When I started applying for non-academic jobs, I felt directionless and did not know how to start. Providentially, I stumbled upon the simple realization that I can leverage skills and expertise gained in graduate experience to navigate these new unknowns. By adopting familiar practices of research, replication, and resilience, I became more organized, confident, and ultimately successful in the job application process.
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Last fall, I defended my Ph.D. dissertation, and in May I attended my graduation at Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus. My studies were challenging, especially since I was changing my discipline, from engineering to Science and Technology Studies (STS), which is built around a core of history, sociology, and philosophy.
Now what? As it became clear that I would not have an academic job, I felt lost and overwhelmed. Having given no serious thought to a non-academic career, I wondered if my academic apprenticeship had any value in preparing me for life outside the academy.
For the better part of a decade, my life ambition was to become a professor. I was confident that hard work and a few providential breaks would land me a tenure-track political science professor position. I believed that God had called me to a life in the academy, to be a witness pointing peers and students to Christ.