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So What are You Going to Do with That?: Finding Careers Outside Academia Paperback – 27 Mar 2007

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; New edition of Revised edition edition (27 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226038823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226038827
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 676,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"What if, while one is ensconced in a six-year art history doctoral program, the idea of a career in academia loses its luster? Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius have been there.... In "So What Are You Going to Do with That?" they use wit, directness, and great anecdotal evidence to guide readers through the soul-searching decision to leave academia." - Publishers Weekly "I will absolutely be recommending this book to our graduate students exploring their career options - I'd love to see it on the coffee tables in department lounges!" - Robin B. Wagner, former associate director for graduate services, University of Chicago"

About the Author

Susan Basalla received her PhD from Princeton University and has worked for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and America Online. She now works in higher education marketing for the Art & Science Group. Maggie Debelius, who received her PhD from Princeton University, has taught writing and literature courses and currently serves as the director of the Georgetown University Writing Center.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was hoping for slightly more practical information about how to find a career outside academia. However, the anecdotes make it clear just how personal finding that path is and also how unexpectedly most people find that alternative path. So that is why the authors can't really give a practical formula about how to jump track. However, their advice is inspiring and supportive. The idea of thinking ahead and looking out for opportunities outside academia was particularly helpful to me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8d637114) out of 5 stars 22 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d33b648) out of 5 stars A must read for graduate students 30 May 2007
By A. Lord - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book should be required reading for all graduate students, even those who are planning on remaining in academia.

At heart, the book is a primer on how to leave academia and the opportunities which exist for people with PhDs and MAs in seemingly esoteric fields. Since the overwhelming majority of graduate schools provide no real career advice for their students, this book provides a much needed service.

If you are planning on leaving academia, this book is essential. But even if you intend to remain in academia, you should read this book---if for no other reason then because it will help you to understand all of your career options...and, yes, you do have options! No one is stuck in academia and, as this book demonstrates, a graduate education does provide you with very real concrete skills.

When I decided to leave academia, I read this book in conjunction with other career books (such as What Color is Your Parachute?). While I recommend that those seeking to leave academia read a wide range of career books, this book was unique. It was the only book which addressed the many strange and worrying concerns that I had as a PhD seeking to leave academia.

My favorite part? The stories of the many, many people who left academia and found great careers. There is a huge reluctance to discuss these people within academia itself (great irony as the last fifteen years have seen the majority of PhDs in the humanities leave academia so we are talking about a reluctance on the part of graduate schools to discuss what the majority of their graduate students are doing). Putting a face on the people who left academia allowed me to look behind the academic stereotypes and to discover a broad and different world along with a range of exciting careers.

It was also helpful to read about how to do an informational interview and what to expect when doing one.

In an ideal world, this book would be required reading for all graduate students but since it isn't, you'll just have to buy this and read it on your own...but share it with your fellow graduate students.

And one final note: it does help. Using this book and others, I was able to leave academia and find a great-paying job which I really love.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d2b35c4) out of 5 stars A Lifeline for Anxious Grad Students 13 April 2007
By Steve R - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is written for a very specific audience: grad students (and even established academics) who realize that academia may no longer be the right fit--or is just too crowded to afford any significant job opportunities--but who worry their esoteric studies (medieval Chaucer, the geopolitics of wheat production) may not have prepared them for other careers.

If you fall into this category, then the book is wonderful. If not, move on. While there are better general career guides available, if the hallowed halls of the academy no longer seem so hallowed, `So What are you Going to do with That?' is a breath of fresh air. For starters it is full of anecdotes from many academics who found successful and enjoyable careers beyond the ivory tower, applying their skills and interests in satisfying ways they never thought possible. This may be the most valuable aspect of the book for the anxious and concerned grad student: realizing that future ex-academics have options. Lots of options.

The book breaks down as follows:
Chapter 1: Will I Have to Wear a Suit? Rethinking Life After Graduate School.
Chapter 2: How Do I Figure Out What Else to Do? Soul-Searching Before Job Searching.
Chapter 3: Testing the Waters: Networking and the Transitional Experience.
Chapter 4: This Might Hurt a Bit: Turning the CV into a Resume.
Chapter 5: Sweaty Palms, Warm Heart: How to Turn an Interview into a Job.

And while much of this information may seem like old-hat to your friends who got MBAs, it's a revelation to those who are more familiar with the `Journal of Nietzsche Studies' than the `Wall Street Journal.' The section on `Information Interviews' in chapter three alone is worth the price of the book. (Information interviews worked for me. Twice.)

Some Amazon reviewers of the first edition complained that the book offers pat answers to standard questions about resumes, interviewing, etc...and that may be partially true. But let's face it, most grad students and academics suddenly confronting the prospect life outside of academia (and likely getting little support on such a prospect from within the academy) haven't thought about anything but academia, so they don't even know where to start.

If that's you, then `So What are you Going to do with That?'--basic though it may be--is custom tailored for you, and will give you hope and point you in the right direction. The authors (ex-academics themselves) trust that their readers (who are intelligent grad students and PhDs, remember) will be smart enough to take it from there.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d18051c) out of 5 stars To the authors of this book: Thank You. 19 Nov. 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you are sick of hearing that question and tired of wondering if you've wasted your entire life on a meaningless education: there is hope and the answer is (happily) no. There is life outside of academia and this book will help you get there.

The current state of academia is a devastating wake-up call for those of us who worshipped our college professors (and wanted to become one)-- but this book reminds us what we actually knew all along: there is (rewarding, meaningful) non-academic life out there!

This book is an excellent guide for those of us who have made it through grad school and find that academia is not the land of dreams we once thought. This book will take the pressure off your dissertation to make it "relevant" enough to be compelling to universities and yet, specific enough to fulfill their hiring requirements. This is a reassuring book, full of guidance and support- you are not the only one with doubts about academia and following your hunch out of the university can be the best decision of your life.

Further, it asserts that we are not "giving up" but finding a place for ourselves that is more sane, stable and often, uses our skills much more, putting what you know into practice. It is not a "find what you are best at" type of book but rather, helps you focus on how to translate your academic work into real-world skillbuilding for non-academic employers. You must think of your education as having "worked in academia" so that you can make a "career change" to another field. Changing this viewpoint (from "being a student" to having valuable skills/experiences) seems simple, but it is actually rather profound.

There are real jobs out there for us-- and a real need for detail-oriented people who can work with little guidance, come up with original research ideas, work with others collaboratively, speak multiple languages, write in layman's terms so others can understand, people who can teach about a topic without putting the room to sleep... Employers need us and they are so desperate for the personal and professional skills that we take for granted. This book encourages us to get out there and be appreciated for our work. A life-saver if you have doubts about an academic career, want to leave academia or aren't sure what's next for you. This should be required reading for all graduate students.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d3f0d80) out of 5 stars if professors are so smart, why do they put up with this? 10 Aug. 2010
By Karuna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of about 10-20 books I've come across that I regard more as an 'intervention' than merely 'information'. In the course of the few hours it took to read this book, my entire perspective changed. I underlined paragraph after paragraph... I showed the book to many of my friends, "See? THIS is what I've been talking about!" Everyone I know is sick of hearing me drone on about academia - - I'm like a broken record, and since most of them didn't know me during my spritely pre-grad school days (which was 10 years ago) they probably assume I'm a pessimist by nature.

Friends and family continuously reminded me I was just "jumping through the hoops" and I'd eventually make it to the other side. But instead of feeling like I was on a bridge to freedom and would be awaited by a sparkling future, I felt increasingly trapped. Each passing year, I observed with horror that I had taken yet one more step down the plank I was forcing myself to walk. I felt shackled by everything: other people's expectations, a limited job market, a severely compromised social life, and outrageously high student loans. Meanwhile, my friends - even those who didn't go to college at all - were starting families, buying houses, learning hobbies, and traveling... when they came through town to visit, I couldn't even afford to have dinner with them. I spent a decade of my life in a basement, writing pages of jargon for up to 18 hours at a stretch. For years, my only break was doing laundry on Sundays... I had no car, no holidays, no hobbies, no weekends, no shopping, no vacations, no nothing. I vowed that if I ever had children, I would prohibit them from getting straight A's... just observe the consequences...

This book vamped up my expectations for life and happiness in general. Also, the exercises were actually useful!! I'm not sure why... I have a bunch of career and self-exploration books, but for some reason, the exercises in this book actually helped me narrow in on talents & desires instead of confusing me further. And I see that research, data analysis, software programming, and grant writing are transferable skills. The best piece of advice in this book is to be willing to take a job that is "beneath" you initially and have faith that you'll move up quickly.

Read this book. It's a reality check (you do realize that high school teachers earn more than starting professors, right? At least in a metropolitan area). I sent copies to bunches of people...
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d3ee6b4) out of 5 stars Deceiving 10 April 2013
By Azul - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is deceiving because the title suggests the authors are going to tell me what other jobs I can find outside academia but they don't. They just go over stories of other graduates who had been lucky enough to find work in corporate America.

So how do I find a job with a doctorate in a company? What jobs are there? It doesn't say. I did get that to find a job one has to network (as always) and keep one's eyes open (duh!).

Basically, the book is like any other job hunting book out there.
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