Web Sites Help Academics Leave the Ivory Tower

September 03, 1999

With academic jobs hard to come by in some disciplines, some resourceful Ph.D.'s have forged fruitful careers on the commercial frontier. Now those pioneers are using the Internet to advise their peers about employment opportunities beyond the walls of academe. Here are some of their Web sites:

  • The Escape Pod for Humanities PhDs Launched in June 1998 by the "Girls With Glasses" -- Kay Peterson, Kathleen Carmichael, and Molly Walczak, Northwestern University graduates in English -- this site features data on the academic job market in the humanities, information on alternative careers for humanities Ph.D.'s, advice on writing résumés and cover letters, success stories from academic expatriots, and links to other useful sites.

  • Jennifer Hodgdon's Site on How to Leave Physics Created in 1997 by Jennifer Hodgdon, a graduate of Cornell University with a Ph.D. in physics, this site provides information on alternative careers; tips on finding potential employers, writing a résumé, and interviewing; a question-and-answer page with Ms. Hodgdon's replies to readers' general questions; and links to other employment resources.

  • Journeyman: Getting Into and Out of Academe This on-line essay, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a history-of-science Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, explains how to make the transition from academe to the outside world and still be a successful scholar.

  • PhDsWork This site is the brainchild of Peter Stokes and Lori Rogers, a husband-and-wife team with Ph.D.'s in literature from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Founded in January 1998, with the help of two fellow Stony Brook graduates, Greg Laugero and Pam Moore (who, incidentally, are also married), the site is devoted to helping Ph.D.'s find work and happiness in the corporate sector.

  • Sellout Mark Johnson, a Boston University English Ph.D. who works in the software industry, didn't "sell out"; he got out. Since December 1998, he's been using his Web site to help frustrated Ph.D.'s explore other career options. His site features a variety of resources and practical guidance on careers in technical writing and software, as well as articles on leaving the academy.

Two additional sites, though not founded by Ph.D's, are geared toward helping academics find rewarding jobs:

  • A HREF="">Humanities at Work This portion of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation's Web site is dedicated to extending the career prospects of doctoral students in the humanities. The site features information about awards, grants, and postdoctoral fellowships for humanities Ph.D.'s, and links to other resources on non-academic careers. The foundation is also developing an on-line mentoring program, which will give Ph.D.'s an opportunity to talk with role models who've made the jump from academe.

  • A Yellow Wood Established in the summer of 1997 by the University of California at Santa Barbara's English department, this site features articles and data on the state of the academic job market, information on alternative careers for doctoral students in English, success stories from Ph.D.'s who've left the academy, and a variety of links to resources on career guidance, financial support, and jobs.