Career Planning For Arts and Humanities Graduate Students

InĀ another article, I counseled college students not to start career planning by considering what they can do with their major. Many college students change majors, some more than once. Many college students end up with a job unrelated to their major, years later if not immediately after college. I suggested beginning career planning with a personal inventory of skills, personality traits, desired lifestyle, and what they enjoy most.

Graduate students should do the same, but graduate school represents gaining additional knowledge and skills in a particular discipline. Career planning for graduate students must therefore entail very careful exploration of possible career paths for that discipline.

Some disciplines have more career paths than others. Chemists, for example, can find work in many different businesses, from routine testing of products and ingredients to cutting-edge research. In other disciplines, and especially the arts and humanities, the most obvious one, teaching at a college or university, provides far fewer openings than the number of qualified people seeking them. ….

[G]raduate students should never rely entirely on either their faculty or the university placement office for career planning. I have long forgotten the couple of dozen alternatives to university faculty discussed at the session, but I have tried to compile my own list for this article. I will generalize what follows as much as possible. Most if not all of the following ideas apply equally to any discipline in the arts and humanities.

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