What He Tells His Grad Students

Check out this article in the Chronicle about advice for graduate students.

If you’re not already queasy about the job market, this ought to do it for you. I guess the only silver lining I can find here is that in history, I suppose, no hiring committee would expect three publications for a freshly-minted PhD.

Any veterans want to enlighten us or react to this article? Give us hope, please?

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3 Comments on “What He Tells His Grad Students”

  1. Micah Says:

    I agree, three journal publications seems very steep for history. I’m not aware of students in my department with more than one article in a scholarly journal.

    For me, the strangest part of the article stemmed from his speaking of “placing” students in jobs. I know having a dissertation advisor with connections is important, but it sounded like the author could simply snap his fingers and “place” somebody. Since he teaches English (among other things), perhaps he can place people in non-academic jobs, but nabbing a professorship for students on command seems nearly impossible (at least in History).

    And attaining a contract for publication before graduation also seems a bit unlikely in history; if you look at the C.V. of most historians, a five year gap (or more) tends to exist between graduation and dissertation publication.

  2. Kyle Says:

    I am by no means a veteran, however as a second year Masters student I can say that I have experienced undergraduate publication, graduate conference attendance, and the foreboding that comes with considering what your future career prospects are. To be upfront, I intend to spend the next five or so years in a PhD program (once I get in) somewhere, so the “job market” in the sense of finding a place to work permanently so I can settle down is still some ways in the future for me.

    However, I have approached my graduate studies with the “geological sense of time” spoken of by the author. In this way I think the author encourages promising scholars in all fields to consider the long term career implications of their academic choices. How can every paper you write, every class you take, every seminar you give, be useful somewhere down the road? If asked (not that I often am) this is what I would tell those considering grad school, and especially those who want a PhD, don’t work your self to death needlessly!

    If a course is offered (even outside your department) that remotely applies to your thesis subject or field of study, then take the course (you’ll often be able to wrangle credit for it anyways). Are you required to write a 15-20 page term paper? Then write it on a topic you like, can research well and has some relevance to your future academic and career goals. Then submit it to be published (after the professor offers their critique of course, never turn down the opportunity to make your work better).

    You must do what is necessary to advance your studies in the field you are interested in and improve your PhD program/job prospects by proving that you are a scholar of that topic and general subject. This profession isn’t easy, nor is for those who lack the diligence to pursue it, but if we are willing to work hard and be good stewards of the time and talents we have been given, then we can improve our chances of success.

    Follow my musings at http://hereinblairsville.blogspot.com/

  3. cfhgradstudents Says:

    Thanks Micah and Kyle! Good thoughts.


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