New Site Lists Jobs Outside of Academia for People with Advanced Degrees in the Humanities and Social Sciences


Madeline Martin-Seaver, a philosophy post-doc at Auburn University, has created a new site that lists “alt-ac” job openings that would be appropriate for people with graduate degrees in the humanities and social sciences.

[Marc Lovejoy, untitled (detail)]

Dr. Martin-Seaver culls the listings from USAJobs.

You can browse the site, “Wine and Government Cheese,” and subscribe for updates. Check out the first post here.

She says, “I hope you’ll look through them and tell me about what you did next! I want this newsletter to be a useful resource, and telling me how you made it work will help me refine it.”

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Eddy Nahmias
14 days ago

Thanks for doing this work Madeline! Do you have an easy way to indicate whether the positions you list require a (completed) PhD vs. an MA? It would be helpful to have info on the latter for people who have a terminal MA or an MA received before leaving a PhD program. Much appreciated!Report

Madeline Martin-Seaver
Reply to  Eddy Nahmias
14 days ago

Thanks for your question, Eddy! I think the answer to your question is “no.” The closest way to provide that information is by indicating the grade. But 1) there’s more than one grade system; 2) many jobs admit applicants at multiple grades; 3) you still have to know what the grades mean; 4) sometimes education counts for the grade but sometimes it doesn’t – I wouldn’t say that any of these jobs explicitly “require” a specific degree, the jobs that do are generally in business/STEM fields.

I might be wrong about this. But I think the fact that I might be wrong still means the answer is “no” for the purposes of the newsletter.

So, instead I’ve tried to pull out content from the posting which is relevant to some sets of academic experience. I also thought this would be more informative than a degree requirement, since if you didn’t have a PhD but did have the relevant experience you could still probably apply on the experience.Report

Eddy Nahmias
Eddy Nahmias
Reply to  Madeline Martin-Seaver
14 days ago

Ok, but it sounds like people without phds would still benefit from your list, right? They might have to check the qualifications for relevant postings.Report

Madeline Martin-Seaver
Reply to  Eddy Nahmias
14 days ago

Yes, absolutely. People WITH PhDs will also have to check the experience. People still in grad school actually have more paths to these careers than people a few years out of it, also.Report

Grad Student
Grad Student
Reply to  Madeline Martin-Seaver
13 days ago

Thanks for this. Can you elaborate on the last sentence?Report

Madeline Martin-Seaver
Reply to  Grad Student
10 days ago

Yeah, I’ll post about it probably in early July.Report

Michael Walschots
13 days ago

This is a great idea! A resource like this for the Canadian market would be great to have as well.Report

Madeline Martin-Seaver
Reply to  Michael Walschots
10 days ago

Thanks! I will leave the Canadian market to Canadians. 🙂Report

Alexandra Bradner
12 days ago

What an incredible contribution. We should all support this, in whatever ways we can.Report

Madeline Martin-Seaver
Reply to  Alexandra Bradner
10 days ago

Thank you! I attended a really helpful AAPT session you gave and appreciate your work for NTT faculty, so thank you for that, too. 🙂Report

David Lu
11 days ago

When I left my program, I applied all over USAJobs without any luck. Is there much data on academics (philosophers in particular) joining the federal government?

My impression is that philosophers transitioning out of academia often need to develop some new skillset or sector knowledge and for an employer to reach out of their traditional talent pipelines to make a successful jump to industry.

You can see that reflected in some of the informal directories of philosophers out in industry, like Marcus Arvan’s and the various LinkedIn groups — we’re pretty clustered in tech. It doesn’t seem like many (any?) of us are working for the federal government.

Maybe the federal government is too conservative to take risk on hiring an academic philosopher or it’s looking for specific kinds of job experience that academic philosophers don’t typically have. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t seem that we’re generally good candidates for the openings.Report

Yvonne Benne
Reply to  David Lu
10 days ago

The federal government is the largest employer in the country. Many people in the federal government have advanced degrees in the humanities. It’s not that unusual to have graduate education under your belt and a non-academic career. It’s extremely naive to obtain a graduate degree in philosophy and behave as if this qualifies you uniquely for cerebral work. The only thing most employers see in a graduate degree is commitment to completing an educational track. It doesn’t tell them anything else about you, it doesn’t suggest to most people that you have outstanding intelligence or ability, and if you didn’t learn that in graduate school, you probably didn’t learn much.Report

David Lu
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
10 days ago

I don’t know what’s with the dig at me at the end. I didn’t say any of those things.Report

Yvonne Benne
Reply to  David Lu
10 days ago

Sorry, I didn’t really mean that as a dig at you and I didn’t mean to post as a reply to you.

I think this comment made by Madeline, above, is at the heart of my concern: “People still in grad school actually have more paths to these careers than people a few years out of it, also.”

That is just not true. It’s disturbing that Madeline is offering advice as if she has some type of informed authority or resource on the job market for people in the humanities. I’ve been involved in working at several organizations and have seen many professional hires of diverse educational experiences. No one should read the comments above and take career advice from them.

If you’re a graduate student in philosophy, pursue your degree for the sake of education. If you need or want a job, pursue a job. You can do either at any time in life. Really.Report

Yvonne Benne
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
10 days ago

I meant to say I’ve been involved in *recruiting* at multiple orgs.Report

Madeline Martin-Seaver
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
10 days ago

Hi, Yvonne!

Thanks for your comments. It sounds like you have useful experience and information to offer! I hope you will consider sharing it with others in the humanities, who have finished the pursuit of their education and are looking for something more generally described as a job. This includes many people in graduate school. (Maybe you’ve already done so? If so, could you link to the venue? I know many readers would appreciate it.)

I am not offering advice or trying to set myself up as an authority. The newsletter is just a list of search results, which doesn’t require much expertise at all. If you could tell me how I’ve done or appeared to do so, I would really appreciate knowing what I could do to fix that.

All that comment above meant was that current students and recent graduates can apply for student positions, some internships, recent graduate pathways, etc.

Thanks for your time,
MadelineReport

Yvonne Benne
Reply to  Madeline Martin-Seaver
10 days ago

I think what came across as authoritative is that a commenter asked you about qualifications for various postings and you made a declarative statement about pathways available for people in vs out of school. The fact that some internships are offered specifically to students still in school does not translate to fewer pathways for people in years following grad school.

I don’t think anyone should consider themselves “finished with the pursuit of their education.” If you need to stop being a FT student and start trading your labor for compensation and health benefits, think about what you want to do and research the field. That means meeting people and learning about how the field works that you want to work in. If you don’t have contacts already, cold call professionals in a field that interests you and set up exploratory meetings to learn about their work and the field.

I really can’t emphasize enough that job postings, while they can provide guidelines and some industry info, should never, never, ever be the measure by which you gauge your qualifications. I would caution against using the information you read in job postings — especially government job postings — as a tool for plotting your professional journey. I understand that your newsletter is well-intended and may be a resource and conversation piece, but I can’t stand the thought of grad students viewing job postings on the internet as a primary resource.Report

Madeline Martin-Seaver
Reply to  Yvonne Benne
10 days ago

Thanks for your feedback!Report

Madeline Martin-Seaver
Reply to  David Lu
10 days ago

Hi, David! Thanks for your question!

This list isn’t just for philosophers, but I do know of several who work for the federal government or in adjacent positions. That’s part of the reason I started the list – because I know people had made this transition specifically from our discipline. Shane Wilkins has written about how and why in a few places.

Actually applying for USAJobs is of course the really hard part. But I think that’s true for any job application system. It’s certainly true of applying in academia.

It also seems to me like seeing job openings for which you’d be a good fit except you’re missing a couple of pieces can be clarifying.

If you have other stuff to say about applying on USAJobs (and why you quit!), would you consider doing a guest post for a philosophy blog or something? Or maybe you’ve already done so – could you share it around? (It IS extra work, of course, and it sounds like you’ve got a good network going already, so I get it if you don’t want to!)Report