Skills to Pay the Bills: Philosophers on the Non Academic Job Market

Kevin J.S. Zollman‘s post on non academic careers got me thinking. It’s been about 10 years since I had to (gradually, and with a fight) leave academia due to illness. Over the years, I have experienced a lot. And this experience may be able to assist those coming after me. It was just the other day, in fact, that I offered my CV-turned-resume to someone on Twitter to look over because they wanted to know how to convert a CV into a resume for non academic jobs.

I stayed in arrested development as a perpetual student for a long time, but I have begun to strike out and have now matured and become much more comfortable with myself and my “voice.” I can’t rush these things for you if you haven’t reached them yet, but it’s a place where I feel I can do some good in assisting people coming after me in philosophy. So here’s some advice for you.

The work you do in school really does count on the non academic job market. Right now, I see jobs daily for things like Social Media Coordinator. If you contributed to a philosophy blog in school, even if it’s a student blog, like I was on, it counts that you know how to manage WordPress, work Twitter, and form a page on Facebook.

In fact, there are many skills you pick up along the way that are transferable. For example, I worked on the book Reading Bernard Williams when I was in graduate school. This did not merely give me the ability to talk about Williams, though. I edited papers. This gave me editing experience! Paid editing experience!

I used this experience to go on to edit a memoir, work as an Research Assistant for a book on AI and automation and do various other editing and writing gigs.

When you’re on the job market, you need to think about all the things you did in school because each extracurricular, each lowly-stipend assistant-ship, probably gave you skills that are valuable on the non academic job market.

Typically, they tell you in philosophy that studying philosophy will give you excellent and monetarily valuable critical thinking skills. And it’s true! While I have never seen a job announcement specifically ask for critical thinking skills, this is something hiring managers look for in an interview for many jobs.

You do, indeed, have skills. Many, many skills. If you choose to (or, as in my case, have to) work outside academia, remember this.

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