Page 49

Richard Strauss, Courtesy of the National Museum of American History

However, those well-educated non-pro- businesses, in K-12 education, for non- and Chicago—but it steadily became clear fessors do need to turn elsewhere. Stu- profits or other public roles in the “Be- that the right opportunity wouldn’t arrive. dents have a well-worn path to follow in yond Academia” classification; 52 percent After six years in the Ph.D. program, his higher education: persistent scholarship, of those scientists do. passion had diverged from the duties of a innumerable job applications, and perIt’s partly due to the opportunities that research-university professor: Notably, he haps a postdoc or short-term teaching exist for scientists: There are simply more preferred teaching to conducting research. role in hopes of an eventual appointment jobs in private labs than in, say, private li- Plus, life happened. His now-wife had fallas a tenure-eligible faculty member. Oth- braries. Those opportunities further mani- en in love with the Triangle area, and the erwise, they have to innovate academic job search presaged when hunting for jobs: Had potentially living in far-removed places. “I mean, I had he not landed where he did, a phone interview at a college Johnsen says, he would be an whose [town’s] full-time popAlaskan hiking guide or designing biomorphic playgrounds. ulation is 300 people,” Troester says. And while it’s sometimes assumed that the doctoral deInstead, what he does now gree will give students a leg up, is similar to teaching a class. In finding a good job is never easy. a class, “you’re having twenty “There’s an idea sometimes, esto thirty meetings with five or pecially early in grad school, ten or forty-five people, where that if you don’t go the academyou have to get everybody ic track and say, ‘Oh, I’m more on the same page in order to interested in outreach,’ that that advance them through the will make things easier. But it same set of expectations over doesn’t,” Johnsen says, referring and over again,” he says. “You to jobs like running the science make sure the people who are TASTY: Ashley Rose Young hosted a cooking history show desk at National Public Radio. really talented are being suffor the Smithsonian’s American history museum. ficiently challenged and that “Because there are more people you’re helping out the people applying for those jobs, because fest themselves in soft differences, as Ph.D. who are struggling to get them to an acmore people can apply for those jobs.” It’s especially tricky in one particular graduates who enter the private sector ceptable level. And at a certain level, that is area of study. “For people who focus on build a bridge to the outside world. Franz’s project management.” Troester, despite a teaching-assistant the humanities, it’s often harder to see the chemistry department, for example, conobvious connections between what their venes a yearly alumni panel highlighting debut that he deems “miserable,” now enlists those honed skills daily. That skill sets actually are and non-faculty jobs the potential of these other paths. Conversely, humanities graduate stu- type of translation is what Duke’s gradthat exist,” says Wisdom. And while there are these job opportunities, she says, “we dents are “looking for role models,” Wis- uate school and Provost’s Office hope to don’t have obvious or easy ways to talk dom says. “They’re looking to see, ‘Who achieve with a new program called Verwas like me and what did they do, and satile Humanists @ Duke (VH@Duke). about those kinds of transitions.” Such a move is indeed less common for how can I emulate that?’ ” These students Originating from a Next Generation these students. The most recent data from must learn to do what workers everywhere Ph.D. Implementation Grant from the Duke’s graduate school—based on stu- have had to do in today’s economy: adapt. National Endowment for the Humandents graduating in the decade leading up ities, VH@Duke, which is led by Vice to May 2017—show 74 percent of humanProvost for Interdisciplinary Studies Edities Ph.D.s working in what the school WHEN NICK TROESTER first entered ward Balleisen, marks an attempt to “recalls “Academia / Higher Education,” as the job market, months before com- think doctoral training,” says Wisdom, faculty (either tenured, tenure track, or pleting his Ph.D. in political science, he who oversees the day-to-day activities of non-tenure track), staff, or administration. found himself the victim of circumstance: the program. There needs to be a “culture For the physical sciences and engineering The fall of 2009 was the first hiring sea- change” for graduate students, she says, to cohort, 13 percent of Ph.D.s landed under son after the financial crisis. “Universities destigmatize nonacademic careers. In a sense, the program—which feathis umbrella. (When including postdocs work on multi-year funding cycles, and and similar “Further Training” positions, 2009 was the first year for many universi- tures curricular experimentation, advising, internship opportunities, and the numbers change to 79 percent and 44 ties on that cycle,” he says. He bounced around—a postdoc at networking—aims to enable students to percent, respectively.) Only 29 percent of the humanities cohort work for private Princeton, then adjunct positions at Duke navigate both office culture and higher DUKE MAGAZINE

FALL 2017


Fall 2017 Issue v. 3  
Fall 2017 Issue v. 3  

Includes Duke Forward campaign insert