Tag Archives: Colleges and Universities

Fifteen-to-Finish campaign wins fans, stokes worries

Hashtag unites adjuncts and tenure-line professors over work-life balance and other issues

Grad students should think like entrepreneurs about their careers (essay)

Facing radically unstable futures, graduate students are an especially vulnerable population within the neoliberal academy. A diminished tenure-track job market is one reason that graduate students should think and behave more like entrepreneurs and less like apprentices.

In many corners of academe, this shift is already in effect. More and more Ph.D. students are finding ways to carve out varied and rewarding career paths for themselves. “Redefining the Humanist Entrepreneur,” a “Connected Academics [1]” panel at this year’s Modern Language Association convention, featured an eclectic group of Ph.D.s who’ve gone on to fascinating careers.

For example, Bradford Taylor [2] discussed his experience founding a wine shop [3] and noted that he’s found ways to put his doctoral research (which focuses on aesthetics and food from Hume to Adorno) into practice. He does this through a newsletter as well as in the day-to-day rhythms of the shop. Taylor’s career path is but one example of just how far we’ve come from the days of academic departments “placing” students.

While some MLA attendees may have shuddered to see yet another term from the business world on the convention’s program, I think “entrepreneur” is a useful way for graduate students to think about themselves. For one thing, they already have a lot of qualities that we associate with entrepreneurs. Richard Cherwitz, a professor in the rhetoric department at the University of Texas at Austin, describes intellectual entrepreneurs as those who “take risks and seize opportunities, discover and create knowledge, innovate, collaborate, and solve problems in any number of social realms.”

Graduate students need to apply to their career preparation the same entrepreneurial spirit they apply to their academic research. By thinking more like an entrepreneur (or a professional, CEO or revolutionary) and less like an apprentice, graduate students can better prepare themselves for a range of fulfilling and meaningful careers. Here are some steps you can take to do that:

Begin by evaluating your relationship with your graduate adviser. One of the most radical shifts in graduate education needs to take place at the level of the mentor-mentee relationship. Graduate students are still, by and large, treated like apprentices, working with advisers supposedly able to usher them into prescribed, defined careers. As the tenure-track job market dissolves, such a model becomes increasingly untenable. You should break free of the apprentice mind-set by moving past the outmoded single-adviser model.

Even if you have the best of advisers, she can’t help as much when it comes to alt-ac or compatible careers. And chances are she can’t place you in an academic career. Try as they might, graduate mentors can’t get up to speed quickly enough to train you for careers other than the ones for which they themselves were trained.

For the most part, graduate students have to find -- or create -- careers for themselves. Now that the majority of graduate students are headed for jobs that are nothing like those held by their adviser, it’s clear that even the most well-intentioned individual can’t give you the variety of career advice you’ll need. So you need to run your career search with the help of multiple advisers -- an informal board of directors, if you will.

Make sure such a board has a strong contingent from beyond your academic institution. Seek out career-service counselors, administrators, career coaches, corporate types and graduates who’ve gone on to alt-ac jobs. Do your best to develop multiple mentors for yourself, and keep in touch with them as best you can.

If you’re a graduate adviser, you must learn to cede authority to a plurality of advisers. Better yet, learn how to advise and mentor as a part of a team that includes members from various corners of the university, as well as those from beyond it.

Reject any discourse that figures your career using static metaphors. When trying to picture your career, you should see the Northern Lights -- not placement in a track. It’s not all or nothing. It’s not academe or bust. The idea of careers inside, outside or even beyond higher education may not make sense when you’re in the middle of your career.

At the “Connected Academics” panel at the MLA, Eric Wertheimer, associate vice provost of graduate education and professor of English at Arizona State University, noted that universities of the future will not police their boundaries “quite as piously as we do now.” So even if you do decide on a career beyond academe, don’t burn any bridges, and don’t assume your graduate training has no bearing on the work you’ll do beyond the professoriate [4].

Be aware of career choices made by osmosis. If you only hang with one group, you’re likely to absorb the norms of that group. So do a quick diagnosis: Whom do you associate with on a regular basis? Are they a diverse bunch with varying career goals? Do you pick the brains of those farther down the career track? Are you making assumptions about the kinds of careers you would enjoy? Have you done a self-assessment like the Clifton StrengthsFinder?

Learn to engage with people outside your field and the university setting. Compared with any other degree-holding group, Ph.D.s have the lowest rates of unemployment. But they also make up such a small percentage of the workforce that employers -- with exceptions that include scientific industries and consulting agencies -- may never encounter a Ph.D. as a prospective hire. If you are going to strike out in new directions, you’ll need to get used to interacting with people who may never have thought of hiring or collaborating with a Ph.D.

You can begin to familiarize yourself with organizations and people with whom you might like to work by regularly setting up informational interviews [5]. Depending on your schedule, you might aim for one a month. As you establish contacts outside of academe, reach out and make small “touches” with potential partners/employers throughout your time in graduate school.

Don’t only shift your attitude -- act like an entrepreneur. Allow for more career possibilities by adjusting your habits, expanding your networks and diversifying what you make.

Look up key characteristics of an entrepreneur and then cultivate a checklist of ideas that make sense for you and your discipline. Have a big-picture list, with long-term goals like:

  • Get comfortable with pitching ideas, especially outside of academe.
  • Imagine and implement a crowdsourced project.
  • Get paid to write and think in public.
  • Cultivate a donor for a project you care about.
  • Actively seek out leadership opportunities.

Once you have these larger goals down on paper, you can then look into acquiring or honing the skills that will allow you to accomplish them. Map out a schedule of activities to do each week, each month, each year. Little steps can set you up for a variety of careers after (and perhaps during) graduate school.

Adding any activities to the already overloaded schedules of graduate students may seem cruel. But you needn’t do it all at once. And though it seems counterintuitive, when you spend a little time away from the specialized training that you’re getting in your grad program, you just might help yourself stand out in the tenure-track job market. One thing is for sure: the confidence you get by succeeding in multiple arenas outside higher education will help you fend off the deepest insecurities brought on by impostor syndrome and give you a sense of the many possibilities beyond academe.

Author Bio:

James M. Van Wyck is a senior teaching fellow in the honors program at Fordham University, Lincoln Center. He is also the inaugural GSAS senior higher education administration fellow at Fordham University, Rose Hill. He is a Ph.D. student writing a dissertation on 19th-century evangelical fiction.

80% of Engineering Graduates in India Unemployable: Study

80% of Engineering Graduates in India Unemployable: Study
Press Trust of India | Last Updated: January 25, 2016 12:04 (IST)
New Delhi: There seems to be a significant skill gap in the country as 80 per cent of the engineering graduates are "unemployable", says a report, highlighting the need for an upgraded education and training system.

Educational institutions train millions of youngsters but corporates often complain that they do not get the necessary skill and talent required for a job.

According to Aspiring Minds National Employability Report, based on a study of more than 1,50,000 engineering students who graduated in 2015 from over 650 colleges, 80 per cent of the them are unemployable.

"Engineering has become the de-facto graduate degree for a large chunk of students today. However, along with improving the education standards, it is quintessential that we evolve our undergraduate programmes to make them more job centric," Aspiring Minds CTO Varun Aggarwal said.

In terms of cities, Delhi continues to produce the highest number of employable engineers followed by Bengaluru and the western parts of the country, the report said.

Kerala and Odisha entered the top 25 percentile list of most employable states while Punjab and Uttarakhand dropped to the 2nd and 3rd quartile, it added.

The study of employability by gender reveals a healthy trend, almost equal amongst males and females. This makes each role devoid of any gender-bias.

However, roles like sales engineer non-IT, associate ITeS or BPO and content developer report slightly higher employability of females, it said.

Interestingly, the report said that unlike popular notion, tier-III cities too produce a share of employable engineers and should not be neglected from a recruitment perspective.

"These candidates could also possibly fill the entry-level hiring needs of several IT services companies," it said.


New hub for international education research

Douglas Proctor
03 April 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 361

In line with a growing push to foster collaboration with Asia, an international education research hub developed in Australia has recently been expanded to promote participation from countries across the Asian region.

The International Education Research Network , or IERN, is a one-stop research portal for the international education community, supporting collaboration between academics, professional staff, governments and industry associations.

IERN’s recent launch at the Asia-Pacific Association for International Education, or APAIE, conference in Beijing caps off a series of enhancements to the network designed to encourage greater access and use within Asia.

“Australia and Asia have been long-term partners in international education,” said Chris Ziguras, vice-president of the International Education Association of Australia and an associate professor in the school of global, urban and social studies at RMIT University, Australia.

“We’re now hoping to build new regional connections in research, to ensure that policy and practice are informed by the latest international education research, and vice versa.”

A recent report prepared by IERN looked at hot topics in international education research. Among its findings, this report showed that 24% of international education research published between 2011 and 2013 had a focus on an Asian country or on Asia more broadly.

In parallel, the APAIE 2015 conference called for a new paradigm in engaging Asia-Pacific universities in a global context. In this light, the expanded IERN offers new opportunities for anyone with an interest in international education research in the region and beyond.

Development of IERN

Developed as an International Education Association of Australia, or IEAA, initiative with seed funding from the Australian government, IERN was designed to be an engagement platform for the international education research community in Australia and overseas. Following a range of background discussions and stakeholder consultations, IERN was initially launched in October 2011 at the Australian International Education Conference.

Open to all and with free membership, IERN’s key purposes are to inform the international education research agenda; provide a platform to connect researchers with policy-makers; and promote collaboration and provide ready access to key resources and publications.

Recognising the diversity in the international education research community, IERN seeks to support those who conduct, use, fund and advocate for research in its various forms across a range of educational sectors. IERN also aims to support people from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, given the interdisciplinary nature of international education research.

Following its 2011 launch, IERN served its key objectives through the holding of research events in Australia and via its website, where it housed key resources and publications. It also sought to support research partnerships and collaboration, enabling IERN members to search for a research partner and publicise their research initiatives and projects.

However, a little over two years after its launch, a review of IERN activity identified a range of opportunities for enhancement. With 88% of its membership at that time located in Australia, IERN was not successfully engaging with the research community overseas.

Feedback also indicated that members were looking to access original content on the IERN website and that support from IERN to source and develop research collaboration was not a top priority.

IERN today

In light of this feedback, the IEAA has moved to re-develop the network to reinforce its effectiveness for Australian members and to expand its useability by an international audience. It has done so by re-visiting IERN’s three key objectives – to inform, to connect and to promote collaboration.

In terms of informing the research agenda, IERN launched a new series of Research Digests last June to present the findings of leading edge research topics on the internationalisation of education.

Readily available online, the digests sit alongside other research reports prepared in Australia and elsewhere. Most recently, analysis of data from the IDP Database of Research on International Education has informed an IERN report on key trends in international education research.

IERN has also refreshed its communication platforms to facilitate connections between members. Membership of a dedicated LinkedIn discussion group has shown a growth of more than 300% in the last year. Its members are also able to follow IERN on Twitter and subscribe to an online mailing list.

To foster future connections and to support collaboration, regular IERN events in Australia – including an International Research Roundtable and a Researchers’ Seminar – continue to present opportunities for members to connect in person.

Given the success of a 2014 IEAA event in Asia – a joint IEAA-APAIE Symposium on the Internationalisation of Higher Education in the Asia-Pacific – IERN will also now look to host a research event in Asia every two years, working in collaboration with a regional international education association.

A revised set of online resources also supports collaboration by providing guidance on how to find international education researchers as well as links to global research resources, including the widely respected IDP Database of Research on International Education.

In other developments, IERN is building connections with the research arms of other international education associations both in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. While a number of these associations (including IEAA) already serve together on the advisory board for the Journal of Studies in International Education, IERN is exploring new opportunities for collaboration and joint activity.


With a continued focus on international education in the region and a growing push to foster research collaboration with Asia, IERN is set to play a key role in promoting engagement between practitioners, policy-makers and international education researchers in Asia.

While its impact may be difficult to measure at this point, IERN hopes to facilitate greater intersection for mutual benefit between communities of international education researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. Perhaps the APAIE 2016 conference – to be held in Melbourne – will provide a timely opportunity to next review its success.

Douglas Proctor is a member of the International Education Association of Australia Research Committee and a PhD candidate in international higher education at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

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