because you will be better aquainted with the particular type of crap they will be giving you. The higher the level of degree the more crap you have shown you are willing to take, a PhD shows not only a willingness but a somewhat masochistic liking for taking taking said crap.

Posted by: Lance S. Edwards at October 17, 2003 10:27 AM