Job Possibilities Outside Academia

You only have one life; you may have several careers.  Most people do, in fact.  Finding the right job for your skills, interests, abilities, and life circumstances is a task you share with everyone currently in the graduate programme, and your search may well lead you outside the academy. Although your disciplinary training may seem highly specialized and field-specific, you have acquired a number of skills in graduate school that are also very useful outside the academy (i.e., research, writing, textual analysis, oral presentation/teaching skills, etc).

Where? and What? (a few examples):

“GBN” = Government, Business, Not-for-profits (main hiring sources)



-editing; acquisitions; proofreading and copy editing; managing

-literary agent

Advertising and Public Relations (radio, TV, print media)

-writing; publicist

Journalism, Media, Communications

-journalist; consultant; technical writer and editor


-policy analyst and advisor; programme assistant; public affairs

officer; public relations officer; resource coordinator

Insurance and Banking

-manager; customer service officer; technical writer; personnel officer


-manager; customer sales rep; marketing analyst; communications officer;

rare books (and other books) buyer

Foundations, Associations, and Charitable Organizations (Not-for-profits)

-manager; writer; consultant; fundraiser


-fundraiser; administrative coordinator; registrar; counsellor; non-academic

stream jobs in universities and colleges; teaching English abroad, online


-specialist consultant or rare books curator

Human Resources or Community Service

-organizer; writer; consultant

Advice and Assistance (a very selected bibliography):

Maggie Delebius and Susan Elizabeth Basalla, So What Are You Going to Do with That?: A Guide for M.A.’s and Ph.d’s Seeking Careers Outside the Academy NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001.

Margaret Newhouse, Outside the Ivory Tower. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1993

Howard Figler, Ph.D. The Complete Job-Search Handbook. 1970. Rev. ed. New York: Henry Holt, 1988. [general practical guide, of particular use to academically trained job-hunters seeking another career]

Munschauer, John L. Jobs for English Majors and Other Smart People. 3rd ed. Princeton: Peterson’s Guides, 1991. [good on “trait-oriented work” in which you are hired because you have the right skills: communication ability, judgment, analytic skills, imagination]

Career Choices for the ’90s for the Student of English. New York: Walker and Co., 1990.

Collard, Betsy. The High Tech Career Guide. Palo Alto, Ca: Women’s Resource Group, 1985. [good on job opportunities in technological fields for those with English training]

Wyman, R.E. and N.A. Risser.  Humanities PhDs and Non-Academic Careers. Evanston, Ill.: Committee on Institutional Cooperation, 1983. [generally useful]

Solmon, Lewis C., Underemployed PhDs.  Lexington, Mass: Heath, 1981.

—, Nancy L. Ochsner, and M-L. Hurwicz. Alternative Careers for Humanities PhDs: Perspectives of Students and Graduates.  New York: Holt, 1980.

May, Ernest R. and D.G. Blaney, Careers for Humanists. New York: Academic P, 1981.

Jacobs, Rita D. The Useful Humanists: Alternative Careers for PhDs in the Humanities. New York: Rockefeller Foundation, 1977.

Sojourns, a computerized database (at the International Students’ Centre) of jobs elsewhere in the world

The Un/Under-Employment of Humanities Graduates and the Development of New Professional Opportunities: A Selective Bibliography 1976-1988. Ottawa: Canadian Federation for the Humanities, 1988.

Linda Hutcheon